Mid-Autumn 2020 Anime Ranking

This Fall season has been a remarkably strong one, filled with more titles I really look forward to catching each week than any other cour this past year. Accordingly, it was difficult to rank so many great shows. I almost copped out and made my top 2 to top 6 a 5-way tie! At any given time, depending on the week or the episode, any one of them could have held the number 2 spot; heck, possibly even the number 1 spot.

To put the icing on the cake, this season has also turned out to be an amazing and very welcome travelogue of the Japan that I miss. It thrills me to see familiar Tokyo cityscapes in Ikebukuro West Gate Park, HYPNOSIS MIC, and the newest Love Live!; while AKUDAMA DRIVE offers a different yet recognizable take on Osaka scenery!


01. MORIARTY THE PATRIOT (Yuukoku no Moriarty) (ep. 1-10) – William James Moriarty, Arthur Conan Doyle’s notorious villain, is the star of this series, alongside his 2 brothers. He is a highly charismatic and cunning math professor/crime consultant who secretly strives to eliminate the evils of the ruling nobility.

Finally we have a mystery anime with some competent mystery-solving!

It gets pretty dark though. And I have to say, while I agree that criminals such as the child-killer in the first episode absolutely deserved to be killed (especially to prevent further murders), I personally find revenge-as-healing to be too simplistic. I’m sure that delivering bloody retribution to some entitled asshole who has no regard for the health and safety of those ‘beneath’ him would feel good momentarily, but it would not reverse the damage that’s been done, and I doubt it could ever make things truly seem right again.

The true hero, none other than Sherlock Holmes, makes an appearance in ep. 6, but doesn’t get to take centre stage until the eighth episode. At first I thought he was too goofy to fit the tone of the series, but after seeing him wallow in some angst, I’m warming up to him and look forward to his “L versus Light”-like matchup with William.
(streaming at Funimation)


02. AKUDAMA DRIVE (ep. 1-10) – AKUDAMA DRIVE is an absolute spectacle of a show. With its striking neon visuals and stunning action pieces, it practically exudes cool.

The larger than life characters are crazy fun; and their special abilities and fighting scenes manage to be totally awesome and ridiculous at the same time. Meanwhile, the dystopian setting makes obvious statements about the perils of a totalitarian government and corrupt police force.

It’s hard to know where this plot is going. Hopefully we’ll get some meaningful answers, but for now, I’m definitely enjoying the ride!
(streaming at Funimation)


03. Ikebukuro West Gate Park (ep. 1-10) – Considering that the source material is over 20 years old, it’s impressive how modern the subjects covered by the anime are. In fact, some quick research reveals significant differences between this and previous IWGP incarnations, with this anime version being much more wholesome in general.

So don’t expect a western-style gangland crime drama. IWGP is remarkably positive and heartwarming. For example, after the G-Boys’ rival gang is introduced in ep. 2, the two groups promptly work out their perceived differences by talking things over!

The show covers an array of timely topics such as gang turf wars, Chinese propaganda, and social media online dissing turning into real-life hostilities, but so far hasn’t come to guns and murder. This is a rose-coloured, rather Japanese take on things, and I love it! Though it may not seem very realistic by North American standards, it is consistent with Ikebukuro being stereotyped as the seedy, bad part of Tokyo; because by our standards, it is not very bad at all!
(streaming at Funimation)


04. JUJUTSU KAISEN (ep. 1-11) – The newest monster-fighting shounen is a lot better than I expected. Great character writing makes all the difference in this show. Despite the horror elements, it is a fun watch with an extremely likeable cast and a lot of humour. Just don’t watch during dinner if the sight of someone ingesting cursed fingers is likely to ruin your appetite!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


05. NOBLESSE (ep. 1-10) – The art in this looks low-tech compared to a lot of recent anime. But what it lacks in shininess and flashiness, it more than makes up for in its writing, likeable characters, and unexpectedly frequent humour. Somehow it never ceases to amuse me that Rai, the lead character of the show, hardly ever speaks; and he remains oddly disengaged while everything is happening around him.

I’ve seen complaints that NOBLESSE is just a rehashed vampire/high school story, and the criticism is understandable, but personally, I don’t mind that this is not a high concept anime. It is genuinely fun to watch and that’s enough!

Note: It is recommended to watch or familiarize oneself with the events of NOBLESSE: AWAKENING before watching this.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


06. IDOLiSH7: Second BEAT! (ep. 5-13) – After encountering gossip in real life and on social media, a few of the IDOLiSH7 guys grapple with feelings of insecurity when comparing themselves to the other members. I would think that this is a cruel reality of life as an idol, unfortunately, where popularity is constantly measured and is a primary determinant of success. It’s a sobering topic, a problem with no happy resolution.

While the main spotlight is on the Re:vale duo this season, I am happy to see that there’s a fair amount of screen time for the TRIGGER boys too. Tenn, Gaku, and Ryuunosuke are such strong characters, with well-defined personalities, that the drama and the comedy seem to flow especially naturally when they are around.

In all honesty, the show is always 100% better whenever TRIGGER appears. Probably IDOLiSH7 would not like to hear me saying that about their own show, but at least I am confident that they do not read this little blog, so no hurt feelings I hope!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


07. HAIKYU!! TO THE TOP (Season 4) (ep. 14-24) – Most of this cour features the play-by-play coverage of the matchup between Karasuno and Inarizaki. It sounds simple and drawn out, but Haikyuu!! is great at this and is always exciting to watch.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


08. MAGATSU WAHRHEIT: ZUERST (ep. 1-9) – Apparently this is based on a game, but it really is hard to tell!

A complicated government conspiracy, a corrupt military, a rebel group, and mutant monsters all figure into this fantasy-action story. Two main characters are on opposing sides of the conflict. Interestingly, neither of them stand out to me that much. It’s almost like they are just part of the greater ensemble cast.

Well, I didn’t have any particular expectations going in, but I’m mostly enjoying the series so far.
(streaming at Funimation)


09. Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle (Maoujou de Oyasumi) (ep. 1-10) – The Demon Lord and his staffers had no idea what they were getting into when they captured Princess Syalis (I’m sorry, but I always think her name sounds like Cialis.) Oh, the horrors of having a cute little human girl in their midst who has zero regard for anyone or anything but getting herself a good night’s sleep!

The show is full of tongue-in-cheek self-awareness and parody of adventure game mechanics. Some of the best parts, though, have got to be when the demon castle regulars delight in seeing newcomers get punk’d, when they encounter the princess for the first time and horribly underestimate her.
(streaming at Funimation)


10. Osomatsu-san (Mr. Osomatsu) 3rd Season (ep. 1-9) – Season 2 was a let-down compared to season 1. So far, I’d put season 3 in the middle. The sextuplets-tachi’s skits are always kind of hit or miss for me, but their absurd antics and cultural references are hitting the mark more often than not this time around.

There’s probably a bit more introspection too, as evidenced by Totoko’s existential crises and the totally serious skit in ep. 5, where the Matsuno boys just walk and talk after attending a wedding reception together.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


11. HYPNOSIS MIC: Division Rap Battle – Rhyme Anima (ep. 1-11) – The Hypnosis Mic franchise has been around and building hype since 2017 in the form of music releases, a game, manga, and stage plays. This is the first anime adaptation.

This stylish anime features an abundance of attitude, swagger, and profanity, which can be entertaining, but the overall plot seems a bit weak to me. It probably doesn’t help that I am not that into the titular rap battles either.
(streaming at Funimation)


12. Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club (ep. 1-10) – I watched the first Love Live! series back in winter 2013, but did not bother with its sequel or Love Live! Sunshine!!. So this newest iteration of Love Live! was not even on my radar. But then, we learned that it is set in Odaiba, and that proved to be the nudge that our Tokyo-travelsick asses needed to check this out. Satisfyingly, the girls go shopping at DiverCity, one of the big malls in Odaiba, twice in the very first episode.

Well, now that the narrative is focused more on the various girls and less on the scenery, the anime is also becoming considerably less interesting to me.
(streaming at Funimation)


13. TSUKIUTA. THE ANIMATION 2 (ep. 1-10) – Wow, this is so bad. The primary activity that these idol boys seem to engage in is sitting around, brainstorming for their upcoming events. There is really no plot.

Despite being advertised in the title, the ‘animation’ often doesn’t truly meet the definition of the word. In fairness, the more recent episodes do fare a little better. There are even instances where character movements are suddenly quite impressive, even if, ironically, the occasion doesn’t seem to call for it. Which tells me the production staff are capable, but the time and money are not there.

Anyway, my standards and expectations for this show are nearly rock bottom. Any episode that doesn’t involve brainstorming, such as the sudden cooking show that was ep. 8, now seems pretty darn good.
(streaming at Funimation)

Mid-Summer 2020 Anime Ranking


01. The Millionaire Detective – Balance: UNLIMITED (Fugou Keiji: Balance:Unlimited) (ep. 3-9) – The main feature is the odd-couple repartee between the 2 police detectives, and Millionaire Detective is probably worth watching for that alone.

Fortunately, the initial formula of Daisuke causing reckless, unnecessary damage and then paying huge amounts in reparations doesn’t last the entire run of the series. There is an actual mystery storyline here.
(streaming at Funimation)


02. APPARE-RANMAN! (ep. 4-11) – Like Millionaire Detective, APPARE-RANMAN! initially debuted in the spring season but got delayed due to the pandemic. It’s really nice to finally have these shows back.

Appare and Kosame are taking part in the Trans-America Race in their steamship-turned-racecar in hopes of winning the prize money and getting back home to Japan. More than the race itself, it’s fun to follow this motley crew of colourful and extraordinary characters on their adventure.
(streaming at Funimation)


03. DECA-DENCE (ep. 1-10) – Is this post-apocalypse? Sci-fi?… Isekai?

The second episode was a drastic departure from the first one; and it’s not until episode 3 and beyond, however, that we get a clearer picture of what DECA-DENCE is really about.
(streaming at Funimation)


04. AHIRU NO SORA (ep. 37-47) – Both of this and Fruits Basket (below) have hit a nice stride. They are reasonably enjoyable to watch every week; however, they’re still nothing to get super excited for either.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


05. Fruits Basket 2nd Season (ep. 14-23)
(streaming at Crunchyroll and Funimation)


06. Mr Love: Queen’s Choice (Koi to Producer: EVOL×LOVE) (ep. 1-9) – I quite like the MC in this otome game adaptation. She looks like a little girl, yes, but she’s smart and independent. It’s obvious she finds Victor intimidating, for example, but she isn’t afraid to speak her mind to him.

Unfortunately, I do find it weird and somewhat troubling that the subtitled names and spoken names in this series are not the same, especially in the case of Lucian/Simon.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


07. The Misfit of Demon King Academy (Maou Gakuin no Futekigousha: Shijou Saikyou no Maou no Shiso, Tensei shite Shison-tachi no Gakkou e) (ep. 1-11) – Instead of introducing characters and taking the time to get us familiar with them, the setup is often accomplished by characters standing around and explaining things. That does get us to the important part of the plot expediently, but we don’t know enough about the players to feel the weight of subsequent events. Because of that, the pace somehow manages to be too fast and too slow at the same time.

The story, and the humour, is passably effective, but I feel most of it could be a lot more impactful with some more skillful and graceful storytelling.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


08. JAPAN SINKS: 2020 (Nihon Chinbotsu 2020) (10 episodes) – I was expecting something along the lines of its thematic predecessor Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, but with how this show seems preoccupied with killing off its characters in the most ridiculously shocking and gruesome ways, JAPAN SINKS comes off as more of a B-grade horror flick than a disaster movie.
(streaming at NETFLIX)


09. Food Wars! The Fifth Plate (Shokugeki no Souma: Gou no Sara) (ep. 3-11) – While there has always been a fair amount of fantasy to Food Wars!, it has gotten plain ridiculous at this point. The members of Noir are literally clowns! And what’s with the authorities of this BLUE competition randomly turning a blind eye to illegal activities?

Worst of all, the show is also rushing through the cooking and food presentation, which was previously one of the main highlights of the series.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

Mid-Spring 2020 Anime Ranking


01. My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! (Otome Game no Hametsu Flag shika Nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei shiteshimatta…) (ep. 1-10) – A 17-year old girl discovers she’s been reincarnated as young Catarina Claes, the villain in her favourite otome game, so she does everything in her power to avoid her pre-destined bad end. The hilarious result being that she becomes the sweetest, most adorable idiot ever.

Yes, it’s an isekai set in an otome game, of all things; and the protagonist isn’t an overpowered MC, but the doomed villain. It’s pure comedic genius.

Out of Catarina’s rapidly growing harem, I have to say I feel especially sorry for Geordo. While I agree with most people that he doesn’t have much chemistry with Catarina compared to Keith or Alan or the girls, he is her fiancé after all, and he really seems to love her so much, and so unconditionally!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


02. Wave, Listen to Me! (Nami yo Kiitekure) (ep. 1-10) – A curry restaurant waitress suddenly finds herself contemplating a new career as a late-night radio host after her drunken rant about her no-good ex-boyfriend is recorded and played on air by a radio station producer.

Minare is a great character – smart, imaginative, cynical, a little crazy, and surprisingly vulnerable too.

Interestingly, this is the first of 2 shows on my list that is set in Hokkaido. (The other is Agonavis.)
(streaming at Funimation)


03. ARTE (ep. 1-10) – A young noblewoman abandons her cushy but restrictive life at home in order to pursue a career as an artist. However, painting as a profession is very much a man’s world in 16th century Italy, and Arte struggles greatly to earn respect and acceptance among her peers and from her superiors and patrons. As the setting changes from Florence to Venice, Arte realizes that her circumstances (class and gender) can work to her advantage too, but she finds that just as frustrating.
(streaming at Funimation)


04. AHIRU NO SORA (ep. 25-35) – Apparently, basketball is the sport of delinquents! At least the Kuzuryuu High teammates are starting to resemble serious athletes now, and it is gratifying to see how Sora has inspired them and gained their trust and respect.

One thing I do appreciate is that these anime characters change clothes and hairstyles regularly, sometimes even within a single episode. That uncommon attention to detail is a really nice touch, especially as the art in this show is generally unattractive otherwise.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


05. Argonavis from BanG Dream! (ep. 1-9) – There are aspects of this anime that feel like a convincing portrayal of what it’s like to start a rock band, but the presentation is inconsistent and plot points are pasted together somewhat sloppily. Overall, I’d say it’s passable, if you’re not taking the details too seriously.

The characters are reasonably attractive, with distinctive personalities. The CG animation also looks above average.

The music, composed by veteran musicians (from the likes of UNISON SQUARE GARDEN, SID, ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D) and performed by the voice actors of the band members, is also pretty good. Although, rival group GYROAXIA sounds so much better than Argonavis, in my opinion.
(Argonavis and GYROAXIA singles are available on Spotify and iTunes Canada)


06. Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2 (Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai?: Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen) (ep. 1-9) – The cast is bigger now, but their antics are just as amusing as ever.

While it’s lovely that they actually reciprocate each other’s feelings, as I’ve said, if Kaguya and Miyuki are still this dishonest with each other on a systemic basis, it really does not bode well for any future relationship for these two.
(streaming at Funimation)


07. KAKUSHIGOTO (ep. 1-10) – The manga-making humour is kind of hit and miss for me, more hit than miss I guess, but still.

It’s a bit of a sticking point, personally, that I don’t totally understand the necessity of, or approve of, Goto-sensei lying to his daughter about his occupation.
(streaming at Funimation)


08. SING “YESTERDAY” FOR ME (Yesterday wo Utatte) (ep. 1-10) – There’s no singing in this anime. Music is not part of the story at all.

Rather, there are love triangles, squares, other geometric shapes. And unfortunately, I find the relationships a little tedious and lacking in chemistry, but that’s me.

On the plus side, the artwork is very nice, especially the backgrounds. There’s also some genuine development for some of the characters. For instance, I’m personally glad the main romantic lead, a college graduate, does not remain a convenience store clerk for the entire series!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


09. Fruits Basket 2nd Season (ep. 1-10) – All of the Sōma members have been introduced, so we’re finally getting to the meat of the story. Which is good, but my god, Akito sure talks a lot.
(streaming at Crunchyroll and Funimation)


10. PLUNDERER (ep. 12-20) – This cour starts with the revelatory and mostly serious time travel arc. However, the gains achieved are almost completely cancelled out by whole episodes, bookending that arc, devoted to drinking, fan-service, groping and other forms of sexual assault, and body-shaming.

You know, all this time, I’ve felt bad for Lynn. Not only does she have to put up with her organization’s sexist uniforms on a regular basis, but she’s so starved for affection that she falls madly in love with the first loser who pays any attention to her romantically, even though he’s a lech and obviously isn’t really that into her. And then Pele, the guy who is dropping hints that he might actually like her, is also gross not much of a gentleman.

Were it not for Jail, acting like the true hero of the series, I would not have made it this far.
(streaming at Funimation)


11. WOODPECKER DETECTIVE’S OFFICE (Kitsutsuki Tanteidokoro) (ep. 1-9) – One of the leads is a conscienceless scumbag who shirks responsibility and exploits his friends and lovers for money. The other main is a gullible doormat.

Too many of the show’s female characters are prostitutes or murder victims or both.

Particularly in the beginning, it feels like they are shoehorning the authors’ historical quirks into the story instead of, you know, having an actual plot. And for an adult detective story, I’m surprised and disappointed that these characters rely on speculation as much as they seem to.

If the show ultimately leaves an impression on me, it’s for all the wrong reasons!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

Mid-Winter 2020 Anime Ranking

The season is already over, so this is more of a season-end ranking instead of the mid-season ranking it’s supposed to be. It is also unfinished, regrettably. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things have been hectic at my essential service day job and quite different at home as well, leaving me with no energy or ‘alone’ time to think about writing.


01. CASTLEVANIA Season 3 (10 episodes)
(streaming on NETFLIX)


02. ID: INVADED (13 episodes)
(streaming at FUNimation)


03. Chihayafuru 3 (ep. 13-24)
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


04. Blade of the Immortal (Mugen no Juunin: IMMORTAL) (ep. 13-24)
(streaming on Amazon)


05. Uchitama?! Have you seen my Tama? (Uchi Tama?! Uchi no Tama Shirimasen ka?) (11 episodes)
(streaming at FUNimation, Crunchyroll)

06. Ace of Diamond (Diamond no Ace): Act II (season 3) (ep. 40-52)
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

07. Haikyuu!! TO THE TOP (Season 4) (ep. 1-13, expected to continue in summer)
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

08. AHIRU NO SORA (ep. 13-24, ongoing)
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

09. number24 (12 episodes) – One thing you can’t criticize about this rugby anime: it definitely does not have a generic milquetoast lead! Natsusa is not even one of the players on the team, at least not anymore. Personality-wise, he’s very friendly, but he’s also surprisingly pushy and manipulative when he wants to get his way.
(streaming at FUNimation)

10. Smile Down the Runway (Runway de Waratte) (12 episodes)
(streaming at FUNimation)

11. The Case Files of Jeweler Richard (Housekishou Richard-shi no Nazo Kantei) (12 episodes)
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

12. Kabukichou Sherlock (Case File nº221: Kabukicho) (ep. 13-24) – The final arc was dark, rather disturbingly so; but Kabukichou Sherlock was actually much better for it. No more problematic, tone-deaf, mean-spirited attempts at humour at least. It’s a shame they didn’t cut all that filler out from the beginning. This didn’t need to be a two-cour show.

In the end, I was unable to muster as much sympathy for the villain as the story seemed to demand. I’m a known bleeding-heart pacifist, but even I believe some people are beyond saving.
(streaming at FUNimation)

13. PLUNDERER (ep. 1-11, ongoing) – There’s a decent story here somewhere, probably, but first you have to get past the staggering amounts of sexual harassment/sexual assault (mostly perpetrated by the main character no less) and other filler. If the girls are not all being groped for half an episode, then it’ll be a nonsensical drinking contest that lasts half of another episode.
(streaming at FUNimation)

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.

Mid-Spring 2019 Anime Ranking

It’s a very light season for me this time. (Spoilers below up to the stated episodes for Demon Slayer, The Rising of the SHIELD HERO, and Ace of Diamond.)


01. Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) Season 3 (ep. 50-55) – All the years of buildup has led to this. We are finally getting some answers to the ongoing mysteries, many of which date back to the very first season, which aired in 2013. Our main group of characters is front and centre for the action now and every episode is concise and riveting. We are really going places – even to the Basement!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


02. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (ep. 1-10) – The very best gory shounen series avoid falling into grimdark by balancing the heavy stuff with healthy doses of smart humour. Demon Slayer follows in this tradition, making it a fun show to watch despite all the tragedy and violence and horror. Incidentally, Attack on Titan is another great example, even if it hasn’t been very funny lately, for obvious reasons.

Though the art style is a bit of a departure from recent ufotable productions, the animation quality is reliably stunning.

What’s more, the characters are well-written and the family bond between Tanjirou and Nezuko is touching. When, in one of the early episodes, eldest brother Tanjirou expressed his desire to give to his sole-surviving sister all the things he would never be able to give to his other siblings, it just broke my heart.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


03. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind (JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 5: Ougon no Kaze) (season 4) (ep. 25-33) – Bucciarati and co. are getting closer to uncovering the Boss’s identity, but the price they pay is steep. As for the new villains, Doppio is insanely nuts while Secco and Cioccolata are insanely frightening.

Can we give a medal to Mista’s stand, Sex Pistols? Those hard-working little guys are big heroes!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


04. The Rising of the SHIELD HERO (Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari) (ep. 13-22) – Pacing-wise, a couple of the battles dragged on a bit too long this cour. And asking the Heros to get along and work together is still like pulling teeth.

At long last, it was nice to see Naofumi finally get some vindication, while Malty was exposed as a liar and schemer. Not sure it makes sense she’s still allowed to roam free and continue attempting to harm people though…
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


05. Fairy gone (ep. 1-9) – It’s a little slow-moving and convoluted at times, but I’m still enjoying the show and its fantastical post-war European-like setting. Some of the characters have laughably weird names, though, such as Free Underbar and Bitter Sweet!
(streaming at FUNimation)


06. Dororo (ep. 13-21) – Still kind of hit or miss for me. Again, the underlying family drama and nice-looking art are great, but the monster-of-the-week episodes, such as the ones featuring the shark demon and the creature that caused people to speak in opposites, still leave something to be desired.


07. BUNGO STRAY DOGS (ep. 26-34, or Season 3 ep. 1-9) – It would probably have been better if the events of the previous seasons were fresher in my mind. As it is, it’s a little difficult to keep track of the now huge cast of characters and all their motivations. In spite of that, I’m enjoying it okay.

Kudos to the show for producing yet another amazingly attractive opening sequence, again featuring stunning plays on light and shadows.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


08. Ace of Diamond (Diamond no Ace): Act II (season 3) (ep. 1-10) – Admittedly I am no expert in sports nutrition, but I do have some general background in health, and I wonder about the dietary requirements for the team members. Of course it’s important that they eat enough even if they’re too tired to feel hungry, but can choking down 3 bowls of rice really be good for anyone?

Anyway, Act II has been less interesting to me than some of the previous material because of the early focus on new characters rather than our leads Sawamura, Furuya, and Miyuki (although it’s getting better – Sawamura gets to pitch!) Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of recap, but that’s not really anything new.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


09. Fruits Basket (2019) (ep. 1-10) – Honestly, I was never a super huge fan of the original anime, but I remember enjoying it enough to be curious about this new and improved reboot. I’m maybe a little less tolerant of plot contrivances than I used to be (of course, there’s always a reason for Tohru to accidentally turn the Souma guys into their zodiac forms), and I still find Kagura to be annoying as heck, but on the whole, the show is fine as light shoujo entertainment.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

Mid-Winter 2019 Anime Ranking


01. THE PROMISED NEVERLAND (Yakusoku no Neverland) (ep. 1-10) – The kids at Grace Field House make the shocking discovery that their loving orphanage is in fact a farm for raising yummy children to serve as demon food. The clock is ticking as they try to find a way to escape, but with such insurmountable obstacles in their way, and no way to know what lies outside, the odds are against any of them making it out alive.

THE PROMISED NEVERLAND is as thrilling as it is artful. It’s great to see Emma, Norman, and Ray’s ingenuity and friendship. Their situation is looking dire, to say the least, but man am I rooting for them to succeed.

The OP by UVERworld is pretty awesome too. I’m personally not a huge fan of most of their works, but every once in a while, they will surprise me with something unique and hooky; and “Touch off” is one of those songs.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


02. Mob Psycho 100 II (ep. 1-10) – Fans of sakuga are obviously loving this series. For me though, the real draw is its main characters, Mob and Reigen; they are so complex and well-written, and completely lovable in spite of their flaws.

Episode 7, which focused on Reigen’s humiliating downfall, was a clear highlight in storytelling. He is such an interesting person, first of all; plus the arc was ironically funny at times, and painful, and ultimately uplifting too.

The big battle arc, beginning in ep. 9, gets pretty complicated real quick, with multiple factions and too many characters in the mix. It’s still good, but I enjoyed the earlier character-driven episodes more.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


03. The Rising of the SHIELD HERO (Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari) (ep. 1-10) – I don’t particularly consider myself a fan of the genre, but I will pick up an isekai-adventure series now and then. This is definitely one of the better ones that I have seen.

It’s interesting that even though this alternate world uses some obvious game mechanics, it is stressed that the effects of a person’s actions are real. Completing one task doesn’t mean all the work is done, as unintended consequences may occur, and economics come into play too.

Malty (Myne) and the Spear Hero are a little overplayed in their villainy and ignorance, respectively, but the main characters, Naofumi, Raphtalia, and Filo are sympathetic and likeable enough to sell the show.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


04. Domestic Girlfriend (Domestic na Kanojo) (ep. 1-10) – A teenaged boy suddenly becomes step-siblings with both the teacher he has a crush on and the random girl he once had sex with. Such a trashy premise sounds like it would have to be a train wreck. However, Domestic Girlfriend plays things straight, and seriously considers the implications of its odd scenario on the lives of Natsuo and the sisters.

Unpopular opinion, but for the record, I’m Team Hina – because that’s who Natsuo really liked all along. Plus, they get along well and have some actual chemistry together. However, even if their being statutory siblings isn’t an issue (I think it shouldn’t be), their ongoing relationship as student-teacher is a huge red flag. By all indications, Hina is an excellent teacher; it would be a shame for her to put her career at risk. If they’re both serious, they really need to put the brakes on the romance until after he graduates.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


05. Dororo (ep. 1-10) – This is a dark, but nice-looking show which combines historical realism and folklore. A young man named Hyakkimaru hunts demons in order to reclaim the parts of his body that were sacrificed at his birth.

The little kid who is the title character is sweet and precocious. I’m not that into the primarily monster-fighting episodes, but the ones that focus on Dororo, Hyakkimaru, and Daigo’s family are pretty good.


06. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind (JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Ougon no Kaze) (season 4) (ep. 13-22) – The stands have gotten so complicated by this point that I don’t even bother trying to comprehend them all. The guys however, being stand users themselves, are really good at catching on to stand abilities, even though they can be really dense when it comes to other things. Good thing the selective stupidity of JoJo’s characters is well-established! It’s fabulous and you gotta love it.

It’s strangely easy to forget that Giorno is the main character of the show when Bruno is so clearly the driving force and leader of the group.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


07. My Roommate is a Cat (Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue) (ep. 1-10) – I’m not really the target audience for cute pet or slice of life shows. The gimmick here is that part of each episode is told from the point of view of Haru, the cat. Beyond that however, there’s an overall story showing how she sets off Subaru’s personal development and his coming to terms with the loss of his parents. It is surprisingly affecting.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


08. KAGUYA-SAMA: LOVE IS WAR (Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen) (ep. 1-10) – Plenty of awkward romance shenanigans in this anime about a couple of over-achieving high schoolers who stubbornly refuse to reveal their romantic attraction to each other. The episodes typically play out in several short vignettes and they are often very funny. Sometimes though, I do want to just smack these two – they take their games so far that it’s never gonna work out for them, ever!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


09. MEIJI TOKYO RENKA (ep. 1-10) – There’s very little real plot, mostly just lightweight content of the main girl’s interactions with the various male cast in this time-travel reverse harem anime. Just to give you an idea, the overarching storyline seems to be the search for a missing cat! Fortunately Mei is pretty likeable and charismatic for a heroine of this type of show and the episodes are moderately enjoyable.

Since we’re doing this, for the record, I’m Team Syunso. I really do not feel the attraction between Mei and leading man Ougai. It seems to me she clearly has better camaraderie with Syunso. Heck, I’d even ship her with the cross-dresser more easily than with Ougai!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


10. B-Project: Zecchou*Emotion (season 2) (ep. 1-10) – Sometimes the real drama doesn’t happen until after the ending credits roll; that’s an indication of how (not) packed with plot this idol series is! Fortunately, Zecchou*Emotion is pretty good at presenting its characters, and it can be adequately entertaining just watching the guys interact with each other.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


11. The Morose Mononokean II (ep. 1-8) – I was satisfied with the original series when it ended, but it’s the sequel, so we’re back. This time, it’s a little less yokai-of-the-week and a little more about the Underworld’s issues about Ashiya, the reasons of which are yet to be disclosed to the audience and to Ashiya himself.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

Mid-Autumn 2018 Anime Ranking

Due to the demands of work and travel, I haven’t had much time for watching anime this season, never mind writing down my thoughts about what I have seen, which makes me sad. Unfortunately, that means this quarterly post might be a little bit more half-assed than usual.

Note: I am aware that two of the shows on my list are not technically anime, but whatever, it’s my blog, so I’ll put in whatever I want… even if it’s the top 3!


01. DOUBLE DECKER! Doug & Kirill (ep. 1-10) – So far, this show has simply been a lot of fun. DOUBLE DECKER! can be serious when it wants to be, but when it goes for funny, it hits the mark because it is always smart enough to recognize its own stupidity. It’s full of interesting and colourful characters; even the narrator has quite the personality! And more than any anime I’ve ever seen, DOUBLE DECKER! acknowledges the existence of things like workplace sexual harassment and LGBTQ issues while telling its greater story.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


02. Thunderbolt Fantasy S2: Sword Seekers (Touri-ken Yuuki) (ep. 1-8) – It’s an incredible treat to get more of Urobuchi Gen’s Taiwanese puppet show! The writing is stellar and I just love these characters. The explanation as to why so many people have been crossing the Wasteland was so obvious in retrospect, I could have smacked my head. I fully expect that Sword Seekers will continue to surprise and impress me.

The music is always amazing in this series too. Well, it is Sawano Hiroyuki after all. The collaboration with Nishikawa Takanori for the OP and ED this time just takes it to the next level.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


03. CASTLEVANIA Season 2 (ep. 1-8 complete) – Trevor kind of takes a back seat to his mates, Alucard and Sypha in this installment. And they all take a back seat to Dracula’s court, which is the main focus of this story. We’re introduced to Dracula’s crew, as they scheme and question the loyalties and competencies of their comrades. Meanwhile, our heroes prepare for battle by hunkering down to study with books…

The 4 episodes of CASTLEVANIA season one and these 8 episodes are hugely entertaining, slickly animated productions featuring dark, intelligent storytelling. I’m very glad there’s a third season on the way!
(streaming at NETFLIX)


04. Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san (Gaikotsu Shoten’in Honda-san) (ep. 1-8) – This is a hilarious short format anime. I think anyone who’s worked in retail or customer service can relate to Honda’s bookstore experiences. I love that the humour is in the situations and Honda’s reactions, and is not generally mean-spirited toward the customers that he encounters.

Saitou Souma is really great as the soft-spoken title character; and the frequent random English is funny as hell.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


05. BANANA FISH (ep. 13-20) – I greatly enjoyed the thrilling hospital escape in ep. 16. But then I thought Ash seemed to give up too easily when Blanca came on scene. I would have expected him to maybe have some ideas on Blanca’s potential weaknesses, having known him and spent time together with him in the past.

I am also frustrated by Ash’s willingness to sacrifice himself for Eiji’s sake. He shouldn’t need to do that. It’s a little melodramatic, and if I were Eiji, I don’t think I would appreciate my own survival if it meant never being able to see my loved one again.


06. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind (JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Ougon no Kaze) (Season 4) (ep. 1-8) – Another season of JoJo’s brings with it another set of awesomely flamboyant characters. This represents Part 5 of the overall saga. I’m still getting to know the new cast, but JoJo’s is JoJo’s, and it’s as consistently entertaining as always.

The highlight so far was that impromptu torture dance on the ship. I have honestly never seen anything like that before! So good.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


07. DAKAICHI –I’m being harassed by the sexiest man of the year- (Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu.) (ep. 1-8) – In an unlikely development, I’m watching two BL-themed series this season: BANANA FISH and DAKAICHI. Whereas BANANA FISH is a drama and its plot involves much more than the love story, DAKAICHI is basically a romantic comedy; and as such, it works well.

I was worried that there would be a lot of non-consensual shenanigans (just look at that title), but that hasn’t really been the case, at least not between the 2 leads. I am reasonably convinced that their relations are indeed fully consensual. Also, Takato (I love his snarky internal monologue) and Junta are great characters who have real chemistry together. DAKAICHI is a lot of fun and I actually find this relationship more interesting and compelling than the one in BANANA FISH!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


08. GOBLIN SLAYER (ep. 1-10) – Through watching this controversial anime, I’ve discovered that this is my tolerance for objectionable content: brutal violence/rape (ep. 1) challenges my idea of entertainment, but is OK; gratuitous nudity (ep. 2) is eyeroll-inducing, but OK; insects – moving, up-close, with sound effects (ep.5) are NOT OK. I really wanted a lot more censorship in ep. 5!

Despite the fact that I have almost as many complaints about GOBLIN SLAYER as the next person, I actually sympathize enough with the characters that I would say I mostly like the show. In fact, if it were only the characters and the story, GOBLIN SLAYER might be vying for a spot in the top 5 right now. However, the distasteful aspects are significant enough that I would be hard-pressed to recommend this show; and even I, myself, would not relish the thought of enduring those difficult scenes a second time.

Of course, I am also watching because Umehara Yuuichirou is voicing the lead character, his first starring role since his return to work. He was in hospital for much of 2018 after being diagnosed with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, and during that time it was uncertain whether he would be able to continue his career. So there was basically no way I was going to miss this!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


09. Tsurune: Kazemai Koukou Kyuudou Bu (ep. 1-6) – Gorgeous KyoAni production about some high school kids in an archery club. What happens in it? Well not much actually; don’t ask me to describe the plot. Did I mention it looks great?
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

Also kinda sorta watching:

Boarding School Juliet (Kishuku Gakkou no Juliet)

IRODUKU (Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara)

The iDOLM@STER SideM: Wakeatte Mini!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

Mid-Spring 2018 Anime Ranking

There are a lot of good shows this season, including a handful of big-name sequels. Not necessarily great shows, mind you, but a whole slew of series that are too good to drop even though we kind of need to pare down our list. It’s frustrating, as we simply haven’t had the time to keep up with everything we had wanted to.


01. Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These (Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu: Die Neue These – Kaikou) (ep. 1-10) – Some of the political stuff is maybe a little dry for a visual medium, but it is still fascinating, both in terms of plot development and as a statement to real-world events, past and present. It really makes you think, and it can make you cry, that the themes of this story are just as relevant now as they were 35 years ago when the novels were first written. And they will continue to be, probably forever.

If only people like Yang (and possibly Kircheis), who value human life and have their eyes on the future, were in charge, humanity could actually have a chance at lasting peace. However, these are just the types of guys who would not likely ever seek a position of power for themselves, and who would never win the support of the under-educated, self-interested masses anyway.

Actually, Yang is my hero. I agree with everything that he’s said and done and I really sympathize with the difficult situation he’s in, in terms of personally wanting out of the war, yet knowing that others will be worse off if he leaves.

Regarding the cast, it is an exceedingly rare treat to find all four of my favourite voice actors in just one show: On the side of the Galactic Empire, there’s Miyano Mamoru, Umehara Yuuichirou, and Suwabe Junichi; and then there’s Miki Shinichiro over on the Free Planets Alliance’s side – just an extra perk on an already impressive series.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


02. WOTAKOI: Love is Hard for Otaku (Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii) (ep. 1-9) – Relatable and funny workplace romance starring a group of otaku. Yes, the show pokes some fun at their geek tendencies, but mostly, it serves to illustrate the joy of like-minded adults spending time with each other. There is actually very little drama to the main romance, which is realistic, though a little anticlimactic.


03. MEGALO BOX (ep. 1-10) – The new boxing anime, created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ashita no Joe manga, is a pretty slick production, featuring dynamic fights in the ring, cool music, and a multi-layered plot.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


04. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. 2 (Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan 2) (ep. 13-20)


05. DEVILS’ LINE (ep. 1-10) – I expected this to be a trashy, pulpy romance about a stupid girl falling in love with a dangerous, angsty vampire. Well it is that, but it is surprisingly a lot more too. It’s also a decent crime drama that covers serial murders, discrimination, terrorist organizations, double agents, and that staple of anime storytelling: secret orphanages for “special” children. Plus, the main character actually expresses some self-awareness of her own folly.
(streaming at HIDIVE)


06. FULL METAL PANIC! Invisible Victory (ep. 1-8) – I like the time-skip storyline featuring Sousuke’s new group of colleagues. The underground mech battles have some similarity to the setting of MEGALO BOX, actually. I feel like I should be missing Chidori and Tessa more than I do…
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


07. Food Wars! The Third Plate (Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara – Toutsuki Ressha-hen) (ep. 13-22)
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


08. Yowamushi Pedal: GLORY LINE (ep. 13-22) – Imaizumi is supposed to be Sohoku’s ace, but it seems like he never wins anything!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


09. DARLING in the FRANXX (ep. 13-20) – We’ve finally gotten some big reveals now that the climax is near, but that isn’t as interesting to me as the more character driven stuff was.

On the romantic front, while things got serious for 2 couples, the other kids continued to face heartbreak. It’s an unpopular opinion, perhaps, but I actually liked the way the show dealt with Ikuno’s same-sex crush. Certainly she faces extra challenges from being gay in a straight world, but her friend did not judge her for being different; and the bottom line is that she was not rejected because of her sex, but because her crush simply did not reciprocate her feelings, which really is no different from what many of her straight teammates have gone through already.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


10. Record of Grancrest War (Grancrest Senki) (ep. 13-21) – No joke about the fast pacing! I definitely did not imagine, back when Theo met Siluca in the forest at the start of the series, that he would end up accomplishing so much career-wise. And the show isn’t even over yet.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


11. Rokuhoudou YOTSUiRO BiYORi (ep. 1-9) – Not much plot happens in this slice-of-life anime about four guys who run a trendy and classy café, and yet somehow, it manages to be consistently riveting to watch regardless! It has some things in common with last summer’s Restaurant to Another World, in that many of the stories are about the various customers that visit the café, although YOTSUiRO BiYORi is obviously more grounded in a real world setting. I personally prefer less fantasy, so this works for me.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


12. Tada Never Falls in Love (Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai) (ep. 1-10) – This show is supposed to be a romance and a comedy, but it just isn’t terribly effective in either category. Most of the guys are obnoxious; and even the fact that two of them are voiced by a couple of my aforementioned favourite seiyuu (Mamo and Ume) does nothing to mitigate my annoyance with them. Unfortunately, the not-particularly-annoying characters, such as Tada and Teresa, in turn have no personality to speak of.

Alexandra is the type of character I would normally support, but I never found it in me to forgive her for the undeserved attack on Kaoru in the very first episode, which she didn’t even apologize for. Believe me, I get it, but being annoying is not a justification for assault!

You know what? The best guy is probably Charles, who, like Villar Constance in Grancrest Senki, appeared for a few episodes and stole the show. Both characters have long, fair-coloured hair, are super-cool dudes despite initially negative expectations, and speak with the velvety voice of Sakurai Takahiro. Also as with Villar, it’s pretty easy to ship Charles with the tall redhead that he can’t be with.
(streaming at HIDIVE)


13. SPACE BATTLESHIP TIRAMISU (Uchuu Senkan Tiramisu) (ep. 1-10) – A lot of the stuff that happens in this space opera parody anime is really crazy and out-there. At the same time, it’s not a completely absurd idea that spending a long time in space, frequently all alone in your cockpit, could make a person somewhat weird in the head. This is a pretty funny short, as long as you’re okay with gross-out humour.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


14. LIBRA OF NIL ADMIRARI (Nil Admirari no Tenbin) (ep. 1-9) – There are too many characters in this cursed-book murder mystery! I thought I was doing fine for a while, but nope. Especially at times when they are referred to by name only, it can be a real struggle.

After seeing the uh, subtleness with which the romance was handled in Code:Realize, I do at least appreciate that the apparent main suitor in this series has made his attraction to Tsugumi obvious. Sadly, Tsugumi appears to have more chemistry with one or two of the other guys though!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


15. Butlers X Battlers (Butlers ~Chitose Momotose Monogatari~) (ep. 1-9) – It’s kind of laughable that practically the whole cast has been revealed to be “Butlers” now, but the show plays it pretty straight. The odd little bits of humour do occasionally hit the mark too.

The main character’s goal, to save his sister, is a story device that’s strangely common in anime and often assumes that no explanation is needed. But I can’t muster any empathy without seeing what their relationship was like before she went missing, or what their shared experiences were.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

For the record, here is the whopping list of shows we’ve fallen behind on, but have not formally dropped:

BORUTO: NARUTO NEXT GENERATIONS (Crunchyroll)

Cute High Earth Defense Club HAPPY KISS! (Binan Koukou Boueibu HAPPY KISS!) (Crunchyroll)

GOLDEN KAMUY (Crunchyroll)

HINAMATSURI (Crunchyroll)

LAST HOPE (Juushinki PANDORA) (maybe we’ll try again when it comes to NETFLIX)

MAGICAL GIRL ORE (Mahou Shoujo Ore) (Crunchyroll)

MY HERO ACADEMIA (Boku no Hero Academia) Season 3 (Crunchyroll)

My Sweet Tyrant (Akkun to Kanojo) (Crunchyroll)

Ninja Girl & Samurai Master S3 (Nobunaga no Shinobi: Anegawa Ishiyama-hen) (Crunchyroll)

Steins:Gate 0 (Crunchyroll)

Mid-Winter 2018 Anime Ranking

I haven’t started with one of these in some years, but there are actually a few decent theme songs currently, so let’s kick things off with my choices for best OP/ED songs this season:

1. The Perfect World, by Marty Friedman feat. Jean-Ken Johnny & KenKen (B: The Beginning ED)
2. KISS OF DEATH, by Nakashima Mika (Produced by HYDE) (DARLING in the FRANXX OP)
3. Treasure, by Narek (cv: Ishikawa Kaito) & Vino (cv: Umehara Yuuichirou) (Dame x Prince ANIME CARAVAN ED3)
4. Heavenly Visitor, by TRIGGER (IDOLiSH7 ED)
5. Ref:rain, by Aimer (After the Rain ED)

It’s the season of Sanrio and ramen. Sanrio, the company behind Hello Kitty and My Melody, not only has their own anime airing right now, they also have product placement and tie-ins with the other 2 “cute” shows on my list, How to keep a mummy and SCHOOL BABYSITTERS! Meanwhile, ramen is featured in the titles and content of 2 (very different) shows.

To tell the truth, I’ve been procrastinating about making this ranking. The reason is that there are so many really good series this winter that it’s kind of a pain deciding which show is better than which! Anyway, I’ll do my best.


01. DARLING in the FRANXX (ep. 1-9) – Depending on how I feel about each episode week by week, any of the shows in my top 5 could easily be my favourite of the season. Ultimately I’m going with DARLING in the FRANXX because I’m most invested in the characters of this show. The ways they relate to one another are compelling and I’m curious to know more about their world, even if I’m not expecting to be blown away by originality.

The early episodes of this mecha anime presented the cockpit scenes as one elaborate, extended sex joke. I think it turned some people off. I, however, thought it was really funny! Well, I also liked Aquarion EVOL and STAR DRIVER, so apparently I’m not one to be easily offended by this type of material. (On the other hand, I do find a tad offensive the way we always see Futoshi eating something. You can always count on good ol’ anime to fat-shame the chubby kid whenever there’s an opportunity to do so.)

Since then, the focus has turned more toward developing each of the characters, and I’m enjoying that aspect too, since I really do care about these kids… Well, except for Mitsuru; I have a feeling even he might become sympathetic eventually, but for now I just feel really sorry for Ikuno, who has to partner with him.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


02. SCHOOL BABYSITTERS (Gakuen Babysitters) (ep. 1-10) – I love my sisters more than anything in the world, so I’m a super easy target for heartwarming stories like this that emphasize the bonds between siblings. Additionally, there is a big age gap between myself and my youngest sibling, just like Ryuuichi and Kotarou, so this brings back memories of when my baby sister was, well, actually a baby.

Ryuuichi and Kotarou are on their own in this world after suffering the loss of their parents. Naturally, they are very attached to each other. They get taken in by the Chairwoman of a private school, and Ryuuichi uses his experience in raising his brother to help out at the school’s daycare.

The anime is not as sombre as I’m making it sound. Most of the time, it’s lighthearted and sweet and funny. I laugh a lot while watching; and then afterward, I’m left thinking about the characters’ personalities and how different the various sibling relationships are.

Personally, I would never leave my child at a daycare staffed by guys, especially not if the adult in charge were someone like Usaida – he is disturbingly irresponsible! I think I enjoyed it too much when Kamitani whacked him on the head that time. Then again, I always enjoy it when Kamitani whacks people. Is that bad? – I absolutely do not condone hitting people (especially children) in real life!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


03. HAKATA TONKOTSU RAMENS (ep. 1-9) – This show depicts Hakata as a city teeming with killers-for-hire. It has a huge ensemble cast, and it’s really hard to keep track of who’s who and who is whose associate, but I can follow it enough to enjoy it a lot. All the double-crossing and personality quirks are a blast to watch, although I’m also glad we are finally getting some background on Lin.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

04. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. 2 (Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan 2) (ep. 1-9) – More Saiki K. goodness. It’s great to have Saiki and his friends and family back; their personalities and the situations they get themselves into are always hilarious. If you liked the first season, you will also enjoy this.

The current OP, “Psilent Prisoner,” by Psychic Lover featuring lead vocals by Kaidou (cv: Shimazaki Nobunaga), is very chuunibyou and kind of amazing. I wonder if I should have included it in my song list up top?


05. How to keep a mummy (Miira no Kaikata) (ep. 1-9) – So freakin’ cute. That’s pretty much all you need to know. This show, about a boy and his mini mummy, and his friends and their fantastical pets, takes the cuteness of something like SCHOOL BABYSITTERS and dials it to eleven. There’s no deep meaning, no complicated plot to follow; just sit back, relax, and let the warmth wash over you.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


06. B: The Beginning (ep. 1-6) – A mature investigative crime drama along the lines of PSYCHO-PASS and Terror in Resonance. Uploaded by NETFLIX in its entirety early in March, we haven’t had time to marathon it, but we did check out the first 6 episodes over 2 sittings and I’m intrigued by what we’ve seen.

In some ways, Lily, the female protagonist, kind of sticks out like a sore thumb. She has a more cartoony appearance than the other cast members and it’s obvious she’s there largely for comic relief. But I like her. B: The Beginning is dark, violent, and frequently disturbing. When Lily shows up though, it lightens the mood and makes things feel less horrifying.
(streaming on NETFLIX in its entirety)

07. Yowamushi Pedal: GLORY LINE (ep. 1-10) – We’re in the middle of the Inter-High and GLORY LINE (YowaPeda season 4) is once again as exciting and funny as the first 2 seasons. It’s nice to see the Sohoku boys back in the spotlight. Their team banter is always fun too, especially Naruko and Imaizumi. Now all we need is for Onoda to strut his stuff!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


08. Dame x Prince ANIME CARAVAN (ep. 1-10) – This show is pretty dumb, but damn if it isn’t really funny too! It basically functions as a parody of reverse harem stories. The guys of DamePri are handsome to look at, I guess, but every one of them is a certifiable weirdo. Part of the joke is that our lead, Princess Ani, wouldn’t be caught dead dating any of them. Her reactions to the shenanigans are hilarious.

All along, there were hints that something shady was going on behind the scenes, but the anime has been fluffy and comedic for the vast majority of its run. Until now, that is; the tone suddenly shifted in ep. 10, and it seems like things will be a little more serious in the final stretch.

Funniest character: Prince Narek. He’s so ridiculously, obliviously full of himself that sometimes he only needs to show up and I already feel like giggling. Least-funny: Gurimaru. Mascot characters just don’t work for me.
(streaming at HIDIVE)


09. After the Rain (Koi wa ameagari no You ni) (ep. 1-10) – After the Rain is about a teenaged girl with a crush on her 40-something boss. As such, it tiptoes on some potentially problematic material. To its credit, the anime is sensitive and believable and not really weird at all, in no small part because Kondo, the boss, is a decent guy who doesn’t take Akira’s advances too seriously.

10. GARO -VANISHING LINE- (ep. 13-21) – Even though Sword and Sophie are the real main characters, it’s the episodes focused Luke that I’ve enjoyed the most. Also, ep. 16, a mostly stand-alone story about a chance acquaintance, proved to be a highlight. It was written well enough to make me care about this random guy. And it was refreshing to see that not everything has to be because of Horrors.

As previously stated, the action is great; and in particular, I am satisfied with the musical accompaniment during those scenes. A show like this is just crying to have some metal in its soundtrack; GARO gets it.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


11. VIOLET EVERGARDEN (ep. 1-10) – The animation looks absolutely stunning in this much-hyped KyoAni production. VIOLET EVERGARDEN tells the story of a former-soldier doll who starts a new life after the war as a letter-writer, while coming to terms with her past.

Disappointingly, the quality of the visuals far out-classed the rather unsophisticated narrative in the early stages. But then the anime apparently started following the source material more closely around the fifth episode and it was a huge improvement. My enthusiasm for the show increased dramatically.

Basically, VIOLET EVERGARDEN has taken the opposite trajectory of SANRIO BOYS (see below) in my rankings.
(streaming on NETFLIX weekly)

12. Record of Grancrest War (Grancrest Senki) (ep. 1-10) – This reminds me a bit of Lord Marksman and Vanadis (2014). Both have a political/fantasy setting, extremely fast pacing, and strong female warriors. Grancrest Senki is the less fanservicey and more respectable of the two.

The pace really is fast. There’s a war going on and there can be five or ten different things happening at the same time, with very little explanation. It is possible to enjoy it just from following the gist of it, though.

The series can also be terribly violent at times, but I feel the violence tends to be presented in ways that are more artistic than gratuitous. I also like that even doomed extras sometimes get decently animated fights before getting killed off. However, it’s kind of a shame that frequently, named characters with interesting personalities or backgrounds also just get killed off soon after their introduction.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

13. IDOLiSH7 (ep. 3-12) – The male idol anime of this season is fairly competent, though I don’t feel it particularly stands out among other shows of its genre. It’s realistic that IDOLiSH7 does not become successful immediately, and that in fact a couple of the members rise in popularity ahead of the others.

I kind of wish there was more focus on the rival group, TRIGGER. Two of the 3 guys have somewhat abrasive and rebellious personalities. They clearly have their own agendas, and I am genuinely interested in learning what their motives are. Plus, TRIGGER’s music is better; which isn’t actually difficult since the IDOLiSH7 songs are all terrible.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


14. Ms Koizumi loves ramen noodles (Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san) (ep. 1-10) – While this is a cute and pleasant show, it really has no plot. Gluttony is the name of the game for ramen-addicted Koizumi and her friends. We usually make sure to get some ramen in us before watching, or at least have food in hand, because man, all that ramen on display looks sinfully good. It’s definitely given us ideas on where we want to eat when we next go to Japan!

It can be argued that both this and last season’s Love Rice are pro-carb propaganda vehicles, and I’m not sure I can really support that message. While I do happen to be staunchly pro-carbs myself, it’s more of a personal preference and not because I have any delusions that this kind of diet is balanced or healthy. Having ramen every day, several times a day may sound heavenly, but it can’t possibly be good for you!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

15. BORUTO: NARUTO NEXT GENERATIONS (ep. 40-47) – The Byakuya Gang arc was actually not bad, in that it was fairly enjoyable to watch. I didn’t see the grey in the criminals’ ideology, though. They were trying to gain public favour by robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, but I think Boruto summed it up pretty nicely right from the start, that “stealing is stealing!”
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

16. Osomatsu-san 2 (Mr. Osomatsu 2) (ep. 14-23) – A clear improvement over the first cour, even if it still isn’t quite measuring up to the creative genius of season one.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


17. SANRIO BOYS (ep. 1-9) – SANRIO BOYS had a very promising start. The message of the first few episodes, that it’s okay to be yourself, even if you like Sanrio mascots and you’re a boy, was relevant and easily applicable to anyone who might feel they don’t fit in with the crowd for any reason.

Then, the show veered off into worshipping-Hello-Kitty-as-a-deity territory and they lost me. In ep. 7, the boys had a transcendent experience visiting the Sanrio Puroland theme park. I didn’t get it at all. I’m grateful I got to see it in this anime, though; now I know I don’t ever need to go there myself!

Now the new friends are putting all their resources into making a musical, even though it’s obvious none of them has any expertise in that sort of thing. It’s just not believable. All in all, SANRIO BOYS could have been so much better if it had continued to play out as a parable for the challenges of learning to accept yourself and to accept others who are different from you. What a missed opportunity.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)