Tuesday’s Top 5: Ordinary Anime Characters Who Inspire

While many an anime character has inspired me, it is worth noting that a lot of anime characters have super powers, or magic, or destiny, or some other force working for them, which makes their actions a little less applicable to the everyday life that most of us lead. This list is to the heroes (and ordinary people) who have moved me to action or have given me strength when I have needed it. That makes is a fairly personal list so I’d love to know who would end up on your list of inspiring anime characters. While it hurts that I can’t add Maka to the list this time round, the characters below are all exceptional and yet completely human.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable Mentions: Akito from Bakuman for standing by his friend from start to finish no matter how rough things got.

Number 5: Nagisa (Assassination Classroom)

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One might argue that none of the students in Assassination Classroom are particularly ordinary, but that is their most compelling trait. They are ordinary. They are the ones who are overlooked and cast aside, who have been down so long that they have forgotten that they even have the right to stand up. Watching Nagisa move from someone who accepts this role to someone who has a clear presence about him and is comfortable in his own skin is something that is greatly inspiring. Okay, most of us don’t have a yellow octopus for a teacher who we get to learn to assassinate, but most of the lessons Nagisa takes on board are strictly of the ordinary kind of valuing who you are.

Number 4: Kurumi (Kimi ni Todoke)

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Season One of Kimi ni Todoke introduced us to Kurumi and she was a nasty piece of work determined to get Kazehaya to look at her and to get Sawako out of the picture. After being rejected she undergoes an incredible character transformation that reminds us all that just because we don’t get what we want doesn’t mean it is the end of the world. Kurumi becomes a truly great character and by the time the end of season 2 rolls around you really want her to find her own happiness.

Number 3: Kousei (Your Lie in April)

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This one might be cheating given the kid is definitely a genius. Yet, much like with Nagisa, the lessons Kousei takes on board during the heart breaking journey that is Your Lie in April are strictly the ordinary everyday ones that we all could learn from. Learning to grieve and mourn, to accept what has happened, to find a purpose, and just to find who you are. These are the things Kousei discovers throughout the course of his journey and they make him incredibly relatable and when he takes the stage in the final episode you cannot help but feel moved by him.

Number 2: Oreki (Hyouka)

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While this might seem an odd choice for number 2 on the list, there’s something truly remarkable about how this character lives his life. He has his own ideal of energy conservation and yet at the same time he doesn’t want his ideals to harm the experiences of others. He doesn’t want to let his sister down and later Chitanda and so acts contrary to his own nature on more than one occasion. This is also inspiring because while some people might see that as giving in or compromising, what it really demonstrates is an acceptance of a need for community and that it can’t always be about you. Oreki is inspiring because he finds a balance where he does have moments where he refused to do things or to get involved and other moments where he acts for the benefit of others. While I’m still not sure I like the anime, I quite like Oreki’s character and he reminds me that sometimes it isn’t all about me.

Number 1: Yuri (Yuri on Ice)

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Did we really think anyone else was going to take this spot? I almost disqualified him because being a world champion (even if he’s only in the top 6) kind of makes him somewhat extraordinary, but the only superpower he has is persistence and determination and so I let him take the top spot. His journey is fantastic and watching him stand up again and again and try to overcome his weaknesses never ceases to inspire.

And there they all are. Who would you have put on your list?


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Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime That Only Have One Season

There’s something to be said for an anime that can tell a complete story in 11, 12, 22, or 24 episodes and not leave the viewer unsatisfied or waiting for a conclusion that may never occur. While I have nothing against the longer running anime brethren, the anime I rewatch most often meets the condition of being a complete story in and of itself. Which actually made it quite hard to narrow this list down.

Now the order is entirely subjective and based only upon my enjoyment of the story and how complete it feels when watching, so I’d love for you to share your top 5 anime with only one season. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable Mentions: Parasyte, Ouran High School Host Club (this one actually kind of needs a sequel), and Trigun.

Number 5: My Love Story

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I don’t know why it is that I am completely in love with this anime and even though there’s plenty more that could be said about the characters and where they go, I never finish the story feeling like I’m missing out. This one is a sweet story that deals with two people not falling in love, because they actually cover that in about three episodes, but with the act of being in love for the first time and not really knowing what to do. It is awkward at times, adorable at others, and overall it is an incredibly rewarding watch.

Number 4: Death Note

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While logically you could write sequels, spin-offs and whatever else you want from this story, but I’m pretty sure most viewers will agree that Death Note feels decidedly finished with that final episode. Realistically, the story felt finished before it got to the end given the narrative structure. When you set up two characters in binary opposition and one dies, that definitely feels like an end point. Death Note pushes on nonetheless leaving us with a definitive ending later on, though a little bit of the satisfaction does get sucked out in the process.

Number 3: Erased

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Mystery stories are probably a bit easier to make feel complete. When you are first waiting for the who is the bad guy reveal followed by the will they catch him, it kind of gives you a clear end point for the series. Needless to say, while there are some lingering questions about the nature of revival, the story is most definitely complete in this anime.

Number 2: Your Lie in April

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Much like Erased, there was always an end point in mind for this series. However, what we get is a fairly profound character journey and ultimately an ending that will leave you in a smiling/teary mess as you can’t decide whether it was tragic or beautiful or somewhere in between the two. Anymore of this would simply take away from the power of that ending and really that is not something anyone should ever try and do.

Number 1: Angel Beats

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This anime begins with Otanashi waking up in a limbo and being told he has to fight against god. The story explores the true nature of the world he is in and the other characters inhabiting it. By the time we get to the end of this story everything that ever needed to be said about this world has been said. And while you have to wait around until after the end credits of the final episode to get to the resolution you so desperately want, it is most definitely there and leaves you with a feeling that everything is going to work out okay which is pretty much how I want to feel at the end of the emotional roller-coaster that is Angel Beats.

That’s the list for this week, so now I’m turning it over to you. What is your favourite anime with only one season? Or what are your top 5 is narrowing it down to one is too hard?


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Karandi James

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Erased Live Action Series Review: A Decent Ride

Overview:

Satoru is an unsuccessful manga writer working in a pizza shop and really just going through the motions of life. He has one strange ability where sometimes he will go back in time and it always happens after something has gone wrong and sometimes he can help to avoid it. However, when his mother dies, Satoru finds himself 15 years in the past as the chain of events leading to her death is quite complex and caught up in a series of mysterious abductions and murders from when he was a child.

Review:

While I already discussed my initial impressions of this series having completed viewing it I’m now going to review the entire show. To be honest, I was fairly impressed by the end of this. While it isn’t a master piece by any means the story is well paced, the characters for the most part play their roles well, and the climax is dramatic enough to make it feel worth the wait.

That isn’t to say that I changed my mind about Airi. She really does seem to be the weak link in the performances as she just doesn’t sit right in any scene and I’m still feeling like she was a little too unnerving or creepy in the early episodes. However, the rest of the cast all deliver a decent performance and it is easy to get swept up in their story (though I do think the person who designed the fake beard probably needs to start over).

Outside of the acting, the story itself was well executed. None of the scenes seemed to linger overly long but the plot didn’t feel rushed. The reveals made sense and were well timed and even knowing who the villain was didn’t take away from the experience of seeing it revealed. The climax has a few minor issues in that I think we’re supposed to believe they are in danger but it just doesn’t quite come across that way, but it is dramatic and it brings the story nicely to a close.

In terms of the scenes themselves there is very little risk taken in this series. Shot types and cuts are all pretty standard which makes them unobtrusive but also means they aren’t really adding anything to the story. Likewise, the music and sound works, but are mostly unremarkable.

Still, this was a great way to spend a few hours and the story is compelling enough on its own. The pacing is probably where this series shines and all in all, it was a pretty good version of the story.

Now, for those who have watched the anime there are differences. Mostly these are cosmetic but the climax has a scene change (and actually makes a great deal more sense) in this version and the one major improvement on the anime adaptation is the villain’s back story. So much better here and given that was a definite weak link in the anime it is something I really appreciated. There’s a few other minor changes but this is basically the same story so if you loved the anime there may not be a lot of point in watching this version.

I’d love to know your final thoughts on the series so leave me a comment below.


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First Impressions of Netflix’s Erased

A live action adaptation of any anime is something of an occasion as it brings out the usual arguments about whether something follows source material, whether the characters ‘look’ right (though why any real human would want to look like an anime character is a bit beyond me), whether it can live up to the anime version and so on and so forth. Usually there’s quite a bit of pessimism in the community with some cautious optimism. Erased wasn’t all that different and I must admit I was kind of trying to avoid having any kind of expectation for the live action.

So a few days ago I had a chance to catch the first two episodes and now I’ve managed another handful taking me to the end of episode 5. What do I think? I’m actually pretty impressed.

One thing Erased had going for it when they were adapting it was that for the most part the story is a straight drama/mystery and it didn’t have too many over the top, that works only in anime moments to try to make work with real life. I’m sure they are probably actually adapting from a manga and not the anime but as I’ve never read it I have no opinion on that one.

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Viewing this as a separate entity, my biggest complaint in the first five episodes would be Airi. She just comes off too young and her smile and up-beat personality come off borderline creepy rather than supportive. Maybe they were going for that but to be honest she’s my least favourite character so far in this adaptation and she hasn’t had that much screen time. A smaller complaint would be directed at the younger version of Satoru as some of his expressions aren’t quite as nuanced as they might be but it isn’t terrible. For a child actor he’s not doing too bad a job holding up the tone of the show so his less stellar moments are fairly understandable and aren’t really all that bad.

On the other hand, Satoru’s mother and Kayo have so far been pretty solid in their performances and the cast as a whole has been working fairly well.

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In terms of the story I’ve come to realise how much I will forgive in an anime over live action. There’s one encounter in the story where a character says something to Satoru with a ‘don’t tell anyone’ but all I could think was why would anyone say that in the first place. Given the situation it was a massive breach of confidentiality and Satoru was a child. Why on earth would you reveal that kind of information to them? It is amazing how when two anime characters have a fairly similar conversation I don’t get the same ‘no way’ response to the scene.

Despite that, the first five episodes have been excellent in setting up the story and the mystery. It isn’t having quite the impact that the anime had on me but that’s probably because I’m now familiar with the story. Yet some scenes and sequences have been pretty brilliant such as viewing the night sky through the tree in winter and Airi’s apology to Satoru.

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I’ll definitely be finishing this series soon (hopefully later today) and I’ll try to write a review that isn’t a comparison to the anime. Still my first impressions are that this is an alright series. It isn’t going to change the world but it is quite engaging and watchable. As an adaptation of an anime I loved, it is also pretty good. Very little to complain about so far.


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Opening Themes in 2016

One of the things most of us remember about an anime series is the opening theme. Whether we loved it or hated it, listened to it every time, or reached for the remote (mouse) to hit the skip. Opening themes set the tone for the entire viewing experience and yet it is another element I seldom take into consideration when ranking my favourite anime on my weekly lists. This week’s top 5 gave me a chance to reflect on some of the themes of 2016 and to realise it was not one of my favourite years for opening songs.

My criteria for top 5 opening theme is mostly that the song could be listened to as a song by itself and still sound good without the visuals, though also had good visuals to go with it, that it matched the tone of the show, and that it got me ready to watch the episode. Also, it had to be an opening I didn’t want to skip because listening to the song was part of the experience. 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).

For patrons there is a list of the 5 openings of 2016 that didn’t particularly impress over on patreon.

Please Note – There probably won’t be any spoilers in this list.

Honourable mentions this week go to: Cheer Boys (because it was fun) and 91 Days (because it set the tone of the show so well). Also, special honourable mention to Raise Your Flag from Iron Blooded Orphans because if that had been the theme the whole way through the show it would have been absolutely perfect.

Number 5: Coolest from Sakamoto Desu Ga

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This is the weirdest choice on this list because this is an anime I didn’t even finish watching. However, this opening gives you more or less the entire concept and is fun, bright and over the top which is everything the show itself is trying to be. I probably would have ditched the show and kept watching the opening if that was a viable option really.

Number 4: Bye Bye Yesterday from Assassination Classroom Second Season

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Assassination Classroom has continued to have excellent openings that nail the tone of the show and manage to convey the overall emotion the characters are feeling at that point in time. From that point of veiw, Bye Bye Yesterday is the perfect opening during the second season because our characters have moved on from who they were and they are at a critical transitional point. The visuals throughout the song are pretty awesome to with a lot of looking back on where the characters have come from and the events that have shaped them in the series. The fact that the song is still upbeat and energizes you in preparation for the episode is perfect because Assassination Classroom still has that weird back and forth between comedy and real drama so a song that makes you feel sad and nostalgic while getting you energised is exactly what was needed.

Number 3: Lay Your Hands on Me from Kiznaiver

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I know I didn’t end up thinking much of the show but this song was amazing. Actually the entire opening sequence is just an overload on the senses. The song is full of energy and drama and yet you aren’t sure whether it is trying to be optimistic or poignant and overall it just makes you feel like something is coming. Unfortunately for me, most episodes went downhill after the opening but at least I never skipped the song.

Number 2: Re:Re from Erased

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During the first few episodes, while I enjoyed this opening, I couldn’t figure out why this show had such an up-beat and happy little opening. The visuals hinted at darker ideas but the song itself felt like it belonged on some coming-of-age high school romp rather than a mystery with potential supernatural elements. Turns out the song wasn’t lying as the mystery part of the show falls short and it is the coming-of-age and the finding out who you are that dominates the show thematically in the second half. So great song in and of itself and once you’ve watched the show through you realise just how apt it actually is.

Number 1: History Maker from Yuri On Ice

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That was probably obvious from the get-go given the theme to Yuri on Ice was probably the only one I commented on (more than once) during my weekly reviews of a show. I couldn’t help it, the song just swept me away each and every time I listened to it. It is one of the few themes that I actively looked up and played just by itself without any intention of watching an episode of the show. And please, hit repeat. Then of course we have the beautiful animation that accompanies it. I also liked that it didn’t really sound like an anime opening. That kind of made it stand out. All and all, this was the perfect opening song for this particular story.

Alright, over to you. What opening themes made you pay attention in 2016?


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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).

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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?

Friday’s Feature – Comparing Apples and Oranges

With the new season of anime starting, I’ve found myself doing a lot of episode 1 impressions and trying to write a basic overview of a lot of different shows. The number of times I found myself falling back on the “it’s like …. with a bit of ….” in order to describe a show kind of got me thinking. Is it fair to compare one show to another?

In honesty, when I write a review of a full series, I generally avoid comparing one anime to another. Occasionally it seems necessary to make a point about one particularly aspect. Whether it be a character, a bit of music, or a particular plot point, sometimes drawing a comparison can be really helpful in order to explain where you are coming from. However, I avoid falling back on this as my main form of review for the simple reason that I feel things should be taken for what they are and not what other things are that might be better.

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Erased is a good anime to look at when we think about whether or not we should compare anime. If we look at Erased as a mystery, even taken by itself you can see that the mystery itself is flawed due to the lack of viable suspects. This makes the guessing who the culprit is pretty easy and takes away any dramatic reveal that might occur later in the series. So even without a comparison Erased isn’t going to stand up very well as a mystery. But if we then played it against a mystery (something like Blood C or Paranoia Agent which leave you guessing until the reveal) Erased starts looking even worse.

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Is that fair? Admittedly, if I were doing a Top 5 list of best mystery anime, Erased wouldn’t be on it, but when I reviewed Erased I was looking at more than just the mystery component. So comparing it to something else only as a mystery takes away from what Erased actually is as an anime.

My review of Erased focussed very much on the characters within Erased and their reactions to the situations. I looked at the characters I liked and didn’t and the events that shaped them. Are the characters perfect? Not really. If I compared Erased to other character driven dramas would Erased be the best? Probably not. But Erased is a character driven drama with mystery and supernatural elements thrown in. It is the combination of all of these things (working together) that make watching Erased a reasonably entertaining experience.

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But if we start classifying things like that I may as well say that Taboo Tattoo was the most interesting anime about princesses trying to rewrite the world via the power of sentient tattoos. I’d be right (at least I hope there aren’t any others), but that doesn’t make it a good anime either.

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Another anime that I really liked recently was Alderamin on the Sky. I really enjoyed each episode and getting to know the characters, however I found myself regularly pointing out that this anime wasn’t trying to be the most exciting thing in the world. Looking back at my weekly thoughts, I said this a lot. Why? Because when you do a surface comparison of Alderamin to any of the big anime, Alderamin is going to come off second best. Not because it isn’t a good story with good characters but because it just doesn’t have any of the flash of some of the big names. Any kind of comparison is going to go badly for Alderamin but I would still say you should watch Alderamin.

I also remember a lot of people comparing Shirayuki (from Snow White with the Red Hair) to Yona (Akatsuki no Yona). Yeah they were both red-haired heroines who appeared at around the same time and both ended up being quite independent, female leads. It seems natural to compare them. Except that does it matter if Yona is more active than Shirayuki and learns to shoot a bow? Does that make Shirayuki any less of a positive, female character in an anime? Does it matter that Shirayuki has far more self-determination right from the start of the series than Yona does in hers? Does that make Yona less of a heroine because her direction was chosen for her by destiny at first?

I’m not actually criticising comparisons. They do work well at highlighting similarities and differences and make you really consider stories and characters. I just wonder what the purpose of some comparisons are and whether there has to be a better or a worse option when things are compared?

What is your view on using comparisons as part of a review?

2016 Reflection

Okay, with the Winter, Spring and Summer anime seasons more or less done and dusted, I felt it was a good time to look at my favourite anime for the year. I’ll do my final best of 2016 list after the Autumn season concludes.

I’m going to point out that Sailor Moon Crystal and D Gray Man Hallow have both been left off the list. Not because they aren’t awesome (D Gray Man would have had the top spot), but because I’m well aware that I am blatantly biased toward these anime. Regardless of what else happens, D Gray Man is my number 1 for 2016. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, here’s the official list for the year so far.

A few rules. The season needed to end in 2016. I needed to have watched the whole series or at least as much as has been so far released (so there are plenty of other anime good and bad that aren’t on either of my lists here – though that said some are clearly going to continue). Judgement is made entirely on entertainment and pleasure watching (no technical scores for being beautifully animated and the like). As such, the list is entirely my opinion. Please feel free to tell me your favourite in the comments.

Starting from the best.

  1. Assassination Classroom 2nd Season
  2. Snow White with the Red Hair Season 2
  3. My Hero Academia
  4. Alderamin on the Sky
  5. Erased
  6. Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
  7. Days
  8. Tales of Zestiria the X
  9. Bungou Stray Dogs
  10. ReLife

But if we’re going to look at the best, we also need to look at the worst. Remember, I’m only listing anime I’ve actually watched all the way through. There are a number I would have loved on this list (First Love Monster springs to mind) but I haven’t watched it through so am not going to pass judgement on it. Please feel free to tell me which anime you think is the worst in the comments.

Starting from the worst.

  1. Taboo Tattoo
  2. Big Order
  3. Lost Village
  4. Hitorinoshita
  5. Divine Gate
  6. Dimension W
  7. Norn 9
  8. Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle
  9. Luck & Logic
  10. Joker Game

Yeah, I know Joker Game doesn’t deserve to be in a worst of list, but at the moment, it’s in top ten of anime I finished watching but didn’t get all that much enjoyment out of. Pretty sure there will be something in the Autumn season that will take it out of the list for the year.

And yes, Taboo Tattoo I officially found worse than Big Order. After weighing them both up I just had to put Taboo Tattoo as the worst thing I have finished watching so far this year.

One more season to go and then I’ll have my official best of list for the year. It will be interesting to see if Days is still on the best list after continuing on and whether anything can top Assassination Classroom’s emotional ending.

Looking forward to more anime. What’s your best so far for 2016 and what’s your worst?

 

Erased Series Review

Overview:

Satoru has a strange ability to go back in time moments before a disaster. After his mother is murdered and he is made the main suspect he goes back 18 years to when he was a child and finds himself trying to prevent a series of kidnappings and murders from his childhood.

Review:

Erased is one of those anime that when it was airing everyone was talking about it. Some people loved it, some people thought it was overly hyped, and there were a few who really didn’t care but just got sick of hearing about it. Given it’s a murder mystery with a supernatural plot device (though that aspect of it never get’s developed or explained), I was kind of sold on the series from the get go.

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I’m going to keep this review short (or so I thought when I started but it kind of went on a bit) because most of what I’d like to say has already been covered a million times before and also,  and because it’s a mystery of sorts (though that aspect doesn’t work so great because you can pick the culprit one episode in after the time jump) so I don’t really want to spoil it for anyone who has avoided the internet for most of this year and somehow still managed to find my blog.

I’ve already said the mystery doesn’t work so well. The main issue is the lack of potential suspects. Plus, the story is told in a relatively straight forward fashion (strange for a time travel story) so it’s really easy to get a sense of where things are going and how they connect. That said, just because it isn’t really a guessing who the villain is kind of story, doesn’t make it bad. The plot works really well and the changes Satoru makes in order to overcome the past tragedy have sensible flow on consequences. Though, without any real mystery, the plot could be accused of being a little bit dull. Which is a weird thing to say about a time travel story with murders occurring both 18 years ago and in the present time setting.

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With Erased, it is the characters who sell the show. And even then you couldn’t point to anyone character and say that character is amazing. A lot of people liked Satoru’s mum but I found her one of the least interesting characters because she really didn’t seem like a realistic mother and was more a plot device that existed only to Satoru the advice he needed when he needed it, cause him distress with her death in the original timeline, and filled in any parts of the plot that you really couldn’t expect a child to succeed at overcoming. The friends Satoru has as a child are also a little off and at times serve no purpose. The first potential child victim is interesting but not overly believable as a character. However all of these characters complement each other perfectly and create a show that has a lot of heart and at times emotional depth. Even if they don’t shut up and like to endlessly articulate things that really don’t need to be said.

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The opening theme is fantastic. On my first watch I wondered what that up-beat song was doing on such a show, but like the cast of characters, there’s a surprising amount of depth when you listen to it and by the second watch through you realise just how perfectly the music is for the story and its themes. Erased is also beautiful. Whether we are focussing on a character or the night sky, everything is just really pleasant to look at and the animation works well.

I really enjoyed my first watch of Erased. So much so that I talked a friend into watching it with me about a week after it finished airing and we marathoned the series. This is where I think the plot really succeeds. If Erased had been a guess that bad guy kind of mystery where the reveal at the end was what brought all of the plot threads together, I don’t think a rewatch could have been very satisfying. However, as a character driven piece with a steady and well thought out plot, Erased can be watched again and I actually enjoyed it more the second time through, because I knew what to expect and wasn’t trying to watch it as a mystery.

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For people that might find endangering a child a bit confrontational, Erased probably isn’t their cup of tea. If you’ve been told it’s a murder mystery you may walk away disappointed. If you actually want to know why Satoru time travels and how that works, give up now. But if you want to see the power of the human spirit and friendship overcome what seems like an insurmountable obstacle and you don’t mind an overly talky ending, Erased will be a rather enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.