Mid-Winter 2021 Anime Ranking

Going into this season, aside from the obvious sequels, there were very few new anime that caught our attention based on description. Therefore, voice talent became a major deciding factor for the shows we checked out. That’s how we ended up watching almost everything that Umehara Yūichirō and Saitō Sōma, my current favourite and my sister’s favourite seiyuu, respectively, have roles in.

I had to bail on EX-ARM (starring Sōma) after 3 episodes, however. I never had any delusions that it might be good. More like I had hoped it might be so bad it’s good. But it was just bad.

Also because of Sōma, we picked up The Quintessential Quintuplets (Go-Toubun no Hanayome) in the middle of its second season, without bothering with season one. So yes, we are now following both the sextuplet-brothers anime and the quintuplet-sisters anime.

We started HIGH-RISE INVASION as well (Ume plays Sniper Mask), also with the expectation that it might be so bad it’s good. So far, that’s panning out fine. We’ve seen only 4 episodes, so it’s not included in the ranking below. Of course The Quintessential Quintuplets∬ isn’t included either because we started on episode 9.


01. JUJUTSU KAISEN (ep. 14-22) – Last cour, we fell in love with Nanami. This cour, Tōdō has stolen our hearts with his instant bromance with Itadori.

I really did not expect to like Tōdō so much when he was first introduced. It turns out he is incredibly talented, strong, smart, stupid, and funny. When he’s being serious, his thoughts are impressively organized. Like any good eccentric genius though, he’s got his quirks. Not only is he a zealous otaku who lives for his waifu, he also happens to have a hilariously over-active imagination. That whole elaborate shared history he spontaneously fabricates for himself and Itadori is priceless!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


02. Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) Final Season (overall ep. 60-72) – This is a very different show from when it all started. The setting has expanded; the characters’ understanding of their world has completely been altered; and the character art has changed too – I’m not personally a big fan of the new art.

Because we felt a bit lost after the radical developments at the end of season 3, we weren’t as keen for this final season when it started airing in December as we should have been. We actually put off watching until mid-January. But once we started, it was very hard to stop.
(streaming at Crunchyroll and Funimation)


03. SK∞ (SK8 the Infinity) (ep. 1-9) – Langa grew up snowboarding in Canada, so when he takes up the skateboard in Japan, that experience informs his style and natural talent. As he rapidly gains attention in the underground “S” racing circuit, how will that affect his relationship with his newfound skateboard buddy, Reki?

All of the characters are likeable, fun, and attractive. Well, I’m not sure I can say I ‘like’ ADAM that much, but he certainly makes an impression! Langa and Reki have a genuinely sweet friendship. And for some reason, I really like Cherry, including how his distinctly masculine voice is somewhat at odds with his very feminine appearance. Long, pink-haired effeminate dudes are not uncommon in anime. I’m serious: check out Mochizuki from Skate-Leading ☆ Stars and Kokoro from I★CHU from this list alone. However, I don’t think I’ve ever come across one as elegant and manly as Cherry.

SK8 is helmed by Utsumi Hiroko, director of Free! and Banana Fish. If you loved the heart and artistry of Free!, this gorgeous anime is definitely one I recommend.
(streaming at Funimation)


04. Dr. STONE: STONE WARS (ep. 1-9)
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


05. Horimiya (ep. 1-10) – I’m really particular about my romance anime. I find the usual tropes and melodrama tiring. Fortunately, Horimiya mostly hits the right notes for me. The characters seem like good, well-adjusted kids. I like that when the main characters get confronted by classmates about their dating status, the response is “Yeah, so?” instead of denials and lies.

That said, I do find Hori’s recent kink development to be problematic on multiple levels. It would not be an issue if they kept it very occasional and very private. Acting like that in public, however, can give their teachers and classmates the wrong idea and get them in real trouble.

Also, abusive behaviour could easily become real, as Miyamura has to change his mindset in order to act so differently from his usual nature.

Worst, their play-abuse normalizes that type of interaction for people who see them and makes light of those who may genuinely be victimized. So yeah, I know it’s not meant to be taken seriously, but I could do without that aspect of the show.
(streaming at Funimation)


06. 2.43: Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Team (Seiin Koukou Danshi Volley Bu) (ep. 1-10) – The early time skip was confusing to me. It wasn’t obvious how much time had passed and what went down in the meantime. Some of the characters seemed to be dealing with some past trauma, but that wasn’t very clear. And are Haijima and Kuroba actually close friends?

At least the Seiin team senpai, Aoki and Oda, are more likeable. Especially Aoki (Ume’s character); I love how bossy, manipulative, and clever he is.

Well, then the Fukuho team made their debut mid-series, and almost immediately, I was wondering, ‘Oh no, these are the rivals right? How come it feels so much like they are the protagonists of this story? I haven’t even warmed up to the home team this much yet!’
(streaming at Funimation)


07. Skate-Leading ☆ Stars (ep. 1-11) – This is a sports anime featuring skate-leading, a fictional group-ice-skating sport that’s part dance and part synchronized figure skating. Competitions have a short program and a long program like other figure skating divisions.

Ep. 6 kind of confused me. First Maeshima was criticized for being too sloppy, but then as soon as he tightened his performance, he got blamed for playing it too safe. I’m surprised he didn’t seem as frustrated as we felt watching it.

Sōma and Ume both have supporting roles, and both of them play to type here. Ume turns in another Non-expressive Dude, while Sōma continues to make Radiant Golden Boy his personal specialty. Kuonji (Sōma’s character) is actually a highlight of the anime. Because he apparently spent time in Canada, he regularly peppers his dialogue with (well-pronounced!) English phrases. Kuonji is just so obnoxious and in-your-face, he kind of bulldozes over the rest of the cast and steals the show. It’s awesome.
(streaming at Funimation)


08. Hortensia SAGA (ep. 1-10) – A fairly generic fantasy-adventure anime starring an extremely generic-looking male lead, with some pretty generically evil villains. Surely Marius/Marielle could do a better job at pretending to be a man. Anyone who didn’t already know she was supposed to be a guy would take just one look and assume she’s female!

Anyway, the king of Hortensia has been murdered and the church has taken control. It’s up to the hidden princess and her trusted companions to defeat the evil forces and save her kingdom.

But wait. Let’s put aside the evil pope and the war for a moment. Adelheid, ruler and military commander of the Principality of Olivier, ‘noticed’ Deflotte! Could it be? Here I assumed his romantic advances were only meant to be a clownish character flaw. Could it be he actually has a chance with her?

Not saying anything about the rest of the show, but in general, I like how they’ve portrayed this (Ume’s) character. For all that he’s made out to be a girl-crazy flirt, I have to respect that Deflotte had no eyes whatsoever for the likes of the pretty pop-idol princess-pretender who charmed dozens of male admirers, and instead set his sights way, way above his station! He also gets to speak up and complain whenever they have to do anything unpleasant, though that never stops him from doing his duty faithfully.
(streaming at Funimation)


09. Osomatsu-san (Mr. Osomatsu) 3rd Season (ep. 13-22)
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


10. THE PROMISED NEVERLAND (Yakusoku no Neverland) Season 2 (ep. 1-9) – I had high expectations for this, based on how good the first season was, but it’s been pretty disappointing.
(streaming at Funimation)


11. I★CHU: Halfway Through the Idol (ep. 1-10) – It’s a common complaint of mine when it comes to these idol shows: too many characters. Even in their groups, I have trouble recognizing each guy. Once they are separated from their units? Forget it.

One of the groups consists of members from 5 different nationalities. I would think that would afford them the unique liberty of being able to incorporate a wide variety of styles into their music without worry of triggering cultural appropriation accusations; but they seem to play it safe. Of course, this is a show that has a walking, talking bear as a school principal, so never mind.

Credit where it’s due, the I★CHU performance segments appear to be more hand-drawn than CG, and they look good!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


12. WAVE!! -Let’s go surfing!!- (WAVE!!: Surfing Yappe!!) (ep. 1-9) – A dumb kid suddenly develops a passion for surfing. Then tragedy strikes (in a rather dumb way.) Then life goes on.

The CG surfing animation is not amazing, but I think it’s passable enough to service the story. The story itself is the real problem; I am pretty surprised at how it’s basically gone nowhere.

Right, and don’t get me started on that annoying synthesized soundtrack.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

(EX-ARM, The Quintessential Quintuplets∬ are on Crunchyroll; HIGH-RISE INVASION is on Netflix)

Jacquie’s 2019 Year in Review

How’s this for procrastination? Check it out! Better late than never, right?

☆ Top 10 Anime

#1. VINLAND SAGA (24 episodes)

Aired Summer 2019 to Autumn 2019
(Streaming: Amazon)

#2. THE PROMISED NEVERLAND (Yakusoku no Neverland) (12 episodes)

Aired Winter 2019
(Streaming: Crunchyroll)

#3. The Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These Second (Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu: Die Neue These – Seiran) (12 episodes)

Aired Autumn 2019
(Streaming: Crunchyroll)

#4. COP CRAFT (12 episodes)

Aired Summer 2019
(Streaming: FUNimation)

#5 Dr.STONE (24 episodes)

Aired Summer 2019 to Autumn 2019
(Streaming: Crunchyroll)

#6. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (26 episodes)

Aired Spring 2019 to Summer 2019
(Streaming: Crunchyroll)

#7. Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) Season 3 (22 episodes)

Aired Summer 2018 and Spring 2019
(Streaming: Crunchyroll)

#8. [given] (11 episodes)

Aired Summer 2019
(Streaming: Crunchyroll)

#9. Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious (Shinchou Yuusha: Kono Yuusha ga Ore TUEEE Kuse ni Shinchou Sugiru) (12 episodes)

Aired Autumn 2019
(Streaming: FUNimation)

#10. PSYCHO-PASS 3 (8 double-length episodes)

Aired Autumn 2019
(Streaming: Amazon)

◇ ◇ ◇ ◇ ◇

☆ Anime Songs TOP 7 COUNTDOWN:

Going in the opposite order now…

07. “MAYDAY” by coldrain feat. Ryo from CRYSTAL LAKE (Fire Force OP2)

06. “Iruimi” by JUNNA (BEM ED)

05. “Sight Over the Battle” by OLDCODEX (ULTRAMAN Theme)

04. “Gurenge” by LiSA (Demon Slayer OP)

03. “Touch off” by UVERWorld (THE PROMISED NEVERLAND OP1)

02. “Take On Fever” by OLDCODEX (Tokunana OP)

01. “MUKANJYO” by Survive Said The Prophet (VINLAND SAGA OP1)

◇ ◇ ◇ ◇ ◇

The following music categories are not necessarily anime-related, though they kind of happen to be.

☆ BEST FULL-LENGTH ALBUM


THE SIDE EFFECTS” by coldrain
Favourite tracks: SEE YOU, STAY THE COURSE
(Available on iTunes Canada, Spotify)

Runner up:
Anti” by HYDE
Includes previously released songs: Who’s Gonna Save Us, Mad Qualia, Fake Divine, After Light, Zipang, and his worthy cover of Duran Duran’s Ordinary World.
Favourite album track: Another Moment
(Available on iTunes Canada, Spotify)

Honourable mention:
LADDERLESS” by OLDCODEX
Favourite tracks: Sight Over the Battle, Deeply Mind
(Available on Spotify)

☆ BEST SINGLE (A-side & B-sides)


Take On Fever” by OLDCODEX (Take On Fever, Nasty, painting of sorrow)
(Available on Spotify)

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)