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-Summer 2019 Anime Ranking

A small anime load is going to be the norm now, as work and obligations continue to keep us busy. Also, I will confess that I recently caved and rescinded my One Game Policy™. I now play Ikemen Vampire as well as Ikemen Sengoku on a regular basis. They are fun and rewarding, but they do divert quite a bit of time and attention away from anime and life.

The anime series that we started and dropped this season numbered nearly as many as the titles we ended up sticking with. Some prominent shows that fell by the wayside include to the abandoned Sacred Beasts, FIRE FORCE, Lord El-Melloi II’s Case Files, Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit, Multi-Target Attacks!, and Ensemble Stars!. Kochouki: Wakaki Nobunaga might be on the chopping block too.


01. COP CRAFT (ep. 1-9) – A fish-out-of-water, visible minority (alien) rookie cop gets paired with grizzled (human) veteran. Yes, we’ve seen this set-up a million times before, not only in anime, but in western entertainment as well. But even though there’s nothing special about the premise, or the animation quality, and everybody seems to be criticizing the show, I guess I don’t care about that stuff, because I still like it!

I believe it’s all in the execution. From the confident storytelling, to the impeccable comic timing, to the nuanced characters (side characters too!), and most of all the stellar script, COP CRAFT is really smart; and I find it to be highly enjoyable. I also appreciate the realistic way COP CRAFT touches on various social issues topics such as race relations, sexual orientation, and politics.
(streaming at FUNimation)


02. VINLAND SAGA (ep. 1-9) – Well, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Viking anime before. This one is a really well-written (and violent) tale of a young boy named Thorfinn losing his innocence and growing into a warrior obsessed with vengeance. I don’t know much about the events of the Middle Ages, so I’m learning a little bit of history from watching this show.

The first 3 episodes originally aired together, but we had to take a break between 2 and 3 in order to prepare ourselves for what was obviously coming.

I wonder that no one tells the whole truth to Thorfinn. I mean, Askeladd is clearly not a good guy, but he was more the weapon, not the rightful target for revenge. Honour had nothing to do with it, after all; Askeladd was hired to do a job, and he had to do it.

The opening for this anime is so good. Survive Said The Prophet’s melodic and metal “MUKANJYO” pairs beautifully with the dramatic character imagery, epic vistas, and constantly moving camera work to produce the best opening/ending credits sequence I’ve seen this season, and maybe so far this year.
(streaming: Amazon Prime)


03. [given] (ep. 1-10) – There’s a lot to like about [given]. As a band anime, it probably ranks up among the likes of NANA and BECK. The characters are all likeable, and the performance animation and music are quite good too. In addition, [given] is a sensitive and subtle story of the budding romance between the 2 leads, which gets a bit angsty, but not to the point of melodrama.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


04. STARMYU High School Star Musical Season 3 (ep. 1-11) – Hoshitani really, really wants to perform together with all his friends for the Opening Ceremony, which leads to trouble with the current Kao Council. That is actually the whole plot. And you know what? It’s stupid, but it’s enough. The magic of STARMYU is in the great cast. The characters are consistently loveable and funny (well, most of them), and true to their personalities. While I do miss Ootori and Hiiragi, STARMYU in general has not lost its charm, even well into its third season.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


05. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (ep. 14-23) – The stunning sakuga and gorgeous art toward the end of the spider arc had social media all abuzz. While it certainly looked impressive, I was personally more entertained by the (filler) episodes which led up to that arc. That’s because Zenitsu and Inosuke are such great characters. I mean I kind of feel sorry for Tanjirou that he has to put up with these crazies, but they are funny! My favourite part was how upset Zenitsu got when he was forced to part with that kid he was supposed to have been protecting.

At the conclusion of the spider-demon arc, the show tried to humanize the villain by showing his past, a typical occurrence in shounen storytelling. But it was way too little, way too late. After all the evil we’d seen him do, there was no way to justify that, and his origin story fell flat.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


06. Dr. STONE (ep. 1-10) – Senkuu is undeniably wise, not only in his scientific know-how, but also in his philosophical worldview. However, I have to question his leadership skills if at only the third episode, when the world as they know it has a population of 4, he already needs to make gunpowder!

Anyway, it’s very easy to root for Senkuu to be successful in reviving the world because obviously, science is cool.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


07. Ace of Diamond (Diamond no Ace): Act II (season 3) (ep. 14-24) – It’s been a really long time coming, but in the rivalry between Seido pitchers Sawamura and Furuya, Sawamura is consistently outperforming Furuya lately, and actually looking like the main character that he is! Coach Kataoka is even starting him in the important game against scary fast Hakuryuu High School. Let’s hope Sawamura continues to hold his own against their strong batters and audacious base-stealers.

It might not always be evident from the way he acts, but Miyuki is a remarkable captain for his team, passing on his knowledge to the junior members, and sadly, also preparing his pitchers for a future that won’t include him.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


08. Fruits Basket (2019) (ep. 14-22) – We were getting a bit tired of the usual formula, which is: Tohru encounters the Souma-of-the-week.

Fortunately, eps. 21-22 shifted the focus to Tohru’s friend Hanajima, showing her past and explaining how she came to be the way she is now. Up until that point, she had been a pretty gimmicky character. This flashback story impressively and unexpectedly humanized her.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


09. BEM (ep. 1-7) – This is another 50th anniversary reboot project of which I’m not familiar with the original source or previous adaptations. It might be the fault of the dated franchise, but many of the villains are so cringingly ridiculous, they would have been right at home in the parody anime Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!.

Bem, Bela, and Belo are humanoid youkai who go around defeating evil monsters in order to protect humans. Their goal is to become human again someday.

So no surprise when, in ep. 7, Bem lectured Belo that he must not kill a scumbag who was experimenting on human and animal captives because it’s their policy to not kill humans. But then, Bem proceeded to release all of the creatures from their cages and allowed them to maul the guy to death. Umm okay, Bem, as long as your conscience is clear.

When it comes to gritty, dark, supernatural anime, COP CRAFT scratches my itch this season a lot better than BEM.
(streaming at FUNimation)

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)