Mid-Winter 2015 Anime Ranking

Let’s start the year off by highlighting some theme songs – just like last year. The best current OP/ED songs according to me are as follows:

1. Last Theater, by NoisyCell (Death Parade ED)
2. Akatsuki no Hana, by Cyntia (YONA OF THE DAWN OP2)
3. FOCUS, by Showtaro Morikubo (GARO ED2)

We’re watching less than usual this season, only 15 series, attributable to a shortage of free time and a shortage of patience. Nearly half of those 15 are continuing shows, so you’ll notice some repeat from the mid-autumn ranking. Five are sequels (more déjà vu); and we’ve picked up only 3 completely new series.

Unlike last winter, though, there’s actually a lot of good stuff this time around.


01. GARO THE ANIMATION (GARO: Honoo no Kokuin) (ep. 13-21) – After a moving season opener, GARO proceeded to give us 3 episodes of filler. Well, the stories were still relevant to the theme of the show, but there just wasn’t enough of our 3 main characters in them. Fortunately, things are getting back on track now.

Twenty episodes in, we finally got the spotlight on Mendoza’s right-hand woman Octavia. Seeing what she’s been through and what she’s capable of, I can’t help but feel some respect for her. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from hating her too. Her cleverness and deceitfulness make her a dangerous adversary for our high-minded heroes. Regarding the whole Mendoza deal, though, I can’t say I understand at all why Watchdog Center would ever cooperate with him; it doesn’t seem to make any sense.

GARO is still the series that I look forward to the most each week. That’s why it’s here at the top, even though it could easily be argued that some of the anime below have been displaying even better plot progression of late. I continue to admire the mature writing in GARO and I genuinely care about what happens to Leon, Alfonso, and German.
(streaming at FUNimation)


02. Parasyte –the maxim- (Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu) (ep. 13-20) – The conflict is heating up as the humans begin to mount an offensive against the parasites. Innocent lives are lost with little consideration during the assault. The message seems overly simplistic maybe; but it resonates with me anyway. How do you defeat a monster without becoming one yourself? If there were easy answers to that, real-life monsters such as Islamic State militants would not still be terrorizing the world…
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


03. ALDNOAH.ZERO (ep. 13-20) – This second part of ALDNOAH.ZERO is shaping up to be even better than the first. The narrative turns have been riveting and unpredictable. Whereas season one focused on the Earth side, the current attention to the Vers forces and Slaine’s development is a welcome change.

It’s hard not to see this heading toward a tragedy, though.
(streaming at DAISUKI and Crunchyroll)


04. ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu) (ep. 1-8) – The E Class of a prestigious school is given the task of killing their teacher, the tentacled and super-fast Koro Sensei, who has threatened to destroy the Earth at the end of the school year, should they fail to murder him first. Not only is he really hard to kill, though, he also happens to be a damn good teacher.

The episodes tend to be stand-alone stories, so there hasn’t been a lot of progress overall. Regardless, AssClass is very amusing in its absurdity and it consistently gives off a feel-good vibe.
(streaming at FUNimation)

05. Yowamushi Pedal GRANDE ROAD (ep. 13-19) – Still riding the Inter-high, though we’re on the last climb to the finish line now. Can’t wait to see what Onoda can pull off at this point. And I’m rooting for Imaizumi’s success even though it’s obvious that his early lead in and of itself is a flag that everything is not about to go so smoothly for him or Team Sohoku.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


06. Akatsuki no Yona (YONA OF THE DAWN) (ep. 13-20) – Some viewers may have considered ep. 16 to be filler, but I really enjoyed the brief focus on Soo-won. I think he’s way more interesting than our heroine. Fortunately, Yona’s side of things is picking up with the introduction of the Green Dragon, Jae-ha. All the other Dragons are transfixed by Yona. It’s nice to see Hak getting some attention for a change!
(streaming at Crunchyroll and FUNimation)

07. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: STARDUST CRUSADERS Egypt Arc (ep. 25-32) – Our heroes have made it to Egypt, but there are still a bunch of baddies standing between them and Dio. The series continues to be crazy and dumb and funny, maybe funnier than it’s ever been, actually.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


08. Death Parade (ep. 1-9) – Upon dying, people show up in pairs at Decim’s bar to play a game that will determine their fate in the afterlife. The stories are often rather unpleasant, and the fairness of the judging system is suspect. Where Death Parade succeeds is in how thought-provoking the scenarios can be. Long after the episode is over, you might still be thinking about the characters and wondering whether or not Decim and co. made the right decisions.
(streaming at FUNimation)

09. SHIROBAKO (ep. 12-20) – Even though I’m not that invested in the characters individually, this show has been really effective at portraying the process and challenges involved in delivering weekly episodes of an anime series. Not only that, but it manages to be entertaining and easy to follow too.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

10. Ace of Diamond (Diamond no Ace) (ep. 64-71) – I was glad to learn there’s to be a second season for this. Because right now, things are going so badly for Sawamura that it’s actually been kind of painful to watch the show; and it’s not likely his problems will be completely resolved in just the few episodes we have left.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


11. Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! (Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE!) (ep. 1-8) – We’re all familiar with magical girl anime; how about a magical boy anime? Evil aliens are trying to take over the world and it’s up to 5 guys in a school club, along with their own alien mascot, to counter the menace – with love. Add to that a dash of Weekend at Bernie’s humour too.

Like JoJo’s, the material is pretty stupid, but the result is often funnier than it has any right to be.
(streaming at FUNimation and Crunchyroll)

12. Kamisama Kiss (Kamisama Hajimemashita) S2 (ep. 14-21) – I wasn’t that crazy about season one, but I didn’t not like it enough to avoid the sequel, so here I am. When all is said and done, I’m not that into the romance plotline. Otherwise, Kamisama Kiss is decent enough as a light distraction to enjoy after a hard day at work.
(streaming at FUNimation)


13. Kuroko’s Basketball S3 (ep. 51-59) – The special powers of the elite players are getting more and more ridiculous. I actually took issue with godlike Akashi, who caused opposing players to lose their footing and fall down in his presence. It wouldn’t be fun for any of them to play like that! And who would even want to watch such a game?

KuroBas can still be a fun show to watch, mind you, but you can’t take it seriously, at all.
(streaming at DAISUKI and Crunchyroll)

14. Your lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso) (ep. 12-19) – I’m still having trouble buying that these kids are middle-schoolers and younger with the way they talk and act! Lots of suffering in this show.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

15. Tokyo Ghoul √A (ep. 13-21) – Another sequel that I ultimately couldn’t not watch, although I did hesitate. As expected, this pretty much continues the ham-fisted storytelling of the first season. I will say that Root A has gradually been getting better recently, for whatever that’s worth.
(streaming at FUNimation)

Also planning to watch: DURARARA!! X2 Shou. But we’ve decided that it’s been too long and we really need to re-watch S1 first.

Mid-Autumn 2012 Anime Ranking

How I feel about the anime on my current watch list.  The most recent episode watched is in brackets.  The order of the first four is kind of arbitrary…


01.  Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World) (ep.11) – I’m liking the dark, dystopian future setting.  It took me a while to tell the kids apart, but now that I know them better, I’m really interested in their actions and what the consequences of those actions will be.  There’s a lot of artiness and intrigue, and it remains to be seen whether things will come together or make any sense at the end.  For now, I’m happy to be patient and see how things unfold.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


02.  Jormungand (ep.21, or PERFECT ORDER ep.9) – Not many anime will reference quantum physics and super computers, but that’s what the current arc of Jormungand is about!  So far, the show is doing a really good job of fleshing out the members on Koko’s team.  We didn’t get to know them much during the first season, but now their backgrounds are getting some good attention.  Ep.19, about William Nelson’s past, achieved a near-perfect balance between dark, violent material and lighter, comic relief.
(streaming at Funimation)


03.  PSYCHO-PASS (ep.9) – Another brainy anime.  The storytelling is good and I’m enjoying the dark, psychological themes that are being presented.  However, the indignity-to-a-dead-body stuff makes me uncomfortable.  It is meant to be horrifying, but I just have trouble reconciling it with “entertainment”.
(streaming at Funimation)


04.  My Little Monster (ep.11) – This shoujo anime has its share of the usual tropes, but it works because the characters have believable, well-defined personalities.  Also, the textured backgrounds are some of the nicest I’ve ever seen.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

05.  Blast of Tempest (ep.10) – The characters are interesting, as are their interactions with each other.  The show works best when the characters are not quoting Shakespeare, and the music is not overwrought.  Some episodes have been overly expository.  They’re also throwing out a lot plot threads and it remains to be seen whether things will come together or make any sense at the end.  As with Shin Sekai Yori, for now, I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

06.  IXION SAGA DT (ep.10) – Deceptively stupid, but actually quite clever, this show often displays more common sense than some of the serious-themed anime that I’m watching.  So far, my favourite character is the villain, Erecpyle Dukakis (yes, ED for short).  Although, after having had his ass kicked twice already by the main character, he’s somewhat more of an underdog than a villain now.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


07.  MAGI (ep.9) – Nice animation; the characters are likeable, complex, and genuinely strong.  Morgiana is a so-much-better female role model than Asuna from SAO, for instance, and new character Sinbad is awesome.  The current story arc is surprisingly balanced and thoughtful, especially considering that the anime seems to be aimed at a younger audience.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

08.  Muv-Luv Alternative: TOTAL ECLIPSE (ep.23) – Looks like the meat of the story is happening.  I won’t mind if there’s less attention on Yuuya’s multinational harem now.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

09.  K (ep.10) – Stylish and nicely animated, but the quality of the story is questionable.  Many of the large cast of characters are not very interesting.  Still, I’m curious to see where they’re going with this.

10.  Space Brothers (ep.36) – Good show overall, but lately it’s been dragging.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

11.  CODE:BREAKER (ep.10) – So bad, it’s good.  And make no mistake, it really is bad: sloppy storytelling and plot developments, annoying and unlikeable protagonists, overdramatic score.  And yet, at the end of the day, it’s kind of fun, even if unintentionally.
(streaming at Funimation)

12.  BTOOOM! (ep.10) – Disturbingly exploitative at times, but otherwise, the battle-royale survival theme works.  This show also has some pretty hard-to-like main characters.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

13.  Kamisama Kiss (ep.10) – Not terribly engrossing, but fine as a light distraction.  Unfortunately, I thought it was a bit more enjoyable before the romantic storyline began.
(streaming at Funimation)

14.  Chu-2 byo demo KOI ga shitai! (ep.10) – I find this show to be tedious and sometimes overly sentimental.  Maybe I’m too far away from my own eighth-grader syndrome phase to properly appreciate it.  Plus, I don’t buy the romantic sub-plot, even though I knew it was coming.  I do give the show credit, though, for being fairly straightforward about the romance instead of dragging it out unnecessarily.  Supporting character Isshiki is the best thing about this anime.  (Dekomori is the worst.)

Recently dropped:  Say “I Love You” (ep.7) – I tried to give it a chance, really I did; otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten this far in.  But I was complaining so uncontrollably after every episode, my family would probably have to take me out back and put me out of my misery if I were to watch any more of it.  Even now, when I see similar tropes used in My Little Monster, but executed so much better, I realize I’m still not done trashing this anime!  Bottom line: I don’t like Mei, I don’t like Yamato, and I’m not rooting for them to get together.
(streaming at Crunchyroll, but who cares?)