Finding Your Own Wind

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 21 Review

So hard to review this episode because the emotional punch of episode 20 obviously wasn’t beaten, nor did the anime try to do so. Run With The Wind hasn’t been big on continuous melodrama beats to keep us watching so after giving us that glorious moment in episode 20, sensibly toned it down but didn’t retreat from building toward the climax of the series.

Run With The Wind Episode 21 Yuki

This episode we had Yuki taking the downhill stretch of the track and I loved his character moment. As the most reluctant (other than Prince) to join the team and the one who fought Haiji hard, to see him tearing down that hill and giving it all he had was a truly amazing thing. What I liked as well was they built in a family moment for him, which tied in neatly with a previous comment he’d made about his relationship with family, but it wasn’t a bit deal or huge drama. It was just there and a moment for the character and something that helps to make all of this feel grounded in reality because all of these characters have other things going on, but they didn’t make a spectacle of it. Anyway, really loved it.

Run With The Wind Episode 21

Yuki passes the sash to Hirata (or Nico) who then runs and realises how much he loves running. This is probably the most back story we’ve seen from this character but it ties in beautifully with all the quiet moments we’ve seen previously with him worrying about his size and his weight. Again, not over-dramatised, fit beautifully with what we knew about the character, and gave us just enough to flesh him out and round out his character story as he finally runs his leg.

Run With The Wind Episode 21

The sash is passed to King though we don’t get much of this because we hop over to Kakeru who is pretty much declaring he’s going to beat a section record and yet for Kakeru he seems to actually be enjoying running again and friendly competition.

Run With The Wind Episode 21 Yuki

I find it amazing that this anime has managed to build up a team that feels like a team and the camaraderie and all the points that go with teamwork as a theme, but each character has gone on an interesting personal journey. Some of these journey’s have been happening quietly in the background but they’ve been there and as the final stretch shows each character finally running their leg we get closure on each of these personal stories.

It really is a remarkable story and one I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting caught up in. I’m going to be very sad to see this one leave my watch list at the end of the season.

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Karandi James
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FIGMA SP-116 LITTLE ARMORY: RIKKA SHIINA SUMMER UNIFORM VER
	FIGMA SP-116 LITTLE ARMORY: RIKKA SHIINA SUMMER UNIFORM VER

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The Promise of Later

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There’s a definite trend for anime that start slowly or have a lull in the mid-section to be defended by staunch lovers of the source material using the phrase ‘it gets better’. Usually with a ‘trust me’ thrown in there as well. And often times that is actually quite correct in that the story does find its feet and pick itself up. However, does that actually make the story any better in the first place if the only way to defend it in the early days is to argue that something better is coming?

I guess we could point out that viewers these days are fairly impatient beings and with so many anime available to them each season it is easy enough to simply not want to play a waiting game. Why wait for one title to ‘get better’ when another title simply is ‘better’?

Endro Episode 8

Now, I know I am an impatient person. Given I’ve suggested things like skipping the first 100 pages when To Kill a Mockingbird as you won’t appreciably miss any of the plot by doing so, though you will lose a lot of character and world building. I guess it depends why you are reading the story in the first place and whether you really get immersed in all that set up or just keep turning pages to see when the ‘plot’ might appear. But yes, that book tried my patience to no end and even though the trial and the message in the second half of the book are actually pretty solid, I really felt like I wanted the time spent reading the opening act back.

However, I’m perfectly happy to wait a reasonable length into a series with an interesting premise for it to find its feet even if the opening act isn’t exactly blowing me away. Of course, that results in me watching quite a number of anime that just never find their feet and end as boringly as they started, or worse, they go in weird directions and just kind of implode. Caligula would probably fit into this category. I didn’t drop it even though there were plenty of poor episodes early on and plenty of warning that it was going to be a mess. However, I wanted to give it time to find its way and finish its set up. Too bad it never got any better.

Caligula Episode 11

Yet there comes a time during a season where you have to wonder if the time being sunk into watching is actually going to be worth a later payoff. In the case of Sakurada Reset, it turns out it really was. Now, I still don’t fully recommend Sakurada Reset to any but the most avid anime fan given there’s a lot of set-up time and I very nearly walked away from the anime mid-season. But…

See, there’s that ‘but’.

It gets better.

The ending of Sakurada Reset was one of the most satisfying narrative conclusions I’ve seen in anime and while it isn’t the best, by any means, I felt that all of the set up time, the weird stilted dialogue, the seemingly disjointed stories, and the general frustration felt while watching individual episodes of the story, were worth it for that ending. Everything came together in a way that so few shows manage and it just felt like reaching the summit of a mountain and getting the most gorgeous view imaginable.

Still, if someone else were to watch the first few episodes and tell me they dropped it, I would fully understand. I would try to argue that they should be more patient and give it more time because it is quite the slog to get through and I remember how tiresome some of those mid-season episodes were.

Run With The Wind Episode 4

There’s also Run With The Wind, that has built up to a second half that is truly unmissable. Yet would I blame anyone from walking away in the first half? When I hated one character entirely for a large chunk of the first cour, didn’t really connect with a lot of the others, and found the training sequences less than compelling and it was really only direction, visuals and sound design that really kept me hooked (and Prince as he has some of the coolest lines imaginable). I really can’t say that everyone is going to think that the ending is worth it (particularly as we aren’t yet at the end). What I will say is I am super glad I kept watching because wow that has been one of the best emotional payoffs in a long time from anime.

Run With The Wind Episode 7 Prince

But I’ll turn my attention to Sword Art Online Alicization. I was really looking forward to more SAO, and not a spin-off without Kirito, but genuine SAO. Alicization as an arc has been talked up by those who have read the source so much so even though I tried to go in with reasonable expectations, there was this sense that what was coming should be amazing.

First few episodes had their moments. They got me into the story and established characters. There were sufficient cool and nostalgic moments sprinkled in. Yep, this was SAO and I like SAO and Kirito was back doing his thing. It wasn’t like Aincrad which hooked me from episode one and dragged me into a story that I ended up loving, but it was certainly a promising beginning.

Sword Art Online Alicization - Episode 2 - Kirito

Then we just kind of meandered along. Stuff has happened to be sure but if the recap episode after episode 18 was anything to go by, not enough to justify 18 episodes worth of viewing. And as more and more chinks in the poorly paced and exposition heavy narrative become completely impossible to ignore, the defence that is being mounted is ‘it gets better’.

How much better and will it be worth the time commitment? Well only time and personal judgement will answer that.

Will I drop Sword Art Online Alicization? Probably not. I like Sword Art Online and much like Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card, nostalgia will get this show a lot of life-lines and keep me watching and hoping.

But if I was asked whether or not someone should start Alicization, would I actually recommend it?

Right now the answer is absolutely not, unless you happen to be a huge fan of SAO and just want more. There are significantly better written and better executed shows airing right now and while Sword Art Online Alicization remains a watchable experience there is very little I could point to that would be something I could recommend to anyone who isn’t a Kirito fan already.

The argument ‘it gets better’ just seems a little hollow here.

Ultimately, each viewer is going to make their own decision about how much time they are willing to give something. Whether they will stick with something for the long haul or whether they will cut their losses early. Each viewer will decide whether the promise of something better later is worth what they are watching right now. But I am interested to know from my readers how you feel about the ‘it gets better’ defence and whether you feel it has merit as a means of recommending someone continues to watch something or whether you are someone who drops things fast when they don’t deliver.

Leave us a comment below and lets get the conversation started.

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Karandi James
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MY HERO ACADEMIA PLUSH: JIRO
MY HERO ACADEMIA PLUSH: JIRO

Blowing Past Your Limits

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 20 Review

I seldom throw the word ‘perfect’ around when describing an anime. Or even a particular episode of an anime. Mostly because there’s usually something that could be improved. And that is true here as well with episode 20 of Run With The Wind. Jota’s opening part of this episode was quite weak, as is his character in general, and yet… when thinking back on the episode as a whole… Perfect.

Run With The Wind Episode 20

Anime has given us the new face of determination. Of never giving up or surrendering. And it isn’t some shouty shounen protagonist or overpowered fighter who will win the day regardless of how many buckets of blood they just left all over the ground before they picked up their sword again.

No, the face of determination, the most inspiring character I’ve come across since Winter last year when Hina and Rei blew me away with their character arcs in March Comes in Like a Lion, is Shindo from Run With The Wind. A quiet achiever and support character who isn’t the best at the sport, but was one of the first to decide to give it a go and try. One of the hardest workers at collecting support for the team and keeping the website going. Someone who has quietly supported each and every member of the team at one point or another.

Run With The Wind Episode 20
Given the opportunity to quit – no one would blame him – but he isn’t going to stop.

A character who despite having a fever ran twenty kilometres up a mountain range and never gave up. He lost ground and time, was over taken, nearly collapsed on more than one occasion (and I think he did collapse at one point) and yet he had made a commitment to his team mates so for him giving up was not an option.

Run With The Wind Episode 20
Remember this face. He is perfect.

Shindo, your moment was absolutely perfect in every way. This episode reduced me to tears. Not a single tear or just glassy eyed, but full on sobs. While the episode itself won’t do it, watching the series to this point and realising the character journey to get here and then seeing that strength come shining through, it just hit me so hard.

Yeah, Run With The Wind is definitely going to be my anime of the season.

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Karandi James
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DEVIL MAY CRY 5
DEVIL MAY CRY 5

They Are Three Runners Down With Seven To Go

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 19 Review

Run With The Wind continues to be the impressive front runner for the season for me, which surprises me immensely and yet is incredibly satisfying. The race begins for real this week and we watch Prince, Musa, and then Taro as each completes their part of the journey. Each character has had wonderful growth, not just as a runner, and that is impressive given the cast of ten main characters with none of them left feeling neglected.

Run With The Wind Episode 19 - Prince begins the race

Still, Prince was the standout, at least for me. He remains the character who gets the best lines and moments, and his request that Haiji not apologised to him for dragging him into running but that Haiji encouraged him the way any of the characters from his manga might be encouraged was just adorable. Seeing Prince make the finish line at all, and to do so in relatively good time (okay he was last but he barely qualified in the first place) was one of those moments that nearly moved me to tears. Then we got the reaction from the rest of the team, cheering on Prince’s achievement and yeah, there were tears to the point I had to pause the episode.

Run With The Wind Episode 19 - Prince

Despite Prince’s excellent showing, Musa and Taro didn’t let themselves be outshone and I think I love that the most about this show. Each character plays their part and steps up to lead the episode when they need to and steps back when it is time for someone else. Both were reflecting on their journey and I must admit I really enjoyed Taro’s run and learning more about his relationship with his brother. And then of course there was Hana showing up in the final stretch.

Run With The Wind Episode 19 - Taro

But, I will warn you if you haven’t already watched the episode, don’t watch the preview. It just sets your heart hurting and there’s a whole week before we’ll find out what happens. Save yourself the pain and just enjoy the episode and then hope against hope that everyone in the team finishes their leg next week.

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Karandi James
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SPLATOON 2 ALL STAR COLLECTION PLUSH: MARINA
SPLATOON 2 ALL STAR COLLECTION PLUSH: MARINA

May The Wind Be At Their Backs

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 18 Review

We caught a little of Haiji’s backstory at the start of this episode of Run With The Wind. They kept it short but gave us enough detail. Part of me wished they had taken a similar approach with Kakeru but that shipped sailed already. It is interesting to note how much I disliked Haiji early on. While I can’t say I approve of him coercing his teammates into joining him to achieve his vision, I must admit Run With The Wind has done an excellent job of giving him motive for acting that way so while I still dislike the action I just can’t bring myself to still dislike Haiji.

Run With The Wind Episode 18 Haiji

We also get a small newspaper scandal this episode dealing with Kakeru’s past. This leads to a fairly angry phone conversation as well as the actual running coach having to do some coach like work to smooth things over. It isn’t a big focus but is rather one of a number of events peppering this episode in the lead up to the race.

Run With The Wind Episode 18 Kakeru - Scandal

There was also a marathon practice in there where we established that the twins and Haiji were kind of making up.

We also celebrate Christamas and New Years with the team through a montage before we finally move to the morning of the race. However, even then, we flash back to Haiji telling the runners where they will be and what leg of the race they are taking.

Run With The Wind Episode 18 Yuki

It almost seems like this episode was frantically packing everything in before beginning the race (though given we’re at episode 18 and there are meant to be 23 episodes I wonder how many episodes of running we’re about to watch). Yet this episode never felt rushed and none of these events felt undervalued. It was the natural culmination of what had come before and the feeling of things moving faster as we got closer to the race itself was really well portrayed by this episode and how they chose to convey these events.

Of course, they can’t just let us enjoy the triumph of finally getting to Hakone. No, Shindo seems to have woken up with the dreaded cold but it looks like he’s determined to get to the race. I can’t imagine the team not finishing the race. At this point I’d suggest that they either finish it despite Shindo’s cold and Haiji’s leg, or it will be Haiji who doesn’t make it to the end rather than the race stopping midway along because one of them doesn’t turn up. Still, they might surprise us.

All and all, this has been a nice dramatic build up and now I’m ready to see this team in action.

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Karandi James
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ULTRA DETAIL FIGURE KINGDOM HEARTS: KING MICKEY
ULTRA DETAIL FIGURE KINGDOM HEARTS: KING MICKEY

Should They Follow The Course Before Them?

Run With The Wind Episode Review Title

Run With The Wind Episode 17 Review

We knew last week that the twins, Joji and Jota, were starting to wonder what their goal was and fortunately Run With The Wind isn’t interesting in dragging out any other drama unnecessarily (Kakeru’s story went on long enough). This week we see that come to a head and while the answers aren’t clear what is clear is that each member of this team is looking within to find their own reason to run and be a part of the team.

Run With The Wind Episode 17 Twins

That doesn’t mean it is all smooth sailing with the twins acting particularly childishly leading to some discord within the group. Kakeru is particularly affected feeling guilty for not answering the twins after the qualifier about why they were running as he feels this is what has set them off. Still, that also leads to some fairly funny moments including Kakeru chasing down the twins when they ditch a road trip to view the course to go play soccer. The reaction of the other team members at the idea of outrunning Kakeru is pretty amusing.

Run With The Wind Episode 17 Twins

Really this is the audience’s first view of the course they are going to run and while we move from site to site fairly quickly it looks like a mammoth ask for the team to complete the track, let alone actually get any kind of position. I was honestly blown away by the scale of this undertaking and I really do get why Kakeru said the entire thing was impossible way back in the beginning after seeing that.

Run With The Wind Episode 17 Haiji

Of course, it isn’t all team mates and finding reasons. The episode ends on Haiji back at the doctors and I wonder just when we’ll be let in on what has happened to him in the past, what has driven him to run, and whether this race is going to do some serious harm to him. I don’t think that would make him back down but I’m curious as to his story in all of this. Despite having a lot of screen time, Haiji is very good at revealing information about others while playing his own cards incredibly close to his chest.

Run With The Wind Episode 17
I wonder this as well and I kind of hope we see it before the series ends.

As usual, this was visually a feast, the characterisation was on point, and this show just continues to be a delight to watch. It doesn’t demand much from its audience with its straight forward plot, but it does manage consistent entertainment.

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Karandi James
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SSSS.GRIDMAN 1/6 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: AKANE SHINJOU
SSSS.GRIDMAN 1/6 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: AKANE SHINJOU

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.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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