Mid-Summer 2013 Anime Ranking

I’ve been working on this post for the past few weeks, in preparation of going on vacation. Unfortunately, I expect to fall behind on my watch list while I’m away.

Anyway, here’s the current ranking, including a more extended look at BROTHERS CONFLICT. In retrospect, I should have maybe made it into a separate entry. Oh well.


01. Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) (ep. 14-21) – There are only a few episodes remaining, so it is a bit worrisome that Shingeki seems to be taking its time with the storytelling. Regardless though, every episode has been satisfying nonetheless. There’s always some reveal or intrigue or character development, and I’m left amazed at how good the show is, even while wondering when we’ll actually get some answers to the questions at the heart of the story.

Just to add a word about the latest episode: It was so intense, I was on edge and filled with dread throughout the whole thing. Seriously, it’s important not to get too attached to these characters! On the plus side, Mikasa’s back. And she and Levi are finally on the same page!
(streaming at Crunchyroll and Funimation)


02. Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club (ep. 1-9) – Obviously a fanservice show for girls, but it’s also a school-setting sports anime. The comedy is right on target and it is just really fun to watch. The characters all have well-developed personalities, making their interactions amusing and convincing. The animation is beautiful. The OP and ED themes are catchy. Sure, the guys are easy on the eyes, but that’s just the icing on the cake here.

As an aside, I hope Samezuka captain Mikoshiba gets a chance with Kou. Normally, he’s authoritative and rather intimidating, but it’s so cute how he totally softens up when he’s with her. It’ll probably never happen though, since Kou hasn’t shown any interest and this show isn’t about him! But at the very least, it’s a testament to the amount of love and detail that went into the writing when even a minor character like Mikoshiba has multiple facets to his personality.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


03. The Eccentric Family (uchouten-kazoku) (ep. 1-9) – The only series I’m watching this season that has animation more stunning than Free!. In lesser shows, they just flash some fanservice during dialogue-heavy scenes and call it a day. In this one, the characters are constantly moving – and fluidly; even if it’s a dialogue scene, they’ll be eating something or tidying up the room while talking.

The anime is strongest when it focuses on Yasaburou, his brothers, and their mother. They have complex personalities and the family dynamic is engaging. Yasaburou and his youngest brother are also incredibly cute. Eccentric Family is full of dark humour, delivered deadpan. Not entirely sure where they’re going with this story-wise, but right now the journey is entertaining enough that I’m not concerned about the destination.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


04. Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince (ep. 13-21) – Another show that shines because of its really well-defined characters. Majestic Prince continues to deliver ironic truths along with gentle humour. We’re in the home stretch now and the battle against the Walguru is heating up. Meanwhile, revelations about the team’s origins are coming to light.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


05. Servant x Service (ep. 1-9) – Some episodes are really funny and creative, while others are less inspired and sometimes annoying. Charming slacker Hasebe is really great and steals every scene he’s in. His sister too – she’s the only person who can one-up him and I’d like to see more of her. Ichimiya’s sister Toko, on the other hand, is responsible for all the “annoying” and the show would be better without her, in my opinion.

Recent episodes have put the spotlight on Hasebe and his relationship with Lucy, and that’s definitely a step in the right direction.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

06. Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199) (ep. 13-22) – The Yamato crew continues on its quest to save the Earth. Meanwhile, we’re seeing more of the workings of the enemy Garmillians. It’s interesting that the Earthlings actually come off as a pretty homogenous bunch, while it’s the Garmillans who have more complex issues involving politics, race struggles, and discrimination.


07. BROTHERS CONFLICT (ep. 1-9) – A teenage girl moves in with 12 of her 13 new step-brothers after her father remarries. It’s a pseudo-incest/reverse-harem anime and just hearing the premise was enough to make me groan and roll my eyes. However, since I am such an open-minded person, and because reverse harem shows can be fun for whatever reason, I checked this out anyway.

The animation is minimal and low-budget, but the guys’ personalities and appearances are relatively fleshed out and distinguishable, and not quite as stereotypical as they could have been. The main girl, Ema, is the blandest character – though after AMNESIA, this heroine seems positively perky.

I think it’s certainly possible that these boys, getting to know their new “sister” and spending considerable time together, could start to feel affection for her, which could be confused for romantic attraction. Realistically though, even a teenager, never mind a 20-something, would know to tread carefully in such a situation, wouldn’t they? I mean, this is a girl who’s going to be part of the family. If things go wrong, there could be a lifetime of hard feelings and awkwardness in store.

Therefore, going in, I expected that the romance would mostly be a tease. Usually these shows tend to invite the audience to ship various characters together, often without overtly promoting a pairing or having characters seriously confess their love.

This show goes there! Several of the brothers have already made their intentions clear; one has (laughably) practically proposed marriage! There has started to be some nastiness between them. Ema has not shown any particular preference for the boys, but she has not clearly rebuffed them either. All I can think is that she’s going to tear this family apart. How can this possibly end well?
(streaming at Funimation)

08. Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East S2 (ep. 14-21) – This anime, about a bunch of guys named Inu-something, resumes after a 3-month break and it continues to be a consistent and nice looking show, but it’s still not clear to me what the point of it is. Regardless, when it tries to be funny, it is surprisingly effective, so it remains an entertaining watch most of the time.

I think the senseless mass murders in ep. 20 was a bit of a misstep, though. It did not fit with the usual lighter tone of the series. It’s true there have been dark turns in the past, but the violence here was particularly unnecessary and inconsequential.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


09. Blood Lad (ep. 1-9) – Blood Lad had a promising beginning, but quickly started to lose me in the following episodes. It’s been picking up again, and it certainly does have its funny moments, so I’m glad I didn’t give up on it.
The main girls are the weak point for me. Bell seems to be a popular character, but she doesn’t do anything for me at all. And Fuyumi is, by nature, nothing more than a fanservice blob.
The guys fare better: Otaku vampire lead Staz is frequently amusing, and I’m liking Wolf as well. I also hope to see more of Staz’s relationship with his brother.

Wait, there’s only one episode left? How are they going to wrap things up so quickly?

10. WATAMOTE-No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular! (Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaete mo Omaera ga Warui!) (ep. 1-8) – I think Tomoko is cute and she is depicted in a realistic, if rather brutal, way. I feel sorry for her as a social outcast at school. However, I can’t sympathize with the terrible way she treats her brother. There is some humour in this uncommon anime, and also a lot of painful, ugly truth. WATAMOTE is very well written, but it can be pretty uncomfortable to watch.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

11. Genshiken Second Generation (ep. 1-9) – Not having seen more than a couple of episodes from the earlier seasons of Genshiken, I do feel a bit lost sometimes when past characters show up or they reference some previous event. For some reason, I never got into Genshiken, even though it’s a popular series for otaku.

This season has more emphasis on fujoshi characters and BL, and that part’s been pretty enjoyable so far. Hato, who is shaping up to be the main character of the bunch, is certainly about as unlikely and original a lead as I have ever seen!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

12. Space Brothers (Uchuu Kyoudai) (ep. 65-71) – I wish there was a condensed version of these episodes. The plot has been rather predictable lately and sooo slow-moving. I still believe Space Brothers is a decent show, but the pacing! At the end of that episode where Mutta met his flying instructor, I remember being torn between thinking “It’s already over? Nothing happened!” and “I’m so glad it’s finally over because nothing happened!”
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

13. Sunday Without God (Kami-sama no Inai Nichiyoubi) (ep. 1-9) – While the rules of this (literally) god-forsaken fantasy world are not well established, I think Sunday Without God might be trying to say something about the meaning of life, existentialism, or some such. The show was never exactly riveting to begin with, but at least it was throwing out some potentially thought-provoking ideas. Therefore, I found the sudden shift to a school setting in ep. 7 and 8 to be both jarring and disappointing. The tedious new characters and their uninteresting conversations just bored me.

There are still a few episodes remaining, so I shouldn’t write it off just yet. However, I don’t have much hope at this point that it will come through with any meaningful message by the end.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


14. GATCHAMAN CROWDS (ep. 1-8) – This anime is colourful and inventive. The main character is spunky and I admire how she encourages looking at things from other people’s point of view. So why can’t this show hold my attention?

I guess the wishy-washy world-building is kind of tiresome for me at this point. What I want to see is more development of the characters, and meaningful interactions between them.

Despite her outward airhead appearance, we’re supposed to believe that Hajime knows exactly what she’s doing. But we never get to see the method behind her madness. So while things “happen”, I don’t feel any weight from the possible consequences.

When it comes to stylish, quirky, brightly-coloured anime featuring super-chill protagonists who take everything in stride, I’ll take uchouten-kazoku over CROWDS any day.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

15. Senyuu. S2 (ep. 14-22) – The novelty is rubbing off. And random stuff is just random. For a show with such a short run-time, there are an awful lot of characters; and when you only see them for seconds at a time with a whole week in between, it gets hard to keep them straight. The main character is hardly even in it anymore, though that’s part of the joke too, of course.

Well, it’s still a small commitment time-wise, so I’ll continue watching. But recently, I’ve been putting it off until several episodes are available so I can watch them all at once.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

Mid-Winter 2013 Anime Ranking

It’s late enough in the season that I considered doing a season-end post instead.  I decided against it, since unfortunately, endings are frequently disappointing and don’t necessarily reflect my feelings about the show during its run.  Also, a number of shows will be continuing and it’s a bit easier to compare impressions of ongoing programs.


01.  PSYCHO-PASS (ep. 12-20) – I’ve written about PSYCHO-PASS before, so obviously I’ve been enjoying it from the start.  However, even through the often shocking, disturbing events in the first half, I felt a certain disconnect with the show.  It wasn’t until the horrifying development in episode 11 that it really grabbed me in the gut.

I don’t think PSYCHO-PASS has budged from the top of my list since its return this season.  Although the ideas it presents may not be entirely original, the execution has been very effective.  Now, the true nature of the Sibyl System has been revealed; and Kougami is walking a path apart from the MWPSB, as foretold in the current OP.  Only 2 more episodes remain!

I have mixed feelings when it comes to Makishima.  On the one hand, I love how complex he is; on the other, it often happens in anime that when the villain becomes a sympathetic character, his previous crimes get swept under the rug, and I hope that doesn’t happen here.  A couple of recent examples of bad-guy-turns-good that come to mind are Aki in “Kamisama Dolls” and Hitomi in “CODE:BREAKER”.  I remember being bothered by those shows’ failure to address the issue; albeit both series were pretty shallow compared to PSYCHO-PASS.

I’ll admit I have been rooting for Makishima – in the fight against the chief, and also when his associates turned on him at the end of episode 14, but it always felt wrong.  I have not forgotten about the heinous crimes he’s committed, even if he’s now playing the hero against a corrupt system.  I do have reasonable hopes, though, that a show of this calibre might just be able to handle the situation with appropriate delicacy.
(streaming at Funimation)


02.  Chihayafuru 2 (ep. 1-9) – After the introduction of the new members, it’s mostly been about gameplay.  Otherwise, we’ve seen plenty of character development for the new kids, but less for the core cast so far.  Probably because of that, I don’t feel as hooked on the show now as I did the first series.  Regardless, Chihayafuru continues to be solid: funny, exciting, and endearing.  And now at long last, Arata is back!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


03.  Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World) (ep. 14-22) – Although the actual settings and characters are very different, both Shin Sekai Yori and PSYCHO-PASS involve a future society that ostensibly achieves peace through the restriction or removal of individual freedom.  At this point in both series, the dystopian societies are coming under attack from outside.  That is, our protagonists are mostly on the side of status quo, while the villains are the challengers.  Increasingly, it’s hard to tell who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong.  Shin Sekai Yori has lost some of its lustre for me due to the current focus on the Monster Rat attacks.  I enjoyed it a bit more when the spotlight was on Saki and her group.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


04.  Space Brothers (ep.39-48) – This was trending higher in my ranking in January during the Hibito-on-the-moon arc.  While those episodes didn’t have the usual amount of humour, the storytelling was gripping and it gave the feeling of watching a NASA-themed Hollywood movie.  Now that we’re back down to earth with Mutta and his training, Space Brothers continues to be entertaining, but at a less lofty level.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

05.  MAGI (ep. 12-21) – I was impressed with Alibaba’s display of political wisdom during the Balbadd arc at the start of the season.  The fights that followed didn’t really hold my attention, though.  Recent episodes involving Sinbad have upped the humour content, and I am actually surprised at how funny the current Zagan-dungeon-capturing arc is proving to be, thanks in no small part to Hakuryuu, of all people!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

06.  THE UNLIMITED (ep. 1-9) – I’m enjoying THE UNLIMITED, and I like the characters well enough, but somehow I don’t feel invested in it the way I do the returning programs.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

07.  Blast of Tempest (ep. 13-21) – Now that the identity of Aika’s boyfriend has been revealed, and the mystery of her murder is seemingly solved, the main outstanding issues have been addressed.  All that’s left is to figure out how to save the world.  Theatre of the absurd at its finest!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


08.  Tamako Market (ep, 1-9) – Cute and sweet and appropriately inoffensive, but there’s not much substance here.

09.  IXION SAGA DT (ep. 13-22) – This show.  Just when I think it’s getting tedious, it reveals that the feeling is completely intentional.  Anyway, I’m glad the marriage rituals are over, and that Kon didn’t really have to stand in for the princess on her wedding night!  Looking forward to Erec-sama playing a bigger role in the current arc.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

10.  JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (ep. 9-21) – It took a while for me to get caught up on JoJo, since I didn’t enjoy the first season all that much.  But then they went and killed off the main characters in episode 9, and it’s been so much better ever since!  Episode 20 featured some of the best fight sequences in the series so far.  The death scene was fairly moving too, although I don’t think it affected me as much as it did most viewers (yes, I’m really that cold.)

11.  Hakkenden (ep. 1-8) – I think I’m glad I made it past the first episode, since that was the lowest point so far.  Still, I’m not really sure what to make of the show as a whole.  Hakkenden does manage to be amusing in unexpected ways sometimes.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


12.  AMNESIA (ep. 1-9) – Wow.  This heroine gives new meaning to “personality-less”.  Even if she appears blank to the other characters because of her memory loss, at least we, the audience, should see some wheels turning in her head as she tries to figure out what’s going on; but sadly, no.  This girl has so little energy, I wondered if the writers had confused “anemia” with “amnesia”.  (I laughed when the doctor actually suggested anemia as a diagnosis in episode 8!)  That said, the anime continues to provide entertainment value from the colourful outfits and vague mysteriousness.  Plus, we can make constant disparaging remarks while watching, which is fun.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

13.  Senyu. (ep. 1-9) – Unfortunately, each episode is only about 3 minutes long.  If there were more content, this might have rated higher, because, of the 2 demonXhuman-relations anime that I’m following (see MAOYU at the bottom of the list), I’m liking this one a lot better!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

14.  Love Live! School idol project (ep. 1-9) – Initially, Honoka’s sheer enthusiasm in forming an idol group to represent/save her school was fun to watch.  Now, the anime is just kind of boring.  It is neither as sweet nor as charming as Tamako Market, and I can’t even say it’s completely inoffensive.  What’s with that student council vice prez?  She seems like a wise and thoughtful person most of the time, but her boob-grabbing antics are certainly not being appreciated by her victim.  That looks like assault; and it’s not even remotely funny, so why…?
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

15.  MAOYU (ep. 1-9) – First of all, economics-themed anime and me are a bad combination.  I already knew this from my experience with “Spice and Wolf”.  Anyway, I think MAOYU dwells on economics and agriculture too much.  I would prefer to see more quality action scenes and more detailed explanations of their war strategies.  Also, the romance between demon-queen Mao and human-hero Yuusha is too cutesy and forced.  The way I see it, their relationship is more like a marriage of convenience than a whirlwind love affair, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  I could have appreciated seeing their efforts at making the relationship work, at finding common ground despite different upbringings.  Instead, when they’re together, Mao behaves like an insecure schoolgirl and Yuusha is like a clueless milquetoast harem lead.  Disappointing.

Alright, I have to make an exception for the latest episode.  In episode 9, our main characters were relegated to the sidelines while the elder sister maid took center stage, and it was by far the best MAOYU offering to date.  No eyeroll-inducing romance, no fanservice.  If Meido Ane had followed the plan and waited for Yuusha to rescue her, she might have been beaten to death first, so she saved herself!  With words.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)