Top 5 Military Focused Anime

Tuesday's Top 5

I’m not the biggest fan of military movies or war focused stories (at least not realistic ones). I find them a little bit depressing to be honest. There are exceptions, usually science fiction or fantasy is enough of a hook (such as Starship Troopers), and I’ve definitely noticed a soft spot for anime that brings in the military (though being told something is military focused isn’t the draw).

Today I’m looking at my favourite military focused anime. Authenticity isn’t a concern. I don’t care whether the ranks and positions are wrong, whether characters would actually be able to behave in certain manners in a real army, or whether the military exists or is part of an entirely fictional setting. I’m just concerned with anime that I really ended up enjoying that had a strong military focus. As such, I’m sure there are many great military anime that aren’t going to get a mention and I’d love to know your favourites so feel free to give them a shout out in the comments below.

Honourable Mentions:

Honourable mentions this time around go to the entire Gundam Franchise, which I continue to have a love/hate relationship with as the various entries either really grab me and pull me in or I end up abandoning fairly early on, and Heavy Object. Now Heavy Object is an anime in general that doesn’t get enough conversation so I really wanted it on my top 5 list, but the numerous flaws with the show prevented me from putting it above anything on the list. That said, I really liked Heavy Object, a lot more than I expected.

Number 5: Attack On Titan

Now, I won’t deny that season two of Attack on Titan saw my patience wearing thin after a fairly big slow down in the second half of season one. But, the early episodes of season one really grabbed me and while the titan at the wall was a big part of that, so was Eren and crew’s original military training. It is such an integral part of the show and the characters and those early episodes were really good. Season three also picked up a lot of things and part of it is the power structure of the world including where the military fits into that. All and all, while this isn’t one of my favourite of all time anime, the military influence is quite strong and some of the better moments comes when the story focuses on these elements.

Attack on Titan

Number 4: Full Metal Alchemist and Brotherhood

Whether it is FMA or FMA Brotherhood, the military focus of Armestris is pretty clear. Love the uniforms, as impractical as they appear, and a lot of the drama in the show comes from the higher ups withholding information from subordinates. Also, characters are regularly compelled to act against their own nature because being in the military does mean following orders. Both versions of Full Metal Alchemist really do an excellent job of showcasing both the problems of large military organisations as well as the camaraderie and loyalty that can grow between soldiers working for a common cause. All and all, a solid anime with a military focus to sink your teeth into.

Full Metal Alchemist - Military

Number 3: Code Geass

Right, so we’re really moving away from realistic here, but I love Code Geass. The ongoing war, the terrorist tactics, the military responses and escalation of weapons of mass destruction… despite the mechs and the fantastical political scenario so much in terms of the themes and ideas are incredibly relatable but it ends up being over dramatised and becomes pure entertainment. From Lelouche’s flamboyant persona as Zero to the amazing feats Suzaku pulls off, everything about this story is great entertainment, even if a little tragic if linked back to reality.

Code Geass
Okay, I couldn’t find a nice picture of the military uniforms, but the school uniform is pretty military like.

Number 2: GATE

This one had to be on the list. In fact, this was where I started and I felt for sure GATE would end up being number one. Alas, I remembered something better, but for now I’ll just go through why I love GATE. It reminded me a lot of the early Stargate episodes with the military going through to other worlds and Daniel Jackson trying to talk with the populations why they looked for resources and the like. Yet, it had all the crazy anime trapping we’ve come to expect from isekai with elf-girls and magicians, and of course Rory Mercury… Want to see the Japanese military face off against a fire-breathing dragon? Helicopters taking on bandits storming a fortress? GATE was great fun to just strap in and watch.

GATE

Number 1: Full Metal Panic

Lastly, we get to my number one entry on this list. When thinking of military focus of course I thought of the number one military maniac himself, Sousuke Sagara. I absolutely loved Full Metal Panic’s ability to balance a fairly serious military style story with hired mercenaries and various agencies as well as the high school comedy aspects. It doesn’t make a huge amount of sense if you stop and think about it, but it absolutely gets the fun factor right and some of the fight sequences and the tactics they come up with are incredibly impressive.

Full Metal Panic

And there you have it, my top 5 military focused anime. As I said, I’d love to know yours so leave me a comment.

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Karandi James
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Top 5 Magical Girl Anime

Tuesday's Top 5

Welcome to another top 5 list for Tuesday and this week I am counting down my favourite magical girl anime, mostly inspired by how much I’ve been enjoying Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka (while not perfect, it has been quite fun as a darker magical girl series). I’m not convinced I haven’t already done this but if I did I can’t find it so let’s all just go with this is the first time I’ve put this into a top 5 list. Now magical girl anime and I have a real nostalgia thing going on as some of these were the shows that got me into anime and they really stuck with me. While there are some more recent entries in the list, the nostalgia is strong with this one.

With that in mind, I’d love to know what magical girl anime are your favourites and why. Is it something a bit older that reminds you of your childhood or are you into some of the more recent entries into the genre. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Honourable Mentions: Kamichama Karin

This one is a bit of a weird one, but for whatever reason I kind of got stuck on it a few years ago and I’ve binge watched it a couple of times since. While it doesn’t stand out as much as some of the other entries on this list, it is a fairly functional magical girl show and it is very easy to get caught up in it and lose track of time.

Number 5: Is This A Zombie

It feels weird to give the number 5 spot to a comedy anime about a male zombie character who manages to acquire the power of a magical girl and then undergoes a transformation into a cute pink dress complete with chainsaw. I do love that as his power level rises the frilliness and flowery add-ons on the dress get even more over the top. It is a great jab at some of the impractical magical girl costumes out there. Whichever way, when I think about magical girls, there is literally no way to not think about Ayumu so that is why he got the number 5 spot on the list even though technically he’s a zombie who is borrowing magical girl powers.

Number 4: Madoka Magica

The only ‘dark’ magical girl story that made it onto my list. What can I say? As much as I love horror and dark stories, when I got to watch a magical girl story I kind of go wanting something a little bit more sparkly. Madoka Magica managed to balance its darker subject matter with some really great magical girls, cool powers, and spectacular fight sequences in a way that while it was dark and serious, it still felt like a magical girl story and not a horror that just happened to feature magical girls right before they got slaughtered. I really did enjoy Madoka Magica and it is another anime I regularly binge watch.

Number 3: Cardcaptor Sakura

Despite the heavily edited version of this that I saw originally, complete with a truly terrible English OP, I really did get caught by the plot of Cardcaptor Sakura so when I was older and I could access a translated but less edited version of it, I jumped at the chance to watch this anime again. Syaoran and Sakura are beautiful in the leading roles and I just love how cute and happy this anime is. While Sakura doesn’t include some magical girl tropes, no spinning costume transformations, Sakura actually has to change clothes if she wants to wear one of her friends’ hand-made costumes, it very much captures the spirit of Magical Girl anime and is an excellent started anime if you have kids you want to introduce to something without worrying too much about some of the anime tropes out there.

Number 2: Shugo Chara

Another super adorable, super pink Magical Girl anime. This one grabbed me because of Amu. She’s got such a mismatch between her inner and outer personality and I love how she struggles with figuring out who she is, particularly when she has so many guardian characters with each one presenting a different aspect of who she might be. While the overall plot of this one is a bit harder to take seriously, there are some really excellent character arcs for a lot of the cast and it ends up being a story well worth the effort of investing your time into.

Number 1: Sailor Moon

Did you expect anything else to top this list? I mentioned at the start that this was a nostalgia fuelled list in the first place and Sailor Moon is the starting place for me and anime so of course it was always going to be number 1. Serena and the Sailor Scouts are characters I grew up loving and I don’t think anything is going to change that anytime soon. While Sailor Moon villains might border on the idiotic or ridiculous, the core cast remain full of heart and life and if you want cute costumes and pretty sparkles, Sailor Moon has you covered. Also, some darker moments and real danger which certainly pushed beyond what a lot of ‘girls’ TV shows were doing when it came out.

So that is my list of my favourite magical girl shows. I’d love to know yours.

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Karandi James
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Top 5 Anime Confessions

Tuesday's Top 5

As much as I love a good horror anime, I will admit romance is a great binge worthy genre and is definitely appropriate when you are just in the mood to relax and be carried on a wave of emotions. However, with romance anime come confession scenes and a lot of these really stand out. Today I’m counting down my top 5 favourite anime confession scenes and I’d love to know what some of your favourites are.

By the way, there are definitely spoilers below particularly for numbers 4, 2 and 1. You’ve been warned.

Honourable Mentions:

Just the one honourable mention because I’m certain I will get plenty of others in the comments. I’m throwing Kokoro Connect in here mostly because of how grounded the characters were about the love triangle that actually resolved into an actual relationship with all of the characters properly acknowledging their feelings.

Kokoro Connect Confession

Number 5: Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

This one is representative of all those anime that shout their confessions aloud for the world to hear. It is a standard trope and yet Bunny Girl Senpai, in its usual fine form, managed to make this scene the climax of its first and strongest arc with Sakuta running outside the classroom and shouting his love for Mai at the top of his lungs at the building. I’m still left wondering why he didn’t end up in more trouble for that stunt disrupting all those classes but it certainly got the point across even if Mai didn’t actually accept the confession until nearly a month later.

Sakuta shouts his love for Mai at the School - Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

Number 4: Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood

What is more adorable than two dorks falling in love and fumbling their way through it? Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood gave us brilliant characters and action with a fairly epic scale plot but it was this scene at the train station right at the end, where Ed finally confesses to Winry (proposes actually), that really hit home for me and left me feeling like I’d just watched something incredibly special (okay, there were other moments in the show that did a similar thing but this has the advantage of being the point the show leaves us on). So happy this moment happened and so happy that Ed was true to Ed in how he did it.

Ed from Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood confesses to Winry

Number 3: Dakaichi

This one if it happened in reality would probably be a little bit on the creepy side (okay, hold the little bit – it would just be creepy) but as a well delivered line in an anime this one near stopped my heart and I wasn’t even a big fan of Junta. However, when he stares right at Takato (and at the audience) and declares ‘I want you’ there is no doubt that this is a clear and straightforward declaration of love and one we don’t get very often in anime where so many characters blush and stumble their way through confessions. Seriously, this one can give you shivers. Now if we just take away the lack of consent earlier and the possessive nature of this relationship we could have one of the most beautiful love confessions ever.

Dakaichi - Episode 1 - Junta

Number 2: Chuunibyo Demo Koi Ga Shitai

Again, what is more adorable than two dorks in love? You have to admit, this particular moment between Yuuta and Rikka, or rather the Dark Flame Master and the Keeper of the Tyrant’s Eye is spectacularly adorkable. hiding behind their personas, or in Rikka’s case for awhile her umbrella, this sequence under the bridge is one of those moments that just leaves you wanting to hug both the characters and never let them go. Sure, they’ve still got a long way to go, but seriously this moment was absolutely delightful.

Chuunibyou Confession between Rikka and Yuuta

Number 1: Angel Beats

This one is notable for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it doesn’t happen at either the beginning or the end of the series but is more of a mid-season moment. Secondly, it isn’t the main character confessions that stopped my heart cold, it was actually the support characters, and one in particular who prior to this had mostly been comic relief, who really stepped up and delivered a scene that can literally melt your heart. As Otonashi is trying to help Yui cross over, after a lot of mucking about she admits she wanted to fall in love but no one would have loved her because she was home-bound when she was alive. Normally you would suspect the main character would reassure her that someone would love her but Otonashi freezes and in that moment Hinata steps up to the plate delivering one of the most unforgettable confession speeches of all time and over-ruling any objection she might have. He plans out how they would have met and how their relationship would have gone. He declares he would have stayed with her. He takes away all her fears and ultimately helps her find peace. It is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

Angel Beats - Yui passes on after Hinata's confession

And there we have it, my top 5 favourite anime confessions. So now it is your turn. Confess. Which anime confession made your heart go doki doki?

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Karandi James
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2019 Winter Anime Half-Time

Run With The Wind Episode 14 Fireworks

With a lot of shows very strongly into their mid-season and some of the shine coming off those that started strongly and some of the weaker shows rallying and finding their feet, I decided it was probably time to take a look at the shows on my watch list this season and see how they were going. Unlike some seasons during 2018, there’s nothing on my watch list I actually actively dislike, which means even the anime vying for the bottom rung of my watch list are actually relatively decent shows even if they aren’t to my personal tastes.

That isn’t to say I’ve got nothing but golden shows on my list. In as much as there’s not a lot I really dislike, there’s not a lot that is making me sit up and take notice. Most shows this season I could watch or not and while I’m having fun part of me feels that as a viewer I was spoiled for choice last season with so many really great anime.

Right now I am following 15 anime and I’m going to count them down from the weakest on my watch list to the anime that might make it to the top for the end of the season. For each anime I’m going to give a brief impression so far and then my prediction for the rest of the season. These are all just my opinions and some of these anime are only 4 or so episodes in, so I’d love to know your take on the Winter Anime so far.

If you don’t want to read the whole post I’m going to try linking to the individual titles so you can check out the ones you are interested in. Hopefully it works.

Number 15: Grimms Notes

There’s not much to say about this one. It isn’t a particularly good anime and the narrative so far has been told out of order for no reason that I can figure out other than to be annoying. The characters are pretty shallow and so far the exploration of the premise has been woefully underdeveloped.

Grimms Notes Episode 2 Ex

I know, I said that I wasn’t watching anything really bad. And Grimms Notes isn’t. Watching it is kind of just numbing really. What kept it in my line-up at all is the fact that there is a potentially interesting premise at the core of this anime and if they get around to exploring it and the characters develop a bit and their motives are made clear, this has the potential to be really interesting. At the moment it isn’t, but it also isn’t unwatchable, so for now it can sit at the bottom of my watch list.

Prediction: This probably won’t improve and I’ll ask at the end of the season why I didn’t drop it.

Number 14: Endro

This one was recommended to me by Cactus Matt. I’d actually passed on the first episode based on the art work and the basic write up as it didn’t seem like it was something I’d enjoy. In honesty, it isn’t really my kind of thing, but there are enough interesting points that I don’t dislike watching it, and I actually feel like it is getting more interesting as it progresses.

Endro Episode 2 Leader

The main cast here are actually reasonably fun to spend time with when they are doing something (I’ll pass on anymore pyjama parties though) and the quests they go on are amusing enough. The fantasy elements are kind of fun and the comedy isn’t too eye-roll worthy. All and all, this one is actually just kind of pleasant but for me fairly forgettable.

Prediction: Either this will continue to be pleasant enough but  unremarkable or we may take a downward turn if they up the  comedy and slice of life aspects but minimise the adventuring. I  guess we’ll see.

Number 13: Boogiepop wa Warawanai

Frankly, Boogiepop wa Warawanai is a mess of frustrating narrative and bland visuals. But from a core concept point of view this one is something I should enjoy. Which is probably what makes it so frustrating is you can actually see a really interesting story bubbling underneath dull conversations and forgettable characters.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 2

I’d really like to like this one more but at the moment I’m watching more out of hope for improvement than any expectation of it. Then again, even if it doesn’t improve noticeably, it is an interesting idea and one that I’m not going to regret watching (at least I hope not).

Prediction: I’ll be an optimist and hope this one makes my top ten by the end of the season because it just got that little bit better and utilised its strengths.

Number 12: Kaguya-Sama Love is War

This one, I’m not loving the concept of. It is a beautifully produced anime, visually impressive, with a great score, but I’m just not feeling it. It doesn’t help that I’m not a comedy fan in the first place and that I find the central conceit of this anime ridiculous, nor does it help that so far most of the schemes have either been predictable or ludicrous.

Kaguya Sama Episode 2 Shinomiya

Still, this one is actually getting a little better as it goes (something readers of the source have been insisting would happen since the start) and there’s a possibility of continued improvement. My main hope would be that the two main characters actually start to feel like characters and not caricatures and that would increase my enjoyment of this a lot more or less instantly.

Prediction: Again, I’ll be optimistic and hope that this one continues slowly getting better and maybe it will end up in the top ten by the end of the season.

Number 11: Meiji Tokyo Renka

Meiji Tokyo Renka has actually been rather surprising so far. I honestly expected something like Sengoku Night Blood or Libra of Nil Admirari neither or which was particularly noteworthy but both were watchable. However, Meiji Tokyo Renka has so far managed to make Mei, the protagonist, relatively interesting for a harem protagonist and I’m liking that they seem to be doing something with the premise.

Certainly this anime has its share of generic harem tropes and it isn’t exactly jumping to the top of my list, but I’m certainly actually enjoying watching it so far and it has the potential to get better as the season progresses.

Prediction: I think this one will sit right about here on the list. Even if it uses all its narrative potential the central premise here isn’t as interesting as some others and the overall production isn’t amazing. That said, I think it will stay entertaining.

Number 10: Sword Art Online Alicization

I’m a little disappointed that this one is placing so low but realistically after a lot of set up in the first arc, this second arc has been trying to bury us under exposition and honestly the plot doesn’t seem to be moving anywhere very quickly and I’m not entirely sure I like a Kirito who sermonises more than hits things with his sword. All and all, Alicization isn’t really working for me.

Sword Art Online Episode 15 Alicization Kirito

There are certainly still moments of cool to be found in this series and that is what has kept it in the top ten (even if it is scraping the bottom). However we’ve come a long way from the Aincrad Arc and at this point I’m really convinced Aincrad was where Sword Art Online should have begun and ended. I really enjoy that story and while I like these characters, they’ve been suffering from increasing diminished returns ever since. Except Asuna who shone in the Mother Rosaria arc but she’s all but vanished from sight at this point.

Prediction: Disappointment? I think this will slide further down the list before it gets better. I’ll happily be wrong though.

Number 9: My Roommate is a Cat

I do not believe I went in to this one with any expectations but for a slice of life story about a socially awkward author adopting a cat because he’s inspired to write a story despite no knowing how to look after a cat, this one is pretty adorable. The central gimmick of the cat getting to narrate the events of the episode from its perspective at the end each week works well enough and while this one isn’t exactly amazing, I’ve kind of found my relaxation viewing each week.

My Roommate is a Cat Episode 5 Haru

Alright, a lot of the draw for me is actually the author, Subaru. For some people they just find him rude and off-putting in the first couple of episodes but I actually kind of related to him fairly quickly and kind of saw his point when he was annoyed at his editor for dragging him out to a noisy place to talk when there really wasn’t any need to do so.

Prediction: This one is cute and relaxing but that’s about all so I’m doubting this will move any higher up the list unless something else seriously falls apart. That said, I’m not expecting this to really move down the list either as it has been pretty consistent so far.

Number 8: The Morose Mononokean

Season one of The Morose Mononokean was kind of happy nothingness. I like yokai stories so I enjoyed it well enough but it wasn’t overly remarkable. Still there were a lot of potential plot points left unexplored and it has been an absolute delight seeing them being explored and expanded upon so far in season two. It is everything I could have hoped for from a follow up to this series.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 4

I also think it looks a bit better this season though that might just be the distance between season one and two talking. Either way, so far season two of this has done an excellent job at looking at the characters and the lore of the underworld and I’m really curious to learn more about how everything works. Plus, more fuzzy.

Prediction: I wouldn’t have picked this one as a potential season favourite prior to watching it – more casual nothingness. However, if things continue to develop the way they are… This one has a lot of potential to rise up this list.

Number 7: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime has been up and down for me since the beginning. I wasn’t a huge fan of it but it slowly won me over and built on its strengths. The mid-season point, so the start of Winter 2019, was actually really solid. But we’ve since had a lot of talking and meetings and its been awhile since anything really exciting has happened.

Realistically, this one isn’t going to be topping my must watches any time soon, but on balance it has remained pretty fun to watch and given the absolute lack of stakes or tension it is pretty relaxing to tune into each week. That said, it is also hard to really care about where it is going.

Prediction: This will hover around here for the remainder of the season and whether or not it manages another emotional highlight, like Shizu’s death or the defeat of the orc lord, may determine whether it goes up a few spots before the end.

Number 6: Domestic Girlfriend

Really wasn’t expecting this one to place so high on the list and yes it is full of teen melodrama, enough to rival any soap opera, and no it isn’t overly logical and it does rely heavily on coincidence. What it does right though is make me actually care about the central trio (or at least two out of three) and want them to find some way to be happy at the end of all of this.

It kind of helped this along that it was nowhere near as trashy as the title and promo images made it look which automatically made me more favourable toward it (low expectations always help a show along). That and some of the characters have actually made some good decisions in amongst the melodrama that have surprised me. All and all, hardly a perfect anime but one that I’m kind of hooked on this season.

Prediction: One of two things will happen. Either this show will manage a beautiful emotional ending or it will completely implode. I’d love the former but I suspect the latter.

Number 5: The Price of Smiles

Of all the anime titles this season, this is the one I’m probably the least sure about. The first episode was interesting enough but relatively unimpressive. Since then, it has managed to really make me care about the characters despite the limited screen time some have had, and I’m interested in the conflict, but the anime as a whole is still a little bit rocky.

The Price of Smiles Episode 3 Stella

I think this one has a lot of potential but it all depends on where they take the story and if they actually get around to doing anything with the questions they are raising. Also, whether or not these characters actually learn anything at all from their experiences. It’s really hard to tell at this point if this anime has the strength of writing to get this right or not.

Prediction: I’d like to be hopeful but I suspect we may just have a show that kills off its characters toward the end in order to make for a tragic ‘war is bad’ kind of message rather than any actual narrative depth.

Number 4: The Rising of the Shield Hero

Well, this one certainly made a contentious start to the season. For me The Rising of the Shield Hero has done exactly what I expected having read the light novels. It isn’t great but it isn’t bad and so far the adaptation has it all the notes it has needed to even if it isn’t exactly the same as the source – though given how many versions the story has gone through all ready it would next be the question of which one.

Where Shield Hero is succeeding for me and why it is so high on my list is that it seems to have made Naofumi’s character a little more tolerable even in the early stages of the story, while still making him flawed enough that a redemption story is needed. Plus, Raphtalia is just kind of awesome. I’m having a lot of fun watching this one and looking forward to more.

Prediction: Not sure how much material they will cover in 25 episodes or whether we’ll end on a good resting point, but I do know that the novels meander a bit so this one may very well sink a little on this list despite generally thinking I’ll enjoy it.

Number 3: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka

I suspect already that this one is not going to last in the top 5 by the end, however I’m leaving it here for now for the simple reason that I’m glad an anime that is deciding to put teenage girls through trauma is then actually interested in examining how trauma affects people. Some of the things anime characters go through and just kind of shrug off with no lingering impact is kind of insane so dealing with the real ongoing trauma as Asuka tries to integrate into a normal life, was actually kind of great.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka - New battlefield

Though a single concept within a story can’t keep it as a must watch unless it does something else. Visually, this one is a bit hit and miss but there are some beautiful sequences. The characters have so far been the strength of the show but the villains are a little weakly developed at this point. There’s a lot that might be amazing about this and a lot that could go wrong so we’ll see where it ends up at the end of the season.

Prediction: I don’t think this will stay in the top 5 but I do think I’ll be glad I gave it a watch this season.

Number 2: The Promised Neverland

Such a promising, suspenseful and beautifully directed start to the Promised Neverland. While I will admit we’ve gradually been winding back the praise on this one, it was still a first episode well worth watching because so few anime manage that much characterisation, world building and intrigue in twenty minutes. Plus, the directions of this series has so far been really interesting though even that aspect seems to be winding down.

The Promised Neverland Episode 3 The Kids Train

I’m definitely with this one for the season and in terms of genre it is doing a great job of keeping my interest. Now that the anime is far enough ahead I’ve read the first volume of the manga and my interest is even more piqued by the potential for this plot. Still, there’s been some shaky characterisation in the last couple of episodes and that gorgeous direction seems to be giving way to more pedestrian approaches. It will be interesting to see if this one can hold its nerve to the end.

Prediction: This one may not stay quite so high on my list but it would have to make a serious downward turn to leave my top 5. Very much recommend trying this one.

Number 1: Run With The Wind

I do not think I ever believed that a sports anime (other than Yuri On Ice) would be topping my watch list and yet Run With The Wind has managed to build from strength to strength over its season. I doubt it is going to derail now and it has been exception at building up the cast of characters despite the large number of them. Add in great sound design and some interesting visual choices and we have a very solid anime.

Run With The Wind Episode 12 Kakeru

I like that this anime doesn’t seem willing to bite off more than it can chew. It knows what it is and it isn’t trying to be anything more than that. But it is working hard to deliver the story of these boys coming together as a team in an interesting manner and so far it has largely succeeded (though Kakeru’s back story dragged on a little too long). I’m very much caught up in this story at this point and hopefully it will nail the ending.

Prediction: This may not finish number one but it will definitely be up the top of my list. Consistent delivery of quality character work and competent narrative makes this an easy recommend.

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Karandi James
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THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE: SUMMERSET [DIGITAL COLLECTOR’S UPGRADE EDITION]
THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE: SUMMERSET [DIGITAL COLLECTOR'S UPGRADE EDITION]

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.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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TENSEI SHITARA SLIME DATTA KEN 1/6 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: SHION SWIMSUIT GRAVURE STYLE

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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Karandi James
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NENDOROID NO. 1053 MADE IN ABYSS: REG

Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Villains of 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

Realistically 2018 was not a good year for villains. And by that I mean we didn’t really get anyone who stood out as a well crafted or particularly interesting villainous character (at least none in the shows I was watching). Most of the time there either wasn’t a villain, the villain was more a force of nature or some kind of larger problem and not a person, or the villain was kind of lame. So no Makishima (Psycho Pass) type characters that just made me want to discuss them and their motives. It is a shame considering this is my first yearly top 5 villain list and it is going to be pretty ordinary. I guess we can just cross our fingers and hope for some better villains in 2019.

That said, I’d love to know who your favourite villains were in 2018 so please leave me a comment below.

Honourable Mentions:

Honourable mentions this list go to Cartaphilius from The Ancient Magus’ Bride who was almost a good villain and then somehow just kind of became fairly lame. I really wish they’d done more with him given the build up he got. And Sagawa from Kokkoku who again seemed like a really solid bad guy and then… well I’m not sure I ever understood his motive in the first place so I can’t say whether or not he got his wish.

Number 5: Milza from Record of Grancrest War

It is probably a sign of how weak I found villains this year that I even considered Milza. He started out as a fairly strong character but ultimately he was far too arrogant and his plans were pretty flawed. Theo and his army got the best of Milza at every turn and all and all he ended up being pretty disappointing. Still, he was the main antagonist for a lot of the series and it was pretty satisfying seeing him defeated.

Number 4: Carnival from Lostorage Conflate Wixoss

Another villain that just doesn’t hold up. Carnival has more or less become a lackey in the latest Wixoss entry and other than stirring the pot a bit their presence in the series is fairly forgettable. Which is a shame given Carnival could have been a great antagonistic character with just a bit more effort put into them. In terms of villainous attitudes, Carnival definitely wins.

Number 3: Cancer from Cells at Work

Probably not a villain at all so much as a natural hazard, but Cancer from Cells at Work deserves a mention here. Such a great character considering the potentially dark subject matter here. They managed to present Cancer as a clear threat, as someone who was disruptive to the natural order and needed to be eliminated, while still managing to give them enough individual personality and desire to live to make them reasonably sympathetic. For a two episode character, Cancer had more characterisation than most the rest of the characters on this list. The only reason Cancer isn’t number 1 on the list is because I’m kind of uncertain as to whether villain is really the right classification for them at all.

Number 2: Dino from Banana Fish

Dino was going to take number one on the list. Not because he’s actually all that great a character, but because at least he really is a villainous scum-bag who was unwavering in their horrible endeavours. However, then the second last episode happened and we suddenly had a new final bad guy for Ash to fight, and then Dino did a last second random act of something that was probably just him trolling the other bad guy but might be considered a potential help to Ash so I kind of felt his credit as a villain was questionable when technically he saved the day (momentarily). It wasn’t the first time he’d helped Ash either. While his motives were always fairly repulsive, measured by his actions, Dino saved Ash on at least three occasions. Not much of a big bad when you keep rescuing the hero.

Number 1: The Goblins from Goblin Slayer

Which means, the number one spot on the list doesn’t go to a person but rather a whole species as depicted in Goblin Slayer. These green monsters are definitely not something you want to bump into unaware and you certainly don’t want them deciding to visit your farm. Considering the goblins in That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime have been great fun to meet as characters, it is fascinating the contrasting view shown in Goblin Slayer. These inarticulate and vicious creatures will stab you, tear you apart, rape you, and use you as a literal shield against arrows. The show has wasted no time trying to show them in a sympathetic light but rather has only depicted them as something that must be stopped at all costs.

And that’s my list of anime villains in 2018. I’d love to know what made your list or who your favourite villain was this year so be sure to share in the comments.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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ARTFX J PERSONA 5 DANCING STAR NIGHT 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: PROTAGONIST & MORGANA