An Anime and Manga Retrospective

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I feel like we haven’t really had a retrospective on recent anime on the site, really just an assorted set of picks that each of us likes.
 
So, I'm starting something new and ongoing - a series about each season of anime and manga as they're coming out. Rather than starting with the current season though, as I'd like to pace this out a bit, I'll be taking a step back a couple of years and focusing on the best of each season starting in 2016 and going through 2021, hopefully getting through a year of anime and manga each week. I’m up for doing earlier years and 2022 onward, but for now, my focus will be on the more recent past and present.
 
I’m not going to try to be exhaustive about what came out each season, but I will try to cover both what I saw and the basics of the series that I missed and either wish to return to at some point or just think warrant attention for one reason or another. I will provide a rating for each of the ones that I’ve seen/read (on a scale of 10, with a 5 being a weak but average series, a 10 being a basically perfect series, and a 0 having no redeeming qualities) and will include a best-of-year among the ones I watched at the bottom of each post.
 
If I didn’t cover something you liked from any of these seasons, you'd like to provide your own views on what I've covered, or if you just want to interject with something related to anime and manga, feel free to post. My hope is that we continue posting here as new anime come out to give thoughts, or, barring that, just have some further discussions of some recent favorites.
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Anime and Manga in 2016
 
Manga
 
New Manga
 
Haven’t read Cells at Work, though I’ve heard it’s a great series in the vein of Osmosis Jones, effectively anthropomorphizing the cells of our bodies to depict what happens as we are challenged with disease and other issues. It’s gotten an anime adaptation and a spin-off, so clearly something worked.
 
Fire Force (7.5/10)
Hard to believe this is when Fire Force started. It’s a well-drawn series about what are effectively firefighters in a fantasy world facing off against the demonic results of human combustion. The heroes of the story fight by either manipulating fire or producing it themselves in a variety of creative ways. Still going strong today with an anime adaptation, this one is a solid Shonen series with some surprises. I think it meanders a bit in its storytelling, and I can’t say I’m as invested in the characters as I’d like to be, but it’s still a lot of fun. I’ll get to the anime in 2019.
 
The Promised Neverland (8/10)
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this series, particularly with both the manga and anime wrapped up. Still, I don’t think anyone should sleep on the manga. I won't spoil anything here (part of the fun is uncovering its central twist early in the story), but the series does an excellent job balancing mystery and horror, and it is at its best when it makes its characters think. I'm particularly fond of the dynamics between the main characters, and in its early stages, the story produces some of its best beats. I think this series does a lot of great stuff that is unique to the manga, and while later arcs flounder a bit, the early stages of the series are where the series is at its best. I’ll get to the anime in 2019.
 
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations (5.5/10)
 
After Boruto’s dad’s series ended in 2014, this one kicks off after a substantial time skip, leaving our main cast as adults raising the next generation of ninjas. It’s a series that has had some time now, but has yet to pay off what it set up in its very first chapter, so there’s a lot of expectations about this follow-on to the ninja fighting juggernaut. However, I’d say that it doesn’t match up. Some of the fights, especially as depicted in the anime (haven’t seen all of it) are particularly amazing, but I find that it’s missing a lot of the heart and strong character moments of the original series. It doesn’t help that, having set up a very powerful set of characters in his father’s arc, it’s initially hard to see this as a meaningful follow-on, since they should just be able to solve everything that comes their way. Things change as the series goes on, but it takes a while to get somewhere interesting, and I wouldn’t say its arcs match up to the original series yet.
 
Finishing Manga
 
Several big ones finished this year. Toriko left the scene after 8 years, and though I didn’t catch much of it, the crossover between gourmet food preparation and physical combat was intriguing and had many fans. Assassination Classroom also finished off after 4 years, and both it and the anime series that spawned from it have been well-loved, though I’ll get to the specifics of that one in the winter anime.
 
Bleach (5.5/10)
The end of an era. 15 years after this member of the Big 3 started, its manga went out with a whimper. Bleach was an incredible series with a great premise of individuals fighting with swords that are imbued with incredible powers that only they can unleash. I don’t think the series ever matched its early arcs, but its later ambitions were cut short and the series ended in a rushed finale that left many of the elements the author built up in the lurch. It has an anime adaptation, though that remains unfinished at the moment (a circumstance that’s set to change towards the end of 2021, though I’m trepidatious about the result). I’d probably rate the anime a little higher, at least from what we’ve seen so far, filler arcs and all.
 
Anime Movies
 
I’m mostly going to avoid the big tentpoles and focus more on the outstanding movies produced this year that don’t fall under the usual headings. That being said, though I won’t review it, One Piece Film: Gold came out this year and features some pretty nice spectacle. If you haven’t seen the series, this won’t get you into it, but One Piece movies always use their budgets for some amazing sakuga and this is no exception.
 
Your Name (9/10)
Probably the most famous anime film in recent memory, Your Name does an incredible amount with a simple premise: a teenage boy and girl swap bodies some nights when they sleep and live out a full day in the other person’s body. The way that their relationship builds through such an invasive experience is beautiful to watch, the animation is gorgeous, and the direction the story takes is riveting. The movie deserves the attention it received.
 
A Silent Voice (9.5/10)
One of my favorite anime movies. It’s a grounded story that starts with a young man contemplating killing himself, turns back to mistakes he made when he was younger and bullied a deaf girl that was new to his class, and builds into him trying to make amends for what he did. There’s not an element of this movie I don’t love. Beautiful animation, sound design that evokes both the emotions of the characters and some aspects of their physical states, the dynamics between characters feels real and brutal, while simultaneously depicting vulnerability and caring in imaginative ways. It’s hard to watch in parts (it certainly made me cry), but absolutely worth your time.
 
Anime Series
 
Winter 2016
 
I didn’t watch much this season, but there’s a good bit to get back to. I’ve heard that Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash is a solid series of isekai where everyone starts without memories and forms a party in a dark fantasy world to survive and become volunteer soldiers. ERASED was and remains well-regarded for its story, covering some seriously dark ground with its time travel elements, though I’ve heard mixed feelings on the ending. Finally, Assassination Classroom is still very well regarded as a series about a class of delinquents who are given the task of killing their ultra-powerful, tentacled teacher before he ends the world. There are a lot of solid emotional stakes in this one.
 
KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! (9/10)
I honestly have a hard time thinking of a better comedy anime, though another one on this list comes close. There are many isekai, some of them are great, but this one’s especially fun. Long story short, he dies in an easily preventable and laughable way and the god he meets after he dies lambasts him for it. She sends him on his way to his second life in a fantasy world and, out of frustration for her laughing at his expense, he demands that she accompany him. What follows is an adventure with a ludicrously bad team of heroes who range from useless to deranged to massively over-the-top, and everything they do is pure gold. If you want to laugh a lot, this is the series for you.
 
Spring 2016
 
This is the first season on my list where JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has appeared, and it’s worth a mention. I haven’t seen it, but I’m aware that JoJo’s has one of the stronger series when it comes to fights and power systems, particularly with the Stands that each character wields and the incredibly complex strategizing that comes with using them. I’ve heard great things about Bungo Stray Dogs as well, a series that involves a set of people with supernatural powers teaming up as part of the “Armed Detective Agency” to protect their city.
 
My Hero Academia (7/10)
Probably one of the better-known modern anime series, this one has a lot going for it. It’s a world where the vast majority of people have some random power called a Quirk, which has led some people to become heroes and some to become villains. Our main character doesn’t have a Quirk, but wants to become a hero anyway, despite being told that he cannot become one. Long story short (it’s spoiled very early on) this is his story of becoming a hero despite the odds. It’s not a particularly innovative story but does a lot with what it has and usually has some great fights. The first season was a solid start, if a bit paint-by-numbers, but it’s worth the watch.
 
Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World (8/10)
Another isekai, this one has two novel factors going for it. For one, the central mechanic employed by the main character is return by death or, to put it in the context of a video game, return to save point. If he dies, then he comes back without physical injury to a given point in time, retaining full memory of what happened while the world around him returns to its previous state. He is also not able to tell anyone of this ability, which complicates things. It’s also a series characterized by its dark fantasy elements. The main character dies. A lot. And he watches others die. A lot. The psychological turmoil he goes through is part of what makes the series, and while I can’t say I was as enthralled by the first season as many others have been (the main character was particularly frustrating to watch much of the time), I will say it was a great start to one of my favorite series in anime.
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Summer 2016
 
This was a pretty good summer for anime, but it did have one major outlier. Berserk is generally regarded as one of the best series of all time… in its 1997 iteration and its manga. Berserk 2016 overuses terrible 3D animation and sound effects to damage the reputation of the series as a whole, but it deserves a mention if only for how bad it was. On the other end of the spectrum, Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma (S2) also debuted this season, and though I haven't watched much of it, I know that the series has been praised for its visuals and tension despite it all coming from battles over who makes the best dishes rather than actual fights. They do look amazing, and the truly great ones produce such intense feelings in those that eat them that they can even blow off clothing. I know it's worth the watch.
 
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. (7.5/10)
Another great comedy anime, this one derives its humor chiefly from the main character (the titular Saiki K.) trying and failing to restrain his incredible psychic power to act like a normal human teenager. The other side of the humor is found with those who are close to him, particularly his parents and friends, all of whom are ridiculous characters in their own rights. The stakes get greater as the series goes on but remains grounded in the central concern of Saiki keeping his powers secret, and the comedy is consistently engaging. It’s full of caricatures and it can be a little one-note at times, but damn if it isn’t a fun ride.
 
Mob Psycho 100 (9/10)
Much as One Punch Man is better known, Mob Psycho 100 is the stronger series, in my opinion. Mob himself is an incredibly powerful psychic in middle school who has a poor self-image. He works for a con artist to destroy dangerous spirits and tries to improve himself physically and socially while running into a variety of opponents who view their own psychic power as proof of their own superiority. For a series with some incredibly well-animated psychic energy battles, so much of this series comes down to much more grounded issues of how power should be used and how one should perceive themselves based on their talents. It’s an incredible series that starts strong with this season.
 
Fall 2016
 
I didn’t watch anything this season, but there’s a lot I missed. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is one of the few Gundam series that have caught my eye, showcasing some of the grittiest and darkest elements I’ve seen in one of these series while executing well on the whole mecha genre. Yuri!!! On Ice became one of the biggest hits of the season with some beautiful ice skating and a beautiful romantic element between the two male leads. Drifters involves various historical figures being summoned to a fantasy world where they are used by magicians to save the world, which just sounds like a good time. Finally, for a more dramatic choice, March Comes in like a Lion involves a young shogi player and introvert who develops both as a player and socially as the show goes on. That last one, in particular, is one that’s been recommended to me multiple times.
 
Anime of the Year: A Silent Voice, hands down. Honorable mentions to KonoSuba and Mob Psycho 100, which both had incredible first seasons.
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i dont have the attention span to consume this much anime
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Yeah, I probably consume more of the stuff than I should. Actually watched more since the start of 2018. I don't suspect anyone's going to actually want to watch all these series, and I suspect few people, if any, on the site will have consumed as many as I have. That being said, the goal here is mainly to give a timeline of sorts and some recommendations among those that came out over the years. You can decide how much you want to take from it, even if that's nothing.
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psycho pass is pretty good
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A bit of an older series, aired in 2012, but it’s had two sequel seasons. Haven’t seen it but I’ve heard it’s good. Want to talk about what you liked in it?
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Defintely gonna contribute with some of my reccomendations
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Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann - 2007 (10/10)

Gurren Lagann is easily one of my favorite anime to date and is one of the best mech shows to come out of the genre.

Gurren Lagann is not necessarily unique in it's concepts. It does nothin revolutionary, but it executes it's premises without flaws. Imagine going a symphony orchestra or an opera. The songs performing in these shows are not unique or revolutionary to the time, but they are performed and executed amazingly, almost to the point where you are moved to tears due to the display of emotions being shown in each performance. That is what Gurren Lagann is.

Gurren Lagann has some of the best written characters of all time. Not only are each character likeable, they also share an impact to their important and bring a piece of life to the show. Sure, some characters have a bigger piece of the pie than others, but removing a character would change the whole dynamic of the show. There are no boring characters and there aren't dull moments at all in this series. This series provides moving moments with bombastic action executed brilliantly. 

To put it simply, Gurren Lagann is a masterpiece in execution. It does everything right. It goes the extra mile to be the most beautifully bombastic it can be, and it leaves you with emotions that run high and emotions that can't be contained

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Needless for me to say, since it made my top 10 list of anime, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is one of my favorite series. I'd probably give it a 9.5/10 personally, but it is peak anime and deserves attention.

In general (with a few exceptions as I get into series that link back to older series), I won't be covering series that come before 2016 unless there's a push for me to do so. Nonetheless, I encourage anyone to talk about their favorites in this forum. There are a lot of good, more classic anime out there that are worth giving attention to, and at some stage I might just list off some ratings for series that I've seen with some brief reviews just to cover those bases.
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Indeed. Hope to contribute soon. There are some animes I think are great and some I think are overrated (sadly I think OPM is overrated)
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Indeed. Hope to contribute soon. There are some animes I think are great and some I think are overrated (sadly I think OPM is overrated)
As a manga series, I think it's a lot of fun. As an anime, S1 is pretty great, but S2 does not match that at all. Basically, as long as you're into the humor and spectacle of it, it's an easy series to love. If it's not your kind of humor, then it's probably not the series for you. Wouldn't say it's ONE's best work myself, but that's a high standard.

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Ehhh I liked Saiki's humor but OPM's humor just becomes drained out after the first 3 episodes
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Anime and Manga in 2017
 
Manga
 
New Manga
 
Dr. Stone (7.5/10)
 
The only actual new manga on this list, I'd say Dr. Stone is a strong entry. It builds a lot of material out of what is, effectively, a global apocalypse that turns every human and a great deal of animals to stone. It finds interesting ways to explain scientific concepts as the characters work to rebuild a civilization that has deteriorated over thousands of years, and while the characters are a little bombastic, it's a new direction for Shonen manga that worked out well, especially given the success of the anime.
 
Robot x Laserbeam (5.5/10)
 
Unfortunately, this one both started and ended in the same year due to cancellation. It’s about a young, bookish boy nicknamed Robot who finds out he has a talent for golf and proceeds to foster it after some cajoling. Especially for a manga about golf (don’t have much interest in the sport, personally), I was enthralled by it. The series did a great job amping up the tension, but clearly didn’t have much staying power, and its sudden ending really drags down what could have been a solid sports manga.
 
Finishing Manga
 
Fairy Tail (6/10)
 
The series wrapped during this season, and while it wasn't at its best during the time, it's still worth recognizing that its decently long run came to an end here with some solid fights. A series that sets a guild of mages, rather than any individual, as its central cast can do a lot with character dynamics than others that I’ve seen, though I wouldn’t say that it’s anything special in other regards.
 
Anime Movies
 
There were some pretty big movie releases this year, though I can't say I got much experience with them. It certainly wasn't up to the high standards set by 2016, but Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale got a lot of hype, as did the first Fate/stay night: Heaven's Feel movie. That coupled with films for Monogatari, Black Butler, Detective Conan and Doraemon meant that this year was largely just expanding on existing series with large fanbases. I didn’t see any of these.
 
Anime Series
 
Several big releases weren't on my watchlist for this season but deserve some note. Little Witch Academia was a cute and well animated series that dropped here, as did Kemono Friends, a series that was not at all well animated (some really janky 3D rendering) but I'm told had a lot of heart (until the second season, which I've been told did not stack up). Probably the strongest entry that I missed was Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, which is still going strong today and has another season currently airing. On the other end of the spectrum, Hand Shakers is a truly heinous series with awful 3D effects and, I'm told, was poorly written. It's more of a hate watch, which I tend not to do.
 
Saga of Tonya the Evil (8/10)
 
This is the only series I picked up this season, and with an upcoming second season, it's worthy of your time. Basic premise isn't anything special: Isekai series where a guy dies and is reborn in a fantasy world. What separates it are two important factors. First, as the title suggests, this guy (now little girl) is pretty scummy. He wasn't a good person in our world, and she is not a good person in the new one, so no hero complex here. Second, and more interesting, the entity (referred to as god) that transported him and put him in a new body speaks to him and is the central antagonist of the series, yet Tonya is forced to pray to him in order to utilize her full power. The dynamic between them is probably the most interesting facet of the series, especially as Tonya is not the only character that this entity interacts with, and Tonya's aim is to kill him at the first available opportunity. Tonya's interactions with other characters certainly gets interesting, particularly with her trying to gain power within the military following big victories, but the central conflict never changes. One of the better twists on Isekai that I've seen and one with a central story that keeps me intrigued.
 
Spring 2017:
 
I don't think I missed much of note this season. If you want some trashy, incest-y anime, Eromanga Sensei was a nice little dumpster fire from what I've been told. There is also Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, which I've been told is fun for those looking for a nice harem anime with some decent action. It's still going, so clearly they did something right. The anime for Boruto: Naruto Next Generations started during this season. I’ve only caught bits and pieces, but the sakuga is strong, even if the story meanders for a while before getting to what the manga was covering around this time. Finally, Attack on Titan S2 aired after a long hiatus. While this isn’t the most highly regarded of the seasons, the entire series has strong writing and animation. I haven’t caught up on the anime series yet, though I did finish the manga. I’ll address that in my list for 2021.
 
As for what I did see, I picked up quite a bit this season. It was stacked with sequels and sequel series but had a couple of other interesting entries worth discussing. I'll keep most of these short.
 
My Hero Academia S2 (7/10)
 
My Hero Academia has a long-established story that's told well and continues to thrill. There are incredible moments from this one, particularly during the tournament arc that is so characteristic of Shonen series. I wouldn't say that it's a massive standout even among those, but it's certainly got the animation chops, and watching how different Quirks clash in individual fights was enough to keep me interested. I wouldn't say it had the kind of bombastic hero moments of S1, but in terms of character and relationship building, it's a solid entry.
 
Kado: The Right Answer (5/10)
 
A weird anime in a lot of ways, this one's a real thinker with a lot of interesting concepts put into it up front. Basically, two guys on a business trip witness the appearance of a giant cube, which houses a being that seeks to advance the world with new technologies. I thought this was fascinating to watch early on, but it doesn't stick the landing and just ends up a confusing mess.
 
Re: Creators (8/10)
 
A divisive series among anime fans, I rather enjoyed the one. It's a reverse isekai where characters from all manner of manga come into our world and fight it out for various reasons. Really interesting to see how powers from those different worlds clash, particularly as this contains JoJo-esque characters with Stand equivalents, a magical girl, a mecha, and a huge mess of swords. It goes to some really interesting places and I was enthralled throughout, though not everyone agrees on it, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.
 
Summer 2017
 
I missed only one series that I want to go back to watch. Kakegurui - Compulsive Gambler is a series I've heard quite a bit about that keeps you on your toes throughout. Though it's usually problematic when you know the main character will dominate in the end, it’s apparently just fun to experience.
 
Made in Abyss (9.5/10)
 
One of my favorite series of all time, Made in Abyss deserves attention. Basic premise is simple enough: town surrounding a giant abyss that was created by some unknown means and goes incredibly deep. People venture into the abyss to get relics that sell well, some of which have special abilities, though those tend to be incredibly deep in. The main character has a driving urge to venture deep within it to find her mother, who is a seasoned traveler of the abyss, though she doesn't even know if her mother is still alive. She finds her opportunity after a humanoid robot comes out of the abyss, apparently one of the rare relics from its depths. The series contains a lot of thrills, as well as both physical and psychological horror, even though it's animated in a rather cutesy style. Particularly important is the factor that the deeper you go into the abyss, the more dangerous (or, at a certain point, utterly impossible) it is to climb back out again, ensuring that some trips come with a point of no return. It's excellent.
 
Fall 2017
 
A lot more I missed that I'm still planning to go back to here. Land of the Lustrous is an example of exceptionally well-rendered 3D effects in anime, and from what I've heard an intriguing story of action and fantasy involving jewel/human hybrids. Inuyashiki is a Seinen series involving a good deal of body horror that follows on two random people (one a kind old man and the other a teenage psychopath) getting turned into beings that retain their appearance, but are inwardly mechanical and incredibly powerful. Cool premise, disturbing execution from what I've seen. Finally, Black Clover has become a new Shonen juggernaut, and while I haven’t seen much of it, I’ve read a good deal of the manga. The start of the series is a bit infamous for certain… voice acting choices… but its action scenes are strong and, from what I’ve been told, the series takes a lot of big swings as it builds out its world and its anti-magic wielding protagonist.
 
Ancient Magus' Bride (8/10)
 
This is an inspiring bit of fantasy anime involving a young girl who has basically given up on life, sells herself into slavery, and is purchased by a mage who wants to make her his bride. Yeah, it's a pretty problematic start, but it does go to some interesting places, particularly as you watch that young girl become immersed in that fantasy and learn magic for herself. For all its fantastic elements, it's really about the character moments for her and the mage she attends, and watching their growth is fascinating. I felt the series was a little slow and meandering in places, but as a character study, it's very affecting, and with the beautiful animation it is one to watch.
 
Anime of the Year: Another easy choice. Made in Abyss. Honorable mention to Saga of Tonya the Evil.

8 days later

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Anime and Manga in 2018
 
Manga
 
New Manga
Jujutsu Kaisen started this year. I haven’t read enough of the manga to review it, but what I’ve read deserves attention. I like the dynamic art style and frenetic action. I’m also particularly intrigued by how curses work as a power system, as they have a great deal of depth to their characterizations and lead to some fascinating fights.
 
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (8/10)
 
I should have put this under 2016, which is when this actually started, but the first volume of the manga was released in 2018, so I’m putting it here instead. As one of the most popular series in recent memory, there’s not a lot I can say about it that isn’t already very well known. A Shonen title involving sword-wielding fighters utilizing various elemental “breaths” to fight demons, this is a series built on tragedies that inspire its heroes to become strong enough to beat even the strongest of their demonic opponents. The art style is intriguing, though I can’t say it captivated me in the manga (I’ll get to the anime in 2019). The story, though somewhat formulaic, is incredibly well-refined and the fights are consistently strong.
 
Chainsaw Man (8.5/10)
 
This is a bit of an odd one. Putting it in the Shonen category just seems wrong given how many adult themes are at play in this manga, but that is how it’s classified. A story with a protagonist who has incredibly basic desires after living much of his life in the most terrible of conditions, it begins with him gaining the power to produce chainsaws from various parts of his body, which has the adverse effect of harming him in the process. He becomes fused with a Devil and is conscripted into Devil hunting, during which time he is subject to some of the most gruesome fights I’ve seen in any manga. Don’t become attached to anyone, as pretty much anyone in this is dispensable. The artwork is good and the story riveting, if a bit scattershot in places.
 
Finishing Manga
 
Hunter X Hunter (8/10)
 
On the one hand, it’s not fair of me to put this here. The manga is still technically ongoing, and the author is known for long hiatuses lasting over numerous months and even full years. However, it’s never been this long (well over a thousand days at this point), and at this point, there is a more than decent chance that the series will never return. That’s a shame because Hunter X Hunter might have the most well thought out power system in anime and manga and how Nen works is still being shaped by events in the story as the worldbuilding continues. The most recent anime adaptation is worth the watch (I’d give it the same review, despite missing some of the nuance and detail of the manga, as a result of its incredible animation), and the manga up to this point has been continually strong (apart from some nitpicks with the drawing and being overzealous with the explanation of what’s going on, which I think translates better into animation), so it would be a shame for things to end here.
 
Anime Movies
 
Mirai (9/10)
 
It’s not really surprising that I loved this movie. The director also directed Howl’s Moving Castle (one of my top 4 anime films to date), Summer Wars (another one), The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and Wolf Children (all of these are really good). This one channels more of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time with some strange time travel shenanigans (it’s actually rather constrained in this regard) that result from a young boy’s efforts to cope with the arrival of a little sister in his family. It’s a fascinating look into the characters over time with a beautiful fantasy element. The more I’ve thought about it, the more has impressed me.
 
Dragon Ball Super: Broly (7.5/10)
 
It’s Dragon Ball Super. It involves one of the most overpowered characters (Broly) from the previous movies who was never really given any characterization before (they rectify that here, though he’s still not terribly interesting). It brings in the main cast to demonstrate how OP they’ve become in their own rights. It’s got a spectacular fight that is probably one of the best the series has produced for sheer spectacle alone, even if everything else is really just window dressing. It’s not deep, it’s not complex, but damn is it ever fun.
 
Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World: Memory Snow (6.5/10)
 
This one was pretty disappointing. Considering how much I love Re:Zero as a series, this should easily be getting a higher rating from me, since they kept the characters and setting intact and the animation is as good as ever. Instead, I feel like it does the bare minimum to utilize what makes the series interesting and places them in a rather bland plot that never grabbed me. I’d say that both of their OVAs didn’t rise to the high levels set by the series, but this one in particular just left me cold.
 
Anime Series
 
Winter 2018
 
Darling in the Franxx came out this season. There’s a lot going on in this one, from the giant mechs to the… odd way that their male and female pairs fly them, and though I heard that many loved this series for most of its run, its ending goes into solidly strange territory that divides fans. From what I’ve been told, Devilman Crybaby is basically a must watch for its incredible animation, story and characters, though with a good deal of sex and gore, it’s not for everyone. I’ve only seen part of Violet Evergarden, and though it is a bit slow for me, it’s gorgeous and emotionally strong.
 
A Place Further than the Universe (9/10)
 
I’m usually very tepid on slice of life anime. I find that the pacing of these series tends to be slow enough to frustrate and/or bore me, but this one is an outlier. A story about four high school girls who are struggling with various elements of their lives and seek fulfillment of a sort by traveling with an expedition to Antarctica. Beautiful visuals after their arrival certainly help elevate the series, but the girls themselves and how they’re affected both by each other and by the journey is what makes this series so great. Anyone who is watching this series would probably find a solid connection with at least one of them. Personally, each episode kept me riveted, and the further the series went, the more my attachment to the characters grew. Definitely worth a watch.
 
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. (S2) (8/10)
 
This is a ridiculous and hilarious series. The main character is an insanely powerful psychic who has to restrict his own power both to conceal his power from those around him and to avoid causing incredible harm to the world. His friends are all absurd caricatures, his family either exploits him or actively competes with him, and Saiki himself cannot seem to keep himself in control despite his best efforts. To say the least, this series derives its humor largely from his interactions and the absurdities that occur when the main character uses his powers. The animation is nothing to write home about, and the humor of the series is a little same-y after a while, but it’s still just a lot of fun.
 
 
Spring 2018
 
The main one I missed from this season that I want to see is Golden Kamuy. It’s a series about a treasure hunt that integrates itself into history, and from what I’ve heard, has quite the cast of colorful characters and a riveting plot.
 
My Hero Academia S3 (7.5/10)
 
I’ve already talked about this series a couple of times, so I’ll keep this light. While there are some great scenes and a really important bit of plot occurs towards the end of this season, this isn’t really an innovative season for the most part, largely focusing on another attack by the League of Villains. I wouldn’t say that this one stands out from the pack, apart from said ending portion. It does give some good opportunities for certain characters to grow, but it doesn’t do too much on that front.
 
Hinamatsuri (8.5/10)
 
This isn’t the most consistent series in the bunch, but that’s much to its credit in my opinion. Mostly comedic, this series largely focuses on a powerful psychic being who suddenly drops into the life of a successful yakuza, who is essentially forced into caring for her. His life is upended, and as she is followed by others, things get complicated fast. Not every episode is a riot, and some of them are surprisingly emotional, with several of the characters showcasing quite a bit of heart in a series that is often characterized by over-the-top displays of power. While some portions of this series are good enough to rival the best in anime, I wouldn’t say that it’s consistently at that level, whether in comedy or seriousness. In particular, I think the ending to S1 was just abrupt and uninteresting. Still, the good outweighs the middling, and this one’s definitely worth a watch.
 
Megalo Box (7.5/10)
 
I came off of watching this anime thinking that it was one of the best, though I’ve grown a little more tepid with it over time. In a world of boxing where everyone wears mechanical supports to help them punch harder and faster, one man decides to fight without gear to become one of the best boxers of his era. There are some seriously incredible moments in this series, and I love the animation style (they went through a lot of work to make it look similar to the Cowboy Bebop era), but aside from a few big ones, there weren’t many surprises in this one. The choreography is good, though not up to the standards of other big boxing anime like Hajime no Ippo. I also have issues with the ending. Still, a worthwhile watch.
 
Steins;Gate 0 (7.5/10)
 
Steins;Gate is, in my opinion, one of the best anime series ever made. The ways that it works with time travel, the characters that it utilizes, and especially the main character’s struggles throughout the latter half of the series set it apart as an incredible piece of sci fi with a dark edge that never loses sight of what makes its characters great. Steins;Gate 0 takes place in a different timeline than Steins;Gate, though it crosses over with that series. Some of the story beats are still intriguing here, but it’s hampered in a lot of ways. The main character just loses too much of what made him interesting for too much of the series, the new characters do more to hamper the series than elevate it, there’s very little actual time travel for a time travel anime and given that fans of the series know how this one must end, it lacks much of the surprise that the first series had. It’s still worth a watch if you love Steins;Gate because it’s the same world and it’s still interesting.
 
Aggretsuko (8.5/10)
 
Calling this an anime is stretching things a bit. It looks more like Hello Kitty (the studio that makes this is also the one behind Hello Kitty) with its very cutesy animation style, but that’s part of the allure. Despite a lack of adult themes, this one really is meant for adults, as you watch a young red panda woman work at an accounting firm and go through all the drudgeries that come with that life. She gets out her frustrations by singing death metal by herself at a local karaoke bar. Almost every character in this series is fleshed out and three dimensional despite their appearances, and each arc forces the main character to face down some new trial that usually feels organic. The animation style is not for everyone, and not every story is a hit, but I’ve loved this series so far.
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Summer 2018
 
How Not to Summon a Demon Lord started this season, which has all the usual isekai tropes (overpowered protagonist with a harem), but has stuck around for reasons I’m not privy to personally. The first half of Attack on Titan S3 dropped, and considering the strength of that season in general, this is probably among the points when AOT is at its best. Mr. Tonegawa: Middle Management Blues also dropped here, and while I haven’t seen it yet, I’m currently watching Kaiji (the series that this is spun off from) and I’m intrigued to see the high tension gambling from that series from a different perspective.
 
Hanebado! (4.5/10)
 
I wanted to like this series so much more than I did. Badminton isn’t exactly what I’d think of as prime fodder for an anime, but the sakuga in this one (particularly in the early episodes) is breathtaking and it’s what initially drew me in. That being said, I found the story and characters remained rather bland throughout. You’ve essentially got two main girls, one of whom is a straight-up hard worker and the other is a prodigy with a mysterious past, who both compete with one another and improve together. Their relationship, and particularly the latter’s relationship with basically everyone, is complicated and not in ways I found were all that interesting. It’s good for sports action, but little else.
 
Baki (6/10)
 
This series is a bit of an odd one for me, largely because I had no background on it going in. There’s actually a lot of material that precedes this, so I was a little lost when the series relied on that history too much. Still, the story here isn’t too complicated. The main character fought in and won a major underground fighting tournament and is now considered to be among the best fighters in his country. His father is an almost literal monster of a fighter considered to be the strongest in the world. The plot kicks off with a set of incredibly dangerous prisoners all across the world deciding to escape and come to Baki’s country to taste defeat for the first time. The fights are as absurd as the characters’ body proportions, but the choreography is fun and the matchups diverse and interesting. The plot is just a vehicle to get fights going, and I can’t say anyone’s personalities were all that engaging, but if you want some mindless action, you could do far worse.
 
Fall 2018
 
Goblin Slayer was probably the most infamous series of this season due to a rather disquieting scene from its first episode, but I heard it ramps up into a solid action series where the protagonist is trying to kill all the goblins out of a need for revenge. Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is apparently a very intriguing story of relationships with a neat fantasy twist and was one of the most beloved series of this year. Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san is a bit of an oddity with less animation but a lot of oddball comedy resulting from this skull-headed bookstore owner running a bookstore and dealing with all the frustrations that come with it. The humor didn’t really hit with me, but it wasn’t bad.
 
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (8/10)
 
 
I enjoy this series a lot more than I thought I would. It’s another isekai with a protagonist who dies and gets reincarnated in another world, though as the title suggests, his reincarnation is into the body of a lowly slime. He also gets some novel abilities that come with being reincarnated (long story), which end up powering him up quite a bit. There’s just a lot to love about this eclectic world and the characters that live in it, and while the main character has become a bit more overpowered with time than I’d like, I’d say that the first season stays relatively strong throughout, particularly as he forms bonds with other characters and integrates into this world. It’s zany, the early animation is great (later animation is fine, but certainly a step down), and just overall a good time to watch.
 
Sword Art Online: Alicization (5.5/10)
 
Another series that I wanted to like, but has continually disappointed me, this is actually a highlight season compared with the last two or so (despite the score). Sword Art Online went wrong in so many ways that I won’t detail here, but Alicization is a sequel series that is a bit of a reboot, since this is a very different series from its predecessors. The basic premise is that the main character is testing a new immersive video game-esque world, things go wrong, and he’s trapped. I do like how this season straddles the outside and inside world of the game, unlike previous seasons, and I appreciate the marked improvements to the animation. This series also doesn’t focus too much on the main character, which is a relief as he’s a bit of a Gary Stu. However, while I think there’s a lot to like in the early and mid-story, I did not like the antagonist at all, and the ending to this season is chaotic and frustrating. I plan on watching the last two seasons of this show at some point (I’ve heard they get much better), but I can’t say that this did much to revitalize my interest in the series.
 
Anime of the Year: Despite the plethora of anime, I wouldn’t say that any of these make my top list. In terms of the better options among these, while it’s not an easy choice, but A Place Further than the Universe and Mirai are probably the strongest entries, slight edge to the latter if I had to pick.
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Anime and Manga in 2019
 
Manga
 
New Manga
 
Samurai 8: Hachimaruden (5.5/10)
 
This one’s still painful. Written by the author of Naruto, this series was supposed to be his next attempt at a blockbuster, and it unfortunately didn’t go anywhere. The story begins with a young boy who is incredibly sickly and can hardly do anything, evolving into a story about sci-fi samurai who can pull off incredible feats of strength that mirrors the magnitude of some of Naruto’s later fights. I think it had some interesting ideas going for it, but it certainly didn’t have the emotional weight that Naruto carried, nor were its fights nearly as awesome. It’s not a bad entry, but it didn’t stand out like it should have.
 
Kengan Omega (7.5/10)
 
Perhaps I’d rate this higher if I had seen/read Kengan Ashura, as the events of this manga follow directly on those of Ashura. Nonetheless, this series does a good job giving you background in its characters, so if you missed Ashura, you can absolutely still enjoy this. As far as fighting anime/manga go, this is my favorite to date. It feels more real than Baki while still enjoying some of the dynamics of that series in terms of superhuman feats. It showcases a broad range of fighting styles, interesting characters with dynamic interactions, and nail-biting fights. I can’t say I’m too into the main character, who seems like more of an audience surrogate at this point in the story, but the author clearly knew that the focus should be on the veterans and put it there eventually. I think this series can go far, so it’s worth getting in on it now.
 
Finishing Manga
 
Food Wars ended during this time, and though I did not read it, I am aware that the quality of this series remained high throughout much of its run time but dragged during this last arc. I won’t be reviewing it here, though I will note that this was one of the few series of Shonen that focused on something distinct from actual battle or sports, and I think it’s pretty clear that it was successful.
 
Anime Movies
 
Weathering with You came out this year, and I’m still meaning to see it. It’s by the same people who made Your Name, and from what I’ve heard, it brings a lot of that same heart and solid animation.
 
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Resurrection (7/10)
 
Code Geass is an incredible series (not without its flaws) with one of the best endings in anime. The story is investing, with an ostracized Britanian (basically British) royal who fights back against his family to secure independence for Japan and other colonies of the massive empire. Unfortunately, that ending automatically sets this movie up for failure, since it has to begin by reconning some of the most impactful elements of that finale and attempt to create a strong ending of its own. There are certainly some fun moments in this and it’s good to see the main character back in his element, playing 4D chess on the battlefield with his Geass (an eye-based ability that grants him the to command others), but it’s both an unnecessary addition and a far weaker entry than anything in the series. Granted, with all the same characters playing a role, it’s hard not to enjoy the ride all the same.
 
KonoSuba: God's Blessing on this Wonderful World! Legend of Crimson (9/10)
 
I missed reviewing the second season of this anime back in 2017 (would give that a slightly weaker rating of 8/10), but the series wasn’t as strong in its second outing as in its first, chiefly because it presented nothing new. It was still hilarious, but it lacked the punch of the original season. This movie brought it back in a big way. The story beats and the additional characters really ramp this one up to new heights, and while some of the jokes are a bit cringey for various reasons, I think that this is KonoSuba’s strongest entry since the first season ended. Well worth the watch.
 
Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World: The Frozen Bond (7.5/10)
 
Another OVA for Re:Zero, this one focuses on Emilia, getting into some of her history and filling in gaps that the series leaves open. That’s part of the reason why this rate higher than Memory Snow, as I think it does more to bolster the series than that one did. It’s also just more interesting to watch, since elements that even the show has only hinted at get some play in here. That being said, the main character of the show is barely present here, the dynamics between its many characters is absent, and Emilia and Puck can only carry the show so far on their own. It has some strong emotional moments and a great fight, but it still doesn’t rise to anywhere near the level of the series.
 
Anime Series
 
Winter 2019
 
The Rising of the Shield Hero started during this time, another big isekai with a handful of unique elements, mainly involving betrayal and the titular hero’s use of a shield as his main weapon. Heard it’s good, second season is airing now.
 
Dororo (7.5/10)
 
I liked a lot of this series. It’s built on a premise of the main character’s father being an absolute dick to him in the worst way possible: sacrificing his child, piece by piece, to demons to ensure the prosperity of his town. And when I say “piece by piece”, I mean they take everything from him until all he has left as an infant is exposed muscle and bone – no hands, no feet, no skin, eyes, hearing, the capacity to speak, even a sense of touch. With the help of a man who is proficient in making prosthetics, he grows up and starts a revenge mission to end as many demons as possible to retrieve these parts of himself. The fights are gory and well-choreographed (how he fights is particularly fascinating to watch), the initial motivation makes sense, and it’s particularly interesting to see who he connects to in his travels. It doesn’t end as well as I was hoping, as I think the series loses sight of what made it so interesting in order to flesh out antagonists who are just not that appealing, but I did still enjoy the ride.
 
Mob Psycho 100 (S2) (10/10)
 
I won’t be giving out many 10’s, but this is something special. The first season was strong, but the second is truly awe-inspiring. The growth of the main character and his mentor throughout this season is incredible, the challenges they face loom ever larger, and the themes of the series really get their chance to shine in this second season, especially as the emotional moments come out in force. Sakuga never looked so good as it does with this style of animation. If you felt that the first season was slow, as I did in parts, this one sets a much brisker pace without being overwhelming.
 
The Promised Neverland (9/10)
 
I’ll have a good deal to say on the second season when we get there, but the first season of The Promised Neverland is incredible. It can be a little slow in places and the animation isn’t good for everyone, but this has one of the most investing conflicts I’ve seen in anime. I won’t spoil anything here as one of the biggest twists happens in the very first episode, but if you like mystery thrillers with lots of mind games, this is absolutely worth your time.
 
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War (8/10)
 
This is a series about two brilliant high school characters who unequivocally refuse to be the first to express their love to one another. Yes, they’re both infatuated, and yes, there are lots of contrivances in this one, but that’s the beauty of it. They each scheme to get the other to give something away, either they fail or other characters get in the way, hijinks ensue. My favorite aspect to the whole thing is the narrator, who treats every single thing that happens as though it’s worthy of the most serious and detailed analysis. We get to spend a lot of time with our main duo, and while I appreciate what we learn of them, this season leaves the other characters relatively two-dimensional, a problem that I think the second season goes a long way towards fixing. Nonetheless, even in this season, there are some solid emotional moments with lots of levity.
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Spring 2019
 
Lots came out this season that are still on my watch list. Fruits Basket, a classic slice of life anime that many fans are fanatical about, got a reboot with modern animation. Isekai Quartet came out, which is a crossover between Overlord, Saga of Tanya the Evil, KonoSuba and Re:Zero. I haven’t seen Overlord, but I think I’d enjoy just seeing how the chibi versions of these characters interact. Carole & Tuesday is a beautiful music-based anime that looks to be a lot of fun. Finally, Attack on Titan dropped the second half of Season 3, and from what I’ve heard and read from the manga, this is some of the best the anime has to offer.
 
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (9/10)
 
I’ve already spoken about this series regarding the manga, but the anime takes it up a couple of notches. Whereas I found that the drawing for the manga was hit and miss, nothing about the anime is a miss. It’s gorgeous, which isn’t surprising when it’s been animated by Ufotable (also behind much of the modern Fate series). The art style used when the characters employ their abilities is some of the best I’ve seen in anime. The voice acting is consistently great, but the music truly elevates this series as it has one of the best OPs I’ve seen in a long time. Definitely worthwhile.
 
One-Punch Man (S2) (7/10)
 
Considering how fond I was of the first season, I expected more from this one. Changing studios meant a drop in visual quality, the arcs just weren’t as much fun, and while we got introduced to one of the better modern antagonists in Garou, nothing else really stood out from this season. If you were already into it from S1, this is a fine addition with fun characters and some solid action, but it’s a couple of steps down from the series’ heights.
 
Summer 2019
 
Kengan Ashura came out this summer, and while it is not the best example of CGI anime, it’s high up on the list. Haven’t seen anything more than a few fights, but the choreography looks great and the quality is up there.
 
Aggretsuko (S2) (8/10)
 
Suffice it to say that, while I felt this was not as good of a season as the first, I appreciated the direction it took. Every season puts the main character in a new, uncomfortable place, and I felt that this one was appropriate. It’s got some pacing issues, but still worth the watch.
 
Dr. Stone (7.5/10)
 
Another big anime from this year, Dr. Stone has gotten a lot of hype for what is a solid anime about rebuilding the world from scratch. Both the anime and manga look great, so I can’t say that the anime has done anything to elevate itself over the source material, but it retains its strength.
 
Fire Force (7.5/10)
 
Fire Force is a new Shonen series with a good deal of polish. It took me a while to get invested, and while the visuals of the anime definitely pop, I think the manga is pretty equally beautiful. Nothing else to say.
 
Vinland Saga (9.5/10)
 
Took me a while to get back to this one, but it was well worth the watch. A bit of historical fiction set in the times of Vikings, this is a series about big bombastic battles with a lot of introspection and terrible decisions in between. Not everyone liked the main character, but for a child who was raised in the environment in which he ended up, it makes sense to me. Never thought I’d consider the main antagonist to be one of the best characters in anime at the start, but he does not disappoint. No one in this show does. It’s a bit slow, covering what is basically the prologue to the entire series, but I was only rarely bored as the series progressed.
 
Fall 2019
 
Can’t say I missed anything that particularly interested me, though there’s an anime called No Guns Life with a protagonist who has a gun for a head… so there’s that.
 
Ascendance of a Bookworm (7.5/10)
 
It took me a while to get back to this one, too, and I’d be hearing some amazing things about it. I can’t say it lived up to the hype, but it’s a solid series nonetheless. Another isekai, this one involves a young woman dying and effectively replacing a young girl in a different world, one where access to reading and writing is minimal. That’s a big problem for her because reading is all she ever wants to do. So, she responds by vowing to bring reading and writing to this world, despite her family being in poverty and the resultant barriers that imposes. I do like the fact that this series does more to confront her being isekai’d than most others do, and the twists and turns she takes in her efforts are intriguing. That being said, it’s a slow series and the animation is only decent. It’s a series that lives and dies based on your interest in her efforts and personality, and while I was here for it, I wasn’t over the moon about it.
 
Babylon (4/10)
 
Really disappointing. It’s a political/crime thriller involving the intriguing hook of characters committing suicide for apparently no reason, and the effort to discover what’s going on before the problem becomes too widespread. There’s a lot of intrigue in this one, and I was here for it over much of the series run. I think the early episodes did a lot to fan those flames. However, the series becomes a muddled mess by the end, often being graphic for no apparent reason, and none of the reveals struck me as powerful or interesting. It all just seemed to wash out in the end.
 
Beastars (7.5/10)
 
I’ve had a lot of mixed feelings about this series. It features some of the best CGI in any anime, the main character is fascinating and many of the side characters are intriguing as well. I like many of the central struggles he and the others face. The OP is legitimately one of the best ever made, with an awesome song and a novel style of animation for anime. However, I also feel as though the story doesn’t know what it wants to be. We start off with a murder mystery that never gets resolved and barely gets addressed. We have a long-running love story with many participants that only seems interested in pushing characters into rockier territory rather than settling anything. And much of the end is characterized by action set pieces that, while strong, seem off-kilter compared with the rest of the series. I like enough of what this series does right to recommend it, but the narrative just doesn’t work for me.
 
My Hero Academia (S4) (7/10)
 
Onto season 4. There isn’t much to say here. There’s a new villain who largely detracts from the central story. There are plenty of interesting fights that happen, with one of the best moments in the series so far contained to this season (though I don’t think the anime did it justice). It introduces some really important elements for later seasons but doesn’t really do much aside from that to progress the story. It’s good if you’re looking for some solid fights, less so if you want to see progression or improvement from previous seasons.
 
Anime of the Year: Mob Psycho 100 (S2). In terms of new series, Vinland Saga was the strongest.

14 days later

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Anime and Manga in 2020
 
Manga
 
Didn’t pick up anything new this season. Hinamatsuri and Beastars ended their runs during this year, and though I didn’t read either one, their first seasons as anime were both solid enough to recommend them.
 
Anime Movies
 
Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul (9.5/10)
 
I’ve already talked about my love for this series. The slow-building dread that the series evokes is part of what makes it so affecting. This movie manages to ratchet up the tension even further, though the threat goes from the unknown, supernatural creatures around them to a consistent threat from another human, one that our heroes consistently struggle to comprehend. This movie ratchets up the fights to a whole new level with a villain that should rate as one of the best in any series. Like the series, this is an emotionally draining watch that will wreck you at times, but it’s worth every second.
 
Burn the Witch (8/10)
 
This is produced by Tite Kubo, the man behind Bleach, and despite my issues with that series, I am here for this one. For those who don’t know, both stories take place in the same world, except this one incorporates a distinct branch of the supernatural world set in London and particularly in the hidden side of the city, referred to as Reverse London. It has some of the trappings of Bleach, but deals less in the afterlife and more in dragons of all shapes and sizes, utilizing similar magic borne out of very different sources than those found in bleach. The animation looks like it was ramped up to its absolute best and the story is kinetic. I don’t find myself connecting with the characters and I’m not seeing a strong plot thread forming yet, but it is young yet, and I’m excited with what else will be produced for it.
 
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train (9/10)
 
Another series with a very solid movie entry from this year, this one builds directly on the story of the series and easily puts on one of the best fights in anime, especially in terms of how it is animated. It’s a good choice for arcs to make into a movie, and while I find that it eclipses the series in terms of grandeur, it does so with a movie budget, which automatically gives it a leg up. It’s a worthy follow-up that has me excited for the second season of this show.

Anime Series

Winter 2020
 
Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story (5.5/10)
 
I wanted to like this series so badly. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is by far my favorite magical girl anime and an excellently written story with great animation, awesome fights, and deep and well-written characters, and a story that is incredibly riveting (I’d give it a 9/10). This side story includes some of those characters, but strips out some of their best elements, introduces new characters that simply don’t live up to their forebears, and has a story that starts out interesting, but ends up far too convoluted. It still has the solid animation and some solid fights, but this just adds to a story that didn’t need nor benefit from the additions. It’s got enough of the previous series to keep it in slightly in the positive, but that’s about it.
 
Id: Invaded (7/10)
 
This anime has an incredible hook. A detective is investigating a murder and doing so by plunging into the mind of their victim. That wouldn’t differentiate it by itself, but for two intriguing elements. One, the main character is a detective who apparently has a checkered past of his own and is basically conscripted into doing this. Two, he forgets who he is and what he is doing every time he enters another person’s mind, which means that every time he enters a new mind, he has to first puzzle out what his goal is and determine his basic abilities within that mindscape. Each mind is very different and comes with its own eccentricities, which makes each instance of it diverse and intriguing. I feel like continuing with this in an episodic manner could have worked very well, but the story being told here tries to go much deeper, and in doing so, it falls into the Inception hole and gets very convoluted, introducing elements that left me scratching my head through the finale. There was a lot of strong potential here that got delivered on in part, but I think their ambitions were a bit too big for this series.
 
Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! (9/10)
 
I’ve said before that I’m not a big fan of slice of life anime, but I have a couple of exceptions, and this is one of them. It’s a story about three young girls who want to make an anime and start a club to do so. Each fulfills a different role in that process – a director and background designer, a character artist and animator, and a ruthless businesswoman. All of them are amazing, though particularly the last is one of the best written characters I’ve seen in a while. They face all kinds of obstacles and difficulties getting their films produced, but that struggle is only part of what makes this show great. The kinetic animation, which includes animations depicting the imaginations of its characters, is breathtaking despite the characters being rather simple. The results of their work are inspiring and awesome, but you get to see them build each piece from scratch, including the eventual addition of sound editing. If you’re interested in the process of producing anime, this is a must watch, but for everyone else, it’s just a great time all around.
 
Bofuri (7.5/10)
 
I love this show. It’s stupid fun. A young girl decides to join up for a VR RPG game with her friend and has no clue how she should create a character. So, she creates a character with maxed defense as its sole stat. Can’t move fast, can barely attack, just a meat shield. And, apparently, no one’s ever done this before, which means that what happens as she goes out into this world is untested by game devs and players alike. Long story short, she proceeds to unintentionally break the game and win hard when she knows next to nothing about it. She also becomes really good at just gathering other people around her and inspiring them to become extra broken in their own ways. It does not make a lot of sense at times, and the main character is a bit of a Mary Sue, but damn is it ever a fun ride. Can’t wait for the next season.
 
Dorohedoro (8/10)
 
To put it simply, this show is an acid trip. From its OP to its ED, there’s little about this show that you’re meant to make sense of, and that’s part of the fun. The main character is a man with a lizard head who is somehow immune to magic. He’s also got a sorcerer in his mouth that is looking for the man who turned his head into said lizard. This world has many sorcerers who come to the non-magical world to screw with the people there and either kill them or turn them into something gruesome, so our MC aims to kill a lot of them and get his head turned back to normal, working with a female partner who kicks all kinds of ass. It’s a violent melee from there forward, and so much of it doesn’t make sense, but I’m hooked on the slick CG animation, awesome fights, and strange, surreal story.
 
Scissor 7 (S1) (8.5/10)
 
Actually came out in 2018, but since its first release on Netflix was in 2020, I’m doing it here. Scissor 7 is one of the truly great comedy anime (technically South Korean, but still) out there, and it’s just a lot of fun. You have a hairdresser wielding psychically-controlled scissors in his side job as an assassin, which he is both terrible at doing and somehow manages to survive all kinds of ridiculous fights anyway. His partner is a talking blue chicken with sunglasses, he meets all kinds of crazy people from his town and among the other assassins as the seasons go on, and it’s just a comedy powerhouse throughout with some real heart at the center of these characters. A distinct animation style and pretty fun fight scenes help elevate it, even if it isn’t the sharpest in either department. Well worth the watch.

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Spring 2020
 
Tower of God (7.5/10)
 
Based on a manhua (Chinese origin), this series kicked off a set of three similarly Manua-derived series that drew from some of the stronger source material around to introduce anime audiences to something new. This is also the most effective of the three (I’ll talk about one of the others later), though I would say that all of them fell short of creating strong adaptations. A story about a young boy who is trying to climb a tower to find a girl who abandoned him to climb it herself and get her wish, this story has a lot going for it, including a very intriguing power system of which I have still only scratched the surface. A few characters in the central cast get some depth, though our main character continues to be a bit of a blank slate. There’s a lot of intrigue here, including a mess of side plots that never get fully disentangled. The series looks incredible, and as a starting point, this looks pretty good, even if it remains largely confusing. I’m interested enough to see more.
 
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! (7/10)
 
Harem anime have always come off as a little samey to me: main character has some quirk or eccentricity that somehow makes them very attractive to a large set of characters, usually of the opposite sex, and adventures are had. Tenchi Muyo was my first foray into harems (also, one of the progenitors of the genre in anime) and came with a decent sci-fi hook that kept me watching. To its credit, this series does quite a bit to change up the formula, making its central character female with both male and female members of her harem. She’s also utterly clueless about having formed said harem, focused as she is on avoiding death flags. See, this is also an isekai, and the MC has been reincarnated as the villain in her favorite dating sim, so she knows that her character has a lot of bad endings that she must avoid. It’s cute and fun, though despite the novel elements, I can’t say it was my cup of tea.
 
Ascendance of a Bookworm (S2) (7.5/10)
 
Season 2 is roughly as solid as the first, though the stakes are higher. That doesn’t really elevate the series, though. I felt that this series was at its best when the problems that its main character was addressing were more personal. Still, it doesn’t get worse, so it gets the same score for me.
 
BNA: Brand New Animal (7/10)
 
Trigger always delivers on the over-the-top animation, but can sometimes fall short on the story and characters. That’s the case here. In a world like our own with humans and humanoid animals, this story focuses on a human-turned tanuki beastman who becomes embroiled in an investigation run by a powerful wolf beastman. When fights are happening, their gorgeous and colorful. The rest of the story is really just a vehicle to get to those, and while some elements of that journey are interesting, the story moves too quickly to linger on them and give them time to breathe. Still, worth the watch if only for the spectacle.
 
Appare-Ranman! (8/10)
 
A young, brash inventor and his samurai protector find themselves on a journey from Japan to the US, where they quickly become locked into a cross-country race with echoes of Wacky Races. A series of outlandish cars and their even more outlandish drivers take to the road in a cutthroat journey to win a small fortune and become immortalized. This series breaks a lot of conventions in its characters, and manages a kinetic and interesting story that builds to a solid climax. I don’t think it delivers quite as well as it could have, especially as the race takes several detours, but in many ways, it’s all the better for it.
 
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War (S2) (8.5/10)
 
Season 2 of this show is even stronger than the first. It really takes the opportunity to dig into more of its characters and build the dynamics between the main characters in a way that both makes their relationship stronger and doesn’t spoil the basic premise of the first season. In particular, the story behind Ishigami, a character with relatively little development in the first season, is truly affecting. It sets this season slightly higher than the original in my book.
 
Kakushigoto: My Dad's Secret Ambition (8/10)
 
A simultaneously heartwarming and hilarious series about a doting father who draws and writes a racy manga, but absolutely refuses to let his daughter find out what he’s actually doing. The lengths he goes to in order to keep his profession secret from his daughter are the central comedic element, while the heart can be found in its time jumps, moving back and forth between a period when his daughter is young and none the wiser, and one where she is older and has been made aware of his work. A lot has happened between these two times and the show slowly rolls out the details in successive episodes. It breaks enough conventions to stand on its own, and while it can be a bit slow at times, its narrative and characters are solid enough to push it over the average.
 
Scissor 7 (S2) (8.5/10)
 
Season 2 is just as fun as the first while upping the stakes. A fun ride, similar enough to the first season that it gets the same rating.
 
Summer 2020
 
Fire Force (S2) (7.5/10)
 
Pretty consistent with season 1, though I’ll admit that this started growing on me more during this season. I wouldn’t say that that has much to do with the season itself, but rather with the collective strength of the two seasons yielding greater attachments to the characters. It’s still not as strong on that front as other shonen series, but it remains relatively solid.
 
The Misfit of Demon King Academy (7.5/10)
 
Like Bofuri, this series is pure fun, though it actually has more in common with One Punch Man. Our main character is the reincarnated Demon King (2000 years post-death), born to effusively loving parents and saying his own name as his first words literally seconds after his birth. He proceeds to grow into his old self, an insanely overpowered character, within a very short timeframe and begins to try to reclaim his former title by going through the Demon King Academy. His overpowered abilities aside, what sets this series apart is intrigue, as the characters appear to remember a different Demon King. It’s a ridiculous series that just gets more ridiculous as it goes on, but that’s the fun of it.
 
The God of High School (6/10)
 
The second in the series of manhua to be adapted into an anime, this one takes a step up in the action, but a step down in every other department. A tournament is being held to determine who is the strongest high schooler, and our main characters are there to prove that they can hang with the best. Tournament arcs are a dime a dozen, and while the fights are beautifully done in most instances, there’s very little to the story here. There are supernatural elements that are poorly explained, but produce some incredible effects, but not a lot to grab onto in terms of explaining how they work. I don’t mind a fun, stupid series, but this one seems like it wants to be more, it just doesn’t have much to this first season. From what I’ve heard, the arc was rushed, which might explain why even I felt like something was missing from what we got. It’s fun, but that’s about it.
 
Deca-Dence (8/10)
 
I can’t speak to what sets this one a bit above the rest without getting into spoilers. Suffice it to say that there’s a substantial twist early in the series. The story is about a main character who has a mechanical arm due to some trauma she suffered early in life who is stuck cleaning the outside of the Deca-Dence, a large vehicle on which humanity lives and barely gets by. She wants to join a highly active group that protects this base, but continually gets rejected due to her disability. The fighting in this series is similar to Attack on Titan with a few caveats as they fight off monsters both big and small (with the bigger ones getting punched by Deca-Dence with some awesome animation behind it). Much of this reads as derivative, but it goes to some intriguing places after the twist that elevate the series just a bit. Some aspects of how the series wrapped don’t sit well with me, but that doesn’t do much to take away from one of the more innovative series I’ve seen this year.
 
Great Pretender (9/10)
 
As anime heist series go, I have been somewhat familiar with Lupin III, but that’s about it. That is a fun series, but it’s largely played for laughs and characters that are largely stereotypical. The Great Pretender does an excellent job making its characters three dimensional, turning each arc in this tense and gripping series into a means of in-depth introspection for one or more of the main cast. The series has levity, but it’s mainly about trying to execute on a plan, hitting roadblocks, and somehow managing to work their magic to get through. The fact that you know they will likely succeed in the end doesn’t make the twists and turns of the series any less affecting, and while it can be somewhat frustrating to see things from the perspective of the largely naïve main character, it’s simply masterful.
 
Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World (S2, pt. 1) (10/10)
 
This is how you do a sequel season. There are so many elements of this half of the second season that make it amazing, but what truly grounds it is the development of its main character. For a character about whom I was tepid at best after the first season, the way this season manages to make him engaging is nothing short of superb, and especially as it is only the first half of the season, it’s incredible what they managed to do.
 
Baki (S2) (6/10)
 
I don’t feel like this series changes in ways that really improve or hurt it. You’re here for the fight scenes, and their reasons for why these fights happen are relatively unimportant. If you like the martial arts of the first season, you’ll like this one. If you don’t, it adds nothing substantial.

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Fall 2020
 
Got a few from this season that I missed and still want to see, though I’ll start by mentioning that Haikyu!! Finished its TV run in this season, an incredibly long run for a sports anime and, from what I’ve heard, a solid series. Attack on Titan also started its final season with a new studio with… mixed results. Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai also came out and, as it’s based on Akira Toriyama’s acclaimed work that is not Dragon Ball, it had a tremendous amount of hype that I’ve heard it fully met. Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon started in this season, a sequel series to the classic Inuyasha. I watched the entire original series and though I have my issues with it, I’d like to revisit it through this lens, which largely focuses on the children of the original cast. Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle aired this season and just sounds like a good time with a young girl kidnapped and imprisoned by the Demon King, and that girl subsequently doing everything she can to make life hell for the denizens of the castle in her attempt to get a good night sleep. TONIKAWA: Over the Moon For You seems like a cute romantic story between a young girl and boy who agree to get married shortly after he is hit by a truck and he confesses his love to her for the first time. It sounds absurd, but I’ve heard it is actually quite heartwarming.
 
Jujutsu Kaisen (9/10)
 
Like Demon Slayer, this series burst onto the scene with massive hype and did not disappoint. The main character is physically stronger and faster than any normal human should be, but quickly finds himself outmatched when he comes into contact with a cursed object and a Curse, monstrous spiritual beings who are driven to harm humans. The animation goes in a very different direction than Demon Slayer but is no less polished and awesome, and its power system is fascinating given the number and range of abilities on display. The story is still in its infancy, but the fights are already breathtaking and, especially when Satoru Gojo appears on the scene, practically break reality. This will be a series to watch going forward.
 
Aggretsuko (S3) (8.5/10)
 
Not much to add here. Some aspects of this season are better than anything that came before, but I’d say that this season is more variable, both in the positive and negative direction, than its predecessors. It took more risks, which I respect, but there are a lot more dynamics to it that both succeed and fail at times.
 
Anime of the Year: The number of choices increased dramatically this year, so I had a hard time picking. Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World (S2, pt. 1) is the best sequel series. Great PretenderJujutsu Kaisen and Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! were all fantastic, though I give the slight edge to the latter for new series. As for movies, Made in Abyss: Dawn of the Deep Soul is incredible.

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Going to space the rest of these out a little, given that the current season is ongoing and I don't want to post a retrospective on it without having finished those shows.

I'll focus on manga this week, including addressing some of the endings that I missed. I'll briefly cover movies as well, though I haven't seen any new movies this year and likely won't.

Manga and Anime Movies in 2021

Finishing Manga

Dorohedoro (finished in 2018)

I haven't actually finished this one, though I'm working my way through it. The art style for the manga doesn't pop quite as well as the CGI from the anime, but it's just as insane and still a great time.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (finished in 2020)

I don't have much to add here from my earlier review of this manga. Suffice it to say that it ended in solid fashion and that I appreciated what it brought to the table at every step. It's probably one of the most consistently strong shonen series out there, from start to finish.

Beastars (finished in 2020)

Haven't finished this one, either, though I know quite a few people who sing its praises. Given how the anime has gone, this is probably worth the read, though the sharp turns that the series takes from season to season may not bode well for its consistent quality.

Attack on Titan (finished in 2021, 9/10)

The only manga here that's getting reviewed (because it's the only one I've both finished and not previously reviewed), this series should stand as one of the best manga runs around. Having started back in 2009, the fact that this long-running manga not only remained relevant, but heated up over its long run is a testament to just how strong it was. I’ve only mentioned the anime so far, but most of my experience with the series has been with the manga, and it is a series that lives up to the hype. The story of a human civilization built inside a series of walls being attacked by humanoid titans becomes so much more than just a story of survival and revenge, and though its lead character certainly embodies the latter, his growth throughout the story is truly exceptional. It’s not a perfect series, particularly given some controversy over its ending, but the highs of this series are absolutely peak shonen (including what might be the best twist in anime/manga history) and well worth the experience.

Anime Movies

Several big ones have either already dropped or will drop this year. The long-running action comedy anime Gintama has a movie called Gintama: The Final (it remains to be seen whether this will actually be the final movie). I'm only familiar with the series in passing, though I do know that its best action is solid enough to rank among the best fights in anime and that its sense of humor is largely parody-based, so if I had the time to run through it, it would probably be my jam. The Evangelion series and movies have dropped quite a few endings, but Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time is its most recent entry. It's a classic series that I still haven't watched, and though I know there's a lot of controversy over previous endings, this one is well-rated. Finally, Jujutsu Kaisen has a movie coming out late in the year called Jujutsu Kaisen 0 the Movie, which I am absolutely looking forward to watching. Seems like a bit of a prequel taking place with a different central character, which should be a blast.


Over the next few weeks, I'll post the anime from the previous three seasons, though as most of the ongoing series will not be finished for quite a few weeks after that, I'll probably use this opportunity to look at more classic series and movies. I've already posted a favorites list, but a deep dive into why I love those series will probably be where I go first (my top lists have changed a bit since I posted them). I'm also thinking of a Studio Ghibli retrospective, even though I'm still well short of watching them all (they have 21 films and I'm still missing 8, some of which I have no interest in watching). Classic anime movies might make it in as well (e.g. Akira, Metropolis, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time).

8 days later

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Anime in 2021
 
Anime Series
 
Winter 2021
 
Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation (Pt. 1) came out this season, and I still mean to catch up on it because it looks like a solid isekai with great animation. Its source material is actually the progenitor for much of modern isekai, and though it stretches the line with its main character being a massive pervert of a character, I’ve heard good things about his development. Log Horizon: Destruction of the Round Table also came out this season and I’m a pretty big fan of the previous seasons (minus the one right before this, which was far too slow and drawn out for my liking). Another gaming isekai where players are stuck in the game, this one just focuses on the actual playing of it and on building a life in the game world, and it does pretty great with all of it. Planning to get to this ASAP.
 
The Promised Neverland (S2) (3/10)
 
I haven’t seen the whole season and I do not intend to do so. Based on what I have watched and know about what it does, this season would hit a low across the years I’ve covered so far. I probably shouldn’t be this harsh, though this comes after multiple considerations. First, there is a clear and incredibly jarring drop in quality between this season and the first. By nature of how events change between the two seasons, there must be a shift, but for a series that was based on such intensely effective scares and psychological games, it loses more than a few steps in the transition. And that’s not to mention the way that this season ends, which eschews the deliberate, carefully arranged story-telling for something that can only be described as a rushed mess. Second, as someone who read the manga, what they left out and replaced is glaring. Multiple arcs, including two of the best portions of the manga, were left out entirely. Major characters were excised. The few bones they threw to fans were little more than colored in manga panels taken completely out of context and displayed in a slide show in the last episode.

Some of the shows I’ve covered previously on this list were very disappointing, but this one actually hurts. If it wasn’t for my issues with its adaptation from the manga, it would just be frustrating to see it waste its concepts, and I would probably put it at 4 or 4.5. I can’t be that kind to it.
 
So I'm a Spider, So What? (7.5/10)
 
This series set a new bar for CGI action that, by itself, makes it deserving of attention. In yet another isekai series with a twist (one rather similar to that of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime), the main character reincarnates in a fantasy world as a spider. Part of what separates this series from the aforementioned comparison is that, unlike Rimiru Tempest of Slime fame, the MC of Spider has to work very hard to improve her abilities and is almost constantly under threat of early death. Pretty much anything involving her in this series is incredible, whether it’s watching her struggle against overwhelming odds or learning to use her new abilities. What knocks this back a step or two is the other twist: she isn’t the only one who got sent to this fantasy world, but everyone else is a pretty boring stock character. Much of the story revolves around these other characters, and I just couldn’t get into them at all. This series is incredible to watch in so many places, more so than Slime, but its lows are also lower, so on the whole, it balances out to being a bit lower in quality.
 
Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World (S2, Pt. 2) (8.5/10)
 
This series is a bit of a roller coaster, but it remains on a decent high, even if it cannot reach the dizzying heights of the first half of this season. There’s some real catharsis in this season that I’ve been wanting for a while, and managed to do something similar to the first half, in that one of the lead characters I wasn’t fond of (in this case, Emilia) became far more likeable without any huge absurdities. It’s not quite as good a job as they did with Subaru, but that’s not a huge slight against it. I can’t explain why it’s lower without spoiling some elements of what happens this season, but it’s still more than worthwhile.
 
Beastars (S2) (8/10)
 
This season takes a turn into very distinct territory throughout, and while I appreciate the new direction, I don’t like that this season largely eschewed what came from the previous one. Not going to spoil anything here, either, but it’s a more consistent season with a focus on the very first event of the previous season: a friend of the main character was devoured by someone. Given that the previous season largely ignored this plot point, it’s warranted to revisit it, and the directions that it took its central cast were more interesting, so it gets a slight leg up on the previous season, even if some elements don’t end up working for me.
 
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (S2, Pt. 1) (8.5/10)
 
This season is an improvement with regards to the stakes being raised and the fights, including putting its main character at substantial risk. That elevates it slightly over the previous season, though that’s counterbalanced by a slight dip in visual quality and a weaker overall narrative.
 
 
Dr. Stone: Stone Wars (8/10)
 
Another anime that takes a pretty substantial turn, I liked the direction that this took as well. I think the main character is at his best when pitted against someone, makes for a more dynamic series, and though this isn’t the best instance of it (that will come later), I did enjoy this more than the first season.

14 days later

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Skipped a week, but now I'm back with the next two seasons.

Spring 2021
 
There's a lot from this season to be psyched about, though not all of it is interesting to me, personally. Shaman King, for instance, was a pretty big show back when I was growing up that I had very little interest in watching, but it got a fresh release this season and looks like a good time, especially for fans of the original series. Eden’s Zero also looks good, coming from the same creator as Fairy Tail. I tried watching The Slime Diaries: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime and dropped it a few episodes in. It’s a cutesy series of side stories from the original series, inoffensive but pretty boring. Most interesting to me is Vivy: Fluorite Eye's Song, which tells the story of an AI who is visited by a future AI and tasked with fixing various points leading up to that future, and thus takes place over several decades. Well-regarded, it seems worth the watch. Also, Megalo Box got a second season in Nomad, and from what I’ve heard it’s a solid addition to the series, if quite a bit darker.
 
My Hero Academia (season 5) (7.5/10)
 
This season is the first so far to do something truly innovative that I won’t spoil here. Suffice it to say that much of the season is really more of an exercise in teamwork within a controlled setting (which can be fun, but doesn’t have many standout moments) as well as an interesting reveal about the central quirk of the series, though that wouldn’t rise above the other seasons. It’s the last several episodes, where the focus is taken off of our main cast, that do raise this season a bit higher than the others. If it wasn’t for the short run of those elements, this season might even rate an 8.
 
Those Snow White Notes (7/10)
 
This was my first time taking in a music-based anime and I enjoyed the experience, even if I wasn’t overwhelmed by it. A young prodigy shamisen player loses his grandfather, who was his mentor and idol in playing the instrument and decides to uproot himself from his small town life and move to a nearby city to somehow find a reason to play again. The music is beautiful and, I think, at its best when the main character is truly into it. I mostly just enjoyed hearing him play, as well as hearing how he compared with similarly strong musicians. Watching him advance and, in some cases, retreat into himself is intriguing, if cut a bit short by the length of the series. His interactions with other players, particularly those who are learning alongside him, are probably some of the best parts of the series. I wasn’t particularly captivated by many of the events of the series or the machinations behind the scenes, but I think a season 2 for this could be amazing if it effectively builds on this foundation.
 
Odd Taxi (9.5/10)
 
This is peak slice of life, and it comes in the strangest of packages. An anthropomorphic walrus drives a taxi around a city full of anthropomorphic animals, though unlike Beastars, those aspects of their characters seem little noticed. The story and dialogue play out like a Tarantino movie with lots of players and plots, often with lots of side bar conversations that move rapidly. It’s tense and gripping when it wants to be but slows down to give you solid character moments and interactions that weigh heavily. Everything about this series is just so meticulously well crafted. It’s a highlight.
 
86 (part 1) (8/10)
 
This series is pretty bleak. Basically, society is divided along racial lines with those on one side of the divide living largely pampered lifestyles and those on the other conscripted into what is basically endless war with an autonomous mech army. It gets more complicated than that, but this premise and particularly that divide feature quite strongly in the series. There’s sort of a Gary Stu main character, though the ways that his history plays into his character are intriguing. Don’t get too attached to most of the cast as this series will kill off many of them, and it will keep piling on with more reasons to get depressed until the very end. The action is cool with well done CGI, and I think there’s a lot of promise with this one, though so much remains unexplained by the end that I can’t put it any higher than this.
 
To Your Eternity (8.5/10)
 
This is just a beautiful and deeply affecting series, all of which follows a sentient orb transforming into various objects and beings and slowly building his understanding of the world and people around him. Each arc brings our main character into a new environment with largely or entirely new characters, and whether the MC gets attached to them or not, each character who becomes close to him gets more than enough depth for me to care about them. And that becomes a problem for my emotional state, as every form the orb takes is immortal, but none of those around him are so lucky. Death follows the MC everywhere they go. I’d set this higher if not for some pacing issues midway through the series, the plethora of outstanding mysteries that remain unresolved, and an ending that is clearly baiting a second season while leaving numerous questions itself, but the series is absolutely worth the watch.


Summer 2021
 
Didn’t miss anything that I’m strongly interested in watching. There was a season of Higurashi When They Cry that was apparently a pseudo-sequel to the classic horror series, but I haven’t gotten into it yet.
 
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! (N/A)
 
I dropped this series in the middle. The new season has to pick up from a point that takes a lot of the tension out of the series, and having watched about half of the season, I don’t see it returning. The harem antics are still kind of fun, but the lead character’s naivete was getting on my nerves and I couldn’t be bothered to continue. No rating for this one until I finally finish it.
 
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (S2, Pt. 2) (7.5/10)
 
This season had a lot going for it, including some of the more hype moments of the anime, but its most effective payoffs are largely front-loaded. This half season was here largely to build up threats and establish its main character as even more of a badass, which is fine, but doesn’t hold up to the previous parts of the anime.
 
Fena: Pirate Princess (8/10)
 
This is an anime that stood out from the crowd. Pirates vs. ninjas is a solid premise for an anime to begin with, and the strong animation quality definitely sets this one apart. It’s a series about a young woman whose life was upended at a very young age and has destiny thrust upon her. She travels with a group of ninja assassins and is chased by pirates and something equivalent to the British naval forces. Along the way, magical elements are thrown into what is largely a straight up contest of wits, strength and speed. It’s a solid enough anime that drags you along with its characters to some strange places. Off as it was at times, I still enjoyed the ride.
 
The Idaten Deities Know Only Peace (7.5/10)
 
For much of this series run, I kind of loved it. The basic premise is that there are actual gods who run around on the planet and look like normal humans. They sealed what they thought was all the demons within a portal along with themselves, leaving one behind to train new deities that emerge in case other demons show up. It’s vibrant, I love the character models, the fights basically start at DBZ level and rise from there, and the whole thing just kinda ends when it was starting to get to its most interesting elements. This series would rate higher if not for that, but I still like what we got.
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I dislike the isekai genre in general, for reasons, though I read some of them from time to time.
So I'm a Spider, So What? 'Was somewhat interesting to read, as the protagonist overcame challenges,
But I stopped reading at a certain point, when their lack of humanity started to bother me.

Though when I say lack of humanity, I suppose I mean morality and ethics, as 'I value them, or value reading fiction of them.

(Edit)
Also the cute girl form, she looked like she was going to get, didn't interest me.
I prefer the idea of one becoming physically a monster, but overcoming such.
To Add a bit of an alien perspective, but the human heart to prevail.