Mid-Summer 2021 Anime Ranking

We have a very light watch-load this season. It’s probably a good thing there wasn’t much we were super keen on, as our real-life workload and demands have been heavy as of late and keeping up with even these few titles is sometimes a challenge.

01. My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X (Otome Game no Hametsu Flag shika Nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei shiteshimatta… X) (Ep. 1-11) – Season 2 brings more characters into the fold, including the introduction of Geordo and Alan’s older brothers. Prince Jeffrey turns out to be quite different from what you’d expect from a first prince, which is nice. To that end, of course Geordo is pretty unexpected too, with how he is bothered not one bit that his fiancée is completely unsuited for life as royalty. It seems his vast patience for Catarina’s cluelessness and growing harem is finally reaching its limit now.

The past 3 episodes, featuring the kidnapping of a Claes family member for the second time this season, are the darkest material of the series so far.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

02. IDOLiSH7: Third BEAT! (Ep. 1-10) – The drama and animation quality of IDOLiSH7 is on a whole different level from most other male idol shows. During the first season, which premiered back in 2017, I remember complaining that the series didn’t bring anything new to the (already crowded) table; but by now, IDOLiSH7 is absolutely leaving the pack behind.

Because it was teased at the end of season 2, I was expecting ŹOOĻ to play a big role here, but so far that has not really come to pass. Instead, there’s been some good development for Re:vale. It’s only now that I’m finally getting a grasp on Yuki’s character. However, I have to call BS on the Re:vale backstory. No self-respecting musician, let alone one who bristles at being admired for his looks rather than his music, would choose to put down his instrument, and sing and dance on stage instead. So it’s not as if the plot points never come across as contrived, but regardless, there’s undeniably a much more ambitious story here compared to your run-of-the-mill idol show.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

03. RE-MAIN (Ep. 1-9) – I went in expecting this water polo show to be a standard friendship/teamwork/let’s-go-to-Nationals sports anime. Well, it is that, but the pointedly angsty ED serves as a hint that there was going to be a twist. Anyway, the guys on the team are pretty amusing, and I really like that Minato has a good relationship with his sister and parents.
(streaming at Funimation)

04. Kageki Shoujo!! (Ep. 1-11) – The esteemed Kouka School of Musical and Theatrical Arts trains talented young ladies to be performers in a Takarazuka Revue-like acting troupe. While Kageki Shoujo!! mostly follows the trials and friendship of the 2 main girls, it does cover some serious topics, such as childhood sexual abuse and eating disorders.

Incidentally, we dropped The Case Study of Vanitas after its third episode because it had a similar instance of sexual abuse as in Kageki Shoujo!! ep.3, but with much less awareness.
(streaming at Funimation)

05. NIGHT HEAD 2041 (Ep. 1-9) – This had a great start. Urban dystopia sci-fi is kinda my thing; plus I like sibling stories too. I’m even cool with the CG animation. Unfortunately, the story is getting harder and harder to understand, and it just isn’t hooking me like it did at first.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

06. TOKYO REVENGERS (Ep. 13-23) – Luckily Takemichi is bright enough to explain Baji’s intentions to the rest of the dumb gang; otherwise, his sacrifice might have been for nothing.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

Also watching:

Fena: PIRATE PRINCESS (Kaizoku Oujo) (Ep. 1-6), which started airing late in the season
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

TSUKIPRO THE ANIMATION 2 (Ep. 1-6), but ep. 9 and onward will be delayed until next season due to COVID difficulties.

Mid-Spring 2020 Anime Ranking

01. My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! (Otome Game no Hametsu Flag shika Nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei shiteshimatta…) (ep. 1-10) – A 17-year old girl discovers she’s been reincarnated as young Catarina Claes, the villain in her favourite otome game, so she does everything in her power to avoid her pre-destined bad end. The hilarious result being that she becomes the sweetest, most adorable idiot ever.

Yes, it’s an isekai set in an otome game, of all things; and the protagonist isn’t an overpowered MC, but the doomed villain. It’s pure comedic genius.

Out of Catarina’s rapidly growing harem, I have to say I feel especially sorry for Geordo. While I agree with most people that he doesn’t have much chemistry with Catarina compared to Keith or Alan or the girls, he is her fiancé after all, and he really seems to love her so much, and so unconditionally!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

02. Wave, Listen to Me! (Nami yo Kiitekure) (ep. 1-10) – A curry restaurant waitress suddenly finds herself contemplating a new career as a late-night radio host after her drunken rant about her no-good ex-boyfriend is recorded and played on air by a radio station producer.

Minare is a great character – smart, imaginative, cynical, a little crazy, and surprisingly vulnerable too.

Interestingly, this is the first of 2 shows on my list that is set in Hokkaido. (The other is Agonavis.)
(streaming at Funimation)

03. ARTE (ep. 1-10) – A young noblewoman abandons her cushy but restrictive life at home in order to pursue a career as an artist. However, painting as a profession is very much a man’s world in 16th century Italy, and Arte struggles greatly to earn respect and acceptance among her peers and from her superiors and patrons. As the setting changes from Florence to Venice, Arte realizes that her circumstances (class and gender) can work to her advantage too, but she finds that just as frustrating.
(streaming at Funimation)

04. AHIRU NO SORA (ep. 25-35) – Apparently, basketball is the sport of delinquents! At least the Kuzuryuu High teammates are starting to resemble serious athletes now, and it is gratifying to see how Sora has inspired them and gained their trust and respect.

One thing I do appreciate is that these anime characters change clothes and hairstyles regularly, sometimes even within a single episode. That uncommon attention to detail is a really nice touch, especially as the art in this show is generally unattractive otherwise.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

05. Argonavis from BanG Dream! (ep. 1-9) – There are aspects of this anime that feel like a convincing portrayal of what it’s like to start a rock band, but the presentation is inconsistent and plot points are pasted together somewhat sloppily. Overall, I’d say it’s passable, if you’re not taking the details too seriously.

The characters are reasonably attractive, with distinctive personalities. The CG animation also looks above average.

The music, composed by veteran musicians (from the likes of UNISON SQUARE GARDEN, SID, ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D) and performed by the voice actors of the band members, is also pretty good. Although, rival group GYROAXIA sounds so much better than Argonavis, in my opinion.
(Argonavis and GYROAXIA singles are available on Spotify and iTunes Canada)

06. Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2 (Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai?: Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen) (ep. 1-9) – The cast is bigger now, but their antics are just as amusing as ever.

While it’s lovely that they actually reciprocate each other’s feelings, as I’ve said, if Kaguya and Miyuki are still this dishonest with each other on a systemic basis, it really does not bode well for any future relationship for these two.
(streaming at Funimation)

07. KAKUSHIGOTO (ep. 1-10) – The manga-making humour is kind of hit and miss for me, more hit than miss I guess, but still.

It’s a bit of a sticking point, personally, that I don’t totally understand the necessity of, or approve of, Goto-sensei lying to his daughter about his occupation.
(streaming at Funimation)

08. SING “YESTERDAY” FOR ME (Yesterday wo Utatte) (ep. 1-10) – There’s no singing in this anime. Music is not part of the story at all.

Rather, there are love triangles, squares, other geometric shapes. And unfortunately, I find the relationships a little tedious and lacking in chemistry, but that’s me.

On the plus side, the artwork is very nice, especially the backgrounds. There’s also some genuine development for some of the characters. For instance, I’m personally glad the main romantic lead, a college graduate, does not remain a convenience store clerk for the entire series!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

09. Fruits Basket 2nd Season (ep. 1-10) – All of the Sōma members have been introduced, so we’re finally getting to the meat of the story. Which is good, but my god, Akito sure talks a lot.
(streaming at Crunchyroll and Funimation)

10. PLUNDERER (ep. 12-20) – This cour starts with the revelatory and mostly serious time travel arc. However, the gains achieved are almost completely cancelled out by whole episodes, bookending that arc, devoted to drinking, fan-service, groping and other forms of sexual assault, and body-shaming.

You know, all this time, I’ve felt bad for Lynn. Not only does she have to put up with her organization’s sexist uniforms on a regular basis, but she’s so starved for affection that she falls madly in love with the first loser who pays any attention to her romantically, even though he’s a lech and obviously isn’t really that into her. And then Pele, the guy who is dropping hints that he might actually like her, is also gross not much of a gentleman.

Were it not for Jail, acting like the true hero of the series, I would not have made it this far.
(streaming at Funimation)

11. WOODPECKER DETECTIVE’S OFFICE (Kitsutsuki Tanteidokoro) (ep. 1-9) – One of the leads is a conscienceless scumbag who shirks responsibility and exploits his friends and lovers for money. The other main is a gullible doormat.

Too many of the show’s female characters are prostitutes or murder victims or both.

Particularly in the beginning, it feels like they are shoehorning the authors’ historical quirks into the story instead of, you know, having an actual plot. And for an adult detective story, I’m surprised and disappointed that these characters rely on speculation as much as they seem to.

If the show ultimately leaves an impression on me, it’s for all the wrong reasons!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)