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-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)