Tuesday’s Top 5: Things I Learned From Anime Last Year

Tuesday's Top 5

It’s been an interesting 12 months as an anime reviewer and I love thinking back about all the shows I’ve watched and the lessons I’ve learned, or at least been reminded about. These are the top 5 things I learned from anime last year but I’d love to know if anime taught you anything, or reminded you about something you shouldn’t forget.

Please note: There may be spoilers below.

Honourable Mentions:

  • Don’t try and take on the mafia alone: Banana Fish
  • When summoning a demon lord from another world, be sure to read the label properly otherwise you might end up with an otaku gamer or a loli and neither one is exactly what you would be after if you decided to summon a demon lord: How Not To Summon a Demon Lord

Number 5: How my immune system works from Cells At Work

This one is pretty obvious when you think about it, but watching Cells at Work each week reminded me about all that high school biology stuff that I promptly just stopped thinking about after graduating. I also learned about a couple of cells I’d previously never heard of. While my primary reason for watching anime is not educational, when an edutainment like Cells at Work comes along that is informative and fun and adorable, you just can’t pass it up. The only problem is every blood test I get now I worry about the millions of Red Blood Cells that just found themselves torn from their home.

Number 4: Longer running stories need to work harder to keep me interested

I kind of already knew this with Bleach being the only really ‘long’ running anime I ever fully completed. My Hunter x Hunter watch has stalled so incredibly close to the end and yet I just haven’t finished it, and otherwise Soul Eater and D Gray Man are probably the only other two long anime I’m a massive fan of. But last year this became really clear to me as Black Clover got cut from my watch list thirteen episodes in (though it may have been the shouting and not the episode count that lead to that), GeGeGe no Kitaro was abandoned even though I didn’t dislike the show, Attack on Titan was on notice until it delivered a fairly strong third season and even My Hero Academia that I’d previously really enjoyed just felt a bit tired.

It probably says more about my attention span than the anime, but the larger episode counts seem to make me want more from the anime and expect more from the story and when I don’t find it I seem to lose interest. Then we have the new Sword Art Online series with its mammoth four cour run announced before we even started and while initially excited I’m finding that it feels like they’ve stretched out content to fill those episodes rather than having enough content for it to begin with (though we’ll see what they do next with it). Either way, last year very much reminded me that I prefer my anime with 11 – 13 episodes and a conclusive ending.

Number 3: In relationships communication is key.

Again, this is something I already knew but we certainly had a tonne of examples of why this was important last year. Just looking at the Autumn season we can see that Nanami and Yuu would have been better off if Yuu had been more open about how she felt early on and even after she resolves to do something, she still doesn’t actually talk to Nanami about it directly instead taking a round about route (Bloom Into You). Takato and Junta from Dakaichi could have solved their break-up drama in a heart beat if either one had actually consulted the other before taking action. Then we have Sakuta and Mai (Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai), the one couple that mostly communicated beautifully and managed to navigate around so much relationship drama and yet Mai still didn’t tell Sakuta it was her birthday and he had to find out second hand from her younger sister. If anime taught me anything last year it was definitely to talk to your partner, whoever they may be.

Number 2: Heroes come in all shapes and sizes

While not from a specific anime, there were so many different kinds of heroes from so many different shows last year. My personal favourites included traditional heroes such as All Might from My Hero Academia, but also encompassed characters such as Hina from March Comes in Like a Lion and Yuu from Bloom Into You. Big or small, saving the world or reaching out to a friend, there were so many different heroes to choose from that surely there was someone a viewer could look up to last year.

Number 1: Definitely ignore the pre-season hype and judge shows for what they are

Whether it was going in with too high an expectation, possibly considering passing on something because of no expectations, or just not enjoying something because I wanted it to be something else, last year taught me the value of taking things as they are and not as I wanted them to be. Then again, even going into Darling in the Franxx with no expectation would not make me like it anymore. But perhaps Clear Card would have been better received if I wasn’t endlessly comparing it to the nostalgia fuelled image I had of Cardcaptor Sakura. And consider some shows I ended up really enjoying, such as Rokuhoudou Yatsuiro Biyori that wasn’t even on my radar and from the description of it doesn’t seem like my kind of story I really just need to try each show on its own merit. So this year I am as much as possible going into shows without expectations, watching the first episode (or as much as I can stomach) and giving them a go. That said, W’z still isn’t getting more than 5 minutes of my time.

Right, so what did you learn last year while watching anime?

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In Case You Missed It 2019 #5

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 3 Shirogane

Another fine week watching anime and we are now in February so I’m anticipating a lot of romance and valentine posts coming out over the next few weeks. My Twitter Feed kind of exploded when I asked what was on people’s list of most romantic anime after updating my own list of Top 5 Romantic Anime and that has been really fun seeing the different choices from the community. Hopefully everyone has had a good week and below are some great posts that I found from the community and links to my own posts in case you missed them.

Posts from the Community

Marth has a great review of Land of the Lustrous that gets to the point and addresses what might be a draw and what might be a turn off for viewers of this particular anime. If you want a quick take on whether Land of the Lustrous might be for you this is a great post to check out.

Cain S Latrani has a review about Goblin Slayer and with a focus on the theme of overcoming PTSD. It is a really interesting look at the central character and his personal journey throughout the series as supported by the supporting characters and a great review of how the anime dealt with its subject matter.

Arthifis continues to roll out his impressions and recommendations for the season before his guide comes out and he’s up to The Promised Neverland. If you are still on the fence about whether to start this one, this look at the first three episodes and the strengths and weaknesses of the anime may well convince you to give it a go. Be sure to check out this post and the others Arthifis has been putting out as the new season continues to roll along.

And speaking of Arthifis, he also posted an interesting discussion piece about talent and Danganronpa that was quite the interesting read. Well worth checking out if you missed it.

Crow’s World of Anime has a great post on episode 3 of Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka detailing their three favourite moments and these pretty much highlight why this anime has become such a pleasant surprise this season. If you haven’t checked out the anime but are considering it, check out this post and it might very well make you want to check out the show.

Still on Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka, Xenodude has a more measured approach finding more issues with the series but still finding points to enjoy. If you’d like a bit more of a measured response to the episode then this review might be what you are looking for.

There Goes My Kokoro has a great March Comes in Like a Lion post this week focusing on a specific arc from season two. There are some spoilers for the ‘burnt field’ arc in this post (okay, it tells you what happens so if you haven’t watched it and spoilers bother you, watch the anime first), but it is an amazing explanation of what makes this arc so incredibly powerful despite its focus on a seemingly very side character. Well worth the read for any March Comes in Like a Lion fans and well worth reading if you are curious about what March Comes in Like a Lion is so great.

Seasonal Prattle gives new and old users of the community some guides for engaging in seasonal content. While some of the points seem obvious, others are a welcome reminder that we’re all watching anime because deep down we love it and those differences of opinion don’t matter all that much. Definitely one for people in the ani-community to check out.

Pick of the Week

Marion over on Otaku, She Wrote has an absolutely fabulous post about character design looking at Eiji from Banana Fish and comparing the real life inspiration to the appearance in the manga to the appearance in the anime and how the design conveys his character. It is a lovely post to read and well put together. If you were wanting more Banana Fish now that it is over, this is a great post to check out to get your fix.

Banana Fish Episode 13 Eiji

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime From 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

Alright, here we are. The last top 5 list of 2018 anime titles and it is the list of my favourites for the year. This list was brutal to make because as much as the Spring and Summer seasons didn’t really work out for me, 2018 started strong in Winter and the Autumn season is one of the best I’ve seen. Now, I haven’t included any anime from the Autumn season that are incomplete on the final list here so Run With The Wind, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime and several others weren’t considered. Otherwise, anything that aired and finished in 2018 that I watched was considered and there were still a lot of strong contenders because there are shows that were technically amazing but not really my style and shows that were just great fun, but not technically impressive. Trying to balance it for a top 5 list was incredibly hard but I’m happy with the final list.

Previously I’ve just done my favourite anime as part of my best and worst of the season posts so this is the first official top 5 list of best anime from a year. No surprise though that Yuri on Ice took out my favourite anime of 2016 and March Comes in Like a Lion took out best anime of 2017.

On that note, I’d love to know what your picks for the year were so please leave a comment below.

Honourable Mentions:

For 2018 my honourable mentions go to two shows that I really loved and had great fun watching, but both are fairly riddled with problems in terms of visuals, presentation, pacing, and narrative. That said, that didn’t stop either one being fun. For 2018 my honourable mentions go to Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens and Spiritpact Season 2.

Number 5: Banana Fish

An emotionally wrenching journey this anime definitely knew how to hit its audience in the feels. Okay, logically nothing in this story makes sense and contextually it is dated even if they did do a patch job to move it into the modern era. However, these characters have charm and make it very easy to get behind them and want them to succeed. While seeing Ash do his Rambo act might be unrealistic it is certainly satisfying. The subject matter won’t be for everyone with sexual assault among other confronting issues taking a central role in the narrative. All and all though, this was an exhilarating ride to go on this year.

Number 4: Attack on Titan Season 3

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting this one to show up on my best of the year list. And yet, Attack on Titan season 3 managed to give us some fairly solid character work and some pretty impressive plot development given how stalled both seemed during season 2. I ended up really enjoying what we got of Attack on Titan in 2018 and while I know the second part is coming out next year, this season was enough to get me interested in this franchise again.

Number 3: Bloom Into You

An anime I went into with very little expected of it. However after a fairly ordinary start, Bloom Into You very quickly won me over with its very solid direction and visual symbolism. It is an incredibly impressive telling of what is a fairly ordinary story but the amount of thought and care put into the execution of this one definitely makes it one well worth the watch. I’m still not a huge fan of Yuri and high school romance in general, but I would firmly recommend this one to anyone because it is fantastically presented.

Number 2: Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

No surprise that this one made the list. It took a lot of reviewers by surprise with its strong dialogue and clever writing. While not a flawless series, this one managed to balance its supernatural elements as stand ins for the normal stresses and anxieties faced by teenagers in high school in a manner that was both relatable and charming. With a cast of characters that were superbly written and thoroughly enjoyable to spend time with. Other than the animation used for characters running this anime can almost do no wrong and what few complaints I have about it definitely come up sounding fairly petty. It’s a wonderful story and one that you should definitely check out if you haven’t.

Number 1: March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2

Okay, anyone who follows my blog is not surprised by this. As much as Bloom Into You and Bunny Girl Senpai were solid late entries for 2018, they just couldn’t shake my love of March Comes in Like a Lion. It is every bit as visually impressive as Bloom Into You and the cast of characters are every bit as charming and relatable as those in Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai. As tough a decision as these three made it, March Comes in Like a Lion season 2 comes out ahead because I just can’t imagine it being any better.

There it is. My Top 5 anime from 2018. Now I’d love to know yours.

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Male Anime Characters from 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

In 2016 the wonderful Allen Walker from D Gray Man Hallow topped my list – and yeah that was an incredibly biased decision because I just love Allen. 2017 saw Rei from March Comes in Like a Lion take the list (well deserved). 2018 had a plethora of fantastic male characters, though if you read my list of favourite female characters from the year you probably have a fairly good idea of who is going to end up on my list here. As always, I’d love to know who your choices are for best male anime characters from 2018.

Honourable Mentions:

It kind of hurts but Kirito from Sword Art Online Alicization has only gotten an honourable mention. While he still has plenty of episodes, his showing in 2018 was okay but not his best work (poor guy). The other character I want to give an honourable mention to is Lin from Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens. He was great fun but not quite memorable enough to land a spot on the top 5.

Number 5: Okabe Rintaro from Steins;Gate 0

As much as Steins;Gate 0 didn’t quite click for me in 2018 one thing I did appreciate was seeing Okabe’s character after he had hit rock bottom and tried to rebuild his life. The Okabe who gave up on saving everyone and just tried to make the best of things. Seeing that Okabe finally find the motivation needed to fight back again despite the hardship it was going to cost was perhaps one of the most rewarding character arcs for the year.

Number 4: Takato from Dakaichi

Alright, if you’ve been following my collaboration with Arthifis on Dakaichi you will know I’ve been seriously loving Takato’s character since the beginning. While there’s a lot in Dakaichi that is easy to dismiss or would make you raise an eyebrow, Takato has been a highly entertaining main character. I love watching him when he is working as an actor and seeing him slowly get in touch with his emotions in his real life. For everything that doesn’t work in Dakaichi, Takato has been a shining character for the Autumn season (or at least one that I’ve really enjoyed watching).

Number 3: Sakuta from Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

Sakuta has been one of those characters who comes along who on the one hand I feel he’s pretty ordinary, on the other hand this is how you write an ordinary character and make him shine. Solid writing, great interactions with the support cast, and just enough personality and sass that he doesn’t just fit solidly into the nice guy forgettable role, and Sakuta is someone who has easily carried his show (admittedly with a bit of help from a fabulous supporting cast).

Number 2: Ash from Banana Fish

It was a hard toss up as to whether I was going to pick Ash or Eiji for the list, but Ash wins because I just love seeing him rise up time and time again. Ash may be incredibly overpowered given he’s ridiculously smart, strong, and shrugs off bullet wounds and being stabbed more or less instantly. He might be straight out of an 80’s power fantasy, but he is definitely fun to watch and when he’s with Eiji his soft and fluffy side comes out (as much as one exists). Really enjoyed spending time with Ash this year and while I might have wanted him to have more happy moments, I can’t deny that I was always entertained by his journey.

Number 1: Rei Kiriyama from March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2

It’s the second year in a row but Rei Kiriyama remains my very favourite male anime character in 2018. His interactions with Hina, his match against Souya, his support of Shimada, and just his own growth as a character, returning to his foster home to face some of the past, all of these moments have seen Rei moving from strength to strength. For a character who still has a long way to travel in regards to dealing with his own mental health, Rei continues to be inspirational and relatable and someone I just want to see more of.

That’s the list for 2018 but I’d love to know who you would have picked for your top 5 male anime characters.

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In Case You Missed It 2019 #2

My it was a busy week with lots of first episodes to try and a few I just decided to put on hold for now because there doesn’t really seem to be any point in trying them. That said, some of the stuff I did try ended up being… ‘interesting’. Still, there’s certainly variety this season. However, as the rest of the anime for the season premiere and reviewers choose their watch lists below I have some great posts from the community covering a wide range of anime old and new as well as games, rebuttals against other articles, and characters in general. There are also links to my posts for the week so hopefully you can catch up if you missed anything you were interested in.

As always you are welcome to give a shout out to an anime related post in the comments below if there is one you think deserves some attention and if you think there’s a post I should include, send me a message via my contact or a DM on twitter and I’m always happy to check out great content.

Posts from the Community

L-Zerb has an interesting post discussing why it is Koroko no Basket and not Kagami no Basket. It’s an interesting discussion about Koroko’s character and his change throughout the series. A great read.

Crow’s World of Anime brings us something of an unusual list with six examples of female armour in anime that might actually protect the wearer (I know, who knew there were six). I love reading lists with explanations as to why certain things were included and this was an interesting list with some great characters on it.

Prattler’s Paradise has a post about the long titles that seem to be the trend for light novels and anime series in recent times and why they need to stop (because we’re just going to shorten them anyway). While I don’t necessarily agree or disagree that long titles are a problem, it is a great post to read with some good examples given as well as some points about what makes a title interesting or good.

Amari Sali gives their first impressions of The Rising of the Shield Hero. This is a nice detailed breakdown that looks at what happened, what the positives are and what didn’t work so well and wraps up with an overall impressions. If you were curious about whether Shield Hero was for you, this post will give you a pretty solid idea about what you are about to watch.

JekoJeko from UEM also looks at The Rising of the Shield Hero but they look more at the way it was reviewed by ANN and some of the problems in how views were presented. In a time when so many anime seem to be getting criticised for having views (or simply presenting material) that may not align with some viewers I think this is an important article to read, though it is very critical.

Rising of the Shield Hero Episode 1 Naofumi

C S Radical has a rebuttal piece on an article written about diversity in gaming. I would suggest reading the article they are responding to (which is linked in the post) but this is a great piece for getting gamers thinking about what is important in gaming and what diversity actually means in gaming. Definitely a post (and an article) worth reading and considering for gamers.

Jessi shares a final series review of Skull Face Bookseller Honda-San and looks at how this comedy manages to set itself apart from a lot of others that came out last year. It’s a pleasant read about a fairly pleasant anime and one worth checking out if you have the time.

Skull Face Bookseller honda San Episode 6

Arthifis shares three reasons why the first episode of the Promised Neverland was perfect. It was a strong premiere episode and it certainly got the community talking and this post does a great job of highlighting some of the strengths of the episode as well as a message Arthifis took from it. That said, this post does have a few spoilers for episode 1 so if you haven’t watched it yet, maybe do that first.

Mr Flawfinder has a review of Banana Fish and while he does point out some of the narrative flaws, this was a fairly positive review of a series that I kind of fell in love with at the end of last year. If you’d like to read a non-gushing but fair review of Banana Fish then this one is actually pretty solid and very specific in its examples of why things do and don’t work in the series (though, fair warning it does spoil the ending).

Banana Fish Episode 17 - Ash and Eiji.

Pick of the Week

Kapodaco provides us with an interesting post asking How Dense is Too Dense For An Anime Protagonist? and looks at the motivations behind dense anime protagonists as well as how they impact on the narratives they are in. It’s a great post and one which all anime fans will be able to weight in on because we’ve all come across that far too dense protagonist far too many times. n

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Duos of 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

There’s only one thing better than a great character and that is a great duo. A pair of characters where the chemistry just works, the timing in their dialogue and reactions are spot on, and seeing the two interacting is enough to carry any scene they are in. This is my list of top 5 anime duos from 2018 and there are some incredibly great pairings here. My only real limitation was the characters in the top 5 couldn’t be part of my favourite couples from the year. As always though, I’d love to know your picks so please share in the comments below who some of your favourite duos were.

Honourable Mentions:

Honourable mention for Ash and Eiji from Banana Fish. After taking out best couple I couldn’t have them on this list as well, but let’s be honest, they really deserve a spot. The only question would be whether I think they could have beaten the number one on this list and that’s a tough question. Also, an honourable mention to Keika and Tanmoku from Spiritpact who were fantastic together, however the introduction of a third character into the mix in season two kind of disrupted the duo for a bit so they ultimately didn’t get a spot in the top 5.

Number 5: Ryuichi and Kotaro from School Babysitters

It is a slightly unusual choice for a duo list but these brothers are fantastic together. Kotaro is awesome as the toddler younger brother and Ryuichi is a delight as a concerned older brother. Neither of these characters comes off as too clingy but their scenes together are always sweet and heart warming and they are just adorable.

Number 4: Kirito and Eugeo from Sword Art Online Alicization

While Asuna may be left fairly high and dry this season, Kirito isn’t flying solo. No, he’s working side by side with Eugeo who has turned into a surprisingly fun character and the interactions with Eugeo and Kirito remain my favourite part of this new instalment of SAO. This is kind of what I think they should have done with Klein way back in the Aincrad arc but I can kind of understand why they didn’t. Looking forward to more Kirito and Eugeo moments in the new year.

Number 3: Banba and Lin from Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens

Your typical odd couple, these two work beautifully and are an absolute delight in a show about hitmen and murder. Individually, both characters are fun enough and fine, but when you put them together with their opposing views and contrasting skills you get something really special. Banba brings out the best in Lin and Lin certainly helps to keep Banba fairly level. I know this anime flew a little under the radar for some viewers so if you haven’t checked it out, and you don’t mind a bit of violence, then this one might end up being great fun. It is certainly worth checking out for these two characters.

Number 2: Red and White Blood Cell from Cells at Work

Alright, you knew these two were going to make an appearance. They are adorable and every moment when they are together is delightful. Whether White Blood Cell is rescuing Red from a germ, Red is telling White about her day while they drink tea, or even seeing the young versions of them in training, these two characters are just pure bliss and they work perfectly together.

Number 1: Sakuta and Mai from Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

They had to be the number one. From their very first episode together, the interactions between Sakuta and Mai charmed their audience and in an anime full of strong writing and interesting characters, nothing beats scenes with these two together. The back and forth dialogue, the give and take nature of their conversations and barbs, and just their general awareness of one another make these two an unbeatable duo from 2018.

That’s my list of best duos from the year and I’d love to know who some of your favourites were.

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In Case You Missed It 2019 #1

Voice of Fox Episode 12 Ji Hetian

Welcome to the first post round up of 2019. It is exciting to see how many bloggers have kicked off the new year with a plethora of great posts to read through. There’s a lot of round ups of 2018, final thoughts on the Autumn season, goals for 2019, and just some solid posts on display. As always, as much as I’d like to, I can’t get to everything so if you have a post or know of one that deserves some more attention, please feel free to give it a shout out in the comments below.

And remember to vote for your favourite anime of 2018. The poll is open until the 14th.

Posts from the Community

The Anime Glutton shares their top ten disappointing anime series of 2018. Now disappointing is always subjective because it means you expected something from the show in the first place, but I did find myself agreeing with quite a few of the picks on this list.

Banana Fish Episode 17 - Ash and Eiji.

Otaku She Wrote gives us a great break down of all the rainbows in Banana Fish. Now this was something they brought to my attention in their early episode reviews of the anime and it was something I ended up looking out for in the series. I really appreciate their attention to detail and this post was great for finding those moments you may have missed.

Mistress of Yaoi gave us a review of Banana Fish that looks at the story set up and the character growth. It avoids heavy spoilers though makes it clear that this one doesn’t end happily ever after, and is a great review to read if you are curious about what you might find in Banana Fish as it definitely addresses some of the themes that might trigger an audience. Worth checking out if you haven’t watched Banana Fish and are wondering if you would like it.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Episode 9 Sakuta

Watashi wa Bucho looks at how Bunny Girl Senpai used the supernatural to explore the everyday and some of the narrative benefits of this. A fun discussion post about an anime lots of people enjoyed last season, this one is worth checking out because it isn’t spoiler heavy for those who still haven’t taken the plunge and checked out the anime, but it may make you want to watch it.

Irina embraced the new year spirit by writing this post about being an awesome anime fan in 2019. For the very few people reading this post that don’t already follow Irina, you really should. She puts out some fantastic posts about anime and about the anime community and this one is really the kind and funny reminder we all need at the start of the year.

Bloom Reviews has a post about embracing predictability and looking at why spoilers aren’t really all that much of a problem with enjoying a narrative. It is a fun post and provides a perspective rarely discussed.

Marth gives us a quick review of Bloom Into You. If you want to know whether Bloom is worth trying or not but don’t want too much revealed, this is probably a great review to read given it covers the strengths of the series and its main weakness without going into too many reveals. A great post to read and a great anime to check out if you haven’t.

Pick of the Week

Floating Into Bliss has a video/transcript of a discussion about Bloom Into You and why it is the yuri anime the community needed. It is a really interesting discussion about the yuri genre in general as well as what Bloom Into You accomplished first as a manga and then in being adapted into anime. Well worth the watch/read.

Bloom Into You Episode 9 Yuu and Nanami

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