I don’t have a huge amount to say about this final episode of Endro. It was, like most other episodes of Endro, cute and charming in it’s own way, played the tropes of its genre well with a few minor twists to keep things entertaining, and ultimately went for a saccharine ending that I really can’t fault it for. Overall, this anime reminds me a little bit of fairy floss (or I guess cotton candy depending on where you live). It looks pretty, kind of tastes great for a moment, but leaves you with very little substance.
I’ll probably look more at that idea when I review the series as a whole but this episode really didn’t deliver much in the way of surprises (and we are going to head into spoiler territory).
To no one’s surprise, Yulia is feeling conflicted about the idea of fighting Mao even if it is to save the Princess. After a sob-story from the golem it becomes even more clear that this is one epic hero vs demon lord battle that just isn’t going to happen. The overall solution is a little trite but very in keeping with the story. I do however like the story’s overall commitment to characterisation.
When faced with a part of the story they’ve spun that doesn’t quite add up, the girls ultimately shrug it off with a ‘whatever’ and get on with having fun. It keep beautifully with their actions up until now where they ponder things briefly but never get too deep into anything before becoming distracted by something new and shiny.
While ultimately we end up much where we started and it might seem like no advancement was made, it does feel like the characters are starting out a little wiser this time round and even if they make mistakes they’ll find a way to get through them.
In a season of fairly decent series, Endro isn’t topping my list but I’ve certainly had fun enough with this story and I’m kind of looking forward to doing my full series review of it.
Here we are with another isekai anime. Another normal, ordinary, totally average guy who is killed by a totally normal knife wielding running man before being reincarnated as an over-powered blue slime in a world resembling a standard generic fantasy setting where he will begin building an empire and have plenty of adoring subjects because he is awesome.
So, if you don’t like isekai or over-powered protagonists it is probably time to duck out of this one. Because, this anime is utterly unashamed of what it is and while we have the gimmick of the protagonist being a slime, there isn’t a lot that really distinguishes it in terms of plot or setting.
Where That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime does manage to distinguish itself from similar isekai adventures is that the protagonist seems utterly without a goal for the majority of the story. Sorry, I’ll correct that. He has goals but mostly they revolve around making his life easier, and usually making life easier for those who follow him. There’s no grand plan of fighting some powerful evil, trying to return home, or really anything else. Just short term goals that get accomplished in bite sized arcs as this essentially slice of life, empire building story kind of rolls itself out.
As such there is never any real sense of urgency or that there are any real stakes in anything that happens. I kind of found this very off putting and frequently found it hard to invest a great deal emotionally in this show. While I never overly disliked it, I think if Slime had suddenly had production issues and been delayed a month, I may not have even noticed. It just kind of existed and while I was watching it I usually had a casual good time with an occasional smile, the occasional enjoyment of a particularly good dialogue exchange, and very rarely an interesting fight, but mostly it just kind of passed by.
For people who prefer their stories low-key and don’t mind watching characters just kind of drift and do what they do (so people who don’t really mind slice of life in general), Slime probably offers a rare fantasy opportunity that isn’t all about slaying a demon lord or achieving some grand goal. In a sense it reminds me, vaguely, of something like Restaurant to Another Universe in that you have what appears to be a standard fantasy setting without any of the epic plot trappings that usually accompany it.
In a sense, if Slime had chosen to simply occupy the space of a slice of life in a fantasy setting, I probably wouldn’t have watched it at all because I already know such a premise doesn’t really interest me. However, Slime does at times have hints of a larger narrative and certain arcs seemed to push that forward. In those moments I found a genuine enjoyment rather than a casual like of the show. Shizue’s arc in the first cour was the true highlight, hitting some fairly decent emotional notes, filling in our knowledge of the world, and progressing the idea of a villain Rimuru may have to face at some point. All and all, it was pretty solid. There are other arcs, or bits of information within some of the other arcs that also build on an overall narrative idea, but they are scattered and hardly a focal point.
With that it entirely comes down to your viewing preferences and whether you need a driving narrative as to whether this anime will grab your interest.
However, if the basic premise and set up is what you are looking for, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime offers a fairly beautifully presented quality viewing experience. In almost all episodes the visual and animation quality is maintained with none of the mid-season or late season mistakes, glitches, and just rushed efforts that other anime sometimes face. Rimuru is as charmingly depicted in episode 23 as episode 1 (though early in the series there’s a weird CG visual used occasionally for Rimuru that just seems out of place with the rest of the visuals of the series – quite possibly deliberate but I felt it was weird).
One thing I did find bizarre was that the anime would introduce monster characters who would have quite strikingly non-human appearances and then after Rimuru gave them a name they would ‘evolve’ and have a more human appearance. I mentioned this in one of my episode reviews, but it felt like an utter waste to take such distinct looking characters and morph them into generic fantasy boy/girl with vague monster appendages. It felt like a loss for what could have made this anime visually far more memorable than it ends up being, even if it is a pretty anime that is easy on the eyes.
From a sound point of view everything works. Character voices serve their purpose and Rimuru’s voice acting is perhaps the character’s most charming point. He’s easy to listen to, fairly emotive, and the contrast between his inner and outer tone at times is spot on and nails the humour of a situation. Other characters are either good enough or quite interesting, and the background music and sounds do their job but don’t stand out as overly memorable.
Overall though it is the characters that I find to be the weakest element of this anime. Not because they are not good characters. Individually, each character is perfectly fine and they even play well off one another. The problem is that other than Rimuru, no character really sticks around long enough to have much impact. Even characters who stay in the story, after their introduction and brief moment in the spot-light, get shunted to the background where they occasionally fill screen space or make a comment, but kind of cease to develop as actual characters.
For me, in the absence of a driving plot, I really needed more from the characters and their personal journeys. I needed something to make me want to invest emotionally in this anime, and tragically the characters just couldn’t fill the void.
Admittedly, the characters are largely quirky and cute but when the vast majority of names are forgotten before the series has even been a week completed, and you genuinely don’t know what even half of them are trying to do or accomplish and you generally have no sense that any of the characters are motivated to do anything beyond serve Rimuru, it really makes it hard to care about what happens to any of them and Rimuru is so over-powered (and if he wasn’t, Milim sure is), that it is hard to visualise harm coming to any of them.
Again, it comes down to whether or not you care about any kind of tension or emotional stakes in your story or whether you just want to chill. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime would be a very good anime to just chill to.
Before I wrap up, I do want to discuss the episode count. At 25 episodes, this anime took six months to air. That’s a long time investment for episodic watching and I will admit, I was weary of it by the end. It didn’t help that the final arc, despite tying in fairly beautifully with Shizue’s arc from the first half of the season, was undeniably one of the weaker stories delivered. However, what makes it worse is the anime actually finishes at episode 23 and then we have two extra episodes. Episode 24 actually is better than anything the second half of Slime gave us and just made me wonder why we hadn’t seen more like that. That probably isn’t what you want your bonus material to do. 24.5 is just padding. Poorly executed recap. A poor excuse of filler to pad out a 25 episode count that was unneeded.
Getting onto recommendations, it isn’t as though this was a bad anime. There are huge numbers of fans, massive amounts of merchandise available, and realistically there’s nothing inherently broken about the story. While it doesn’t suit my viewing preferences, it functionally works and at times even I found it very entertaining and at its worst I just found it kind of empty but watchable. So for some this will be highly entertaining.
My honest opinion with this one is that there are better isekai anime out there with better journeys and characters. Then again, I prefer something that has clear direction and characters that grow and learn so perhaps Slime and I were never meant to be. Still, I wouldn’t actually tell you to avoid this one. It can be good fun and is nicely made. Give it a try, by the end of episode 3 you should have a rough idea of whether this works for you, and maybe you’ll find a show to fall in love with.
However, I’d love to know your thoughts on That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (the anime) so please share in the comments below.
Thanks everyone for joining Arthifis and me as we review the final few episodes of Meiji Tokyo Renka. We’ll be covering The Rising of the Shield Hero over on the Anime Shelter with Arthifis so be sure to check that out as well. As usual, I will be red, where Arthifis will be bold and blue. Hope you enjoy.
Hey Arthifis, welcome back. The Winter anime season has been a lot of fun but it’s finally coming to an end. I’m going to be a little sad to see this one disappear from my watch list. What about you?
Hey Karandi! Thanks for having me yet again on your blog! 😀
I’m with you! In the beginning the Anime Winter Season seemed to not have much to offer, but there were many nice gems going on! 😀
When it comes to Meiji Tokyo Renka, completely agree with you! Especially on episode 10, in the end of Ougai’s arc I really felt that I wanted more than 12 episodes! It’s a little bit strange because I didn’t realize, but my feelings for Mei as a character really grew and I got somewhat attached to her!
What did you think about Ougai’s arc completion?
I think with Meiji Tokyo Renka the characters and their stories are really the winning piece of the puzzle. They are all pretty charming, even if a lot of the support cast didn’t get a lot of development. Ougai, who had been a bit of a mystery all the way along, finally got his well deserved focus and as you said, episode 10, it just felt like this story had so much to offer.
That doesn’t make it perfect by any means, given there are plenty of things that could have been improved, but with such a cute cast and the general fun that was found in watching most episodes, overall I just ended up really charmed by this one.
I did find it weird the Shunsou’s arc was completed after Ougai’s. What did you think?
Well, I think Meiji Tokyo Renka ended up in a weaker note than the rest of the overall Anime. For me these 3 last episodes were the weakest and that many things were basically rushed to make it end by episode 12.
For example, there are things in Ougai’s arc that are not very well explained. I mean, I understand that Elise “spirit” is probably Ougai’s mental state. However, being this an Anime where spirits lurk around, it just makes it confusing.
Then Shunsou’s arc… That episode is probably the worst of the Anime, in my opinion. Not only things were not quite well explained as the overall episode execution had way less quality than the rest of the Anime. It had even more static frames for example.
And then, plot wise, it ended up not being really explained. First, Shunsou’s eyes problem… It was never there until that episode which is a little bit strange. Then, the black cat appearing from nowhere was just… Meh… I mean they have been looking for him since episode 1 almost and then the cat just appears randomly…
Last, but not the least, Shunsou’s eyes seem to just magically heal on the last episode. What do you think?
Shunsou’s eyes bothered me. It was like we knew he couldn’t paint because the black cat went missing but to find out there was a medical problem that no one had felt the need to raise in ten episodes, to the point where he couldn’t see something right in front of him, just seemed really fake and like they just suddenly had to come up with a problem.
That said, and while the sensible me knows very well the plot of that episode is complete rubbish, the girl in me really loved the episode.
Mei chasing after Shunsou and helping him gather up his paintings again. Her reassuring him and helping him to metaphorically see, and as he comes to terms with the fact that he needs to get the surgery done the black cat returns to him.
I thought it was absolutely adorable even while the logical side of my brain tried to escape. Then again, you also mention the number of static images in the episode, which I also really liked because they were really pretty and easy to grab as screen caps, but in terms of animation quality, that’s pretty dreadful.
Let’s be honest though, Meiji Tokyo Renka has always been average at best when it comes to animation so falling a little down at the end of the season was probably to be expected.
Still, Shunsou’s episode aside, we then have the final episode which just felt really rushed considering it seemed like a complete turn around from where we were just three episodes ago.
Yeah that was what I going to comment next. Mei just had said that she would stay in the Meiji Era forever… And then, last minute, she decides to go back.
I have a few problems with this. First, how did Ougai knew, from the bat the she was going away, when she just had said to him that she loves him and wants to stay with him for the rest of her life.
Second, why did she go? That’s the main question, right? Because, not even once she really gives the vibe that she wants to come back. Of course, that’s part of her missing memory. However, she actually just met the man of her life… If I was in her shoes I would just stay there lol
The why did she go question really bothered me as well. I mean, Ougai is really great for her. Perfect in point of fact. And yet, she gets her memory back and just decides to go back home.
I kind of put this down to it being a Voyage and Return story in the end. Like Alice in Wonderland, it doesn’t matter how much fun she has, once she learns her lesson she is right back to reality. Of course, that doesn’t make it any less a terrible way for this show to end because seeing Mei back in the present didn’t bring me any joy at all.
Yeah, it basically became an “accepting yourself” kind of story like I mentioned in one of our first conversations. It just went with the route that I was expecting from the start, which is a bummer.
Nevertheless, being Meiji Tokyo Renka originally a game, I’m pretty sure they just went with one of the routes – the Ougai romance. I’m not sure though if in the game there is the option for you to decide to stay or to go… But, even if there isn’t, I would prefer 1000 times that she just stayed with Ougai. It makes more sense to the story, and I would end the Anime a happier person xD
I know, right. Like Ougai and Mei actually become officially engaged and then we end with a wedding scene. It is so cliche and silly and yet it would fit perfectly with the tone and atmosphere of this anime and just leave you smiling. Of course, it would kill any other ships viewers had for Mei, but the way the story is presented there really aren’t a lot of viable options. Sure there were plenty of guys introduced but only Ougai got enough attention to be taken seriously.
Or do you ship Mei with one of the others?
Nope… I mean I actually found rather cute how Izumi, who doesn’t touch anything because of his fear of germs, to grab Mei’s hands and dance with her nonetheless. However, it’s without a doubt Ougai who I ship the most.
Talking about the dance… Don’t you think that the way she said goodbye to everyone was a little bit… Too damn fast? Especially Shunzou… I mean, they ended up being close and she doesn’t even say the word goodbye lol
I actually kind of thought it made sense she didn’t say goodbye to him. They had become very close and at times they kind of seemed like brother and sister. So for me it was like she couldn’t bring herself to actually say goodbye. Though, that brings us back to wondering why she left at all.
What did you end up thinking about Charlie after all of that?
Well, you already know that Charlie, for me (not as Mei’s ship or something like that), is basically the most handsome of them all. So, it was great to see that he was in fact coming from a good place and that he was a spirit that was always there to protect her. A spirit, that was strong enough to have a real body and make time travel, twice.
However, I don’t think that Charlie really had to “die”. Although I understand why they decided to do that. He had done his main objective and goal, he was able to develop Mei to someone who is going to be able to be happy… But, yeah… Can’t lie and say that I didn’t become a little sad when I saw him disappear. What about you? You were the one saying last time that you thought he had a hidden agenda somewhere 😀
Yeah, that didn’t really pan out. However, I didn’t mind this with Charlie having manipulated the situation to help Mei learn something and then giving her the choice of staying or going back. Not quite as good as if he was some mastermind villain… There really is no bad guy in this story. Actually, in a lot of the anime I’ve watched this season there is no real villain. It is making my list of possible best villains of the year really short so far and a few that I’ve written down are kind of lame.
Hahaha now that you talk about it, you are right… This season has been way more about the voyage than actually heroes and villains… Besides Shield Hero and Neverland there is not actually “villains”… The only one I can remember now is Asuka Special Corps.
However, it’s nice to see that, even without synergy, many Anime shows were able to be interesting and enjoyable to watch. Meiji Tokyo Renka is one of them and I give an overall 4 stars out of 5.
Something that I did yesterday, was to look up who the characters are in real life. I just looked up Ougai and Shunzou and, well, it’s really nice to see how they picked real important people and took into account some details. For example the black cat painting is one of the most popular paintings from the real guy 😛
I think this is one like Bungou Stray Dogs where now that it is done, I’ll probably find some time at some point to look up the characters. As for an overall rating, I don’t tend to use any kind of scale, but I had a lot of fun with this anime this season and it was certainly one of the more consistently entertaining even if the overall quality was a little average in some aspects.
I had a lot of fun discussing it with you during the season as well.
Any final thoughts before we wrap this up and go discuss Shield Hero?
Well, not really. Just wanted to say that I’m really thankful for you to have picked this one for us to follow this season. It was a lot of fun and I probably wouldn’t give so much thought if not for this collab 🙂
Yes, I didn’t expect this to be anywhere near as enjoyable as it ended up being, and our talks were really fun. Hopefully we do this again and find an equally fun show to follow. Alright, over to the Shelter.
Here we are at the end of the season and it is time for one last chat with Irina about The Morose Mononokean (at least this season and fingers crossed that we eventually get a third). We’re over on Irina’s site today so to check out our full discussion about The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 13 hop on over and be sure to leave us a comment.
For the first half of this episode I thought this was an absolutely brilliant way for this series to go out. Really was loving it. And then… well, then we got to the second part. See the whole way through this series I’ve really loved the moments where the characters have been allowed to just be characters and interact rather than the contrived matches between the main pair, so seeing Shinomiya genuinely upset by not being allowed to go to the fireworks and Shirogane and the others rallying to help her was really a great emotional moment with a lot of pay-off.
This was each of the characters at their best. No forced humour or awkwardly intrusive narration. Just a girl upset and the overly dramatic solution with her escaping her house and then her frantic rush to reach the wharf in time, only for it to end in failure. That was so incredibly sad and they held that moment just long enough before Shirogane turned up and delivered such an incredibly overblown line and yet it was utterly perfect for the moment.
Watching them run together, meeting up with Fujiwara and Ishigami and getting in the taxi. Even the taxi driver going all out and probably breaking multiple road rules in order to get them to their destination in time all just worked. It was a well paced, well executed, fun and emotional climax to a series that I’ve found very hit or miss.
And I haven’t even talked about how on point the music was during this episode or how beautiful the fireworks were.
Well then we go back to school.
The president is freaking out because he thinks that he acted foolishly in the moment. Shinomiya is all nervous because she wants to say thank you. The narration is back. The forced conflict is back. Its all just awkward and painful to watch and really about as far from amusing as you can get without actually just sitting in a room full of socially awkward people avoiding eye-contact for ten minutes.
For a brief span I thought episode 12 was actually going to be the episode that made me think overall I liked the series more than I didn’t. But that second half reminded me of everything I find irritating about the entire set up and mostly while there are some great moment overall I’ve mostly found this one misses the mark for me. I’ll be going back through my episode notes and thinking about my final review of this series a lot, but the bottom line is going to end up being that this just isn’t my kind of show.
Yay! Winter 2019 has been a fantastic season and while I shared my overall thoughts on the anime I watched this season earlier today, this post is about you, the reader and what you voted on.
So we’ll start at the bottom and work our way to the anime of the season as voted by you. All anime that received a vote will be mentioned. This time around there were 313 votes which is the most ever for one of these polls. Thanks so much for participating.
1 Vote – 3D Kanojo Season 2 I tried this. I didn’t hate season one. But episode one of season 2 did everything I didn’t like about season one in the one episode and so I decided to wait until the season was done before I picked it up. I guess that means I probably need to do that at some point.
1 Vote – The Magnificent Kotobuki I haven’t really given this one a go and honestly none of the reviews I’ve read have really made me want to. Still, someone out there clearly likes it so maybe check out a review or give it a go.
1 Vote – The Price of Smiles As much as I’ve defended the Price of Smiles during its run, anime of the season it really isn’t. Still, I was happy to see someone gave it a vote because it wasn’t actually that bad and some parts were actually reasonably good.
1 Vote – Pastel Memories I tried an episode of this and it didn’t work for me. Very few people have covered it this season so I’m still undecided if I should go and try and binge it. Still, one person thinks it is worth the time.
1 Vote – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Golden Wind I oopsed and left this one off the polling list but one determined voter wrote it in. I’m guess this would have received more votes if it had been listed. Sorry.
2 Votes – Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Not for everyone, this is a dark magical girl story with a bit of a military colouring. There’s torture and fairly bleak situations for our fairly young heroes to face and the ending is pretty much a non-event. But in terms of dark magical girl stories, this one brings some interesting ideas and you could certainly do worse.
2 Votes – Meiji Tokyo Renka Fair enough. This one isn’t anime of the season quality in any way, but it is a nice, average, and fun anime and one well worth checking out if you in any like reverse harems or time travel stories with a bit of a supernatural edge. It’s cute and harmless and I’ve had fun, but I fully understand why two votes is all this one collected.
3 Votes -Bang Dream Season 2 I didn’t watch season one and I’m not even really what this one is about. But three people think it is great so maybe check out a review of it.
3 Votes – Kemurikusa Another one I accidentally left off the list to vote for and yet 3 people wrote it in – one in all caps so I assume they were frustrated that they couldn’t vote for it. I have no idea about this one at all but clearly some readers believe this one needs your attention.
4 Votes – Domestic Girlfriend Kind of curious about this one getting four votes. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a lot of fun with this trashy romance this season, but I still find it interesting that some have decided it is the top of the season.
4 Votes – Date a Live 3 Haven’t watched season 2, don’t really intend to. Also haven’t really seen many reviews of this one so I was surprised to see it picking up votes.
4 Votes – Wataten! An Angel Flew Down To Me Watched part of one episode of this. Not for me. Definitely worth checking out someone else’s review though to see if this is something you’d like.
6 Votes – Kakeguri xx I didn’t get very far into season one of this one and have no idea what has happened in season two. Six people think it’s awesome though so maybe this one is worth trying if you watched the first season.
6 Votes – Endro Honestly this one surprised me by how charming it actually has been and six votes here does not surprise me. There’s a definite appeal to this anime even if it doesn’t grab everyone.
8 Votes – The Morose Mononokean Season 2 It got votes! Given how few people have been covering this anime I’m just happy that this one collected any votes. Season 2 has improved on season one in every way and has been highly entertaining. If you were waiting for it to finish before picking it up, now’s the time to binge.
9 Votes – Boogiepop wa Warawanai Still haven’t actually finished watching this one. I’m finding it increasingly hard to do so. That said, for all that a lot of people find this one confusing and a little dull (and I’d be in that list), there are plenty of people who’ve found it to be quite a compelling story. 9 votes here reflects those who have really connected with this one.
12 Votes – The Quintessential Quintuplets I’m honestly glad I didn’t cover this one this season. I watched a few more episodes beyond the first one after some positive reviews from other bloggers but it just isn’t my kind of story. That said, this one is probably one to read the reviews for because if you like the set up and style then you may very well have a good time with this one.
13 Votes – My Roommate is a Cat This may very well be one of the underrated gems of the season. Not perfect by any means, but a really nice watch if you are looking for something low key with just enough feels to give you some warm-fuzzies at the end.
14 Votes – Sword Art Online Alicization Colour me shocked that this even got 14 votes. I genuinely went into Sword Art Online Alicization wanting to enjoy it and have a good time given I’ve been a fan of the franchise since Aincrad, and to be honest I’ve been left mostly wondering where the fun has gone from the series. Still, some people are clearly still enjoying it and hopefully they will get what they are wanting from it when it continues.
19 Votes – That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime I honestly expected this to be higher, at least higher than Shield Hero. However, on reflection, even the die hard fans of the show have gotten quieter during the second cour so maybe that slump kind of put them off a bit. Still, with a season two coming and a fairly strong core audience, I don’t think this is the last we’ve heard of slime.
25 Votes – The Rising of the Shield Hero I’m a little surprised this one made it so high. Certainly there are readers who have been enjoying it but there are plenty who have made it known that they don’t like this anime and find it quite problematic. And yet, here it is.
26 Votes – Run With The Wind So happy this made a top 5 appearance. I know this one has been very low key compared to some of the big names this season, but it was my pick for best of the season and really the sheer consistency of quality in this one as well as the wonderful way the drama of the story unfolded just made it pure joy to watch (when it wasn’t causing me to burst into tears of sadness, happiness, and frustration on the character’s behalves in the final few episodes).
32 Votes – Kaguya-Sama Love is War I knew this one would reach fairly high in the reader’s poll. While it is doing very little for me, it is an incredibly well made anime so if the characters and the comedy work at all for you I can fully see why this would be an enjoyable watch.
Anime Going into the Best of the Year Poll
33 Votes – Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 I haven’t finished season 1 and I wasn’t a fan so I certainly haven’t tried this. Still, I knew going into the vote, this one was going to be well favoured by my readers. The number of you covering it on your blogs and giving it glowing reviews speaks volumes. While not for me, this one has certainly been a crowd pleaser.
34 Votes – Dororo Yeah, I can’t watch this one (no access). So we once again get the anime that’s been heaped with praise of the season that I couldn’t watch even if I wanted to. Eventually I will see it and alas by then the hype will have made it impossible to live up to, but hopefully it is sooner rather than later because I am very curious about this one.
BEST OF THE SEASON
49 Votes – The Promised Neverland Okay, no surprise here. The Promised Neverland has just been good. Even if you aren’t a fan of the genre, each episode has been well put together and it has told a remarkably coherent story. This one was charming and excellent fun and I really hope we get more anime as well made as this one has been.
Now, let me know what you think. Did the anime you voted for make it into the top 3? Do you think any of these might be the anime of the year?
Winter 2019 has had its ups and downs throughout but regardless of my final thoughts, I had a lot of fun this season. There was always something to look forward to and as some shows faltered, others rallied. While I know some shows are ongoing and some have not yet aired final episodes (and in the case of Boogiepop wa Warawanai I’m just hopelessly behind), this is my final standings for the Winter season.
In the listing I’ve commented on where the series was at the mid-season point in the list and whether it has moved or not but if you want to see my mid-season thoughts they are here.
Hopefully you enjoy and remember the results of the reader’s poll will come out later today.
Previously placed at position 13. It didn’t even deliver the little that was expected.
I was vaguely hopeful that this one would improve, but realistically I’m struggling just to convince myself to finish watching it. It has continued to be a meandering mess and while some have enjoyed the mystery I’ve mostly just found it frustrating.
Not aided by ugly visuals and characters that are pretty bland, there’s very little compelling me to keep going with this but I will finish it at this point. I kind of feel I past the point of no return a while a go. Still, if I wanted to pick the series on my watch list that I most regret watching, Boogiepop would be it.
Images from: Boogipop wa Warawanai (2019). Dir. S Natsume. Madhouse. 2019.
Number 14: Grimms Notes
Previously placed at position 15, Grimms Notes continued to underwhelm.
While it would be nice to say that it managed to pull its narrative and characters together, mostly I just felt this one oozed wasted potential until the very end. Not that there weren’t some fun moments along the way, but it just never felt satisfying to watch.
It isn’t all bad news with some of the character moments being cute enough and having a simple ‘save the story zone’ plot each week. Even if the main story line felt hopelessly underdeveloped and the themes unexplored, it wasn’t as if this ever became unwatchable.
Images from: Grimms Notes. Dir. S Shizutaka. Brain’s Base. 2019.
Number 13: Sword Art Online Alicization
Previously at position 10, how this has fallen.
I was disappointed when Sword Art Online Alicization was only managing position 10, and yet honestly I can’t say this has gotten any better. If anything, the faults with the pacing, character motives, exposition, and just idiocy have gotten worse to the point where I’m honestly wondering whether to keep going with episode reviews when it continues or whether to just let this one go and review it once they finally finish it.
An increasingly frustrating and underwhelming watch full of babble about things that barely make sense even in the context of the story, and characters who essentially break the rules of the world at will, it all just became fairly tiresome to watch this season.
Images from: Sword Art Online Alicization. Dir. M Ono. A-1 Pictures. 2018.
Number 12: Kaguya-Sama Love is War
Previously and still position 12.
For a comedy anime it wasn’t bad. It isn’t really my style and to be honest outside of the occasional moment where the characters really clicked there were a lot of times where watching this was just kind of empty. Still, the visuals, animation and sound design of this one were pretty fantastic so I can’t fault the production in the slightest.
However, ultimately, if I’d stopped watching this one it wouldn’t have mattered. There was no compelling reason to keep going and while I can see why it appeals to some, it really isn’t speaking much to me.
Images from: Kaguya Sama: Love Is War. Dir. S Omata. A-1 Pictures. 2019.
Number 11: Endro
Previously placed at position 14, this one actually was kind of charming fun.
Despite the pastel colour scheme and cute girl antics, I actually did find this one entertaining from week to week. There were some moments that really just shone for both the story and the characters proving you really can take something fairly standard and make it shine if you put enough love and effort into it.
Honestly, this isn’t going to be something I watch again but if you like cute girl stories or just want a fun slice of life/comedy that has an adventurers setting thrown in, this is actually really cute and entertaining. The only reason it didn’t get higher up my list is because I’m just not that into cute girls and some of the friendship sequences made me roll my eyes hard.
Images from: Endro! Dir. Kaori. Studio Gokumi. 2019.
Number 10: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
Previously position 7 there’s just no denying the second cour was ordinary.
After slowly warming up to the show in the first cour, the second cour that aired during Winter 2019 of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime was overwhelmingly average. Now source readers will pull out the ‘it gets better’ cards as well as explain that some bits were skipped over, but none of that changes the fact that the anime is most definitely average.
There were some cute moments and character encounters and a few fairly awesome moments in the occasional fight, but a lot of this second cour was sitting around talking, or introducing characters we were never given a reason to care about who effectively had their problems solved with minimum effort. It remained light and fun to watch but had absolutely nothing to hook the audience or to convince me this would ever be worth watching a second time.
Images from: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. Dir. Y Kikuchi. 8Bit. 2018.
Number 9: The Price of Smiles
Formally position 5. Okay, I was being optimistic.
It is almost scary how on the nose my prediction for this series was at the half-way point. I suspected we had a show that would simply kill off its characters towards the end and in the lead up to the final episode we had one prominent character death an episode all to serve the ‘war is bad’ slogan this anime seemed to want to plaster onto almost every episode. That doesn’t mean it was terrible. There was actually a lot of promise along the way. It just never quite delivered.
Still, there have certainly been worse mecha anime over the years and while the ending was foolishly optimistic and naive, much like the main character, I can’t say I’m upset with it. While The Price of Smiles never managed to break into being something truly good, it certainly skated along the edges of it and kept me hopeful throughout.
Images from: Egao no Daika. Dir. T Suzuki. Tatsunoko Production. 2019.
Number 8: Domestic Girlfriend
Previously in 6th position.
Right, so you get what you expect when you keep watching a melodrama and as the story progresses they have to push to increasingly forced and silly methods to up the ante. That said, there is a certain delight in watching this train wreck unfold and while I wouldn’t say I actually like any of the characters, I kind of am curious about where they will ultimately end up.
This one somehow manages to be trashy without actually being trash and while it isn’t great it is also something that is hard to stop watching. While the occasional scene pushes the sexual content a little further than I’d like and the basic premise and the idea of teachers and students dating isn’t something I’m thrilled about, I can’t say that this is actually a bad watch. Not really one I’d jump to recommend but one that I’d honestly have to admit I’ve been enjoying despite the many complaints I might muster about it.
Images from: Domestic Girlfriend. Dir. S Ibata. Diomedea. 2019.
Number 7: The Rising of the Shield Hero
Previously in position 4.
I’m honestly pleasantly surprised that this one has remained as entertaining as it has. With Sword Art and Slime both plummeting in the ranks during the Winter season it seemed isekai fantasy was taking a serious downward turn. While there are plenty of points against Shield Hero in terms of pacing and at times characterisation, I’ve mostly had fun watching it and continue to look forward to how it rolls out this story.
While this one might also take a downward turn as it moves into a second cour, I’m kind of hopeful of this one just keeping things moving. And while the fights remain fresh, the story doesn’t linger for too long on any one part, and Naofumi continues to be an interesting character to watch, I’ll probably keep enjoying this even though I would hardly call it great.
I kind of knew this one probably wouldn’t hold in the top 5 for the season but I was hopeful. A dark magical girl story that actually seemed willing to deal with the trauma a teenage girl would face if forced to fight to save the world and watch companions die? It is a good idea and at least provides some kind of grounding for the violence rather than just being opening gratuitous in killing off young characters grotesquely.
However, the execution both from thematically and in the delivery of the narrative have been somewhat lacking and once again we’re left with a show that is more concept than delivery. The over the top torture segments also don’t help to ground this as anything more than something trying to be sensationalist when actually there’s a reasonable attempt at exploring trauma and PTSD buried here but alas the show can’t give it the time or weight it needs between the other ideas it wants to cram in an a desire to imperil Asuka’s classmates. I didn’t mind this but I kept wanting more from it and by the final few episodes it was clear that it wasn’t going to deliver.
Images from: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka. Dir. H Yamamoto. LIDENFILMS. 2019.
Number 5: Meiji Tokyo Renka
Formally in position 10 – nice climb.
While this one reeks of mediocrity in visuals and almost everything else, this is the anime I’ve gone back to again and again just to feel good and kick back and relax. There’s something incredibly fun and infectious about Mei as a character and the cast of guys surrounding her aren’t too shabby. The supernatural elements work well but it is Mei’s ongoing relationship with Ougai that really grabs your attention.
While I won’t say this improved as it went, it maintained its standard throughout and the characters are naturally charming enough to slowly make you warm to them and each episode feels just that little bit more fun than the last. Not one to be proclaimed a master-piece but for those who don’t mind the occasional reverse harem romp this one is certainly a fun time waster to fit into your viewing schedule.
Images from: Meiji Tokyo Renka. Dir. A Daichi. TMS Entertainment. 2019.
Number 4: The Morose Mononokean
Previously number 8 on the list – this one exceeded expectations.
Season two of The Morose Mononokean continued to far outstrip season one and advanced the plot and character development in a way I’d been wishing the first season to but it just never got to. There is very little to complain about with this second season with almost everything being better than season one and the balance between yokai of the week episode and episodes developing the world and characters being pretty well thought out.
With cute yokai characters, conspiracies, blossoming powers and generally more supernatural fun, The Morose Mononokean ended up being one show I began to look forward to each weekend. The chats with Irina around the episodes were also a factor as watching a show is always better with friends, but honestly this one was a delight this Winter season.
Previously number 9 on the list (that’s quite the rise).
If I was asked whether this got better as the season went on and whether that accounts for its rise, the answer would be a clear no. This isn’t a story that gets better. There’s a solid character journey for Subaru and one that I greatly appreciated which certainly accounts for a lot of its rise through the ranks, but what My Roommate is a Cat does brilliantly is deliver a fairly consistent performance. Tie in consistently meeting expectations week after week with concluding a character arc in a fairly coherent manner and My Roommate is a Cat might be decidedly average in a lot of ways but it was one that I found a very satisfying watch in the end.
This anime definitely demonstrates the power of simplicity in that it has a very simple gimmick with the cat narrating part of the episode from its perspective but otherwise the character count is low, the scenarios very low key, and things tie in together way too neatly for real life but in a way that makes for a fairly entertaining weekly watch. Not to mention, there’s a cat in it and apparently having a cat in it is something that makes a story recommendable.
Images from: My Roommate is a Cat. Dir. K Suzuki. Zero-G. 2019.
Number 2: The Promised Neverland
Remaining in second place.
I feel a bit bad for The Promised Neverland. Given the genre and style of story in almost any other season this one would have been a sure number one for me. Yet, opposite Run With the Wind that mostly didn’t rely on cliff-hangers to maintain viewer interest or suspense, I just can’t say that the gimmick filled Neverland is better even if I’m certainly enjoying it a lot.
The mark of a great story where I want to know what happens, where it keeps me guessing and theorising, and when the reveal is made it may not be what I thought but everything kind of clicks into place as all the anomalies and hints suddenly make sense even while a new mystery rises to be solved. The cast are charming, the setting thrilling, and all and all this one has been a delight to watch this season.
Images from: The Promised Neverland. Dir. M Kanbe. CloverWorks. 2019.
Number 1: Run With The Wind
Maintaining first position.
While I never expected to like Run With The Wind that much, even with a fairly strong showing from The Promised Neverland, there just isn’t any reason to not make this my number one of the season. I’ve fallen in love with the team and through the final episodes I cried, I cheered, I cried some more and then I smiled through those tears in absolute delight. It really helps that every character had a moment to shine in those final episodes and each character journey felt like it was given time to draw to a conclusion. It was a lovely viewing experience and one I’m really glad I picked up.
Whether it was Shindo’s absolutely heroic actions during his leg of the race, the general camaraderie and support each member showed for the others, or the feat they accomplished together, there were just so many moments to celebrate. This anime is gorgeous, well put together and has just the perfect number of episodes to tell its story. For all that I do have some minor complaints, they are just that, minor. This is definitely my pick for must watch of the season.