Posted on 22 January 2017 with categories: Yearly Summaries

Considering how 2016 has been in other areas, in regards to anime it wasn’t that bad. But let us not dwell anymore than we have to on the past year and get the show on the road.

 

The Worst

Worst Show

Aidan: Occultic;Nine

This is one of those shows which baffles me on just how it was even made. There can be good reason as to why some truly terrible anime were made. Production troubles, over ambition, lacking studio experience, poor source material…but this is an example where the only explanation I can think of as to why it turned out so terrible is the sheer incompetence of the writer and director.  I am long tired of speaking about this show so I will just round this up. Horrible direction that speeds up exposition to make it look like an episode of Bakemonogatari and even be visually nasuationing. A story which makes no sense and has a huge middle portion which is entirely pointless. No likeable characters and a girl with a chest so big that it rivals that of Mina from Air Master but the difference being that Mina’s huge knockers are meant as a joke when Ryouko’s are supposed to be attractive. This show is horrible, horrible trash and hope these two never work in this industry ever again.

Runner up: Musaigen no Phantom World(For killing the last bit of respect I had for KyoAni)

 

Mario: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

And with this Kabaneri takes the crown jewels. Well, first off, I don’t really mind popcorn action flicks, to put it another way I can endure it but what turn me off the most is when those shows take themselves too seriously. This one had this problem and then some. The action is over the top, which is fine, but then moments like pregnant-woman-turn-zombie got stabbed deliberately by “our people” just to prove the point (that doesn’t matter who you were before, when you got bitten by the zombie your humanity is over), it became rather tasteless. The plot itself is full of holes and overpowered characters that the more you think about it, the more it falls apart. In the second half the show did fall apart and it became exactly a train-wreck. For runner-up, let give a big round of applause to Occultic;Nine for its utmost intention to keep confusing us and make us feel uncomfortable till the very end. I’m not as pissed off about it as Aidan of course, but really this show was a mess which made very little sense.

Runner up: Occultic;Nine

 

Biggest Disappointment

Aidan: Erased

It is a point to be made that just because a show is disappointing, does not mean that it’s bad. Erased is by no means a bad show but it did manage to build peoples hopes to the degree that before the shows end people were declaring it a masterpiece. I offer this to Erased as I expected Berserk to disappoint but Erased I was well on my way to declaring one of my all time favorites. It really is evidence as to how much an ending can effect a show as while watching it the show manages to capture you but when all’s said and done and you look back, you realise the journey wasn’t as special as it was promising. Erased’s biggest crime is delivering a well done character drama when it was gearing the audience up for a mystery thriller. Thus I can fault the show for that, even if the end product was still good in it’s own right.

Runner Up: Berserk(2016)

 

Mario: Berserk (2016)

Arguably one of the most anticipated title last year, coming off from a 10 years plus high-regarded anime and even more prestigious (but endlessness) manga from Kentaro Miura. The long wait from us fans was not satisfied though, as the way the show handled the source material was just wrong. First the use of CGI animation failed miserably here, as the effect the CGI has was jarring and clunky and immediately took your attention away from the story. Then the pacing was off and the story was very newcomer-unfriendly. This series achieved something that I thought was impossible for Berserk: that maybe the manga isn’t that  special all of us fans hyped up to be: maybe it’s just a story about the killing, revenge and all ugly natures of human and nothing else. Second place goes to Joker Game that it started out incredibly solid for the first two episodes, then the episodic nature really killed the show as it became predictable (guess who will win in the end?), the stories that crammed up into single episode resulted in pretty much half-baked outcomes.

Runner up: Joker Game

 

HelghastKillzone: Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

As the writer who covered this show over the spring 2016 season, I remember buying into the hype and singing its praises for the first half of the show before it fell off a cliff in its second half. With the same staff behind Attack on Titan, it had the animation, action, setting and music to potentially become the anime of the year but veered off into a shitty direction with the introduction of the main antagonist. To this day, I would recommend the first seven episodes as the shining example of what anime has to offer in the action department but its latter half is something to be avoided at all costs. My only solace is that the series is reseted by the end of the finale and that the recently announced second season will have a clean start.

Runner up: Dimension W

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Posted on 15 February 2016 with categories: Yearly Summaries

2015 from what I have been hearing has been a good year for music and games but that’s not what we are assessing here. The true question is, was it a good year for anime? In truth it may depend on your tastes and this year was divisive to say the least. The best anime tended to be love it or hate it affairs but at least there was some interesting things at work. Personally I consider it the year of strong starts with weak finishes. There were plenty of anime whose first episodes held light of a new potential greats but it never quite managed to reach that level.

So Aidan, what made you late this time you ask?(You likely didn’t ask but please, humor me) Well when gearing up to write this summary I came to the shocking conclusion that I just plain forgot to watch some standout titles this year. Putting them on the backlog while I get though my ever expanding pile of steam games. It would be a shame to leave up potential candidates for the top ten simply because I neglected to watch them. That said there were sacrifices, I never got around to watching “Arslan Senki” after all. I also still remain halfway through Jojo stardust crusaders. So I ask for mercy should your favorite show not end up on the list below and keep in mind that top tens are ridiculously arbitrary. I don’t even consider the order to have any meaning as plenty of these can change places. I would say the list below is just ten interesting anime this year listed in no particular order.

So without further ado, the 2015 summary.

 

Worst series

Chaos Dragon: Sekiryuu Seneki

I could have went the easy route and stuck something like Punchline or Lances du Mask but anime such as these you just expect to be bad. When I ask myself on just what this year really made me regret anticipating it was most certainly this. Bad anime which are expected to be bad don’t hurt anyone but a bad anime that could have been something great is something to mourn. Chaos Dragon was based on a tabletop role playing session which featured three of the best writers in the industry. It could have been a great experiment to see what improv storytelling these people could dream up. Sadly by based on, they mean they took the setting and characters and pretty much nothing else. For someone seemed to think that they could make a better story and proceed to turn the thing into a Akame no Kill knockoff with poor pacing, inconsistent animation with bad CGI and a plot that just doesn’t make sense. It could have been something great but sadly now it never will be.

Worst First episode

K Return of Kings

Sometimes during the first impressions of an anime seas I feel like a judge on one of those music talent shows. I watch acts come and go till eventually I get some cocky person so convinced that they will blow me away with their performance. In the end they present a sub-par no effort show and yet still hold a ego more obnoxious than my own. Well that’s this show’s first episode for me. A story that’s making no effort to explain itself to the viewer, fanservice that has no idea which target market to aim for, dialogue so obtuse that it might as well be replaced with foghorns for what little it provides and visual so shaded under a blue gradient that just annoys without end once noticed. Was I interested in seeing what the rest of the show had to offer? No, no I was not.

Best Opening

Death Parade

One would think that a show about life and death would have a much more somber piece for its opening animation. But Death Parade threw that all out the window and decided to have an opening with the cast getting together and having a great time. Tonally the opening is a complete opposite of the show with its peppy catchy tune and fast beat that can make you tap along. Accompanied but visuals of dancing and messing around, it really hard to skip when you turn on a episode. A complete contrast to the grim subject matter of the series but perhaps that’s the point. The business of death need not be a somber one and if you are getting sent to either heaven or hell, at least you can be sent off with a party.

Biggest disappointment

Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider

Death Parade was also a disappointment but it didn’t quite let me down as bad as Subete did. Personally, I love the murder mystery genre and wish I had more anime to sate that thirst. Plenty have tried the mystery angle but often resorted to stories that require little thought and are mainly spectacle. Then here comes Subete promising me exactly what I wanted and getting me fully on board for an exciting tale. However Subete ultimately played its cards too early and left the majority of the series attempting to stretch out the paper thin plot to fit the runtime. Enduring its tedium rewards watchers with a conclusion that’s obvious, nonsensical and overall pretentious. So once again I sit with an itch for some great murder mystery and wondering if I should replay Umineko no naku koro ni when it is released on steam.

Most pleasant surprise

Gakkou Gurashi!

Gakkou was a show that truly surprised me, not because of the shows hidden nature as I was already clued into that aspect, but rather how well directed it was. On all accounts Gakkou lives and dies on a gimmick, that being Moe slice of life mixed with a zombie apocalypse. Both are tired concepts yet this show managed to make both feel fresh by using the discrepancy between the genres. It has a rather predictable ending and one or two unnecessary filler episodes however it makes up for its shortcomings through some fantastic execution.

Best animation studio

Lerche

This was a pretty good year for Lerche, having a pretty consistent track record throughout the year with at least an interesting or entertaining show each season. Monster musume remains one of the most enjoyable harems I have seen in years and Gakkou was a pleasant surprise. Even Ronpa was at least an interesting experiment and Assassination classroom is a fun show. As a studio my opinion of them has gone up as they managed to not only adapt source material well but elevate it. (With the exception of Ronpa which disregarded it completely.) I look forward to their future projects and I hope they can keep up the good work.

Best Guilty Pleasure

Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai

Monster Musume also deserves a mention for doing something different with the tired old fanservice harem but Shimoneta wins with just pure vile creativity. Taking place in a dystopian society that embodies censorship taken to its logical extreme, you could think that this is a commentary on the nature of repression. However whatever commentary Shimoneta provides is either in your face or accidental. No, the real goal of Shimoneta is to make as many sex jokes as humanly possible. The story manages to break expectations as things happen like the shows most boring Mary Sue character becoming the primary show stealer and the utter ludicrous as one episode features a tutorial on how to make a homemade onahole. It does have its weaknesses such as a villain introduced in its later episodes but manages to entertain regardless.

Best animation

One Punch Man

A no brainer without doubt. Fate/unlimited bladeworks second half did air this year but its splendor did not match its first series. Even if it did I think I would give the award to One Punch Man regardless as the animation here truly had heart and passion. The final bout in the final episode is worty of this title alone but the series managed to keep a relatively high quality of animation throughout with some of the best talent in the industry working on it. The result is a jaw dropping portfolio of visual glory, even if there were times were the art lacked consistency. There are those who truly dislike this show but I think few would discredit its animated feats.

Worst character

Magata Shiki

Let me say this, teenagers are irritating creatures. At one point we were all one and chances are you hated the person you were then. Because teenage years are when you think you have figured out the world and believe that you are somehow special in some unspecified way. There are those of us who outgrew this phase and learned to deal with simple truth. The only way to get acknowledgement for being special is to prove you are special through hard work and dedication. Some never outgrew this however and that brings me to Magata Shiki. Magata is the teenage mindset on full display. She thinks she’s figured out life, thinks she is special and therefore makes some of the most idiotic decisions possible. The problem is that the series treats her like she is special, that her mindset is new and oh so deep. No one attempts to challenge her mindset or more importantly, point out how utterly juvenile it is. Magata Shiki is the result of what happens when you isolate a egotistical teenager and allow them to fester in their own flawed logic. The result is an ignorant child who is under the impression that they are a genius. Even if the show demands to see her as some visionary philosopher, she remains proof that just because someone is smart, does not mean they are wise.

Best character

Saitama

With the soaring popularity of One Punch Man, Saitama is becoming a bit of an anime icon. With fanart of him taking on Superman and Batman, as well as a Fallout 4 parody. All that’s really needed for his popularity to skyrocket is an English dub, which should come any day now. But what exactly makes Saitama’s character so special. Well it could be because if his very nature being a parody of the overpowered Shounen protagonist or his personality that walks the tightrope between badass and goofy. Previously only handled by Eikichi Onizuka. But personally I believe his loveabity comes from the fact that dispute his overwhelming power, Saitama’s greatest challenges are the everyday tasks everyone needs to face. Where all is his power is worthless. Non the less it will always be fun to see him respond to the greatest threats to humanity with bored disinterest.

Top 10 anime of the year

10: Kekkai Sensen(Blood Blockade Battlefront)

Remember when I said it was a love it or hate it year? Well this anime is the representative of that view. To those of you who disagree with my number one pick, let it be known that I know how you feel. For Kekkai Sensen was that anime for me. On a technical level I can see how Kekkai can be a good show. I can even see greatness and creatively in its premise and some episodes. Yet despite all this I find it quite mediocre. Kekkai Sensen is very much style over substance and if you are looking for something with a deep plot I suggest looking elsewhere. The plot is a thinly tied thread that goes through a series of episodic adventures introducing characters and then proceeding to use them for absolutely nothing. All to end with an underwhelming conclusion which is open for a potential sequel. This anime holds the number ten spot for one reason, because I know there are those who could truly love this show. Particularly if you are a big fan of Durarara this will be right up your alley. I give it this spot because I admit it has merit for others, just none for me.

9: Death Parade

In my review I stated that Death Parade is a show that is half great. I still stand by that though in retrospect I may have been a bit harsh on it. The premise of Death Parade is deliciously novel and filled to the brim with potential. Half the series capitalized on that potential. The other half didn’t. Regardless this series truly did have some fantastic moments and should Madhouse take up the unlikely chance of creating a sequel I would be on board for a second visit to Quindecim. If we were given a sequel that took the best parts of this series and made the entire season of that then it would certainly make it into the top five.

8: Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri

In any story when humanity meets beings from another world, we are generally the technologically inferior. Gate is here to shown that we humans have made some impressive killing machines and if faced with a RPG fantasy world we will certainly give them a run for their money. I will be the first to admit that gate isn’t perfect. It’s comedy is bad, the pacing is a slow burn with no real climax in sight and its missing something to truly make it great. But the story does work with some great ideas and how it deals with the issues that arise with the appearance of another world. Countries hungry to mine it for resources, the difference in political structures, the technological gape in power, culture shock…there are a lot of great things to work with here and the story does make some use of it. It will be the conclusion of the second season that ultimately decides the quality of the show so for now I believe this spot is earned.

7: Ushio to Tora

In truth Ushio to Tora never surpassed exceptions or provided anything besides what was promised. But it did deliver on what was promised. A fun Shounen adventure about a boy and his demon tiger. This title will have viewers filled with that nostalgic feeling previously brought by the likes of Dragonball or Yu Yu Hakuso. Bundled together with an opening that never fails to get me in the mood for some Shounen battle action. It’s a pity the show itself never quite lives up to the battle scale presented in the opening but even that is reminiscent of old style Shounen. This anime managed to keep me constantly entertained throughout and prevented it from getting stale by changing up the formula before it runs out of steam. It’s the anime of yesteryear, today!

6: Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works second season

Yes, I am well aware that my old bias is at work here but it would betray my love for the franchise to not have this here. At least take solace in the fact that it is not in the top five and I certainly would be willing to put it lower. This season was much weaker than the first and suffered from too much filler and a dragged pacing. That said it did have a great conclusion, it still is the best adaption of the route to date and its still a beautiful series to look at. I just pray that Ufotable can bring the brilliance of Heavens feel out with the film without the weaknesses displayed in this second season.

5: Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku

In the middle of this list seems an appropriate place for this as the story did deal with characters being in the middle of someone else’s conflict. SNAFU didn’t quite excel its previous season, instead providing more of the same which in SNAFUs case is not a bad thing. In a medium filled with rosy depictions of school life and all its wonders, SNAFU is the show to tell it like it is and present a more realistic depiction of school life. The protagonists brand of cynicism never gets old though the fact that he has a harem is always a mystery. In guise of school events, SNAFU shows you many future troubles that those of us in the workforce are all too familiar with. In particular the school planning meetings are so true to life that it’s rather scary. That said this season was bogged down a bit with a ongoing plot about the characters relationships that borders on over melodramatic. That and a ending which is sort of cliffhanger that outright demands a third season.

4: Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans

Mari Okada and Gundam is a match that would make anyone raise an eyebrow, yet it has produced one of the better Gundams in recent years. I would hesitate to call myself a Gundam fan, quite the opposite actually. But Orphans has a quality that I like a lot. There’s something engrossing about a bunch of underdog slaves revolting and becoming a significant power. Perhaps it’s because the politics of this series gas been put more to the background or simplified. I was never fond of Gundams nature to get too caught up in politics and even less so when it starts preaching about how war is bad. Orphans does have cartoonist aspects to it and a love triangle it would be better without but makes up for it with some fine Mecha action and a glorious soundtrack.Wherever you stand on this, at least we can argee its better than Reconguista.

3: Junketsu no Maria(Maria the virgin witch)

A while back I remember doing a first episode impression on Junketsu no Maria and being surprised at how good it was. So I made a note to watch it some time later and went on. Now with writing this summary I thought it was the perfect time to go back and watch it. I thought I might find it to be something worthwhile. What I was astonished to find was an absolute gem of an anime. I didn’t just like this anime, I loved it. The moral quandaries, setting, themes, really this anime was everything I originally expected from Young Blackjack. So much so that I regret not blogging it when it was airing. The parallels to Joan of Arc are pretty obvious.The villains have great character arcs and I love how it shows the dangers of blind faith as well as the negatives of refuting god without picking a clear side. That’s this shows strength, there isn’t a good or evil here. Maria may stop war temporarily but she’s called into question plenty about whether what she’s doing is truly helping in the long run. Of course the show isn’t without negatives, the ending for one is suitable but very cheesy. It does tie up all the loose ends of the series nicely though so that there is no need for a sequel. The art can have a few hiccups now and then and I feel that one character wasn’t really given the time to make use of his full potential. There’s plenty of sex jokes as well and Maria is pretty much mocked for her virginity all the time. But in my time watching this show made me remember just why I love anime so much.

2: Gakkou Gurashi!

Breathing life into two overdone genres is already worthy of merit. Being genuinely good is all the better. Gakkou is just a really well done series that exemplifies that a good idea can become a great one with creative direction and smart adaption. The balancing act between soft Moe fluff and grim zombie apocalypse is a recipe that doesn’t always work but when it does, it heightens the effect of both. Watching Gakkou is akin to watching puppies play in a house slowly getting filled with toxic gas. You know the tragedy is coming and the tension carries throughout the series as you wait for it all to come tumbling down. In the hands of another it would be an unremarkable series but here it happens to be one of the most visually arresting things I have seen all year.

1: One Punch Man

Was there any doubt? One Punch Man is one of the most impressive feats of animation made in recent times. The comedy of each episode just makes you smile and Saitama is a loveable goofy superhuman who can turn any threat into a joke. It’s a series that genuinely has more action in the show than it does in the opening. I do admit that this show isn’t for everyone. Truly it’s something that thrives on its cool factor. It doesn’t present any considerable deconstruction of Shounen tropes and its storyline does hit the same beats of a threat showing up each episode for Saitama to one punch it to death. However if One Punch Man is to your tastes then you are bound to love it. If not, at least you saw a display of some of the best animation the industry has to offer.

Posted on 9 March 2015 with categories: Yearly Summaries

Well as they say, better late than never. Now I am aware that I am not psgels and so the summary is not quite as extensive as I only joined the site at the end of the year. Not to mention my tastes are far away from psgels tastes. But to have an anime year without a summery bugged me. Also thanks to a few commenters for bringing it to my attention. I will try my best. Another thing to note is that there are likely shows that deserve a spot on the top anime that are not there. Reason for this is probably because I didn’t see it. Examples such as Ping Pong or Gugure! Kokkuri-san.

Now many people claim anime is dead and needs saving. And certainly when looking at anime this year it can be quite depressing. There is a reason why it’s a top ten this year instead of a top twenty. Though part of that is because I simply didn’t watch every good show in each season this year. Shows with some great potential that lead to great disappointments. But the creative process is a lottery. Despite what many anime fans believe, there has never been a golden age of anime in the past were masterpieces came out at regular intervals. And to say there were no interesting anime this year would be a lie.

So without further ado, the 2014 summary.

 

Worst series

Grisaia no Kajitsu

I was willing to hand this to Sword art online 2 but couldn’t as I gave up on it in its ninth episode. As I have not seen the remainder of the series I cannot judge it as the worst. But if the rest of the series is anything like what I watched then it would have taken the award. To give it to a harem would be shooting fish in a barrel. But what did I watch fully that was just terrible in every shape and form? Grisaia, it breaks my heart to give you this but what did they do to you? Bad animation. Music ripped straight from the visual novel without any attempt to fit it with the visuals. An adaption which crushed and ripped apart the source material only to attempt to duck tape it together into something coherent which failed completely. Some of the most out of place, downright insulting fanservice ranging from a panty shot of a girl who is panicking while buried alive to slow pan of a girls underwear clad body when she is dying from disease and malnutrition. Think about the context of the scene for gods sake. But what makes it worse is there is potential for a good anime here but now because of general incompetence and a lack of care it shall never be realized.  And to top it all off there are two sequels coming. Just stop.

Biggest disappointment

Psycho Pass season 2

The first season of Psycho Pass had problems but the blade runner-quese world of Sibyl it built was rife with potential. So surely with the writer of Le chevalier d’Eon and Ghost in the Shell arise doing the series composition for the second season that world will now be explored with greater detail. Or…that’s what we hoped. Maybe the script should not have been placed in the hands of Jun Kumagai, a man responsible for writing some of the worst episodes for series such as Gaila Donna, Resonance in Terror and Persona 4. Its clear to tell that Jun either didn’t see the first season of Psycho Pass or just didn’t care about it. The script of this show starts decent and goes downhill fast with events becoming so nonsensical that one would claim it’s bad fan fiction. At the end of the story no one’s choices made sense and the entire season is made pointless. Only to be a large blemish on a decent anime franchise .

Most pleasant surprise

Sidonia no kishi

CG in anime is not very good. So one would think that making a full anime in CG when anime characters CG models are in uncanny valley territory sounds suicidal. But against all odds and iffy CG aside Sidonia turned out to be a good anime. A very good anime. The story has great pacing and action visually impressive and exhilarating.  There are problems with mild harem elements peaking in but the strengths of the show help those moments become tolerable. The world is fascinating and the situations do or die. To an anime I expected nothing with it came and gave me so much more than I anticipated.

Best animation studio

Ufotable

Ufotable is quite the mystery. At a time when KyoAni and Madhouse were the height of quality animation, Ufotable came out of nowhere and blew them both away. A studio whose most notable work being Coyote Ragtime Show it was a shock to see them come with something as finely produced as Kara no Kyokai. As it is now they are the pinnacle of japanese animation. If asked by someone to show them the quality of of anime visuals I would likely take out a Ufotable work. My only concern is that they may become limited to just creating type moon works. I love type moon but I would like to see Ufotable branch out from just that. Gyo was a decent attempt to do so, even if it was misguided and not really a wise choice to attempt with. Though I do think that it was brave of them to choose something so obscure and downright unadaptable.

Best Guilty Pleasure

No Game No Life

Quite a polarising anime to say the least. Now don’t get me wrong. If you said that No Game No Life was garbage I would actually agree. It is garbage. Its wish fulfilment tripe with an absolute minimal level of intelligence. But it’s entertaining garbage. I had fun watching this show despite its many, and I do mean many, glaring flaws. However if you were to come up to me and ask if it was good I would hesitate. And then mumble a incoherent response. I even considered putting it in the top anime below but it just felt instinctively wrong. I can’t even promise I would like it on a rewatch. But for what it is, it was fun. Just hope there isn’t a second season. Lighting like this does not strike twice.

Best animation

Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works

Yes yes, I know I have a personal bias for this series. I would like you to know how hard it was to restrain myself from putting it in every best of category. But whether you love it or hate it, it’s hard to deny this is one beautiful series. The animation is phenomenal and art equally so. I would even be so bold to label this show the best looking anime series to date.

Worst character

Mika Shimotsuki

There are characters you love to hate and then there is Mika Shimotsuki. A character whose very nature is to insight utter contempt in the viewer. It makes no sense considering her character in the previous series but in the second season of Psycho Pass Mika was made into a pro Sibyl puppet. Her every action, her every line of dialogue only there to anger viewers. At any chance of improving her character she does a 180 and regresses further. To the point where they will make her as stupid as possible in order to make choices no human would ever make so that she is hated further. This is not a well written character. This is just an object to inspire hate, a quite literal animated troll. In the end her role in the story is pointless and she didn’t even give the viewer the satisfaction of seeing her recognise her mistakes or paying for them.

 

Top 10 anime of the year

10: Gin no Saji 2nd Season

Basically the same as the first season. It’s hard for me to talk about Sliver spoon. This is due to myself becoming tired with the heavy saturation of slice of life anime. This is unmistakable a solid show as anything that can make something as mundane as agriculture watchable is commendable. Out of the series in 2014 it was one of the most solid.

9: Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis

The show that could have been so much more. With more character development this could have really stood out. However despite that it did have good animation and a fair amount of action. If you walk into it expecting a adventure it will deliver on that front. The story didn’t throw any twists or turns that you won’t see coming but it does excel when it comes to presentation.

8: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders

It does not have the same spark as it did in the first season but it certainly is trying. The stands have made the battles less inventive, the story is a long episodic line of one note villains, and the main characters are not as amusing as the previous entry. This season to me seems to be quantity over quality which is a shame. But despite all that, the over the top nature of the show is intact. The latest episodes of the egypt arc have gotten better and few shows have the infectious energy and ridiculousness of Jojo.

7: Isshuukan Friends

Slice of life is a genre that has been beaten into the ground already. Despite that One week friends managed to be a lighthearted enjoyable watch each week. Considering that I have grown completely sick of the genre that this show could get me to tune in each week was quite an achievement.

6: Log Horizon 

Essentially the anti-thesis of Sword Art Online. I mean that literally as Log Horizon was in fact created by those dissatisfied with SAOs presentation of MMOs. The first season was a fascinating look at how living in a MMO would be like. Essentially delivering on all the things SAO left to the side. While the comedy is weak and relies on repeating gags, the world building aspects are solid. With the change in studio for the second season not really bringing any changes and the quality of the show more less the same, it still remains a decent watch. My only real complaint being that it’s very slow and the current arc’s are not quite as interesting. So I place the first season here instead of the second.

5: Shirobako

I was late to see this little gem. Shirobako was something I shunned as I saw it as yet another show of moe drivel pretending to be about a subject but instead just uses it as a setup for cute girls doing cute things. But I seen some comments about it and gave it a chance. And was honestly surprised. Shirobako is a nice look into the trails and tribulations that give you your weekly anime fix. It has a lot of uncomfortable truths about the workplace environment in general. There are issues of course, such as the main cast of five girls not really being interesting at all. Two of whom I could swear where essentially taken from other Pa works like Hanasaku Iroha and Nagi no Asukara. They seem like a flat attempt to bring Moe to the show that quite honestly, didn’t need it. But when it focuses on the animation process, it shines.

4: Sidonia no Kishi

A fully CG anime should have been doomed from the start. But if you can put aside the uncanny valley you will have a addictive battle for survival. The are problems with clunky romance and harem moments but the action is intense and the situation dire. Was honestly looking forward to each episode. And I did get left wanting more by episodes end.

3: Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu

Truthfully despite a hugely faithful adaption I find Parasyte to be missing an ingredient that made the manga special. That said there are not many anime like it. The horror genre is surprisingly stark with the anime medium so I welcome any new entry that dares to be different. Ah, but less dubstep please.

2: Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works

Obvious choice. I know. Fantastic production values, great action and a overall solid ride with a likeable, distinctive characters. Its not for everyone but if it is your thing then you get entertainment in spades. There are problems such as a number of battles where characters decide to battle another day for the sole purpose of delaying servants from being taken out of the war and calm which might put off those who want more action. Another thing is that this is essentially only one half of a story, so it is incomplete. Truthfully these things do not concern me.What does concern me is whether UFOtable can continue to deliver for the second half.

1: Mushishi Zoku Shou

It’s hard to beat an undeniable classic. The first season of Mushishi is considered a must watch for all anime fans. The second season carries it’s legacy. The only real negatives are its formulaic nature of the show and the character designs can make people look too similar. But it still can spellbound even the most tired anime veteran. There’s truly not much more to say about it.

Posted on 31 December 2013 with categories: Yearly Summaries

And so, 2013 has nearly ended. It was an interesting year, in which a lot changed. The way I look at this blog has changed, and at the same time I have been making less posts. I just couldn’t keep up with 12 posts a week anymore, however I still have my passion for anime, especially the good ones.

Having said that though, 2013 is the worst year for anime since the past decade, and I’m afraid that I need to say this. The big problem lied in the amount of series that aired. Every season had its gems, however when you look beyond these gems, that’s where the problems lied: everything just looked the same, and there were lots of series that had potential, only to get bogged down by bad writing. This is the year I really realized that the way in which most anime are written is inherently flawed, with too few writers working on too many projects and people not really thinking about making anime whole conclusive stories that stay consistent. I’ve seen so many promising series this year that only ended up meh, when they could have been so much better, so it’s really a shame to see this.

As for the good stuff though, there thankfully were quite a few series that did catch my attention. Here are my highlights. Unfortunately Hajime no Ippo and White Album are not included because I’m really behind with them at this point.

Worst Series

Amnesia

There really were some stinkers this year that at first sight looked like they had potential. As much as I’d like to hand this award to Valvrave for pulling the rape-card from out of bloody nowhere, it had nothing on Amnesia. At first sight this looked to be an interesting mystery-series, however every single character save for one in the series was a total prick. The worst was the stalker one with the cage. I mean, did nobody on the production team stop to think “wait, this is completely stupid”?

Worst First Episode

Walkure Romanze

Oh god, there really was a lot of bad stuff this year, though most of the ones fell into the category of “so generic that they’re bad”. On top of that there also was the usual terrible incest, as well as the many, many shows that were simply thinly veiled fanservice. It was hard to just pick one that stood out, however I have to go with Wankure Romanze. It’s really here where the creators just gave up completely trying, treating their audience like a herd of lobotomised sheep. This episode really screamed “just whatever, I dunno. Have a horse that eats panties or something so we’ll at least get some viewership. I don’t care”.

Biggest disappointment

Yozakura Quartet – Hana no Uta

Despite being a big fan of the director and the OVA, I really don’t think that I’m going to be able to finish this series. Why? Because the story is just random fluff. Okay, I guess stuff happens aside from its horrible fourth episode and all, but when I really ask myself whether that’s interesting to watch for a full season… I have to answer no. Even though the animation is just completely fantastic… the rest just wasn’t.

Most Pleasant Surprise

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru

I was ready to immediately write this series off as the umpth light novel adaptation with a ridiculously long title and having it be nothing more than a glorified boob parade. And then the first episode aired, and it was actually the best thing that the creators could have done with such a horrible premise. The creators made this actually a really funny parody, and they kept it up for about seven episodes. I really did not expect that.

Funniest series

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San

Oh, Azazel-san. You sure gave me quite some headaches this year. On one hand, you made me laugh harder than any other series this season, but on the other you had these completely tasteless episodes that tried way too hard to go for laughs with their shock value. Every episode we would hope that we’d strike gold, instead of literally poop. However, when you hit, you hit hard. The characters at their best are absolutely hysterical with their brand of sadistic humour and energy that very, very few series can match, and you had me nearly fall of my chair on multiple occasions.

Best Animation Studio

Production IG

This year, I was torn between Madhouse and Production IG. They really rose to high standards this year with many great series. The reason why I handed it to Production IG though, was because Madhouse has been too much into its own franchises: as amazing as Chihayafuru’s second season was, it was a sequel. Hajime no Ippo is great, however, it already has so many episodes. Hunter X Hunter too has been going on for ages: they played it way too safe. Production IG meanwhile went all out with Psycho Pass and Shingeki no Kyojin, they did something really bold with Kick Heart. Sure, they had their sequels, but they had a balance between old stuff and new stuff, which I didn’t notice that well in Madhouse’s case.

Most Promising Studio

Wit Studio

Every year I also hand out an award to a studio that’s either really new, or made a huge improvement over the past. With this year, it’s obvious that it would be Wit Studio, the subsidiary of Production IG. Next season they’re out on their own, and if Shingeki no Kyojin is any indication, then there is a lot of talent hiding amongst them, and I hope that they can follow Bee-Train’s example and become a good standalone studio in the future!

Best Action

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

It took the award last year, it also takes it this year. Jojo is just so wonderfully over the top and every episode was just loads of fun to watch. It really was everything that the shounen genre should be, and I can understand why it got so popular. However, it did have much more competition this year. Kill La Kill is a huge contender for next year’s award with the way that it’s going, and Shingeki no Kyojin also was really exciting to watch, from start to finish. I really had trouble with the award this year, as opposed to last year.

Best Horror

Aku no Hana

Pure psychological horror, but oh my god, this show was so effective in drawing me into its atmosphere. There was hardly any point at which I wasn’t at the edge of my seat, and that’s what I consider an amazing horror-series.

Best Background Art

Shingeki no Kyojin

This year, I want to give props to the incredible amount of polish that the creators put into the backgrounds of Attack on Titan. They really created a medieval-ish city and the amount of detail that went into it is astounding, and it looks consistently crisp. The creators obviously spent a lot of money on it, and it did pay off.

Best Animation

Yozakura Quartet – Hana no Uta

There were lots of really well animated series this season, a few too many, if you ask me personally, however Yozakura Quartet to me was the best, because of its focus on kinetic energy that was very visible in its movements. Its animation wasn’t just a bunch of money shots, the creators really cared about natural movements and interesting poses, they really wanted to create movement, and they did that better than any other series this season. It’s just a shame that the animation was the only thing noteworthy about this show.

Best-Looking Series

Kyousogiga

This award goes to the series that just looks incredibly good, regardless of animation. The artistic direction here is important, and Kyousogiga had that, and much, much more. For 10 episodes there were hardly any weak moments in the animation, and everything just looked gorgeous. Close seconds are Chihayafuru and From the New World, not to mention the trippy Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and the gritty Aku no Hana (I don’t care: I loved how Aku no Hana looked, with its own unique and distinct style; so what if it wasn’t crisp).

Top 20 of 2013

#20: Teekyu

Wildcard: Teekyu is just something to sit behind, turn your brain off and enjoy the spectacle. Nothing special, but damn entertaining to see all of the things that the creators can throw to the screen in the span of only two minutes per episode.

#19: Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru

Light novel adaptations with really long titles had previously been notorious for being bad, lazy and incredibly contrived for fanservice. This year, there were two series that broke that trend. Noucome (resting at place 21 due to its rather bad ending), and Yahari Blahblah. This series starts off with the generic ingredients, but I don’t know. Along the way something happened that set itself apart from its contemporaries. The dialogue, it was actually cleverly written. It actually takes a deep look at its characters, and creates some thought-provoking drama out of that, rather than going with the usual cheese. The characters in this series all look like completely generic stereotypes, and yet they aren’t. This series could have tried even more though, and there are some stories that are a bit lacklustre compared to the others, placing this relatively low at this list.

#18: Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San’s sequel contained both the best, and the worst episodes of the season so far. The Moloch-episodes were obviously awesome, but a few other arcs were also comedic gold. And then there was the haemorrhoid arc. What on earth were the creators thinking? It’s a series with huge ups and downs, but its own brand of incredibly vile and sadistic comedy somehow worked for me.

#17: Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi

Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi is nothing really fancy, however it did create its own fascinating setting that it rolled with for thirteen episodes,. It did have a tendency to suddenly pull twists from out of absolutely nowhere, but it barely avoided those becoming Deus ex Machina, and it consistently asks questions about life and death with its strange portrayal of the undead. It could have been much more because the series just ends after a random arc has been resolved, however, the characters all made it very worth watching.

#16: Uchuu Kyoudai

Last year, I made the prediction that for 2013, this series again would have been a great contender for the number one spot, however, something happened along the way. The series remained a wonderful look at what it means to become an astronaut, it still was fascinating. The problem however, was the pacing. Things started to take forever to get going, and every episode on top of that started with like two minutes of recap. The creators were simply coasting on the manga to carry them through, and you couldn’t see the passion of the first fifty episodes any more. The creators made the mistake of going on for way too long, lessening the experience. It’s such a pity, because this series really stood out: it had characters in their thirties for once, and the synergy between them is just amazing. However you also need to learn to not overstay your welcome.

#15: Gatchaman Crowds

Anime is a great storytelling medium, but usually they really aren’t up to date with current events. Some shows nowadays still feature the Tokyo Tower as the highest building in Tokyo, for example. Gatchaman Crowds however, is about social media. It’s very clunky, but it portrays a setting in which saving the world is crowd-sourced: through the internet everyone contributes with stuff like saving the day and protecting the earth from aliens, and from that base setting it creates its storyline. The characters aren’t the most relatable, however they serve the purpose of exploring this setting. The pacing is ridiculously fast, but in the end they pulled it off with also quite a great ending to close off with.

#14: Samurai Flamenco

Samurai Flamenco, I’ll put you at number 14 for now. This can become much higher, or much lower next year. The series started off really well with a sortof realistic view on this idiot who wanted to play a superhero. And then episode seven happened, and it was awesome, but afterwards it just kept getting more and more ridiculous, to the point where we are now just watching a completely different series. It’s really a bizarre series and at this point it really could go anywhere. I do have to give props for having the balls to actually try what it did though.

#13: Silver Spoon

Silver Spoon: a meticulously planned out look at what farming life is. It has lovable characters, it’s fun to watch, but at the same time it also doesn’t shy away from the realities of farming: that animals are killed in the process, in order to make a living. It shows both sides of the picture, and never really leaves a moment or episode wasted, and it’s filled with interesting trivia. Not to mention that it made me hungry on a regular basis.

#12: Uchoten Kazoku

Uchoten Kazoku is a look at Japanese folklore,in a modern coat. It tells about tanuki and crows, and how they can transform into stuff, and it contains all sorts of obscure cultural references surrounding their legends. It really taught me quite a few new things through its airtime, and that’s always a plus. The best thing about this series is its dialogue: cleverly written and it manages to develop the characters in a unique and engaging way. It does lose a bit of steam near the end, but it remains witty and unpredictable.

#11: Kill La Kill

Kill La Kill’s storyline is nothing special, however it manages to present itself in such a way that it doesn’t become boring. Its formulaic, but never formulaic enough to get tedious, the characters are simple, but not one-dimensional enough to get boring. It’s all carefully planned out for the action to just keep you entertained from beginning to end. Hiroyuki Imaishi is a great director, and you can see Studio Trigger having a ton of fun making the most over the top action sequences that are all still very varied and interesting to watch. Not to mention that soundtrack. That really makes the series even more exciting.

#10: Hunter X Hunter

My stance on the series remains: I did not like sitting through a year and a half of material that I had already seen. I’m sorry, but that was really tedious, even though the Greed Island was much better than the Nippon Animation version. Finally though, the Chimera Ant arc stepped into new material. At this point I’m really behind, however even though the arc took incredibly long to build up, I just reached the point at which it really started to deliver. Finally I can appreciate this series for the very intelligent shounen series that it was meant to be, and it indeed blows generic stuff like Naruto and Bleach completely out of the water.

#9: Rozen Maiden

The third season of Rozen Maiden, but really: this new instalment is completely different from the previous two TV-series. It’s written perfectly over its airtime, starting off small and ending big. The first half really mostly just takes place in one room, with most of the characters absent, being dedicated to some really personal character-development for the ones who did get the focus. It pushed all of its characters to a different direction, and definitely was a worthy addition to the Rozen Maiden franchise.

#8: Zetsuen no Tempest

Tempest’s second half perhaps was a bit less sharp than its first half, but it still was just complete gold in terms of its script, and how it played with its storyline to throw all kinds of logic-based holes and loops. This really was a great example of a world-shattering conflict being solved by logic, with force playing just the role of assistant. The characters also got through their own share of development that this series also cleverly made use of and all of that resulted into an incredibly fun watch. The biggest reason why this one ended up slightly behind the others is its slightly lackluster ending.

#7: Shingeki no Kyojin

All series from #8 are incredibly close to each other. They all were amazing to watch. The reason why Shingeki no Kyojin lost out was because of its inconclusive ending: no resolution whatsoever, leading to one heck of a cliff-hanger. Up to that point we got to witness an amazingly tense action-series that really managed to convince that yes, humanity is completely screwed. This series is incredibly good at putting humanity at the brink of destruction, and keeping the stakes just inches away from everything going to hell. This is fantastic for its atmosphere, and on top of that, it was easily the series with the best production values of the entire year: everything looked incredibly polished, and where these series usually skimp on the substance, this series had plenty of it. This is an action-series with brains.

#6: Psycho Pass

Psycho Pass, intelligent science fiction from Urobuchi Gen, and the second half really delivered, whereas the series that aired alongside it, Robotics;Notes, pretty much crashed and burned. What managed to keep it afloat was that it always knew where it was going, and it kept asking poignant questions about its setting and it actually continued to push its storyline forward in creative ways. The characters came to their rights, the animation was still solid, and everything concluded really well, so I was really pleased with this series.

#5: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

This series became something really amazing, putting most other shounen completely to shame with how much manly action the creators managed to put on the screen. It’s definitely not for everyone, and the excessive use of colours will disturb some, however I loved just how over the top this show got. There were so many moments that were just pure gold, and the creators really knew how to capture the essence of the manga, which delivered its action with completely ridiculous poses and massive amounts of manliness, while still keeping a straight face. The training arcs were really kept to a minimum, and the fights themselves all tried to be as creative as possible, both by making great use of the environment every fight was in, and some very creative powers. This really was my weekly fix of adrenaline, done incredibly well.

#4: Chihayafuru

After Shingeki no Kyojin, the second most polished series of the year. A show about Karuta, every single match looked crisp. Every single swipe made impact. The creators still managed to keep this up for in total 52 episodes. The most amazing thing about this series however, was its character development. Most series just pick one character to develop per episode. Oh no, not this series.. Every single episode developed as many characters as it possibly could a little. This means that hard-hitting development could really come out of absolutely nowhere. It’s only a shame that we still haven’t reached the ending, and we need to wait for a potential third season for everything to be resolved. And it already was a miracle that we got a second season.

#3: Aku no Hana

Aku no Hana is unlike any other anime ever made. The animation is completely rotoscoped, leading to continuous movements, that all are jerky, and amazing characters that say “screw it!” to every single convention. The pacing is incredibly slow, but it’s deliberately so: it’s entirely made to draw its audience into its atmosphere, and some of the best moments of the series are actually when little happens and you only can watch the eerie moments happening. It’s an amazing look at the darker sides of being a teenager, and the creators did an absolutely fantastic job of capturing the paranoia inside the main character. But yeah, they did choose to do it in a style that will turn off plenty of people. But that makes it even better: a series actually had the balls to be completely different in every single way from all other anime. That deserves to be commended.

#2: Kyousogiga

Kyousogiga is just a series that did everything right for me. It’s a whimsical story, inside its complete own world with its own set of rules, heavily infused in Buddhist and Shinto themes, and it got itself some consistently incredible animation with hardly any weak points. There is always something interesting going on on the screen and the characters are more expressive than any other series this year. Its storytelling is meant to be vague: you can see lots of unsaid stuff inbetween the lines and every single episode is different. It’s incredibly fun for all ages, and the conflict and resolution are finally something different than what we’re used to, due to the lack of villains. It’s one of those series in which all of its different parts come together wonderfully in every single episode: the animation, the music, the story, the characters, the themes. Everything fits perfectly.

#1: From the New World

For 2013, it was really difficult to choose my number one pick. Numbers 1, 2 and 3 were all incredible series that I enjoyed immensely, despite the lacklustre nature of the rest of the year. The reason Shin Sekai Yori, or From the New World, is my number one pick though, is because it had one of the best endings I have ever seen. I’m not sure if it’s in my top 5 favorite endings, but definitely my in my top 10. The series already was really good, with how it portrayed its characters its incredibly mature style of storytelling, and how it just did not shy away from anything (there really was some shocking material here that nearly broke my heart). It was incredibly intelligent in how it presented itself, even though some of its characters were quite naïve, and it used its animation brilliantly to create a consistently creepy atmosphere. It’s hard to watch because it’s completely different from traditional animation, and the camera often made things difficult to make out, but to people whose alley it was up at, it rewarded with an incredible finale. 2013 may have been the worst year in terms of anime in more than a decade, however these series still showed me that there are some very passionate, inspired and special people working in the industry. And ehre is to hoping that they will show more of themselves in 2014 and the years to come. I wish all of you a very happy new year, and I’ll see you in 2014.

Posted on 2 January 2013 with categories: Yearly Summaries

Happy new year everyone! And apologies for the delays. Compiling this post took a bit longer than what I first anticipated. In any case, 2012 was a great year for anime. I can see an upward trend with studios trying out more and being more experimental than previous years (finally more good 52-episode series and Noitamina-series running full cour). Let’s hope that 2013 will be even better!

Worst First Episode

Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru!

Every year I had out these awards for the first episode that I checked out that was the absolute worst. And yet again, it’s the godawful incest shows for me that were the bottom of the barrel: Oniichan Blahblah makes for a good runner up for this award. But even then I wasn’t prepared to how bad this was. I mean, this show isn’t even trying anymore. I still remember how it just pulls off the car accident without a shred of irony, only to have the supposedly dead character walk away like it was nothing.

Biggest Disappointment

Liche Light Club

Disappointments are created by high expectations. Last year for example this was Guilty Crown for all the hype it built up for. 2012 didn’t really have such a series though, since I already knew that Guilty Crown was bad at the start of the year and everyone kept telling me that Sword Art Online’s ALO arc would be pretty bad. However, there was one series that just screamed “Waste of Potential”: the story of a bunch of sexually frustrated high school guys who design a robot powered by Liches and go kidnap people. It’s such a great concept for a show with tons of bleak and dark humour… if only it had gotten adapted by some people who actually had some shred of ambition. Now the anime of Liche Light Club is just a collection of bad SM-jokes.

Most Pleasant Surprise

AKB0048

Runner up would be Nazo no Kanojo X for being actually good, AKB0048 really takes the cake: it’s a show about idols who hold guerilla concerts to fight an evil government that has outlawed entertainment. It s such a hopeless premise, and yet the creators made it work by not just glorifying the idol business, but also shows the darker side of the business.

Best Animation Studio

A-1 Pictures

For the first half of the year, it looked like Satelight would end up as my favorite studio of the year with their work on Aquarion Evol, Mouretsu Pirates and AKB0048. Then A-1 came and blew all these titles away with Uchuu Kyoudai and From the New World. Then Magi delivered very solid adventure and not to mention Tsuritama ‘s addictive fun, and then they pretty much out-produced all other studios this year.

Most Promising Studio

TMS Entertainment

This is an award that I hand out every year for promising new studios or small studios that made huge improvements. Dogakobo would have gotten this award with their work on Natsuyuki Rendezouvs. This year was a bit different though, because something very interesting happened with a studio that was already very well established: TMS Entertainment have made a name for themselves decades ago by animating all kinds of western Disney series and the company itself was founded in 1946 as a fiber manufacturer, not to mention that they did make one of my favorite series with Kaze no Shoujo Emily. In the past number of years though, things have been a bit quiet around this studio. They brought their focus more and more on kiddie shows and nothing else, so I had given up hope. And then in 2012, something happened: they delivered three series that were experimental, three series that did not care about living up to their peers, or keeping true to conventions. Lupin, Kamisama and Zetman’s execution bursted with creativity and despite limited budgets, these three series really tried to make the best out of their limited budget and airtime. I am not sure what happened: but keep this mentality going. Try to get this mentality into series of 2 cours length. That would be just amazing.

Best Old Series I Happened to See This Year

Monster

I did not watch many older series this year because my private life got much busier, but I did manage to watch Monster. What a series that was. Slow-paced with breath-taking characters. Johan Liebert in particular shines as one of the best villains out there, not to mention how well the creators managed to capture Germany and the tensions around the Berlin Wall and its fall.

Best Fanservice

Eureka Seven Ao

Fanservice is often used for nudity, but it basically means stuff that is just there to please fans. Although 2012 did have two series that made very good use of nudity: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo and Lupin the Third. Sakurasou had the tension that it created with its fanservice that brought a spark to the characters, while Mine Fujiko’s sensual portrayal had a really unique effect. Eureka Seven Ao meanwhile was fanservice at its truest sense: even though the story and focus of Ao was entirely different from the first Eureka Seven series, it did pay a brilliant homage to it by having its characters return and be much more than just dead weights who are only in the way for the younger generation.

Best Action

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

So, Aquarion Evol and Eureka Seven Ao had very solid action with gorgeous CG effects, Zetman had very tense action, but what really did it for me was the incredibly over the top action. That gives us on one hand Black Rock Shooter that just kept pulling all sorts of awesome stuff in its alternative world, and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, a show that manages to be ridiculously over the top, and yet focus on the small details. This series is completely crazy and its action shows it. It’s a thrilling roller coast er ride from start to finish that hardly ever seems to let go.

Best Comedy

Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki

At the beginning of the year, Milky Holmes sold me with its incredibly random humour that was incredibly stupid on so many levels. After that there came Polar Bear Cafe, whose best episodes actually rivalled it, and Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki, which actually brought some thought into its humour, which is why it got this year’s award. This series was full of those kinds of jokes and it never dragged: it always tried to be fresh and new and it never aimed to waste time.

Best Horror

Another

There really weren’t many horror series in 2012: only Another and From the New World had some. I’m giving it to Another because it was fully dedicated to it, rather than From the New World which just occasionally moved into the genre. Both really managed to create a really freaky atmosphere though.

Best Slice of Life

Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki

Most comedies I watch are just for laughs, but Poyopoyo did something more: it was really relatable to watch the every day lives of its characters. It had tons of situations that wer ment to be recognizable for lots of people. Mostly pet owners, but probably everyone else will find a few moments that hit home.

Best Romance

Natsuyuki Rendezvous

2012 had lots of great romance series that treated their casts seriously: Sakurasou, Sukitte, Nazo no Kanojo, Inu X Boku, Kamisama Hajimemashita, Kokoro Connect, Sakamichi no Apollon and Uta Koi. None of them came close to Natsuyuki Rendezvous though. A romance about adults, which blended in the supernatural really well. The lead couple is amazing to watch in their struggle and the chemistry they have with each other. Heck, for me this was the best romance show in years.

Best Background Art

From the New World

Last Exile still looked gorgeous, although not as gorgeous as in its first half. Fate/Zero managed to look even better with its background art, but From the New world sold me the most with its art that is really varied, detailed and imaginative. The creators really give the artists freedom here, and you can really notice that.

Best Animation

Fate/Zero

Again, From the New World deserves credit for giving its artists so much freedom, and also K’s incredibly smooth animation deserves to be mentioned, but I think that in the end, it’s Fate/Zero that had the best animation of the year in how clean and crisp it was, and yet how incredibly solid the show looked through its entire run. It’s hard to get that kind of consistency for 26 episodes.

Best Looking Graphics

Lupin III – Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna

This award is not for the best animation, but just for the graphics that looked best. This one was a no-brainer: the creators went with their complete own art style that didn’t care about conventions whatsoever, and it looked amazing. From the New World (again) takes second place.

Best Script

Zetsuen no Tempest

The best script this year was from Zetsuen no Tempet, and how it used this so wonderfully in order to not just create its own mind games, but also have them build up to each other. Runner-up is Space Brothers with its unseeming ability to make every situation it’s in incredibly funny with an anti-climax.

Best Story

Uchuu Kyoudai

Uchuu Kyoudai: Uchuu Kyoudai has an amazingly uplifting story, about a guy in his thirties trying to make it for an astronaut. This is the series that returned my faith into slow pacings, and how much you can do if you take your time. Because of that the creators managed to add so many details to the storyline of this series, ranging from a wide variety of characters to so much background detail on what it means to be an astronaut. Eureka Seven Ao, Mouretsu Pirates and Shin Sekai Yori had really good stories too.

Top 15 TV-Series 2012
#15: Lupin the Third

For this re-imagining, the creators gave a very different spin on the Lupin franchise, putting the focus on Mine Fujiko instead, and on her sexuality. Hey turned this into an episodic series that at times seemed a bit random, although the story that appeared in the second half of the series had some really interesting points, not to mention a very good ending. It’s by far the most experimental series of the year, and I really appreciate the creators taking all these risks.

#14: Psycho Pass

Psycho Pass will very likely end up a lot higher on the list next year, but for now 14th place is good for a series that’s only halfway there. It’s a series that looks into psychology, at what defines a psychopath and how people can survive in a society that expects everyone to be mentally healthy. In its first half it packed some really good suspense, symbolism and dialogue, combined with a very good script and that really sold me on this series.

#13: From the New World

From the New World is heavy, putting children and innocent themes of friendship on one hand, and dark horror on the other. The show is halfway finished, and we’re right at the point at which the cast is really being forced to grow up in a very cruel way. On top of that though, this show managed to create a fascinating setting around all this, with its own customs and culture, not to mention the folklore that it put into it.

#12: Fate Zero

Fate/Zero’s second season was one of the most hyped series of the year. From that standing point, it slightly disappointed me, in the way that in the end, you are required to know hat happens in the other Fate instalments of the Fate franchise to really be able to enjoy this, and I have not. Because of that my suspense of disbelief was occasionally broken at some unfortunate times. That’s the reason this is not in my top 10, but despite that it still is a really good series with rock-solid characters and rock-solid production values.

#11: Hyouka

Hyouka showed us a very interesting approach to mystery: instead of showing us epic mysteries with world threatening consequences, the mysteries that our characters had to solve were small, instead of a corpse there is a small prop stolen, or something like that. This show really was good at trying to delve into these mysteries and make their solutions pay off. It stuffed tons of small details into each of these episodes to make them worthwhile, and I love how it gave this series such a down to earth approach.

#10: Mouretsu Pirates

Yes, this is an incredibly girly science fiction series, especially as the show goes on and you realize the size of the part that the local school’s yacht club has in a show that is supposed to be about pirates. But as the show goes on, its strength shows up more and more: it’s an incredibly fun pirate show. It just takes its time to set everything up by creating its own view of how pirates survive in the future, establishing all of the characters and make them act believably. The thing with this series is that every single arc is more interesting than its predecessor as it keeps spiralling out of control. That completely sold me.

#9: Hyouge Mono

Hyouge Mono was only there for one month, so I’m not going to rank it higher than this at the moment, but still, the month still aired in 2012. And Hyouge Mono remains a delight: how on earth were they able to fund it? How on earth were they able to make a series about a bunch of old dudes making silly faces? I do not know, but THANK YOU Bee-Train, for taking this risk. The conclusion to Hyouge Mono was slow (which was the reason why I didn’t rank this show 90 or above), but it made such an impact.

#8: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

This show is unbelievable. With just its first half, it completely blew away nearly all manly actions shows with how ridiculously over the top it was. With a fantastic soundtrack and voice actors who really like to yell their lines out as loud as possible with as much passion as possible, combined with the way how this show can give huge powers to incredibly weak things. It’s constantly glorious to just watch this show surpass itself time and time again with its bombast. And to think that this originated in 1988.

#7: Zetsuen no Tempest

Zetsuen no Tempest took a while to get going in its first half. But holy crap, did it take off! The way in which this show built up its climaxes was amazing, and especially the way in which it used its mind games was awesome beyond belief. It just kept throwing around the table and toyed with things as logic and fate. And that’s just its first half.

#6: Sakamichi no Apollon

Playing music is something that is really difficult to animate. And yet, here the creators did it. Using rotoscoped animation, the soundtrack is perfectly played by the characters. This makes for a bunch of stunning musical performances. I also really liked the romance between the different characters: instead of padding out, the characters here wasted no time and just kept adding things and events to their development. It does have the flaw that sometimes it tends to throw in a twist for the sake of having a twist, but the character development all makes up for it.

#5: Eureka Seven Ao

This one is very likely my most controversial item in my top 10, because a lot of people disliked it. It definitely is a series that is not for everyone. First of all you need to be a fan of the original Eureka Seven, and second of all you also need to like the completely different direction. That the series headed in. This series also takes no prisoners: some plotholes are plotholes, others are just explained episodes earlier but are things that are so easily missed through everything that goes on. This show does not plan to hold your hand, but it also provides amazing fanservice for those who manage to enjoy it.

#4: Natsume Yuujin-Chou

Natsume Yuujinchou’s fourth season had the best opening and closing episodes of all four seasons combined. These really were amazing, and gave it such a strong impression. The middle episodes in comparison were a bit below the quality that we’re used to from this series, but even then this series made such an impact. We can only hope that there will also be a fifth season.

#3: Chihayafuru

For a long while, I kept saying that Chihayafuru’s only flaw was that it would end prematurely. So yeah, with that second season now around the corner… I really can’t find any faults in this series anymore aside perhaps that it’s about teenagers. Its energy is just so addictive. It managed to make Karuta fun and exciting, even its second half contained so many exciting games that still remained fresh, even though the game from the outside looks fairly repetitive. The characters were the final seal for me: incredibly charming and already well developed even though there still is so much more material left.

#2: Natsuyuki Rendezvous

I already suspected that this show would be awesome with a name as Kou Matsuou behind the direction, but I did not expect this show to be THAT good. Everything about this show is amazing: the voice acting is perfect, the pacing is perfect, the story fits perfectly, it knows exactly what it should do, the characters fit each other incredibly well, the music is wonderfully used, the characters are amazingly life-like and expressively animated. Heck, there were two series this year that stood above all the others, and Natsuyuki Rendezvous may not have the biggest or most ambitious storyline, but everything just worked in its favor here. And yet there is one series that I liked more than this. You can probably already guess which one it is.

#1: Uchuu Kyoudai

Uchuu Kyoudai is amazing. At the expense of a rather slow pacing, it managed to create a fantastic cast of characters around one guy’s quest to become an astronaut. Nanba Mutta is one of the single best characters we’ve had in years. His wit is just amazing and he is an incredibly charming character to follow. Add that to its incredibly genuine style of storytelling that loves to combine anti-climaxes with climaxes that one moment make you laugh really hard and the next feel incredibly sorry or inspired, and yes: you have my favorite series of 2012 that can also very easily become my favorite show for 2013.

Posted on 29 December 2012 with categories: Yearly Summaries

Most Annoying Character

Sword Art Online – The Cousin

Nisemonogatari wins the award for having the collective most annoying set of characters, but when I started thinking about the single character that just got on my nerves with every appearance, then I just have to come back to the cousin. How she doesn’t belong In the story and came with that incredibly pointless incest subplot, the way she just pushed Asuna aside from the seat of lead female, despite not really doing anything. The creators taking all of this seriously was the final straw for me. She symbolized the wasted potential of the second half of this series.

Worst Character

Guilty Crown – Shu Ounuma

Shu is not a character: he is a plot device. Whatever the plot needs him to be, he becomes, whether this is Hitler or Jesus. And yet the entire show revolves around him. The show keeps pulling more and more stuff out of its ass to keep true to this. Yeah, he was by far the worst character of 2012.

Best Cast of Minor Characters

Uchuu Kyoudai

Beyond having Mutta himself, Uchuu Kyoudai has also the cast of most delightful minor character, every single one of them who feels real and believable. The cast is incredibly diverse. And all of them are adults. It’s like this show wants to make us care about every single one, and it has used its slow pacing brilliantly to bring these guys to life. It does this so much better than any other series this year.

Best Voice Acting

Natsuyuki Rendezvous

Absolutely without contest whatsoever. The voice acting of Natsuyuki Rendezvous blows every other show completely out of the water. Matsuo Kou’s method of recording the voices before animating the characters has given the cast so much freedom to really focus on expressing their emotions right, and just look at the heights this got them. The range of the motions that they can do is great, and it the tensions they managed to create with just the acting had me constantly on the edge of my seat.

Best Character Development of a Single Character

Takashi Natsume

It’s a bit boring to keep handing out this award to Natsume, but here is the thing: he already was an incredibly well developed character, and then the fourth season came and added even more to him. The focus on his parents in particular was amazing, but he also changed in the way that he interacts with the people around him. If there ever is a fifth season, will he continue to just get better or something?

Best Character Development of an Entire Cast

Sakamichi no Apollon

This one had me contemplate for a while: Uchuu Kyoudai has an awesome cast, but it’s also a huge cast, so there were a few characters that have always stayed the same. Natsuyuki Rendezvous also has amazing character interactions, but again: development is not the main focus. This brings me to Sakamichi no Apollon, where the development of the entire cast IS the main focus. Not just the lead characters, but everyone around them. Especially the epilogue of the series brings so much change and growth in these people, and they really change constantly throughout the series.

Top 5 Side-Characters

#5: Sakamichi no Apollon – Junichi Katsuragi

For me, the fifth place goes to Sentarou’s older brother who he always looked up to: Junichi. This guy especially in the first half knows his role as a role model really well, not to mention that he’s a really good trumpeter: out of all of the rotoscoped musicians in this series, he always looked like he had the most passion. It’s his development over the second half of the series that lande him on this list though.

#4: Uchuu Kyoudai – Kenji Makabe

The thing with Uchuu Kyoudai is that it’s got so many awesome characters, it’s hard to just pick one. In the end I just went with Kenji over Serika because of how much time this series spent on his fatherhood. Why he still decided to become an astronaut, even though this meant neglecting his family, and how much he cares about his little daughter.

#3: Hyouka – Satoshi Fukube

This is the first time that I put a character like Satoshi on my list of favorite characters. Normally, his type of characters are a dime a dozen: the best friend that is not as talented as the lead character. Then Hyouka came and turned this around, and made this a very strong point about him; it actually started exploring that side of him. It resulted in a well rounded character who actually has many reasons to be likable.

#2: Zetsuen no Tempest – Samon Kusaribe

I remember last year, my list of favorite side-characters was dominated by manliness: larger than life characters who were confident and arrogant. This year is completely different and the most prevalent is characters struggling with their own flaws. By far the best example of this is Samon, the guy who desperately tries to avoid his own fate. Saying any more would be a huge spoiler, but this guy completely sold me with his passion in trying to overcome his own weaknesses.

#1: Hunter X Hunter – Chrollo Lucilfer

I was debating whether to put this guy on first place, simply because it’s nearly the exact same Chrollo of the 1999 Hunter X Hunter series. But in the end: yeah. The organization this guy set up is the single best evil organization in any shounen series. Bar none. The people he gathered, the bond he created, and how intelligent they keep working. He’s intelligent and comes up with some brilliant plans. I just could not give the number one position to any other guy.

: Top 5 Male Characters

: Honorable Mention: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – Joseph Joestar

This is a bit of a strange list this year. Mostly because some of my favorite characters only appeared for one month of the entire year, even though they’re very clearly main characters. One of them got a proper space in this spot for very valid reasons, but Joseph… we just haven’t seen enough of him to really warrant a proper placement. However, I will say this: this guy has a really good chance to become the single best main character in a shounen series, ever. This guy just screams everything that is awesome, it’s ridiculous.

#5: Sakamichi no Apollon – Kaoru Nishimi

I love this guy’s character development. Regular teenaged boys are nothing new as main characters, but he added something different, both with his piano skills, as how his romantic development is way faster than his peers. His short temper also was something you don’t often see, which was always the source for great drama and development from the other members of the cast.

#4: Hyouge Mono – Sasuke Furuta

Hyouge Mono only aired in January, but I still decided to include Furuta Sasuke in this list, just not on number two anymore. Yes, the best male characters of 2012 were actually better than the top male characters of 2011. Furuta Sasuke is still a character you have to see to believe though: completely silly and with no sense of shame while he rambles on about aesthetics. The climax took its time, but it also had some great effects on his character becoming more serious. I still remember the final scene of this show vividly with what he ended up doing.

#3: Natsuyuki Rendezvous – Ryousuke Hazuki

The two themes around my favorite male characters this year: they’re either really, really eccentric, or realistically portrayed stubborn guys. Hazuki is the most stubborn of them all with his attempts to hit on Rokka, but what he’s thrown into as the result of that is just wonderful. His weaknesses are illustrated beautifully throughout the series and his wit also is a delight to watch.

#2: Natsume Yuujin-Chou – Takashi Natsume

Natsume is also quite stubborn in how he refuses to let people into his life, but the fourth season of Natsume Yuujinchou made him an even better character (yes this guy was my favourite character of 2011, just imagine). Especially the arc around his parents was amazing and added so much to him.

#1: Uchuu Kyoudai – Nanba Mutta

Nanba Mutta is just amazing. Not just the best male character of the year, but also the years before it. His sense of humour is amazing, he’s developed in such a realistic way. One moment I laugh so much with him, the next he manages to move me to tears with his desire to become an astronaut. He also works off so incredibly well with the rest of the cast, bringing out the best out of all of them. I really did not have to think long before deciding my number one spot on this list.

: Top 5 Female Characters

#5: Kamisama Hajimemashita – Nanami Momozono

Lots of good shoujo this year, and the past Autumn brought in a good selection of shoujo romances that were really quite good. Nanami stood out perhaps through a personal bias: I love strong female characters like her who at the same time aren’t afraid to show their own weaknesses. The romance around her was by far the best portrayed teenaged romance I’ve seen this year, and her energy and wit kept every single episode fresh.

#4: Lupin the Third – Mine Fujiko

2012 had a lot of reboots of all sorts of franchises. Mine Fujiko… I don’t know how she was in the original Lupin III because I have not seen it, but here she was this character who knew exactly what she wanted, and did not hesitate at all to use whatever means necessary to get there. She flaunted her sexuality just about every time she could, but that added to her charms thanks to the way in which this series portrayed it.

#3: From the New World – Saki Watanabe

I’ve said this before: I like strong female characters a loot. Saki is what you get when you test the limits of such a character. It’s not like Saki is independent, because of how she was raised, and despite her strengths, she is just chockful of insecurities about the bizarre culture that she’s living in, At the same time though, she does not shy away from confront ing it. Her development and subtle actions regarding this earned her a place in this list for me.

#2: Chihayafuru – Chihaya Ayase

Chihaya is awesome. She is not the most complicated character: her mind is entirely on Karuta, a card game. But in the process she drags just about everyone along with her with the passion she has for the game. The creators did such a good job of portraying this. As Chihayafuru went into its second half it started to develop this passion: show her flaws and where she could improve. That made her character even better

#1: Mouretsu Pirates – Marika Katou

Marika really was a delight to watch. Here she was, just a regular high school girl, and then she suddenly was the captain of a pirate ship. Because the creators let her play out like she wanted, she really gradually grew more and more into her role of an actual leader. The plans she comes up with are always creative and especially near the end of the series she really managed to blossom and take control of just about everything.

Top 30-16 TV-Series

#30: Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita

Jinrui was a strange series that thrived on creativity: it had these fairies of which you never knew what they were going to do, which lead to quite some interesting situations. On top of that, it aired its episodes in random order and brought in lots of satire to the mix. It came a bit late with its character development, but thankfully it managed to just in time give Watashi (the lead character) a solid backstory.

#29: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo

The shounen romantic comedy with lots of fanservice…. actually done right. The fanservice in this series is quite different from usual, because removing it would make the series less good. Sakurasou had from the start a great chemistry between its different characters: it really knew when it needed to be sharp with its dialogue. For a while it also had this annoying harem theme, but as the show goes on it moves more and more away from that. It’s got a bunch of great lead characters, but also the side-characters have some really interesting sides to them.

#28: Kimi to Boku

Kimi to Boku continued from its first season with one very big advantage: it already had really well developed characters. In its second season, it used that really well, to the point where the characters just weren’t annoying anymore and they all had their charms that got explored really well for this series. Every episode developed a different character, and with this show’s subtlety it lead to some really charming moments.

#27: AKB0048

I was set to hate AKB0048. I hate idols and how they’re often just corporate exploits without much focus on actual talent. But then, something interesting happened: instead of glorifying idols, this show actually started to bite the hand that fed it: you need to read between the lines for that a bit, but it highlighted how competitive the idol business is, how actual talent is not the most important part, and some of the other uglier sides of the business, while still being this cheerful tale of reaching your dreams. It just sold me despite the ridiculous premise.

#26: Uta Koi

So, the show had its animation issues. Its budget was clearly limited. Nevertheless, to whoever made this series possible: THANK YOU! It’s such a refreshing change of pace to see a show that explores the stories behind a collection of poems, especially if the same poems were used by Chihayafuru: it also added some wonderful background on an entirely different show in the process. This was such a great history lesson, even though some of the romances tended to be a bit cheesy.

#25: Zetman

Zetman had some HUGE pacing issues, but what really caught my attention was how much passion the creators still managed to put into it. They rushed through the manga in a record pacing in order to be able to stuff everything in, but they still managed to come out with a pretty good product here that looked at what it means to be a superhero, although some of the character development was a bit out of whack as a result. Still, what I love is how much the creators were able to do with the limited means that were given to them. The budget was limited, yet there was a selection of stunning action scenes, the time was limited, yet the story closes itself off rather than hinging on a sequel hook that will never get there. It still has a likeable cast and feels complete to anyone who has never read the manga.

#24: Aquarion Evol

Aquarion Evol. The product of the collective deranged minds of Shoji Kawamori and Mari Okada, some of the biggest trolls active in the business. This show was glorious in its symbolism and how ridiculously cheesy it could get at times, not to mention its godly soundtrack. It had its annoying moments, but this show is so dedicated to teenaged hormones, orgasms and its themes of males versus females that it was just amazing to watch. Even for someone like me who did not watch the first series.

#23: Inu X Boku SS

The prime example of a show that takes its time to get going. This series caught my attention with its excellent first episode, but hen it dulled in a bit. It’s not like K where it wasted too much time on uninteresting stuff, it was just regular slice of life that was.. enjoyable I guess, but never really hit any highs. And then it just completely blew me away with its final two episodes, which were brilliant. Did it waste time? Most definitely. Does it have flaws? Hell yeah, some side characters in particular are too one-sided. But the two final episodes were so good that they made up for everything, especially since throughout the show, you could see this series carefully setting up the minor details required to make it work.

#22: Another

Another was THE horror series of the year. Sure there were other series with horror elements, but none went as far as this series. I loved the mystery it had and how it slowly unraveled its storyline, not to mention how intense it could get when it really hit its heights. It also got really brutal at times, so this series really is not meant for those with a weak constitution.

#21: Tsuritama

Tsuritama was ridiculously fun to watch in the Noitamina timeslot: it really managed to combine whimsical fun along with this impending thriller, especially in its second half where it really got creative. Plus, it’s a show about fishing. You just have to have that idea and create an anime about it. The characters did have some moments in which they were rather dull, especially in the first half of the series, but as the series spiraled out of control, it definitely made up for it.

#20: Tantei Opera Milky Holmes

The first season was out of its mind, but it still had some grounds in logic. Then the second season came, and it just went all out. It’s completely random and crazy on every single level, it’s unbelievable. It had some of the most hilarious episodes I’ve seen all year, counterbalanced by some episodes that ended up a bit dull for too long. I just find it hilarious though: the original concept of Milky Holmes was a bunch of detectives that solve problems. The alternative OVAs that came out later this year are a testament to how bad that premise was. The creators just took that and tried to parody it as hard as they could by inserting as much randomness and stupidity in it as they could, turning the characters from capable detectives into incredibly incompetent nut-jobs. All of that accompanied by some really creative animation.

#19: Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki

The reason I’m putting Poyopoyo so high on this list: for the past year, every single Sunday it managed to put a smile on my face with only 2 minutes of airtime that sometimes feel like 10. Every week it put so many sketches in so little time, and it made sure that all of them worked. Every joke managed to hit its mark with me as it tells about the very relatable daily lives of a bunch of pet owners. Unlike most shows about animals, it really is about owning the pets, rather than just the pets themselves. It managed to become such a charming series because of that and I’m really sad that it has nearly ended.

#18: Kamisama Hajimemashita

Kamisama Hajimemashita had an execution that for me blew all of the other shounen and shoujo romances out of the water. Akitarou Daichi behind the direction made sure that every episode had a really charming ending that fitted exactly. It’s not the most complicated romance show by far, but because of that it shines with its simplicity: the quibs between the two lead characters were always fun to watch and the res of the cast also had its hilarious moments. The timing that this series had was particularly impressive: it knew exactly what to say and when to say it.

#17: Hunter X Hunter

I really have been debating where to put Hunter X Hunter on this list for this year, because throughout the year it has moved from cringe-inducing rushed build-up to absolutely amazing, not to mention that I already watched the entire story before. A quick summary would be that Nippon Animation did the Hunter Exam better, Madhouse was better at the Killua and the Heavens Arena, the Yorkshin Arc was done brilliantly by both and then Nippon animation was again much better at the Yorkshin Finale Arc. Because of the flaws and how it rushed a bit past some of the best parts, I at least decided to not include it in my top 15 of this year. Whether it will next year though… it all depends because we finally get into the bloody new material in a few months from now.

#16: Natsuiro Kiseki

I loved the character study that was Natsuiro Kiseki: you have four girls and this rock that keeps trolling them with all sorts of magical powers. Sortof like Kokoro Connect, really, but with much shorter arcs and stories. It may have lacked Kokoro’s wit, but what it did have was a really well developed cast of characters as it kept forcing them into different situations that forced them to develop and change. It’s a very forced show because of that, but it did make wonderful use of that.

Posted on 27 December 2012 with categories: Yearly Summaries

Top 10 OVAs

Overall 2012 was not such a good year for OVAs in terms of quantity compared to other years. Because of that I’m including series-based OVAs this year in the rankings because otherwise I can’t make a proper top 10 this year.

#10: One Off

One Off is Sato Junichi’s latest slice of life work after Tamayura. It too focuses on the lives of a bunch of teenaged girls who live in a remove village. It’s not as good as Tamayura though, mostly because it feels too much like a copy, and because there is one really annoying quasi-british character who tends to ruin the mood whenever she’s in the spotlights. Still, good enough to make number 10.

#9: Computer Kakumei

Computer Kakumei was part of a two-part OVA along with Kyou no Asuka Show. The latter was crap, but Computer Kakumei was short but sweet, using 10 minutes to paint an interesting picture of science fiction in combination with school life that was surprisingly well acted.

#8: Eureka Seven Ao: Jungfrau no Hana-tachi

Eureka Seven Ao’s OVA was pure fanservice. With that I don’t mean that it had a lot of nudity, but it’s just there to please the fans. The thing is though that as a fan, I was incredibly pleased with what this show did. It was completely non-sensical how it forced this in (how on earth did the characters get the appropriate clothes for it), but this ended up as a wonderful homage to both the first and second series, despite being completely stupid.

#7: Gyo

Gyo was the first anime adaptation of a mangaka whose works are known to be completely disgusting and disturbing. And oh god, this showed. The fish things were just horrible and even though I prefer my horror with a bit more subtlety (this OVA had like, none of that whatsoever), it definitely succeeded in weirding me out. Definitely not for those with a weak stomach.

#6: Natsuiro Kiseki

The OVA for Natsuiro Kiseki was short, but really worth it. In like six minutes it actually added a lot of character development to the mix. It’s an incredibly simple idea and i”m not going to say here what that was, but if you’re fan of the series, then you just need to watch this one.

#5: Pukapuka Dudu

The Young Animator Training Project was without a doubt the biggest source for good OVAs this year. Only Buta disappointed, and apart from that they all are worth watching. This one was a really charming tale about a girl and her father. It’s been done before, but not like this. Usually it’s one of them saving the other, but here they really contribute to each other, making for a heart-warming story for both of them. All based on this adorable floatee that came to life.

#4: Shiranpuri

Young Animator Training Project again, this time with a unique looking OVA about bullying. Or rather, being the guy who just stands there and doesn’t do anything. This one was quite thought-provoking as it also showed what happened to all the kids involved and how they changed. They really turned this into a character-study in just 30 minutes, which is quite an impressive use of time.

#3: Wasurenagumo

Like I said, the Young Animator Training Project was excellent this year. The best was Wasurenagumo, otherwise known as that show that has a really annoying title to type correctly. This one really took me by surprise. One by how good and how well characterized it is, and also by some events that happen throughout its runtime. I mean most of the OVAs from the YAT are aimed at children. This one pulls some stuff that you really would not expect while taking this into account.

#2: Another OVA

Another had the best OVA this year. Like Natsuiro Kiseki, it added some much-needed character development that really changed your perspective of the cst, but this one did it even better, by showing what happened to the female lead before the start of the series. Not only do we get to see a totally different side of her, but it also serves as the final piece of the puzzle in her story. After watching the OVA, the story really feels complete.

#1: Kyousogiga

Kyousogiga completely sold me. This was a collaboration of some of the best guys in Toei just having fun with something they like. The series of 5 OVAs are random side-stories about the different characters, but they’re all incredibly charming in their own ways, accompanied by really creative animation. There is no point to the story, so I can only hope that there will be more of it, because this is just one of those franchises that has so much heart put into it.

Top 10 Movies
This year had a very good selection of movies. Not the best, definitely though. That will very likely be reserved for 2013, which is looking to be the best year for movies in… well pretty much a decade, perhaps even more. Of course I’m talking about the movies that got released on DVDs, not their actual airdates. If I reviewed it in 2012, then it’s eligible for this list.

#10: .Hack//The Movie

Hack The Movie was entirely in 3D, and can be seen as the spiritual successor to .Hack//Quantum, with a similar story. It again is about life in an MMORPG that get out of control, but what mostly made this movie worth watching is the interactions between the different characters. The whole thin is well acted, especially the parts that take place in the real world. The story is simple,but it worked quite well.

#9: Kokuriko Zaka Kara

Goro Miyazaki’s next work, and with this it’s clear that there is one thing that this guy is really good at: portraying characters believably. Sure, the story nor the attention to detail may be nothing like what we’re used to from his father, but the realistic characters were quite charming and down to earth and that made this movie work. Nothing special happened through its course though, and unfortunately, I have already forgotten most that happened in it. That’s a bit of a downside.

#8: To Aru Hikuushi he no Tsuioku

This movie had a simple, but effective story: an excellent pilot having to transport a princess in a tiny plane. The character development was interesting and this movie knows that it should stay simple, rather than being too epic. It’s a shame that the romance got rather corny, though.

#7: Code Geass: Bokuko no Akito

This is the first of four movies, so it was obviously building up to a lot of stuff here. But here is the thing: the creators did manage to get me hooked on Code Geass’s setting (a series that I did not like, by the way). This series both takes its freedom and actually makes the setting work to be more than just something nationalist by focusing on immigrants, and the tensions around them. Add some really solid action to that and yeah: I can see this one becoming awesome for me.

#6: Full Metal Alchemist – Brotherhood – The Sacred Star of Milos

For this movie, Bones pulled out some really good animators, making it a feast for the eyes. The story, well it was obvious that it wouldn’t live up to the TV-series of Ful Metal Alchemist – Brotherhood: it was just a random side story. And as a side story, it did its job of being interesting enough and having good characterization, without hitting many heights. This really is a solid action movie, nothing more or less.

#5: Hotarubi no Mori he

Hotarubi no Mori he: you can pretty much see this as a glorified episode of Natsume Yuujin-Chou without Natsume in it. Because of that, it’s perfect if you’re looking to check out whether Natsume Yuujin-Chou’s style is something for you, because if you like this movie then there is a very good chance that you will also like the series. The story is really heart-warming so by all means give it a chance if you’re interested.

#4: Un-Go Inga-Ron

More glorified episodes with the Un-Go prequel. Normally I don’t really mean that in a positive way, but both Un-Go and Natsume Yuujinchou are awesome series, so glorified episodes are like, even better than usual. Here too the prequel has a very definitive point to make as it explains how the two main characters met each other, in the same style of storytelling that made the TV-series so addictive with some great twists along the way.

#3: Berserk: The Golden Age Arc: The Egg of the High King

It really is annoying: the second movie is out but not subbed yet. Because of that, the movie is not yet on the list. Berserk’s first movie promises a lot, though: great atmosphere and they actually managed to condense the story to movie format with its own style different from the TV-series. Only disadvantage is that the CG is rather messy at times.

#2: A Letter to Momo

The premise: you have a child living somewhere in a village, and this child meets supernatural beings. Lots of movies pull this, but A Letter to Momo has definitely been the best attempt of this in years. The reason is how well it portrayed these supernatural beings: gorgeously animated and hilarious to watch in their antics. Great climax as well.

#1: Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha

Osamu Tezuka’s adaptations are AWESOME! Buddha’s first installment was my favorite movie of the year due to its scope and storytelling. Movies about buddhism already are quite rare, but the style of storytelling is also really typical for Osamu Tezuka’s mature works, with just tons and tons of character development stuffed in one movie, characters who change immensely over the course of years and hard-hitting morals. On top of that there were some really good animators working on it, making this not the most polished looking movie of the year, but definitely one of the most interesting visuals to look at.

Top 45-31 TV-Series
#45: Last Exile – Ginyoku no Fam

Ginyoku no Fam suffered from putting its main character too much in the center of the story. Fam had to do everything and she was the key to bringing peace. Thankfully it made up for it with its gorgeous 3D graphics and its world building: the world it created was full of life and had many interesting locations and cultures, and I really liked how this show fleshed them out. The plot also wasn’t an entire disaster. It just lacked creativity. It definitely does not live up to the original Last Exile, but it could have been much worse.

#44: Moyashimon

Moyashimon: after the juggernauts of Nodame Cantabile and Honey and Clover it was the first Noitamina series to get a sequel. Was it really necessary? Nope. The second season is not as good as the first and lacks the charms it has, and most importantly the germs don’t really feel like the main character anymore: they’re sometimes there to give a bit of explanation. Beyond that though, the sequel still had plenty of reasons to make it enjoyable. The chemistry between the characters still is great, it’s still chockful of creativity about the germs and it still was a very enjoyable ride with talking germs.

#43: Shirokuma Cafe

Shirokuma Cafe is a show that took the concept of a panda and a penguin that walk into a bar, and turned that into an entire series. It’s a deadpan comedy at heart, with lots and lots of dry humour and animals trolling each other. There were plenty of times through the series at which I just cracked up and laughed hysterically. The big problem with this series however is that it’s too long: it’s slated for 50 episodes, and it has nowhere near enough material to fill everything with fresh jokes. The result? Padding.

#42: Btooom!

This was a simple, flawed but effective action series around bombs. It had a solid atmosphere, and particularly impressive side characters that kept the story going. The side characters made sure to keep the series fresh and new, and because of them every battle was different. Taira in particular was a great character, but yeah: you do need some suspense of disbelief when the main character escapes this large blast that would have killed off any other character…

#41: Saint Seiya Omega

Here is a tricky one to judge. The thing with Saint Seiya is that it takes forever to get anywhere. For a large part of the series you’ll be bored by the repetitive fighting and over the top yells. At a certain point though, something changes, and this show just gets more addictive, bit by bit. It takes care to develop all its characters properly, and bit by bit the action gets more and more intense. You definitely need patience for this though, because it really is nothing but fighting for the most part.

#40: Rinne no Lagrange

This series ended up much lower on the list than what I expected when I first started it. The reason for that is that I didn’t quite get the idea that the plot knew where it wanted to go, which became especially apparent in the final quarter of the series, in which the series wandered around a bit aimlessly in search for a conflict. Mind you, the reason why it was searching for a conflict in the first place is one I really like though: instead of waging an all out war, this series emphasized reaching out to others and trying to talk. This was possible with down to earth characters and a big emphasis on slice of life. Not the most exciting, but definitely relatable.

#39: Magi

I have long debated where to put Magi on my list for 2012. In the end it was a bit low because for most of this year, I got the feeling that I was missing something, which wasn’t so much the case as the ones that I’ve ranked higher than this one. It’s a great adventure series though with very solid production values. It starts off rather light, but the dark focus on slavery works quite well. It just needs to blossom in its second half.

#38: Legend of Korra

2012 was the year in which I finally set my biases aside and checked out other mediums: western animation and manga. I’m not going to put the manga in this list because I wrote a compilation that was good enough, but I do want to include the Legend of Korra in this list, the spiritual successor to Avatar The Last Airbender. I liked it a lot, and its focus on what it means to be a hero in times of peace. The fight animation and choreography also was really good in this series, and also very consistent. Its downside was that the romance subplot didn’t really go anywhere, and the final few episodes grossly simplified the conflict of the series, and went against a lot of the build-up earlier in the series, leading to an unfortunate disappointment.

#37: Phi Brain

Ah, Phi Brain. A show that just boggled my mind in how the producers have ever been able to make three freaking seasons for it. And the thing is: that the first two seasons were actually worth it! The characterization really was good there, despite the silly premise, and compare that to Bakuman, which also goes on for three seasons, but was something I dropped. So yeah, this series definitely did a lot of things right… but it also did a lot of things wrong. Oh god, where to start here? The way it refuses to make good use of Nonoha’s character (she is really talented, except at puzzles. So just make her either do puzzles or stand on the sidelines! Yay!), or how about that time in which the creators had us watch the same puzzle four episodes in a row? Or take how long it took me to get used to the fact that NONE of the villains in this series can think straight (Seriously, this is an actual plot point!). Oh boy.

#36: Nazo no Kanojo X

A show that explored this not so average romance between two teenagers with lots and lots of hormones. At first I did not think that this would work, but the really charming soundtrack along with the down to earth portrayal of the characters actually made it work surprisingly well. We really got into the head of the male lead as he explored what his relationship with his new girlfriend meant and all. Great job.

#35: Sukitte Ii na Yo

2012 had a lot of very good romances, actually. Sukitte Ii na Yo was the same as Nazo no Kanojo: before the start of the series I had seen it described as smut, but it is not smut at all. In fact, it’s a genuine look at a shy teenaged girl’s first romance as she learns to accept herself more for who she is. This is what Kimi ni Todoke should have been: it just cuts right through the crap by having its characters actually talk about their feelings, rather than padding out incredibly long. It’s a great example of angst done right, and I love how it takes care to develop all of its characters in its short airtime of 13 episodes.

#34: Kokoro Connect

More really good romance with Kokoro Connect that I initially wrote off. In this series we have this alien thing that toys with the main cast by forcing all sorts of powers on them and observing how they react. Unlike the above Sukitte Ii na Yo it did not have full control of its angst, which sometimes got a bit out of control (especially in its second half), but it definitely made up for this with its really sharp dialogue that really delved deep into their minds. It’s a bit of a shame that the best arc was the first one so the rest of the arcs did leave a few things to be desired here and there, but still it was a very interesting watch.

#33: Robotics;Notes

Robotics;Notes will probably end up a lot higher on the list next year, but so far I really like what it’s doing so far. It has believable character and a ton of subplots running right through each other that all try to do… something. It’s spending a lot of time on building up and it’s still unclear what it really wants to do, but that’s what makes it compelling. The pacing is a tad too slow for my liking, but even then this series has already delivered a lot of interesting climaxes.

#32: Jormungand

If it was just for the first season, Jormungand would have ended up a lot lower on this list, and I still fault that season for not making that good use of its time. Something happened in that second season though. A complete change of direction in which the plot actually got really interesting and Koko elevated herself as a main character. Finally the characters started to do other things than just trying to be as snarky as possible, and show who they really are with great results.

#31: Mirai Nikki

Mirai Nikki, otherwise known as “Plot twist: The Anime”. While the first half of the show was tedious, the second half just kept delivering the plot twists right after each other, and it just kept going. The show had plotholes, but it was always fun to find them and nit-pick on why they didn’t make sense. It succeeded in making its lead female the school example of all yandere as well, which is a pretty nice achievement.

Posted on 25 December 2012 with categories: Yearly Summaries

Top 19 OSTs
I mentioned this before, but one way in which 2012 stood out, was its huge amount of stunning soundtracks. Seriously, where I could count the number of soundtracks that really caught my attention in 2011 on one hand, here I’ve got nearly 20 shows that delivered beyond expectations in the audio department. Because of that I’m dedicating this part of this year’s summary to the soundtracks.
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Posted on 16 December 2012 with categories: Yearly Summaries

So, every year I start my summary with a list of my favorite OPs and EDs of the season. This year it’s a bit smaller than last year though, but that is simply because last year was simply amazing in terms of how many awesome OPs and EDs it had. This year instead stands out through its soundtracks, but there were much more generic openings and endings than usual. So therefore, I use this list to honour the ones that did go the extra mile for me and really resonated with me. Enjoy.

And in advanced I apologize for the people who read this half a year from now when half the videos are taken down…
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Posted on 31 December 2011 with categories: Yearly Summaries

And with this, the year has nearly ended. This will be the final post of me this year, and I wish a happy new year to all of you in advance. All I’m left with now is to throw a number of genre awards, along with my favorite series of the past year (oh and of course this is all just my humble opinion; feel free to share your own top series of the year). Take care, and be careful with fireworks, everyone.

Worst First Episode

Mayo Chiki

This year featured a lot of very crappy flash shows that are all strong contenders for this award, if they weren’t just five minutes long. The pain thankfully stops quite soon. The same unfortunately could not be said for Maken-Ki, C3, Hoshizora e Kakeru Hoshi and worst of all: Mayo Chiki. This show is the kind of bad that becomes horrible. The convenient stupidity of the plot was just way too much, beyond all of the bland characters of the other bad shows these year, these were the most offensive.

Worst Series

Dragon Crisis

I’m not handing out this award to series that I dropped somewhere along the way, or the shows that haven’t finished yet. Persona would have been a good contender if it wasn’t for that rule, and alongside that are Sacred Seven, which completely failed to be even remotely entertaining beyond the unintentional, Dragon Crisis really takes the cake though. I have no idea how it did it, but this series somehow pulled it off to actually get progressively worse with every single arc of its. It started off… okay, I guess. The kind of “okay” that made me silently hope that it would get better. Instead, the creators just completely gave up and ended off with some of the most uninspired arcs out there that completely failed to be any kind of interesting and instead just went for a dull harem route.

Biggest Disappointment

Guilty Crown

This is not just about Noitamina delivering a bad series. It has been unimpressive in the past (for me it did so with Library Wars). This is about Noitamina delivering a bad series, while selling out at the same time. 2011 marked a very sharp turn in Noitamina’s usual strategy, and the timeslot started to focus itself on a teenaged audience. Fractale in this already was a disaster, but that was just a show that was really poorly balanced. With Guilty Crown, the creators are intentionally making it very generic. Shu is intentionally being a wimp, the cast is intentionally just a set of tools to make Shu look awesome. That is really the worst part about this show. The runners up for this award were the shows that had some really good promise, but in the end were botched by huge pacing problems, like Kaiji and Fractale.

Most Pleasant Surprise

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Boku-Tachi wa Mada Shiranai

Major surprises this year include Gosick turning great, Blade spending so much time on backgrounds and Enma-Kun’s sudden chance into insanity after its very mediocre opening episodes, but the biggest has to be Ano Hana. I said this before, but when I first just saw the promo art of this series, I really had my doubts whether it would work, as it just included a picture of a ditzy looking Menma. After that more and more information about it got released, and it started to look more and more solid, but I really did not expect to be such an emotional roller-coaster, right from episode 1. I literally threw my hands in the air as I saw it.

Best Animation Studio

Brains Base

Nearly every year, there is just one studio who stands above the others. This year, it was Brains Base. When in a year, you release four series at once, more than any other year so far, and the worst of them is something of the caliber of Kamisama Dolls, you’ve got something to be proud of. I mean, Kamisama Dolls just pales in comparison to the other shows they did this year, from the crazy Enma-Kun to the refined Natsume to the roller-coaster ride that was Penguin Drum.

Most Promising Studio

Jinni’s Animation Studios

Every year I give this award to a small animation studio who either just started out, or showed signfiicant improvement. This year… was rather dry on that department. There is Wao World, who finally headed into television-series, but Showa Monogari wasn’t exactly an improvement over movies like Furusato Japan and Symphony in August. There was… um… 8-Bit, which delivered the middle-finger that was Infinite Stratos, but then my eye turned to the 3D CG Studio that was Jinni’s Animation Studio. They worked on the first season of Fireball before, but the differences between Fireball and Fireball Charming definitely shows that they learned a lot during the past years. Appleseed meanwhile also showed that they are very solid at rendering, although they still need to overcome the botox faces problem. Still, I believe that these guys have potential for the future.

Best Old Series I Happened to See This Year

Gankutsuou

I wached a lot of real gems this year, ranging from Kurau Phantom Memory, Rose of Versailles, Black Jack and Infinite Ryvius to finally getting to check out the now legendary Cowboy Bebop and Legend of Galactic Heroes. But all in all, I do have to say it: Gankutsuou was pretty much the best thing I watched this entire year, bar none. What Gonzo did here with its re-imagination of the classic story by Alexander Dumas is just completely amazing. The graphics are completely stunning in every single way, the character-development is just completely amazing, the story is incredible. Everything just fits in 24 episodes of awesomeness.

Best Action

Ben-To

This was a tough one to decide. For me, great action isn’t just a lot of pretty animation, but also depends a lot on the direction, tension and use of characters, music, etcetera. This really came together with series like C and Blood-C, where the former was fast-paced and very creative with both its visuals and ideas, whereas Blood-C’s choreography was just completely amazing and a very solid second place for this award. In the end though, the food battles in Ben-To deserve this award. It’s the first time that I hand this to a comedy series, but even though the series itself had its problems at times, the food battles were just the point where everything fit. The entire concept of fighting over food was just completely unique, but every battle here stood out in the creative uses of every day items, the actual use of strategies, the camera angles wer awesome, and the music was just fantastic for these skits.

Best Comedy

Level E

This one was a no-brainer. Level E has been the best comedy to appear in years. Especially its first arc was just completely fantastic, but even beyond that, it had some of the funniest banter I had seen in a long while. There are a ton of characters here that kick ass, but the prince, Kraft and Yukitaka take the cake here. This show was wonderful in how it both trolled its characters and its audience. The runners up this year also were completely hilarious, though: Ben-To and Dororon Enma-Kun would have also made this a great year alone if Level E wasn’t there, not to mention Hyouge Mono’s unique physical comedy.

Best Horror

Blood-C

Blood-C’s horror style was not the easiest to get into, since it depended heavily on atmosphere. If this atmosphere didn’t work for you, then this series was not for you. However, if it did work, then this turned into an incredibly tense and brutal horror series with an agonizing build-up. Steins;Gate also had a great atmosphere, and Supernatural also succeeded in achieving this.

Best Slice of Life

Tamayura ~ Hitotose

I’ve always found the definition of “Slice of Life” a bit tricky. For example, Natsume Yuujinchou had some wonderful slice of life moments, but I with its focus on Youkai stories it’s not exactly a true slice of life series. Ano Hana I guess is about the lives of a group of teenagers, but it’s not about how they live their daily lives. As for the ones that do feel like focused on portraying the daily lives of the lead characters,there are five that stood out this year: Hana-Saku Iroha, Usagi Drop, Kimi to Boku, Tamayura and Ikoku Meiro no Croisee. I decided to go for Tamayura because it best encapsulated how these characters are spending their time and living their lives, while at the same time showing how they evolve over time and develop their hobbies.

Best Romance

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Boku-Tachi wa Mada Shiranai

There were two romance series that stood miles above the others this year. Like, there’s no contest beyond them. The first is Hourou Musuko, who broke many traditions, and featured what was by far the most realistic romance I’ve seen in a while. The best however, was Ano Hana, which managed to make me bawl my eyes out surprisingly often through its romance.

Best Mystery

Steins;Gate

Un-Go was great at writing short mystery stories with a ton of twists. Mawaru Penguin Drum used its own symbols very neatly to create a very mysterious series. Blood-C used its mystery in a very daring way by only waiting for the last possible moment to explain everything. The best mystery of the year though, belongs to Steins;Gate. The story for one is incredibly well constructed, and it makes terrific use of the fact that it’s about time travel throughout its plot, though through subtle clues that are never overstated.

My top series of 2011: #10-1

#10: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica really tried to redefine the mahou shoujo genre for the older audience, and as a deconstruction of the whole genre, it really succeeded in this. With a story that flows like water, it started off with a seemingly innocent mahou shoujo setting, and in the end completely subverted everything about it. It’s pretty much the best thing Shaft had made in years, and the visual direction was consistently stunning throughout the entire series.

#9: Hourou Musuko

Hourou Musuko really surprised me in how it started off already very good, and it just kept getting better with every single episode. The acting was just amazingly down to earth and realistic characters. Its decision to start in the middle of the manga, rather than at the start really worked in the way that it already gave the characters a very complex background, and it continued to develop them into better and better characters. The drama it got out of them int he end was amazing because of that.

#8: Steins;Gate

The plot of Steins;Gate was just completely stunning, as I’ve said quite a few times in this summary before. It’s multi-layered beyond belief, and in ways that at first you wouldn’t even hold imaginable. Especially the second half just keeps changing. Now granted, it does have a very unusual concept of time travel, which at times I found a bit hard to buy, Okabe’s rants also tended to get a bit monotone after a while, plus the otaku references all flew a bit above my head. But what this show did well, it did incredibly well.

#7: Tiger & Bunny

Tiger & Bunny just was that show that immediately caught my attention with its unique concept of having sponsored superheroes fight crime. It’s both meant to be a criticism to the modern media, but also an homage to the superhero genre. It’s chock full of likable characters, who work especially well as a team, but in particular the lead character Wild Tiger stands out as memorable, where his characters is really well balanced between his strengths and flaws. The only shame about this series is that it suddenly dips in during the finale. This show is the most fun when it shows the different stories about its characters, whereas the main storyline unfortunately paled a bit in comparison.

#6: Heartcatch Precure

Okay, this show aired for only one month in 2011, but I still really want to include it in this rankings, because of what a great job it did in redefining the mahou shoujo genre. Everything just fit with it, the action was amazing, the characters were all really well developed, with Tsubomi and Yuri being the best, and the finale of the series really was the epic finale we’ve hoped for. Everything about this series just looks so much more professional than usual and even though it’s fifty episodes long,I enjoyed every episode of it.

#5: Natsume Yuujin-Chou

With this third season, Natsume Yuujinchou actually slightly surpassed itself, which is really an impressive feat considering how good the first season was. The individual stories of this season in particular stood out as really heart-warming and down to earth, but the real gem is how much attention it devotes to Natsume’s development. Every episode adds something to his character, and he already was very well developed to start with. I love how this show looked into his past and also his future, and how it stressed how much he has grown as a character, and yet despite all that happened, this show just remains consistently subtle, and about a boy who just felt very isolated for a long part of his life due to his ability to see something that most people can’t.

#4: Hyouge Mono

Now, this was without a doubt the most unique series of the entire year. I still cannot fathom how the heck Bee-Train actually got the funding to go with a project as crazy as this. I still cannot imagine who in their right mind green-lighted the production of this show. Whoever it was though, I really want to thank him or her for opening up the road to long series that are miles away from the mainstream, and allowed a show that is about a bunch of old guys talking to be produced. The amount of attention that this show put on aesthetics and the so-called “Wabi-Sabi” is just amazing, and it did so for three entire seasons, and it’s still not finished. And as if that wasn’t enough: the facial expressions. The acting in this series is just completely priceless, where characters on one hand are able to deliver some really solid acting, and on the other make some of the silliest faces imaginable. You wanted Bee-Train to branch out and do something other than gunfights? Hah! You got it!

#3: Level E

Now, Level E was just completely delightful as a comedy. It was masterful at trolling, it contained the most hilarious episodes I’ve seen this entire year, and the way it consisted out of a number of unrelated stories made it a very varied series that was different for every single arc of its. The characters were all just awesome to watch, the banter between them was just wonderfully hilarious, but also its backdrop of aliens on earth had some very neat ideas and was a very interesting setting to play with. In this year Studio Pierrot and in particular David Production really showed how awesome a comedy can be when you add in a little bit extra and really try to make it stand out as unique.

#2: Mawaru Penguin Drum

Oooh, deciding my top 2 of this year was really hard. I love both series, and both series completely dominated my monthly rankings in the seasons they were shown in. Penguin Drum was the long-awaited comeback by Kunihiko Ikura, of Utena-fame, and it delivered an incredible character-study. It had a plot full of symbolism that seemed random at first, but fit in the context really well. It’s a show that’s open to quite a bit of interpretation, and it really requires you to read inbetween the lines. There were parts at which it perhaps got a bit too surreal, and I guess that there were a few twists that it just pulled for the heck of it, but it was a consistently entertaining ride that kept throwing interesting twists around the characters. I’m definitely looking forward to Kunihiko Ikuhara’s next work, although I hope that it won’t take 12 more years for that to happen… In any case, I loved this show and its ambition, but in the end I have to give the best show of the year title to another show….

#1: Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Boku-Tachi wa Mada Shiranai

Ano Hana is a show that made me cry more often than probably all other series combined this year. It was the single most emotional series for me, and in the end, it even hit me more than Penguin Drum. Every episode of this series developed the characters of this series immensely, and it turned into one of my favorite Noitamina-series ever made. In just eleven episodes, this show didn’t just nail its main character, it nailed all of the side characters as well. This series really aimed to become an emotional roller-coaster, and therefore it perhaps got a bit too dramatic at times, but it never delved into cheese, and just kept getting to me, closing off with a really emotional finale. It’s a close call, but Ano hana in the end stands as my favorite series of 2011.

CHANGE USERNAME
SuperMario
and this week's Sakura Quest is damn great as well... This backstory of Chitose and Kadota rocks
SuperMario
Just watching the 2nd episode of Gamers, It was actually pretty good. I can't believe they fleshing out that annoying hot guy into such a relatable guy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I recall the extent of my interest in Linkin park in my early teens was strictly the breaking the habit video and that was it.
SuperMario
The frontman of Linkin Park commited suicide by hanging himself... sad news. Never been his fan but I feel sad nonetheless
AidanAK47
Actually forgot with all the impressions and whatnot but I do believe we said we would review the Castlevania Netflix series. Now that everything has calmed down I will see if I can do a write up next week.
AidanAK47
I was busy trying to discern whether the story had any point besides "Life is shit"
Kaiser-Eoghan
Again, while I enjoyed punpun, the excessive internal narration, when marathoned, I had to take a break.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Come to think of it, I don't even have a phone that does that, haven't bought a new one since 2004.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Ah, you see I could never force myself to browse/type/use the internet on a phone, too used to using a desktop exclusively for that.
AidanAK47
Oh bloody hell. Stupid phone autocorrect. Yeah I meant Punpun.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Read Freesia.
Kaiser-Eoghan
umi no onnanoko is probably the exact thing ninjarealist would be interested in.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*oyasumi punpun
I found it alot more accessible than nijigahara holograph. deded-demon-destruction while enjoyable, is beneath him. Solanin is probably his easiest work.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I assume you man oyasui punpun. Its been about five years since I read in, the final couple of volumes stay in my mind the most, all the stuff with him, the girl and his uncle also, I love Asano Inios art and the surreal elements but I got lost/bored somewhere in the middle and most of the other side characters and the cult thing I didn't really care about.
AidanAK47
Finished reading Goodnight Pumping. Really not sure on what to think of it. The story kept me reading but it just felt really empty.
Anonymous1276500
There are 2 Nyaa's now. This one is considered the 'real' one: https://nyaa.si
Kaiser-Eoghan
Looks like anirena is down for me. Although it looks like nyaa went back up as this: https://nyaa.pantsu.cat/
SuperMario
Aidan: Fate/Apocrypha, Made in Abyss, Kakegurui
Mario: Princess Principal, 18if, Youkoso
Lenlo: Touken Ranbu, The Reflection
Wooper: Ballroom, Shoukoku no Altair
Helghast: Re:Creators
SuperMario
Note: I'm deciding to take Classroom of the Elite as my third show to cover. So, for this season we are covering 11 shows.
Vonter
Just to end, it kind of shows than even if a story is predictable on where it is going. Characters can make up for that, if they're funny, interesting, and perhaps not agreeing all the time and having different agendas and points of view despite all sharing the same boat.
Vonter
Yet as a game Tales hasn't felt deep since Symphonia, (at least from the ones I've played). I'm wondering if it'll leave me wanting check the anime of Zestiria, since apparently Berseria is a prequel to that game. And many say the anime is better than the game. (I can see why).
Vonter
I also like the reused Tales beats from Phantasia and Berseria. It those have moments like when Lloyd was exiled and Cless had his village attacked. It has clear antagonists unlike Vesperia, and trying harder than the cartoony villains of Graces.
Vonter
I've been playing Tales of Berseria, and it seems to be the anti Tales of Graces. In which I'm caring about the story and characters, but the gameplay is a drag. This is the first time I've been autoplaying an JRPG. But unlike Gravity Rush 2, I'm not dropping it because I'm liking the interactions of these characters even if it gets, campy, overdramatic, or edgy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I mean I watch anime and films subtitled but sometimes my reading speed can be slow if theres a lot of dialogue.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Eh, I do that sometimes, mostly to check for message updates or on occasion to read reviews of what I am watching or to download more/check downloads.
SuperMario
For instance, I watched Okja yesterday and I had to take 15', 20' minute break in between for snack, surfing webs and playing mobile games...
SuperMario
I watched Fanny and Alexander... don't really remember which version I watched thou. I think it's a TV version since it divides into 4 separate parts
SuperMario
@Kaiser: it just that... my attention span has shortened greatly and I just can't stay focus on movies over an hour mark. In cinema, it's alright since you can't move anywhere but now it's abig task to finish a 2 hour and a half movie for me
Kaiser-Eoghan
And is good enough to keep up the quality for that long.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'll say this, for every medium, to me the length of something isn't so much the issue, if you have a writer good enough to keep something going for ages then the length shouldn't be an issue.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: If something goes over three hours I treat it as a miniseries and watch one hour or two a day.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: lol if you thought thats long, have you seen the extended versions of scenes from a marriage and fanny & alexander by Bergman? I can't wait to get my hands on the tv versions I hear they're completely different.
SuperMario
Okja is pretty entertaining with pointed social commentary. I don't really feel Tilda Swinton's double roles add up much but everything else is great. Bong has never disappointed me
SuperMario
@Kaiser: good luck with Satantango then. I guess now if I watch an 8-hour long film it would take me a whole week to finish it :/
Kaiser-Eoghan
Made in abyss and vatican keep staring at me. Although I'm not chancing them yet or anything else until I hear a bit more.
Kaiser-Eoghan
My once massive film backlog is nearly cleared. I can try watching stuff this season hopefully.
K-Off
Same boat here. For the first time in a long time I spent almost half the day catching up on all of my manga.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I'll have two weeks leave, I will finally watch Satantango, all eight hours of that film.
AidanAK47
I did a double take when I saw this. One of these things is not like the other.... http://gematsu.com/2017/07/blazblue-cross-tag-battle-announced
SuperMario
Well, finally have a bit of precious free time to watch something else and I have too much things to watch. Castlevania, the final Kizumonogatari movie, live-action Okja and some books planned to read... I guess I'll go with Okja today
Ninja
Looking forward to that Dies review
Lenlo
Yaaay! Time to enjoy your blogging time
AidanAK47
And now we are up to date. Just need to finally get that Dies Irae Review posted.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Then again I'll watch almost every horror film I can, don't even mind the awful acting most have.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Pet cemetary was a guilty pleasure of mine when I was a teenager.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I don't know how I'd feel if I rewatched salems lot, although a positive is that it did have James Mason in it and it was done in that 70s style of slow burn horror that I love.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The IT film has aged horribly and thats one case where I would advocate a remake.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Stand by me was a perftly watchable coming of age film and it surprised me, seeing a non-horror King story.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Okay theres one way to settle this =P Lovecraft > all of them ;) I have actually enjoyed some King adaptations even though I know the Shining took liberties , I also enjoyed Carrie and Apt Pupil.
Lenlo
@Kaiser, please. Early King > Richard Matheson > Modern King. Kings early works were good.
Lenlo
@Aidan, its true that Monty was the mind behind the fights. Sad, but I think the other directors are starting to come into their own instead of trying to copy Monty.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But we all know Richard Matheson > King.
Kaiser-Eoghan
He did some collabs with Stephen King I believe.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Like the dead films he's trying to be thematic, although this one is clumsily put together, I kind of like how it hybridizes the 50s with 70s style exploitation, it has its moments.
Kaiser-Eoghan
hmmm the only non Dead trilogy film I've seen by Romero is the Crazies, feels like he's still finding his voice with it.
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, Part of the reason is that they started using better animation software. But despite that there was a downgrade in fight chorgraphy when Monty died. Though the story I find is getting better.
AidanAK47
@Kinseryu, I think it's ridiculous to everyone but there are those that choose to ignore it.
@Anon, That's a bit harsh. It is true that his later works never truly panned out but he did pretty much popularise the zombie apoc. Even if Day of the Triffids did it before him.
Lenlo
Every season RWBY gets just a little bit prettier. Rooster Teeth really does have some of the better 3D animation skills out there.
Anonymous1272531
goerge romero was a hack trying desperate to stay relevant.
Kinseryu
Tenshi3P... I thought it was just me that this show was just ridiculous by putting three ten years old girl that knows how to play electrical instruments. They are insulting the people who plays these. But good thing I found this site with your first impression. I laughed and I feel better. Lol.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: he passed away? damn. He was the Father of Zombie genre. So like him or hate him, he was influential to say the least. RIP.
Kaiser_Eoghan
...holy shit George A Romero died? Now I have to watch the rest of his films.
Kaiser_Eoghan
Rei Hiroe is really dicking around with black lagoon lately, he's still releasing wasted chapters, just like re:creators, the most recent chapter of black lagoon was a slog.
Kaiser_Eoghan
Maybe the conversation and lives of others could sort of count as espionage stories to an extent.
Kaiser_Eoghan
If you're interested in spy fiction, Spy who came in from the cold, most wanted man, Smiley's people, deadly affair and tinker tailor soldier spy are your best bet.
SuperMario
@Travlos (regarding yoir earlier comment): yeah, it hit me as well that most of regular readers have been here even longer than myself. So thanks for sticking around mates
SuperMario
@Travlos: playing catch up with both Re:Creators and Virgin Soul yesterday. Agreed that last week's Re:Creators was weak because it focused on the Creators (they're not good) but last episode was on par again. Virgin Soul, I loved that episode that the girls go bacl to Nina's hometown
SuperMario
@anon1272074: I still haven't had the time to watch Pripri yet (probably in few more hours), but you bet I'm looking forward to it
Anonymous1272074
Then again, James Bond does count as a spy. I meant not a realistic one.
Anonymous1272074
Princess Principal 2 was pretty good. Still more James Bond via little girls than spies, but this episode was more about intrigue and stuff than action.
Lenlo
Started catching up with Kakegurui. The OP is the sort of mind games I remember from Mob Psycho. Dunno what that means for the show, but I like it.
KTravlos
Quite happy with this week's RE:Creators. Blitz is cool, Aliceteria looked so scary. It washed out the taste of last week's episode.

Bahamut is going interesting places.
BTW. Speaking of spies from Princess Principal. I watch TURN. That is a good spy show.
KTravlos
I mean you see the use of those heavy revolvers as clubs in westerns. Mythbusters did a experiment, and being hit by one could kill you just fine. But in anime, I do not remember seeing it often
AidanAK47
Homura used Gun-kata in the fight against Mami in Rebellion. Can't think of anyone who exclusively uses it though. After all Gun-Kata is more or less a flashy art that has no real benefit.
Anonymous1270604
amazing!
Vonter
Is Gun Kata the fighting style of Noel Vermillion from BlazBlue? I suppose I'm mainly thinking about how guns are handled in fighting games. Where the shots are mainly concussive. I suppose those are mainly energy blasts.
Lenlo
Ranbu took a step in the right direction I feel. Used the morals of whether or not to change history and it focused in on one of its characters.
Lenlo
Final Fantasy has had some gun swords. Cant think of any with guns in melee though. There are some with gun-kata like cowboy bebop though
Vonter
Just for curiosity, have anyone watched an anime, movie or game that uses a gun as a melee weapon. Or one in which the gun is mainly concussive but still has impact?
Spike
18if ep2 was a bit wacky... main character seems to be off his rocker.
AidanAK47
Alright. Time to finally play catch up with those series I need to blog.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But at the same time acknowledging love for creativity is more important in the end than making a profit.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think I was using death of artist/deceased artist as a term to suggest peoples careers in the area are too often killed before they get a chance.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Moreso also to save the guy the embarrassment of misinterpreting it so awkwardly.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Puran: Nothing too extreme , moreso that the piece itself feels inappropriate/tainted to have up/leave around/submit. Ended up taking it down out of taste.
Puran
Did that change how you feel about your writing? I had a somewhat similar experience, where something I was writing was similar to a real situation some I knew was going through. After I found out I stopped writing it. Not sure why.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I wasn't all that close to either of them much but yeah, weird coincidence.
Kaiser-Eoghan
He thought I already knew the guy was dead.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*earlier
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its all okay now...but fuck that was was awkward.
Kaiser-Eoghan
....Oh jesus christ...oh christ this is a creepy creepy coincidence...I showed an acquaintance a bit of writing I did early, it mentions death of an artist, thing is I was writing something based on a conversation with my editor friend, turns out said acquaintance's artist friend died (who he knows that I've spoken to in the past) and he thought the piece I showed him was about the dead guy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I believe I began visiting this site in 2008.
As for humanity has declined, I found it bizzare and darkly funny for a while but felt it ran dry in its second half and I kind of fell out of following it.
KTravlos
You know it hit me. I think I have been following this blog for a decade now, perhaps more. Cool that it is still around.
Lenlo
I do agree it had alot more western influence than eastern though
Lenlo
Eh nothing wrong with that I think. Astro boy was very much the same after all
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, I personally saw it as more of a Saturday morning cartoon than an anime.
Lenlo
@Masky, Heroman was a decent giant robot show. It looked and sounded good, though the acting was off in places. Alot of people panned it thinking it was the West invading the east when really it was trying to bridge that gap
SuperWooper
@Kaiser: Hey, Humanity Has Declined was great.
KTravlos
need not be

not

need to be
KTravlos
Masky it was not an issue of writing about politics. It is an issue of writing just about your preferred politics. A good political work need to be politicized if you understand what I mean.
Kaiser-Eoghan
...what the hell tsuki ga kirei was directed by Seiji Kishi? He was actually capable of making a good anime?
Masky
Anyhoo, lol. Haven't mentioned Jitsu wa watashi wa in long time, but I really find it hilarious that its only actually evil character's competence is just "they aren't a idiot" xD As in, they don't even seem that diabolically intelligent, they just don't get wrapped into hijinxs.
Masky
@KTravlos: Well, depends on your views. Some people think artists should have their work speak about politics and world instead of just good stories. I'm kinda neutral about that since while stories about nature of world can be great, most of them don't really teach anyone anything new or change anyone
Masky
Huh, another anime work with Stan Lee being involved? I wonder how well Heroman did
KTravlos
Yup. A mangaka that could had been another Urasaw imho is Kawaguchi Kaiji. I really like his art, and it evokes some of the elements that I love in Urasawa. He also has interesting stories. But I fear he has let his political and ideological prejudices get the better of him. Which is a pity. Definitely a missed chance.
Masky
Did Urasawa do that billy bat manga?
SuperMario
As for Urasawa, I mentioned here before but I read 20th Century Boys few months ago and the manga was a straight out masterpiece. Fillers, yes but they are still in service for the main plot. Although out of his work my favorite's still Monster
AidanAK47
Alright. Only one more. Though the two superhero shows won't air for another week. Seeing as one is reflectiona nd the other is that marvel kids show maybe we shouldn't bother covering them in the impressions.
SuperMario
@Amagi: agree with you on the Friday's anime (well, for me it's technically Saturday) but Kakegurui, Fate and Princess Principal are worth following as well
SuperMario
@Kaiser: if you're still deciding if you should check out the manga or novel then I say novel since it's the novel that was influential, not the manga
Kaiser-Eoghan
So based on that fantasy itch I had thought about Altair, but hesitated because it was labeled as a shounen action show.
Kaiser-Eoghan
There was a time where I was hugely into the shoujo fantasy/historical thing. I've actually been thinking of out of curiousity looking into some old obscure ovas such as Books of Y and Crystania.
Amagi
Man as much as I love the Friday's anime this time, and whenever Altair airs, but the rest of the working-week is weak as hell. At least now I will finally have more time for games, VNs and creative stuff I guess.
Kaiser-Eoghan
It was kind of nice to hear an announcer coming in before Genocidal organ started, mentioning that for a few months their cinema will be playing anime and Japanese films.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Surprised to see an anime reference Kafka and Katyn.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I have not yet checked out empire of corpses.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Now, I'll have to consider the manga or the novel as I heard some of the philosophical stuff got chopped. This was however a more successful and accessible film for me than Harmony.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Manglobe was always a bit mediocre when it came to animation and voice actor direction, but this wasn’t a bad film for them to go out on.
It lives up to its name, it gets quite visceral with the action that’s there, if you don’t like seeing child soldiers getting slaughtered there’s your warning, but I appreciated getting this kind of violence I want to see more of again in anime/manga.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I just got back from my local arthouse cinema, from watching a special screening of that anime film, Genocidal organ, this is the sort of thing where you do wish that it had more time to explore its thematics but they at least offer a good enough flavouring to a solid man on a mission scifi thriller.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Just to state I don't hate Urasawa's work, rather I find it sort of difficult , I could say the same about Asano Inio regarding oyasumi punpun.
KTravlos
Urasawa is supposed to be working on Master Keaton Remastered. But it seems to be on hiatus. A pity because I loved Master Keaton (I adore Monster)-in general I love this person's work.
Amagi
20thCB would be my favorite Urasawa I think but I can't imagine it as an adaption. Kinda want to know what Urasawa will do next. He already announced that he's working on a new series months ago.
Amagi
I am really looking forward to the Pluto anime. I wanted this one the most, there is a serious lack of good sci-fi anime out there.
Kaiser-Eoghan
...billy bat is....scattered and directionaless fro what I read but shows interesting historical scenarios.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Pluto was reasonably short, so this wasn't much of a problem.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And while from the film adaptations I could tell that the original manga for 20th century boys likely had a very good storyline , I couldn't get through the manga.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Despite watching monster a few times I feel I've missed or forgotten things about it, largely because although I understand its importance and did like it, its length and pace always made me watch it on and off with gaps in between.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I was surprised by how attached I got to Grimmer.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Monster is a good example of slow burn tension done right and has one of the most memorable villains out there. Though it isn't without its fillers.
Lenlo
You want a mystery, I heartily recommend Monster.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And I also sometimes write impressions/reviews in my spare time, its hard.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Although the first season probably did have just that bit better atmosphere.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think I may have been one of the few who enjoyed true detective season 2 as much as the first however.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm not sure anymore if I'm entirely happy or not with having less time now , yes I can see the frustration, but at the same time it stops me from filling in dead moments with terrible shows/films when there ends up being literally nothing else to do.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Then again I can only enjoy a select crime/mystery things .
Kaiser-Eoghan
It would take a very good writer to make case of the week episodes work, a mystery wrapped up in one or two episodes can just stop it from unfolding naturally or organically.
Kaiser-Eoghan
As I've probably mentioned a few times, I pretty much go by what I'm told to watch and not watch , mostly to play it safe.
Amagi
@Aidan: Same here. If the supernatural feeling is part of a series it's better if it's rather just hinted at to retain the aura of mystery but that the actual cases are just involving "normal" crimes that get resolved by detective work. Something like True Detective or Name of the Rose.
AidanAK47
@Amagi, that's good. I love a good mystery and hate it when it's ruined with magical wizard space ghosts.
Amagi
@Aidan: If people who know the original were telling the truth explanations will be rational and the series is rather an actual mystery instead of anything supernatural.
AidanAK47
@Mario, I haven't even watched the second episode of Apocrypha yet. Also behind on Re:Creators. Wonder if I will leave it. So far planning to get two more impressions out by end of day. Got one wrote up and just need to work on the other. Next up Tenshi no 3P...this is going to be painful.
AidanAK47
@Amagi, truly appreciate it. If Vatican can slow down it could really be something else. But I wonder how much of a supernatural element is going to be present in the series.
SuperMario
And now after I've watched all new shows save Gamers, I'll blog Princess Principal and 18if this season. I will watch second episode of Vatican and Centaur to decide the third choice, if I'm unconvinced by both I'll blog Tsurezure Children
SuperMario
@Amagi: Thanks, it's our pleasures. I like checking out new shows myself buy gosh it's time consuming. Have been behind on both Re:Creators, Virgin Soul because of this.
Amagi
Speaking of it, I also really hope that the pacing of the Vatican's series will slow down. Maybe they wanted to shove in as much as possible for episode 1 to attract more viewers. Love this dark and sacral atmosphere, it would be some wasted potential if they'd kill it by speeding through the story. Music is good as well.
Amagi
Don't blame yourself, your're doing this for free and there are a ton of new series. I also think that most people rather read impressions to know how others felt about the episodes and not in order to decide which series they should check out. You two are usually better at pointing out flaws than me, which is why I quite enjoy reading the reviews.
AidanAK47
Thing is that our impressions are usually late. Purely my fault of course as Mario does his write ups quickly. I am usually late with mine due to a lack of time to check shows out.
Amagi
I am usually fair and watch every first episode but sometimes I just stop after the fifth school series of the same anime season.
Amagi
I like how much Aidan's and Mario's first impressions match my own. This saves me quite some time since I don't even have to check the series that didn't look interesting to begin with.
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