Tuesday’s Top 5: Female Characters from 2016

Tuesday's Top 5

2016 was a great year for anime and while I don’t really ever intend just to do a list of top 5 characters ever I kind of feel I can pick a favourite from a single year. Much like my reflections post, this one is entirely my own opinion so feel free to add your favourite females from 2016 in the comments below.

So how did I choose my top 5 female characters? Pretty much they played a significant role in their anime, were entertaining to watch, and, for whatever reason, memorable. They also had to be in an anime that aired at some point during 2016 (either continuing on from 2015, completely in 2016, or at least started before the end of 2016).

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions go to: Izetta (Izetta: The Last Witch) and Manami Okuda (Assassination Classroom Season 2).

Number 5: Ubukata Chikako (Days)

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And before you ask ‘who’ she’s the female manager in Days who comes on board after first trying to convince Tsukamoto that it’s hopeless and he should just give up. While her screen time is fairly limited and she plays very much the angry girl (a lot), she’s actually a pivotal character for Tsukamoto when he’s at his lowest and is also the one who quietly assists when Kazuma and Tsukamoto have their near falling out. It’s what I like about her character. She’s there is most episodes doing what she needs to do and she doesn’t intrude on screen time for the same of it. Plus I like how we see her change from angry with the world and fairly pessimistic, to grudgingly accepting that hard work will work out for some, to genuinely hopeful even as she still holds on to her basic cynicism. I also love her ongoing relationship with Tsukamoto. She kind of takes on the tough older sister role and it works really well.

Number 4: Edna (Tales of Zestiria the X)

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Even before this character ever made an appearance, fans of the game were going on and on about her. It kind of made me think she couldn’t possibly live up to that hype and then we met her. Admittedly her screen time in the anime is low but she was certainly one of the more interesting characters. Okay, I just love sarcasm and Edna nails a good sarcastic comment. She’s also one of the more interesting characters in the previews at the ends of episodes. All and all, definitely a fun character to watch and one I think Sorey needed given Alicia and Mikleo don’t exactly push him out of his comfort zone.

Number 3: Shirayuki (Snow White with the Red Hair Season 2)

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This one should have been an obvious choice. I was already in love with this character after season 1 and season 2 just continued to show how amazing she is. Unlike season 1, Shirayuki faces some real danger in season 2 and she really manages to hold it together even while they show us her inner turmoil. Throw in progress in her friendship with Raj, her romance with Zen, and a bit of back story with her father and season 2 really helps round out her character and the world.

Number 2: Tomoe Hotaru (Sailor Moon Crystal Season 3)

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It was hard narrowing down which of the Sailor Moon Crystal cast really left the largest impression. It came down to Chibi-Usa and Hotaru and when all is said and done Hotaru was the more interesting character. The tragic and frail girl that is befriended by Chibi-Usa we see a genuine friendship form between the pair before Hotaru’s body is forcibly overtaken. If that wasn’t enough, turns out she’s also Sailor Saturn and may very well destroy the world so the Outer Guardians are aiming to kill her before she gets the chance. A very memorable character and an awesomely powered one as well. Would have loved more of her in the series.

Number 1: Igsem Yatorishino (Alderamin on the Sky)

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Fiery red haired beauty dual wielding swords on a battle field and able to keep a hopeless womanizer in check? Yatorishino is all kinds of impressive and the fact that she also has a personality and isn’t just a stoic yes-man soldier girl (though she can certainly play that role when needed) just makes her even more interesting. The best parts of Alderamin on the Sky came when Ikta and Yatori were on screen together as they perfectly complement each other and yet each of these characters has a personality by themselves. Besides, none of Ikta’s plans would have ever worked without her skill. He could do what he did because he knew that Yatori would have his back and he knew just how dangerous she could be.

That’s my list of top 5 female characters from 2016. Who were yours?

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Reflections on Anime in 2016 – The Best and The Worst of the Year (in my opinion)

It’s the first day of the year so let’s look back at the year that was. I know that at the end of Summer I did my first reflection post looking back at the anime I’d watched and  I purposefully left D Gray Man and Sailor Moon Crystal 3 off the lists because nostalgia was strong with those two. But now we are at the end of the year and I’m not playing nice anymore. I’m giving my lists of top 10 best and worst for 2016 and finally the results from the reader’s poll.

My rules:

  • I need to have watched the whole series (or as much as has aired in 2016 – I know some of these are continuing on).
  • My judgement is entirely based on the entertainment I got out of watching the anime.
  • Feel free to suggest your own top 10 best or worst in the comments.

Starting from the best.

  1. Yuri on Ice
  2. D Gray Man Hallow
  3. Natsume Yuujinchou
  4. Assassination Classroom 2nd Season
  5. Snow White with the Red Hair Season 2
  6. March Comes in Like a Lion
  7. My Hero Academia
  8. Alderamin on the Sky
  9. Erased
  10. Sailor Moon Crystal 3

Yeah, I can’t believe it either but Yuri on Ice actually edged out D Gray Man Hallow on anime I enjoyed watching. Neither anime is perfect (and I’ll happily admit to the flaws in both) but when it came to pure enjoyment I couldn’t beat either of these and in terms of the anime I’ll rewatch the most from this year, these 2 are the top picks. So why Yuri over D Gray Man? D Gray Man Hallow always had the advantage of nostalgia, but if I take that away, while I would have still enjoyed Hallow (assuming it made sense) it wouldn’t have been as enjoyable as the viewing experience for Yuri. In terms of the anime I sat waiting to the minute for the episode release, Yuri on Ice definitely won out.

However, for everything you enjoy there is a show that you watch and wonder why. Once again, I know there are worse anime out there, but these are the anime I watched all the way through and really wonder why.

Starting from the worst.

  1. Taboo Tattoo
  2. Big Order
  3. Lost Village
  4. Hitorinoshita
  5. Divine Gate
  6. Dimension W
  7. Nazotokine
  8. Norn 9
  9. Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle
  10. Bloodivores

What was pleasantly surprising was how few of the Autumn season found their way onto this list. Mostly the shows I watched in Autumn were more boring than terrible (though I did avoid a few shows that I knew were going to end up in this category so they didn’t count on the having watched them criteria).

Party

The Reader’s Poll

I was surprised by some of the results and not surprised by others. Probably the biggest issue is there were only 54 votes total so from a data point of view this probably isn’t the most valid survey. Anyway…

  1. Yuri on Ice (7 votes)
  2. Assassination Classroom 2 (6 votes)
  3. Mob Psycho 100 (6 votes)
  4. Tanaka-kun is Always Listless (5 votes)
  5. Bungo Stray Dogs (3 votes)
  6. Erased (3 votes)
  7. March Comes in Like a Lion (3 votes)
  8. Kiss Him Not Me (3 votes)
  9. Flip Flappers (3 votes)
  10. Grimgar of Fantasy of Ash (3 votes)

With that I say goodbye to 2016 and welcome in 2017 for a whole new year of watching anime.

By the way, over the next 4 weeks my Tuesday’s Top 5 post is going to do a recap of 2016. Top 5 Female Characters of 2016 is up first, followed by Top 5 Male Characters of 2016, Top 5 Visually Interesting Anime of 2016 and finally Top 5 Opening Themes of 2016. Then I will move on to something different but I felt January was a great time to recap the previous year.

Over to you: Which anime was your favourite or most hated from 2016?

Alderamin on the Sky Series Review

Overview:

Alderamin on the Sky follows Ikta Solork, a fairly lazy and apathetic young man, who unfortunately finds himself forced into joining his country’s military along with his childhood friend.

I reviewed this series week to week so if you are after individual episode thoughts click here.

Review:

For those who followed my episode to episode reviews (or checked out my Summer rankings each week) it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I really enjoyed and quite strongly recommend Alderamin as a series. It isn’t perfect by any means and it isn’t exactly the most mind-blowing thing you’ll ever watch, but it is an interesting military fantasy with a cast that give reasonably consistent performances and tell a story in a decent fashion.

This may not seem like a glowing recommendation but when it comes to fantasy, anything that can settle itself down long enough to get the fundamentals of story telling right without tripping themselves up with how clever they are and how amazing some mystical thingy is, kind of stands out. Even taken out of the fantasy genre, Alderamin delivers a solid piece of story telling even if it never quite rises to being all that exciting.

I will put a language warning on this anime. Normally I wouldn’t bother (given most shows that use this kind of language are pretty obvious about it) but given the generally nice nature of the show and the characters some of the sexually explicit language that comes out at times (and a little bit of swearing) seems to come out of left field. It isn’t intrusive and not excessive, but it definitely makes its presence felt so if that isn’t your thing then perhaps you should pass.

Because of this I’m going to do a plus/minus format for the review.

Plus +

Ikta and Yattori as main characters are brilliant (and not just because we keep getting told Ikta is meant to be brilliant). The chemistry between them as long term friends feels genuine and more importantly, it is needed for the plot to work. Ikta might be a brilliant strategist but without knowing his resources and what they can do, he would have failed far more often than he did. More importantly, because the two characters know each other so well, they can take action knowing someone will have their back and this allows them to take risks that progress the story. Honestly, if nothing else in this story worked, the relationship between these two would be more than enough to keep me watching. I kind of lived in fear that they’d try to make it romantic but we were fortunately spared that particular development.

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Minus –

The Princess Chamille and most of the military officers we meet throughout the course of the anime are pretty flat as characters. While Ikta’s core group get some development and a few minor soldiers and lower officers get some opportunities to show that they are people, the higher officers and the Princess get one note personalities. Fortunately they don’t appear all that often so it isn’t enough to ruin the viewing but it makes you wonder how the entire Kingdom hadn’t already fallen apart with some of the morons that were in charge.

Plus +

While some might find the pacing a problem, I quite enjoyed the way this shows breaks down. There are 2 – 3 episodes given to each of the minor conflicts as we progress to the final retreat that Ikta is put in charge of. This gives them time to set up a situation, have some piece of wisdom revealed, a little bit of character development and interaction, before we charge into another inevitable battle (well, it is a military fantasy). I didn’t mind this method of pacing out the story and felt it worked quite well with the subject matter – then again, I also enjoyed the weird strategy narration from Lord Marksman and Vanadis so maybe my record with military fantasy anime is questionable. Basically, the show steps this up from an escape, to a military exercise, to a field conflict where they have the upper hand, to a field conflict where they don’t have the upper hand, to a full on retreat. At each stage forcing Ikta to work that little bit harder for his victory (even if by victory we mean successful retreat). From a reality point of view it is laughable but from the point of view of escalating a situation in order to push a character it works very well.

Minus –

Lengthy explanations. This is a problem in any show where the main character is supposed to be smart. The writer’s feel the need to have them explain their reasoning (ad nauseum) to a range of other characters and they inevitably don’t come off looking as smart as they would if they just kind of did what they needed to do. I don’t know about you, but I do not stand around telling people my entire thought process before I make a decision. I will walk people through the final reasoning, but all the steps along the way get cut out because nobody wants to listen to it. For a show that mostly had clever character interactions, I’d really love to go back through it and hack out almost every one of Ikta’s strategy explanations.

Plus +

It’s kind of pretty. Okay, it doesn’t rise to the wow factor of something like No Game, No Life in terms of striking world building, but I actually found myself enjoying the scenery and character designs while watching this. The visuals match the story. They do what they need to do and they don’t bother trying to clutter up the issue or disguise flaws by dangling pretty colours in our faces. I’ll echo that point for the music. It works but it isn’t trying to steal the show.

Minus –

For a fantasy, the world building is probably the weakest component. We get a basic idea of the main ideologies and set-ups of the main powers in the world but there are a million unaddressed questions in this series (like what is actually with the character’s spirit companion things). While these don’t get in the way of you understanding the plot, they leave the world feeling a little incomplete. That said, incomplete is probably better than weighed down with excess detail at the expense of character or story development.

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As I said at the start, I really enjoyed Alderamin on the Sky and I’d really like to see more of this story but it brought things to a fairly natural conclusion and the narration has told us where this story plans to go so even if we never see any more of this world or these characters we can call it a day with sufficient closure. My recommendation is to watch this anime. If you like any kind of fantasy or if you just want an anime that tells a pretty straight forward story, Alderamin is well worth the time.

 

Alderamin on the sky Episode 13

Review:

Ikta finally woke up and figured out a plan to get around the unsleeping guy and that was nearly anti-climatic in the end. Not because turning the tables mid-battle with words alone (after a show of force) isn’t impressive, but the fact that it happened mid-episode followed by a stilted and awkward conversation between the two (with a wonderful barrier of fire separating them) just kind of made it all seem kind of blah. The rest follows Ikta and the Princess reuniting and her very odd request that makes a really bizarre amount of sense given the context.

“You will lose the war in the right way.”

That said, now I do want this show to continue because while watching these characters and this conflict I’ve kind of become invested in where things will go and while it is tied up enough that we could leave it here, I’d really like to see more. Time will tell, I guess.

I still firmly recommend checking this out and Alderamin is available on Crunchyroll.

Alderamin on the Sky Episode 5

Review:

I kind of know I’m into a show when they deliver a whole episode of flashback and I still love it. They timed this perfectly. Just when they’ve shown how well Yatori and Ikta work together we go back to where it all started for them. It’s a cute and charming episode and the wolf siege has just the right amount of drama to be affective. That said, because the entire episode is essentially a flash back the plot this week kind of crawled to a halt. Overall, great character development, still a thoroughly enjoyable fantasy, and I really can’t wait until the next episode.

Alderamin on the Sky can be found on Crunchyroll.

Alderamin of the Sky Episode 1 + 2

Overview:

A lazy boy (who is also an outrageous flirt) is going to take some exam for the army (because a friend of his has asked him to) but while on route their boat starts sinking and their forced to bail. Naturally they rescue a princess and then end up behind enemy lines.

Review Episode 1:

Not what I was expecting. I very nearly just skipped right past this series thinking I was sick of the every guy joining the army and being amazing and all the girls flocked to him. While there is definitely a bit of that, this series distinguishes itself in two ways. One, they aren’t currently sitting in a military school and doing training games that may or may not take on a serious tone later. Two, the main character actually seems to have a bit of a personality and child-hood friend girl doesn’t seem either the overbearing sister type or the pathetic wimp. Whether I enjoyed this first episode so much because it defied my expectations or because it was good I’m not sure. Looking forward to the next episode.

Review Episode 2:

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Really loving this so far. It’s been awhile since a pure fantasy (other than Snow White) has really caught my attention. And Endride (which was my last attempt at this genre) was truly, unwatchably dreadful and I gave it away by episode 4. Mostly I am finding the protagonist interesting. Yeah, he’s got a dark past and it’s damaged him so the standard orphan with chip on shoulder cliché is well in effect but he isn’t grating on my nerves and I genuinely want to see how he will deal with the situation he’s now been thrust into. Possibly this will lose momentum once the introductions are over and done with, but I’m really hoping for something good here. The first two episodes definitely impressed.

Alderamin of the Sky is available on Crunchyroll.