Mid-Spring 2017 Anime Ranking

It’s sequels galore this spring, including some very highly anticipated and long-awaited ones. The Eccentric Family and My Hero Academia make their return; and need I mention the blockbuster Attack on Titan? Fully half of the shows we’re following this season are sequels and spin-offs, with many of them taking up residence in my top 10! One of those is the surprising title currently at the number one spot.

rage-of-bahamut-virgin-soul charioce
01. Rage of Bahamut: VIRGIN SOUL (Shingeki no Bahamut: VIRGIN SOUL) (ep. 1-10) – Well, well. I knew this sequel was coming, but it was not even on my plan-to-watch list at the start of the season, since I was not exactly a fan of the first series, Rage of Bahamut: GENESIS. Back in the fall of 2014, I partially described GENESIS as “overwhelming and boring at the same time” and I griped that the males were “needlessly unattractive.”

My how things have changed in this new series, which takes place 10 years later! The guys are smokin’ hot now, and it’s actually relevant to the story! Interestingly, it’s not that Azazel and Kaisar, for example, superficially look that much different from before; I think it’s more a matter of dignity.

The new heroine, Nina, is also great. She’s physically strong, but she has to hide her weakness (to hot guys), since she doesn’t want to turn into a dragon and destroy everything. It’s relatable incredibly, and really funny.

So far, the setting has been almost entirely in the human world, which is another thing that I wanted. The reason for it is rather dark, though, and sets up the central conflict at the heart of the narrative.

Episode 6 was a blast! Gorgeously animated, it kind of reminded me of Aladdin, only the incognito royal love interest wasn’t a beautiful wide-eyed princess, but rather a handsome genocidal king! Okay, it’s kind of twisted and you just know it won’t end well, but that’s part of what makes it thrilling. It also added a shocking softness to Charioce’s persona, who had already been pretty well-fleshed out as a formidable enemy.

The animation is such that you can frequently tell what the characters are thinking just from small changes to their eyes and facial expressions.

Additionally, the story provides enough hints to make it fairly easy to figure some things out on your own (such as the identities of the Rag Demon and the drifter), which adds to the anticipation of what’s to come. I also like how events relating to one subplot will have repercussions on a different subplot later on; it really shows how much thought the writers have put into crafting a consistent and cohesive story.

Oh, and once again, there is an awesome OP with music by SiM. Basically, I have no shortage of good things to say about VIRGIN SOUL thus far. I only wish there were a legal way to stream it where I live.

starmyu s2-05 kuga
02. STARMYU High School Star Musical Season 2 (ep. 1-10) – Yes, STARMYU – there’s no mistake! Plot-wise, there isn’t that much. The students are just competing for roles in a high profile school play. But what I want from a sequel like this is ridiculous musical numbers and personality-infused character interactions; and above all, I want to have fun. In that regard, STARMYU 2 delivers in spades.

I love Hoshitani’s banter with lovably self-important Tengenji. The guy is fiercely loyal to his teammates even while insulting them to their faces! And Kuga’s sudden, unwanted harem is pretty funny too. Next time he’ll probably think twice before unleashing that level of coolness in public!

Poor Ageha chose the wrong guy to look up to. I’m sure Haruto is immensely talented as a performer, but as a mentor and instructor, his skills seem to be somewhat lacking.

Ootori and Hiiragi are much more deserving of respect and admiration, in my opinion. They are genuinely encouraging and helpful toward their juniors. Speaking of those two, one of the highlights from the first season was learning the basis for the strained relationship between them. I find it really heartwarming to see them hanging out together and being comfortable in each other’s presence since the start of this season.

What could be better? Sometimes Haruto and his team go a teensy bit overboard with their BL-suggestive wording when they talk amongst themselves. It gets to the point where I barely know what they’re actually talking about sometimes.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

Attack on Titan 31 Reiner-Eren
03. Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) Season 2 (ep. 26-35) – So far, this season has nailed the feeling of terror and creepy foreboding. The animation has improved too. Development-wise, the pace is slow though, and the story does not seem to be in a hurry to provide answers to the many ongoing mysteries. That’s not to say there are no revelations, of course. Personally, I loved the super-casual way in which the major plot bomb was dropped in ep. 31. That was so creative and so funny.

I have enjoyed the greater focus on the supporting cast, but ultimately I’m of the camp that wants to see more of Eren, Mikasa, and Armin.

No matter how grim the situation may be most of the time, Attack on Titan always finds room for at least a little bit of humour in every episode. That’s one of the things I really like about this show.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

Uchouten Kazoku 2 09
04. The Eccentric Family 2 (Uchouten Kazoku 2) (ep. 1-9) – Yasaburou and his tanuki family are back for another season, and it’s as charming and quirky and cute as ever.

Although I don’t feel confident that I can explain most of what happens in this unusual series, I strangely don’t feel lost either. The characters are so distinct and the narrative is so compelling, that just being along for the ride is fanciful and fun.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

Kenka Banchou Otome 5
05. Kenka Banchou Otome -GIRL BEATS BOYS- (ep. 1-9) – Hinako is coerced into taking her brother Hikaru’s place at a boys school full of delinquents, where there’s more fighting than studying. Fortunately, she can totally hold her own and quickly rises up the ranks of the social ladder. All the characters are colourful and likeable. The delinquent school premise hasn’t gotten old either; it was funny in BEELZEBUB and Cromartie High School, and it’s funny here.

I always look forward to the OP, since it usually incorporates part of the episode’s action. I even like the mock documentary sessions where the cast members soberly reflect on the current events as if from the future. It’s so absurd.

Each episode is only 8 minutes long so it’s often over way too soon. Kenka Banchou Otome is ridiculous and over-dramatic, and it’s a lot of fun!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

06. KADO: The Right Answer (Seikaisuru Kado) (ep. 0-9) – In this mostly 3D-animated sci-fi drama, an alien being from the anisotropic drops his huge impenetrable cube (Kado) down at Haneda Airport, then proceeds to gift humanity with extra-dimensional devices.

The early reactions of the humans tasked with investigating Kado were presented in great, realistic detail. Then the pace kind of slowed down in the middle. It seemed to me the production was putzing around during the relocation of Kado, the repeated explanations of Sansa, and of course the recap episode (which I didn’t watch).

We’re building up momentum again, and it looks like things are going to get weirder from here. From a storytelling standpoint, I think that’s probably a good thing. If they try to keep it too realistic, I just don’t see how it would work.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

Royal Tutor Heine
07. The Royal Tutor (Oushitsu Kyoushi Heine) (ep. 1-10) – Heine, a diminutive man with a mysterious past, becomes the latest in a long line of tutors for Grannzreich Kingdom’s four difficult young princes. Predictably, the early parts involve him getting to know his students and earning their respect.

Now, it seems there’s a conspiracy afoot and it might not be easy for Heine to keep his past hidden for too much longer.

One of the best segments so far was ep. 6, in which His Royal Highness himself decided to take a hands-on approach in evaluating Prince Licht’s extracurricular activities.

Incidentally, King Viktor seems to have a perpetually youthful appearance and is at least as handsome as any of his sons. If you’ve ever lamented that there just weren’t enough hot kings in your anime, well then between The Royal Tutor and Rage of Bahamut, this spring season has got you covered!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

08. My Hero Academia (Boku no Hero Academia) Season 2 (ep. 14-23) – When I first realized that this second season would be all tournament-based, I was honestly not very enthusiastic at the prospect. Now that we’re well into it however, I have to admit the show is really good and seems to be getting better by the week. The match-ups are exciting and the soundtrack has been phenomenal too.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

09. Yowamushi Pedal NEW GENERATION (ep. 13-21) – It’s time for the Inter-High again. Currently, Teshima seems to be paying the price for not warning Onoda sooner that the number one tag on his back would make him a target for the other riders.

I thought Midosuji was creepy, but his teammate Komori is even more gross. I literally felt violated when he groped Onoda and Imaizumi previously. Kyoto Fushimi High has been notably absent from the screen since the race began. I shudder to think what they might be up to.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

10. KABUKIBU! (ep. 1-9) – A kabuki-loving teenager starts an amateur performance club at his school. Following some issues with recruitment, the group begins to perform. But that comes with a whole new set of challenges.

I have to say, I really don’t get kabuki. I appreciate that the show makes the effort to educate its viewers on the art form, but so far, it has just reinforced my opinion that kabuki is weird and hard to understand. The characters themselves are likeable enough, though, which makes KABUKIBU! easy to watch.

11. BORUTO: NARUTO NEXT GENERATIONS (ep. 1-10) – I was really enjoying this Naruto spinoff at the outset. Boruto is smart and full of personality, and he’s a much more charismatic protagonist than his old man was.

I’ve lost some of that enthusiasm now that the show seems to be stuck in a disgruntled-person-of-the-week-gets-possessed cycle that has already been pre-emptively parodied in 2 seasons of Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!. It would be okay if each episode revealed more of the mystery behind the shadow or why Boruto is the only one who can see it, but there’s typically very little progress.

I also have an issue with the way that overweight characters are portrayed as always eating junk food. I’m trying not to let that get in the way of enjoying an otherwise decent production, but there it is.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

12. Tsukigakirei (as the moon, so beautiful.) (ep. 1-9) – This is a pretty understated, realistic take on first love that foregoes most of the usual tropes of the genre. Kotarou and Akane are sweet kids each with their own interests and goals. As they tentatively develop their newfound relationship with each other, they also encounter awkwardness in their dealings with family and friends.

If Tsukigakirei is relatively low on my ranking, it’s only because romance is not my preferred genre. If you like gentle love stories without a lot of manufactured drama, then you won’t go wrong with this series.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

13. Re:CREATORS (ep. 1-9) – The first 4 or so episodes were way too heavy on talky exposition by Meteora. But then, the mecha pilot and his creator showed up, and they were fun and interesting. I also liked that when the government stepped in, they were highly efficient and already knowledgeable about the situation. I’m happy to see Kirihara Kikuchihara, in charge of the investigation.

Ultimately, though, I think there are just too many characters; and while the whole concept of fictional creations being transported to the real world is a fascinating idea, the execution seems a little clumsy and unfocused.

14. Ninja Girl & Samurai Master S2 (Nobunaga no Shinobi: Ise Kanegasaki-hen) (ep. 27-35) – This short series chronicling the history of Oda Nobunaga and his trusty little ninja continues without much of a break, but it’s officially season 2 now.

In ep. 30, I commiserated with Mitsuhide, as I was going through a similar work experience of having to deal with someone unpleasant for longer than I could tolerate. I also laughed out loud when the ugly Daimyo of Mino from the first season showed up again suddenly looking hot; it reminded me of a certain other show I happen to be watching that I can’t seem to stop talking about…
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

15. THE ANONYMOUS NOISE (Fukumenkei Noise) (ep. 1-9) – Singer girl Nino/Alice crosses paths again with the boy she traumatically parted ways with in childhood when she enters high school. Subsequently, she also reunites with the other boy she even more traumatically parted ways with even earlier in childhood. Yes. There is a rock band and then there is another rock band.

The show is really emo about the stupidest things. If from now on I always cringe at the sound of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or giggle at the sight of a pedestrian crossing button, it’ll be because of this overly-sincere, angsty anime.

16. WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us? (Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka?) (SukaSuka) (ep. 1-9) – My sister and I are both watching SukaSuka, though neither of us is really that into it. Personally, I dislike that all the characters are walking around with dead-looking eyes. There’s a reason for it, as none of them are normal humans at this point, but nevertheless it does get in the way of my connecting with any of them emotionally.

Strangely, maybe because we are not engrossed in the story itself, we find ourselves noticing technical things about the production – my sister especially. She can understand a lot of the Japanese in this show, and every once in a while she will interject that Crunchyroll’s translator made a good choice in wording and such. In particular, we had a good laugh at the use of “defenestrated” in ep. 8. It is a wonderfully descriptive term all on its own, but because it is often applied in a military context, it also happened to be very appropriate to the character who spoke the line.

She has also pointed out, with dismay, that one of the music pieces in the soundtrack seems to be recycled note-for-note from the Free! anime, which had the same composer.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

17. Love Rice (Love Kome –We Love Rice-) (ep. 1-10) – At first I didn’t really get the rice jokes. Well actually I still don’t get them; and the puns go right over my head most of the time. However, I began to see the humour in the absurd way that Love Rice sends up the usual tropes of the idol anime genre.

At the end of every 4-minute episode, there’s a quickie live-action cooking segment showcasing the preparation of various rice dishes.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

Jacquie’s 2013 Year in Review – Top 10 Anime

Better late than never, here are my favourite anime shows of the past year, selected from the 45 or so titles I watched in entirety which finished airing in 2013:

#1. Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) – This was the anime that really did capture my imagination. I looked forward to it week after week and it rarely disappointed. I was inspired to think about the mystery of the titans and to understand the motivations of the characters long after watching each episode. It also provided an ideal vehicle to showcase soundtrack composer Hiroyuki Sawano’s epic score, which was a perfect complement to the show.

The downside was that there was no conclusive ending; all the big questions remained unanswered at series-end. Also, at times the pacing was rather slow as some plot segments dragged on a little longer than necessary.

No sequel has been confirmed yet, but Attack on Titan enjoyed enough popularity, even beyond the usual anime fanbase, that we’ll certainly see one someday.

#2. The DEVIL is a Part-timer! (Hataraku Maou-sama!) – The series that got my highest rating of the year over at MAL, for its sharp humour, well-paced storytelling and lovable characters. The premise was pretty simple: Satan (Maou) and his subordinate found themselves magically stranded in modern-day Tokyo. They had no resources left to get home, so they had to do their best to make a life for themselves in the big city, including getting a job at MgRonald’s. It was brilliantly funny stuff.

The comedy wasn’t based on crazy hijinks, either. Instead, it was found in the day-to-day details that anyone who’s had to get used to a new environment or who’s had to work hard to make ends meet could relate to, with the added absurd spin that our protagonist was the devil himself, of course.

The negatives: no conclusive ending here either; also, the humour might work better on an audience with some prior familiarity with modern working class Japanese culture, with its references to 100yen shops and UNIQLO, for instance.

#3. Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club – My choice for the most rewatchable anime of the year. My sisters are Free! fangirls, so I have seen each episode several times, and you know, it really does stand up to repeated viewings.

Free! didn’t have the epic storyline of Attack on Titan, or the clever humour of Maou-sama, but it was very nicely animated, it had extremely well-developed characters and great execution overall.

Season 2 has now been confirmed and I couldn’t be more pleased.

#4. Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World) – An intriguing story featuring a novel future setting, Shin Sekai Yori started strong in its first half. I felt it lost some focus during the second cour, but then the series came to a satisfying conclusion in its impressive final episode.

Along the way, the series’ faults were considerable: slow pacing in parts, inconsistent character art, weak main protagonist – I kept waiting for Saki to become the great, enlightened leader she was chosen to be, but it never happened.

Despite all that, the depiction of the darkness of human nature was a compelling theme. And this was a rare instance where an anime’s ending actually elevated my overall estimation of a show.

#5. PSYCHO-PASS – Some of the grotesquerie from the first cour was a bit of a turn-off for me. The show really picked up in the second half, though, offering interesting ideas and complex characters, including female lead Akane. All in all, the storytelling and pacing were good; and in spite of the dark theme, it was a fun series to watch.

#6. Chihayafuru 2 – I admit, I was not as enamored with this season as I was the first, but I found it solidly entertaining regardless. I loved the characters, and the series never bored me, even with the greater focus on Karuta gameplay.

#7. The Eccentric Family (uchouten-kazoku) – uchoten-kazoku featured a close-knit family of tanuki still coming to grips with things in the wake of losing the father, who died unceremoniously before the events of the series. Simultaneously magical, quirky, charming, and darkly humorous, the narrative was strongest and most heart-warming when the focus was on the very human characters (even though they weren’t human) of the main tanuki family.

#8. Valvrave the Liberator (Kakumeiki Valvrave) – Valvrave started out as an over-the-top action anime featuring a crazy mash up of mecha, high school, political intrigue, and vampire elements. It got away with a lot of ridiculousness by being clearly self-aware. But the story was never a joke. I think the show managed to achieve a good balance between the silliness and the seriousness.

In general, the large cast had impressively well-defined personalities. And L-elf was particularly entertaining, with his freakish smarts and unhesitating brutality, providing a good foil for main character Haruto’s earnest idealism.

#9. Kyousougiga – What made this series work were the great characters and their relationships with each other. Even though the setting and happenings were crazy and surreal, the show was grounded in the sympathetic members of the central family. The end result was a positive, life-affirming, feel-good experience.

#10. Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – This anime had a fair amount of satire and goofiness, much of it at the expense of the main characters, the members of Team Rabbits, AKA Fail Five. In particular, lovably dorky leader Izuru and boy-crazy Tamaki led the way for much of the humour. The show also featured a very convincing portrayal of GERD, and I felt for Asagi whenever his stomach acted up.

Ultimately though, Majestic Prince functioned reasonably well as a serious story about the protecting of humanity from alien threat. And finally, I can’t not mention the frequently impressive mecha battle sequences this show had; even a mecha-ignorant viewer such as myself could appreciate how good they were.

Biggest Regrets: Series that, in retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have bothered watching from beginning to end. Listed in approximate broadcast order with brief comment.

  • MAOYU (groan)
  • Love Live! School idol project (yawn)
  • RDG Red Data Girl (incomprehensible)
  • DEVIL SURVIVOR 2 The Animation (groan)
  • Arata the Legend (Arata Kangatari) (yawn)
  • GATCHAMAN CROWDS (incomprehensible)
  • BEYOND THE BOUNDARY (Kyoukai no Kanata) (whatever)
  • Galilei Donna (groan)

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)