Mid-Spring 2021 Anime Ranking


01. The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent (Seijo no Maryoku wa Bannou Desu) (ep. 1-9) – Seeing as this is a thematically ‘ordinary’ almost-slice-of-life isekai, I hesitated to give it my No. 1 spot. At the end of the day though, it’s probably the one I like the most, because it’s such a feel-good anime to watch. Pretty much all the characters in this show are likeable and funny and attractive.

I really do admire Sei’s work ethic and her modesty. Even though she would prefer to live and work freely outside of the spotlight, she also refuses to shirk the responsibilities that come with the great power she has unwittingly obtained. She’s a true hero.
(streaming at Funimation)


02. ODDTAXI (ep. 1-9) – ODDTAXI, featuring a large ensemble cast of animal characters and interconnected stories, is a truly novel presentation. The writing is exemplary – and dark. This is no kids’ show. Gradually, it’s also becoming clear how this quietly suspenseful story is uniquely suited for the animated format.

To think I could have easily passed on this, as I rarely watch anthropomorphic anime!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


03. MORIARTY THE PATRIOT (Yuukoku no Moriarty) (ep. 12-20) – Still excellent, but not as good as the first cour. William and Sherlock have had limited screen time, especially together, and their absence is felt.
(streaming at Funimation)


04. VIVY: Fluorite Eye’s Song (ep. 1-11) – This is a sci-fi anime about a couple of AI trying to change the past, to save humanity from being destroyed by an apocalypse of its own creation. The time-travel narrative makes me think of Terminator and Touken Ranbu. The story and art are excellent, and the action sequences are particularly impressive.
(streaming at Funimation)


05. Thunderbolt Fantasy: Touri-ken Yuuki 3 (ep. 1-10) – Considering this is a series starring dolls, I shouldn’t have been surprised at the sudden appearance of a Nendoroid. But that’s just the kind of simple genius that’s typical of Thunderbolt Fantasy’s brilliant and ironic storytelling style.

By this point, I don’t even question Lin’s intentions anymore. It’s plainly obvious he is more hero than villain. Could it be he has really been outdone by the demon sisters though?
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


06. 86 EIGHTY-SIX (ep. 1-9)
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


07. Those Snow White Notes (Mashiro no Oto) (ep. 1-10) – The actual plot and character motivations are a little weak, or maybe just not that riveting to me, but seriously, the beautiful shamisen music and highly detailed performance animation are enough to make this worth watching.

As an aside, long bangs on anime characters have never really bothered me before, I might even say I generally like the aesthetic, but this show is testing me. So many of the guys and girls here are in dire need of a haircut! Or at the very least, someone please introduce them to styling products to get that unruly hair out of their eyes!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


08. Jouran: The PRINCESS OF SNOW AND BLOOD (ep. 1-10) – It’s hard to get a grasp on what’s going on when there are so many double-crosses and plot twists in just the first 3 episodes! The art and the period setting of this revenge story are appealing and evocative. The theme songs by RAISE A SUILEN, featuring traditional and modern instrumentation, are very fitting too.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


09. SHADOWS HOUSE (ep. 1-9) – At the beginning, it’s just the 2 main characters in one room, and SHADOWS HOUSE seems a little claustrophobic. But things get interesting, and the mysteries intensify, when Emilico starts hanging out with the other dolls in the house.
(streaming at Funimation)


10. Backflip!! (Bakuten!!) (ep. 1-9) – They have done a great job with the gymnastics routines! Some viewers might not like all the CGI, but it looks pretty amazing to my eyes.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


11. MARS RED (ep. 1-9) – Certainly artful, you often have to read deep between the lines to fully understand this vampire period drama. But there is such a thing as being too obtuse. Just personally, I find it hard to get really invested when I feel so much like I’m guessing at what’s going on.
(streaming at Funimation)


12. TOKYO REVENGERS (ep. 1-9) – Another time-travel story, but on a smaller scale. Takemichi suddenly acquires the ability to go 12 years back in time, with the possibility of changing the events that ultimately lead to the death of a girl he cares about. While he does some things right, it’s kind of frustrating that he isn’t very strong or smart, and doesn’t seem to have much of a plan either.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


13. Burning Kabbadi (Shakunetsu Kabaddi) (ep. 1-10)
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


14. Fruits Basket: The Final (Season 3) (ep. 1-9) – As always, I have my issues with Fruits Basket. It isn’t all bad, but the dialogue lines are often redundant, the (too many) romantic pairings are still kind of unconvincing, and just when I’m finally ready to maybe give Akito a second chance, yet another unforgivable thing happens.
(streaming at Crunchyroll and Funimation)


15. The World Ends with You (Subarashiki Kono Sekai) The Animation (ep. 1-9) – I really love the art of this show! The dark outlines and vibrant colours are very pleasing to the eye. And the setting is like a love letter to Shibuya.

For how beautiful it is, it’s a shame there isn’t much more to the story than fighting digital monsters in a game.
(streaming at Funimation)

Also watching/watched:

NOMAD: Megalo Box 2 (ep. 1-6)
(streaming at Funimation)

The Way of the Househusband (Gokushufudou) (5 short episodes)
(streaming at Netflix)

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)