I don’t give voice actors enough credit on my blog. They can really make or break a character and an anime, but other than Daisuke Ono I’ve never really focused on the voice actors in shows. However, with the return of Bungo Stray Dogs I decided to turn my attention to yet another voice actor I’ve really enjoyed over the years and am sharing my Top 5 characters voiced by Miyano Mamoru. I’d love to know some of your favourites so be sure to let me know in the comments below.
Number 5: Setsuna F. Seiei from Mobile Suit Gundam 00
While some of his other roles will show off a much wider
range of emotion and expression than Setsuna, I really love the way Setsuna was
portrayed in Gundam 00. His level and unemotional delivery for the most part
really sells the tragedy that has occurred as Setsuna is very much a product of
having grown up surrounded by war and conflict. Where a lesser voice actor
might have made his character come across as dull, there’s intensity and
nuances to the delivery of Setsuna F Seiei that make for an interesting
performance and one that made him a fairly memorable character even if I didn’t
realise until far later that Setsuna was voiced by Miyano Mamoru.
Number 4: Dazai from
Bungo Stray Dogs
Arguably the reason this list exists as Dazai’s character
continues to both amuse and frustrate, I have to give absolute credit to the
performance delivered by Miyano Mamoru here. Dazai can be an infuriating
character for both the audience and the rest of the cast but the changeable
nature from serious to playful and back again, the vaguely knowing and taunting
tone that he delivers when teasing others, the sheer crazy or bored depending
on the situation, everything about the performance is tailored to the situation
and it works. As much as I might criticise aspects of Bungo Stray Dogs, I
certainly can’t fault the voice acting for Dazai’s character.
Another fairly over the top performance but one that again
shows a nice range as Fushimi can go from the bored and disinterested character
to intense and borderline obsessed in a very short span of time. Fushimi is
definitely a character who stands out in K, which is saying something in a
large cast of zany and interesting characters, and a lot of the reason for that
is the vocal performance. Regardless of the situation, Fushimi delivers his
lines in a way that makes you pay attention and again we see that even when
delivering lines as though bored, there are nuances to the performance here
that make it interesting rather than dull to listen to.
Number 2: Okabe
Rintarou from Steins;Gate
Come on, there was no way I was making this list without
Okabe being on it. Given the sheer amount of dialogue packed into Steins;Gate,
if the VA’s weren’t spot on it could make for one very dull viewing experience.
Fortunately, the cast are all superb and none more so than the lead. Miyano
Mamoru is the cackling self-proclaimed Mad Scientist who can deliver insane
statements as if they are solid truths and can declare the invention names with
absolute conviction even when they aren’t complete. While there are plenty of
reasons to love Steins;Gate, the vocal performance delivered here is probably
one of the best.
Number 1: Light from
It is a tough act to beat Okabe Rintarou in terms of vocal performance but I’ll have to put my favourite character voiced by Miyano Mamoru as Light Yagami. Sure, Light has his moments of crazy, declaring himself a god amongst other things, but he’s also the model student, the good son, the seductive manipulator and takes on literally whatever role he needs to in order to achieve his goals. All of that means he needs a versatile voice that matches the occasion and Miyano Mamoru rises well and truly to the occasion to create an unforgettable character.
That is my list for this week but there are a lot of other great characters voiced by Miyano Mamoru so please be sure to let me know your favourites.
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime. Join the discussion in the comments. Karandi James
We’ve all seen anime characters using their phones. Whether they are flip phones or the more recently prolific smart phones, characters do love their phones. My list today looks at 5 interesting ways characters use of phones in anime (okay, four interesting uses and one use that just worked well with the story).
These are the uses that stood out to me and felt like they were fairly integral to the story. Please feel free to add your favourite use of phones in anime in the comments below.
Top 5 Use of Phones In Anime
Please Note – There will be spoilers below.
Honourable mention to Haganai for having two characters who both owned phones being completely unable to use them.
This is the one that I said wasn’t all that interesting but worked well with the story. All the way through Yuri on Ice the characters used their phones to update where they were, take and post pictures and video and generally stay in contact. It was nice to see these characters simply using phones as part of their everyday rather than having them as a gimmick or an add on.
Plus, the camera rolls and videos stored on the characters phones were used for a fairly significant plot reveal toward the end of the series which would have seemed really lame if we hadn’t seen the characters using their phones all the way along.
Yes, future diary. I still don’t know why anyone would keep a diary on their phone but it is the basis for this anime that sets up a death match between diary users and each diary is given a power based on whatever the person was using the diary for. Our main character was recording everything that happened around him but not a thing about himself so his diary shows him the future for everything around him. Good thing his stalker/girlfriend was recording everything about him.
Who wants to send a text message and change the past? Well, hopefully no-one after seeing the mess it got these characters into. It probably would have been better if they’d had a clue how they’d managed to accomplish building a time machine that could send text messages but even then they probably would have still gotten into the mess by changing world-lines and then having to essentially undo every single change.
Alright, the phone aspect isn’t very big in this one but I like that a god has been reduced to spraying his number all over town and that he can teleport to the person who has called him. During the first season at least this was one of the many ways this story was made to feel modern. The second season kind of loses a bit of this and that is probably to the show’s detriment.
It absolutely had to be. Phones given to a group of selected individuals with a large amount of money on it and charged with saving the country. What could possibly go wrong? I think it is the operator on the other end who is more extraordinary given pretty much any request can be answered provided they still have enough money.
If it wasn’t for the deadly consequences of participation this would very much be the best phone on this list to have. Aside from the Selecao’s phones though the other characters use their phones to connect and interact. Removing the phones, Eden of the East does not work as a story.
And that’s my list this week. What do you think about phones in anime?
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime. Join the discussion in the comments. Karandi James
Pretty much every anime fan will admit that at some stage they definitely struck the pose of their favourite character (usually a fighter) in real life. There’s something very cool about character poses on screen and something utterly ridiculous about using them in real life and yet some cosplayers really pull it off. Today my top 5 includes 5 character poses I love seeing and am really glad that they are either parodied regularly in other anime or that cosplayers enjoy them too because it means endless streams of images to admire.
What are the top 5 anime character poses?
And because this is a list I am revisiting, I asked Twitter to share their favourite character poses. Some great responses worth checking out and be sure to share your fav.
Number 5: Steins;Gate
This one is fantastic but mostly because you can actually pull it off in real life without looking too ridiculous, which makes it a fairly safe pick for most people who while they would like more anime in their everyday life don’t want to have people start avoiding eye-contact with them.
There are some more dramatic poses from Steins;Gate but the back to back in the lab coats is pretty classic. Now I just need a reason to wear a lab coat.
Number 4: Soul Eater
I’ll admit, Death the Kid with Patty and Liz is also pretty iconic but there is something insanely fun about taking on one of Maka’s stances and if you happen to have your scythe handy (or a broom stick or anything else really) you can really prepare to fight. And come on, Maka is just awesome. She made Soul Eater for me.
Of course, the key to Maka’s look is not actually how she stands given other than the crouch it isn’t exactly the same each time, the key is in that piercing gaze. Nail that and it won’t matter how ridiculous you look.
Number 3: Evangelion
The Gendo Pose from Evangelion. Probably doesn’t need much explanation and while it isn’t really a cosplayer favourite, it is an overly referenced and parodied look in anime. Plus, it is all kinds of fun to strike it in meetings when no one knows what you are doing. Even more fun if one person knows what you are doing and the rest are oblivious.
So maybe that makes this the best character pose because you can actually get away with using this one in real life without looking completely bonkers.
Number 2: Full Metal Alchemist
I dare you to tell me you watched either version of Full Metal Alchemist and didn’t at one point in the month after the viewing clap your hands together when something broke or didn’t work. It may not be the coolest pose but once again it is all about the attitude while doing it. This isn’t a clap your hands if you believe in fairies moment.
Plus, Edward certainly makes it look cool. So maybe this isn’t so much a cool character pose as it is a cool character who can make most things look good but it still deserves a place on my list.
Number 1: Sailor Moon
I should probably attribute this one to the fact that I was significantly younger when I watched Sailor Moon but I most definitely spent more time than I will ever admit practicing and perfecting each of the Sailor Scout’s poses. And their attacks. And pretty much anything else to do with the show. Favourites were of course Jupiter and Mars for attacks. But very little beats Sailor Moon’s transformation stance and then her little monologue ending with “In the name of the Moon, I’ll punish you”.
Okay, time to spill. What is your favourite anime pose or which one will you admit to practising in front of your TV?
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime. Join the discussion in the comments. Karandi James
With the ending of the Summer 2021 season, it seemed like an appropriate time for me to revisit my thoughts on the importance of the final impression, given how many anime seem to forget about this aspect in their rush to move on.
As much as we think about first episodes and how important it is to grab the audience and draw them in, for me, once I’ve decided to watch a show, how it ends becomes incredibly important. And clearly my recent experience with Seirei Gensouki made this point clear when the final impression I was left with has kind of soured my thoughts on the whole series. Things I was willing to let go and accept (such as the rushed pacing of the whole series) are less acceptable in the face of a poor resolution on top of those issues.
No matter how much I’ve enjoyed watching something, a poor ending can really taint the whole experience, or at the very least make me not want to rewatch an anime. While some viewers won’t mind whether something has rewatch value or not, for me that’s the whole point of falling in love with a show. Watching it again, and again, and again.
As I am discussing final episodes, please note that there will be spoilers.
What makes it hard with anime is the sheer number that just don’t end. They leave themselves open for sequels that may or may not ever exist or they deliberately stop where they do because they want you to engage with the source material (whether it be a game, manga, or novels).
These shows automatically make it hard for me to recommend them because they aren’t a complete story in and of themselves and if they haven’t even taken minimal steps to leave the audience at a satisfactory resting place in the story it just doesn’t feel like it is worth the effort starting something that decidedly doesn’t end. Other people may feel differently about it, but my primary focus with watching anime is the story so an unfinished story is more or less the kiss of death no matter how great the journey to get there was. That’s a final impression that just does the title no favours.
How important is a final impression to you?
That said, not every single loose end needs to be tied up and just because there is sequel bait doesn’t mean we can’t get to a satisfactory resolution for the immediate issue or problem faced. There are plenty of good examples of anime that manage this kind of ending, such as the original season of How Not To Summon A Demon Lord. Also adapted from light novels, also unfinished in season one.
While the overall complication of Diablo having been summoned into a game like world is not resolved leaving the story open to plenty of sequels and the overall story is clearly not complete, the final episode of How Not To Summon a Demon Lord managed to bring the audience to a decent climactic point and resolve the current drama.
They did this through the sub-plot of Rem carrying around another Demon Lord inside of her that was going to be reborn. This wasn’t suddenly thrown at the audience in the final episodes to give an excuse for a fight. It was introduced early in this season and we revisited this point multiple times throughout the series before it became the central focus of the final few episodes.
The rebirth of this Demon Lord and the subsequent fight felt satisfying because there had been build up to this issue, it was directly tied in with the main characters, there was a genuine sense that this was dangerous enough as a threat, and the immediate danger/issue was solved by the time the final credits rolled. This is a great example of a narrative that wants to continue giving the audience enough of an ending that even if no sequel ever occurs, we’re all still pretty satisfied with the season as it aired.
Alternatively, we could look at the obvious comparison of The Master of Ragnarok (though making fun of the ending seems kind of pointless given how many other things went wrong with the series) and realise how it utterly and completely dropped the ball.
Midway through the season we were still introducing would be antagonists and powers and rules to the story so very few of them felt like they meant anything. The main character was returned to his original time which should have been the end, only he felt bad about abandoning ‘his’ people in their time of need so opted to be summoned back. Also fine enough, except for the part where I am still not sure how his coming back actually fixed the dire situation his people were in. They never did explain how he overcame any of the challenges.
Not to mention he took his childhood sweetheart back with him (admittedly she asked to go) and I just have to wonder if she knew what exactly she was getting into.
This ending just didn’t satisfy or even make a lot of sense and while there is clearly sequel potential, I’d have to wonder who is actually hanging out and waiting for a continuation of a show that just kind abandons fights midway through because clearly they don’t have a solution for how the protagonist is going to get out of the situation they dumped him in.
Moving away from isekai stories though, we had another great example of a story ending in Steins;Gate 0. Now I am not the biggest fan of this particular spin-off story and yet the way it concluded, bringing itself nicely back into line with the events in the original series provided an incredibly satisfying end to the overall narrative that had been established by this series.
Okabe had given up on trying to save both Kurisu and Mayuri and had let Kurisu die. He was now going back to save Kurisu. It is as complete as it needs to be and while there are definitely loose ends and I’m still curious about the whole war thing, there is little to complain about in terms of narrative closure.
However, there are times when we get an ending that does in fact conclude the story and yet still feels like it isn’t particularly satisfying. This season I got that feeling from Phantom in the Twilight. I really enjoyed that series once it got going and there is a lot to like about how it builds up the world and story throughout.
The final episodes bring us a conflict between the established antagonists and the protagonist and her friends and the fairly predictable good guys win the fight ending occurs. While there is heaps of room for a sequel, this particular chapter is wrapped up nicely.
Yet, there was a lot lacking from these final episodes. My biggest issue will be with the villains as I still didn’t really care about them or their motives and they largely came to lame ends that served no real purpose. The monsters the group were fighting were very samey and didn’t really seem to put up enough of a fight so even though there were lots of enemies you didn’t really get an overall sense of danger.
Basically while the story worked the execution let it down and while it is still good enough, it leaves an impression that the story was somehow less impressive than it might have been and while I still enjoyed the series overall these final episodes certainly left me with a weaker impression of it than I had at about the midseason mark.
So back to Seirei Gensouki.
We had a series that rushed through content so incredibly fast we never really got to appreciate the story for what it could have been (and it really could have been brilliant). All of that might have been acceptable if the goal for the anime was to get us to some amazing sub-plot resolution in the final episode with a small amount of sequel (or source material) baiting.
But… that final episode was no more climatic than any other and while Rio did save a girl it didn’t feel any weightier or more meaningful than any other time he’d saved some one. And before they even took a moment to celebrate they dumped in a whole bunch of stuff that is clearly only going to get dealt with if we get a second season (feels unlikely) or if viewers decide that despite the poor efforts here they’ll go and read the books.
That’s a final impression the anime could have avoided if they’d just thought about how to end their own season in a somewhat more satisfying manner.
Basically, I really wish more anime actually ended well. So I’ll turn it over to the readers and ask you which anime you think have the best endings and which ones have the worst and why?
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime. Join the discussion in the comments. Karandi James
2011 is a bit of a weird year for my favourite anime. The choices ended up incredibly varied and we’ve got slice of life, comedy, drama and sci-fi anime all of which left an impact on me but for very different reasons. The sad thing is Season 3 of Natsume Yuujinchou came out but my rules prevented me from adding it to the list but you better believe it would have been my pick for the year. Also, No. 6 came out in 2011 and while I loved it dearly the disaster of an ending meant it couldn’t win its season. With these tough choices made lets look at the list.
No. 1: No sequels of any kind.
No. 2: Only one anime from each season which gave me 4 picks from each year.
No. 3: Other than 2019 anime, no matter how brilliant an anime was if I hadn’t rewatched it since it aired then it didn’t make the list. If I don’t like it enough to watch it more than once then it doesn’t deserve to be on an anime of the decade list.
Incidentally these anime are not the technical best anime of their seasons but are the ones I would pick if I could only watch one anime from that season. They are anime I loved, for whatever reason, and felt deserved to be remembered.
Wandering Son or Hourou Musuko is an anime I didn’t discover until well after it had aired. While I have watched this one twice I’ve never managed to get my thoughts around it together enough to write a series review. That said, it is an anime well worth remembering well after the year it aired as it takes a very calm look at some big issues concerning gender identity. While there are certainly some rough edges, to see an anime tackling such an issue at the forefront rather than as a side story or through a subplot, and seeing it do it in a relatively non-sensationalist manner was very impressive.
I really enjoyed this anime’s take on its subject matter and feel it is one of those anime worth watching even if the genre and style aren’t your usual interests. Definitely one to add to your watch list if you missed it in 2011.
How could it not be? Watching Steins;Gate was an actual experience and one that should not be missed regardless of how you end up feeling about the story. It takes a bit to get going but the quirky dialogue (and there is a lot of dialogue) will keep you dialled in until all hell breaks loose with time travel mayhem. And would you believe I haven’t written a full series review of this anime despite a multitude of rewatches? Something I’ll need to correct later this year I’m sure.
Incidentally, Steins;Gate is one of the few anime I firmly recommend watching the English dub of. Firstly, because it is well acted with the voices matching the characters very well but secondly and more importantly, because if you are reading subs there’s a lot of dialogue very quickly between characters and at times the subs can fill up to a third of the screen and even for someone who reads as fast as me they become a little hard to keep up with. Still, Steins;Gate is a must watch anime regardless of the decade.
Kamisama no Memochou
Kamisama no Memochou or Heaven’s Memo Pad might seem like a weird choice for a favourite from a season, however this anime is one that impressed me by bringing its threads together for a truly beautiful, if a little bit heart shattering, conclusion. I’m a sucker for a well realised ending and while the journey to that ending in this case is a little bit hit and miss with the story being broken into distinct arcs or cases, the final destination makes if worthwhile. That said, this story about a NEET detective agency where every character is basically a trope of some sort with little fleshing out, isn’t going to work for everyone. Throw in stories of sex trade, drug use and suicide and you have an anime that is definitely not going to appeal to everyone. Still, as I said, this one sticks with me because of its powerful ending and when looking back at the Summer 2011 season, this was the anime that called to me as one I am glad I didn’t miss.
On that note though, if you are on the lookout for something new to watch and missed Heaven’s Memo Pad, it might be worth checking out. There’s some interesting moments and commentary in amongst the somewhat murky presentation. I was sure I’d reviewed this already but apparently I haven’t. I’ll have to correct that.
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sakunai
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sakunai also known as Haganai or I Don’t Have Many Friends is a school based, harem, comedy. Needless to say the fact that it was my favourite anime from a season is a little weird given that should be three strikes against it. And honestly, it isn’t exactly revolutionary for any of those genres. However, maybe it was the time and place but when I watched this anime for the first time, something clicked. Anyway, our protagonist Kodaka recently transferred schools and is instantly misunderstood because of his hair colour so doesn’t make any friends. Then he stumbles into a room where his classmate Yozora is talking with her ‘air-friend’ (like an air-guitar). Yozora decides to start a club to make friends with the plan of only her and Kodaka being members, however soon the rich girl Sena shows up and then a whole bunch of other girls. It’s silly and at times the comedy pushes it too far, but I still found this anime fairly enjoyable probably because at its heart it really does try to deal with the issue of feeling isolated for whatever reason.
While this one won’t have universal appeal it is definitely worth trying to see if it works for you. There’s even a season two which seems to focus more on the romance side of things so if you wanted to know where the relationships go at least you know there’s more to the story to watch after season one.
And that concludes 2011 except that it is time for my lovely readers to share their favourite anime from the year that was 2011. Leave us a comment and remember to check out the post tomorrow for 2012.
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime. Join the discussion in the comments. Karandi James
Check out my favourite anime from each year over the last decade:
In 2016 the wonderful Allen Walker from D Gray Man Hallow topped my list – and yeah that was an incredibly biased decision because I just love Allen. 2017 saw Rei from March Comes in Like a Lion take the list (well deserved). 2018 had a plethora of fantastic male characters, though if you read my list of favourite female characters from the year you probably have a fairly good idea of who is going to end up on my list here. As always, I’d love to know who your choices are for best male anime characters from 2018.
It kind of hurts but Kirito from Sword Art Online Alicization has only gotten an honourable mention. While he still has plenty of episodes, his showing in 2018 was okay but not his best work (poor guy). The other character I want to give an honourable mention to is Lin from Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens. He was great fun but not quite memorable enough to land a spot on the top 5.
As much as Steins;Gate 0 didn’t quite click for me in 2018 one thing I did appreciate was seeing Okabe’s character after he had hit rock bottom and tried to rebuild his life. The Okabe who gave up on saving everyone and just tried to make the best of things. Seeing that Okabe finally find the motivation needed to fight back again despite the hardship it was going to cost was perhaps one of the most rewarding character arcs for the year.
Alright, if you’ve been following my collaboration with Arthifis on Dakaichi you will know I’ve been seriously loving Takato’s character since the beginning. While there’s a lot in Dakaichi that is easy to dismiss or would make you raise an eyebrow, Takato has been a highly entertaining main character. I love watching him when he is working as an actor and seeing him slowly get in touch with his emotions in his real life. For everything that doesn’t work in Dakaichi, Takato has been a shining character for the Autumn season (or at least one that I’ve really enjoyed watching).
Sakuta has been one of those characters who comes along who on the one hand I feel he’s pretty ordinary, on the other hand this is how you write an ordinary character and make him shine. Solid writing, great interactions with the support cast, and just enough personality and sass that he doesn’t just fit solidly into the nice guy forgettable role, and Sakuta is someone who has easily carried his show (admittedly with a bit of help from a fabulous supporting cast).
Number 2: Ash from Banana Fish
It was a hard toss up as to whether I was going to pick Ash or Eiji for the list, but Ash wins because I just love seeing him rise up time and time again. Ash may be incredibly overpowered given he’s ridiculously smart, strong, and shrugs off bullet wounds and being stabbed more or less instantly. He might be straight out of an 80’s power fantasy, but he is definitely fun to watch and when he’s with Eiji his soft and fluffy side comes out (as much as one exists). Really enjoyed spending time with Ash this year and while I might have wanted him to have more happy moments, I can’t deny that I was always entertained by his journey.
It’s the second year in a row but Rei Kiriyama remains my very favourite male anime character in 2018. His interactions with Hina, his match against Souya, his support of Shimada, and just his own growth as a character, returning to his foster home to face some of the past, all of these moments have seen Rei moving from strength to strength. For a character who still has a long way to travel in regards to dealing with his own mental health, Rei continues to be inspirational and relatable and someone I just want to see more of.
That’s the list for 2018 but I’d love to know who you would have picked for your top 5 male anime characters.
Continuing on with our Top 5 lists for the year that is 2018, this week I am turning my attention to the ending themes. Now, this list was a little harder to make because there are plenty of ED’s I don’t listen to after the first episode, which is why in previous years I haven’t even tried to do this list. Then again, if the ED is interesting it will make me hang around and so I’m going to roll out my list.
(If you missed the previous list you can check out my top 5 favourite openings here.)
Now what makes a good ending? I have no idea. I like endings that are fun to listen to or capture a theme in the story, but I also like character focused ED’s or ones that just play with their cast and characters. Really it could be one of a dozen things that grabs my interest, though I can guarantee still images and panning aren’t high on my list of priorities to watch each week.
Please feel free to share your favourites in the comments below.
Please Note – There probably won’t be any spoilers in this list.
Honourable mentions this week go to: How To Keep a Mummy and Darling in the Franxx.
Number 5: Steins;Gate 0 – The Last Game by Zwei
There’s something incredibly plaintive about this ending, which is probably what it was going for and even as it becomes more energised later in the song that underlying sorrow never really fades. As much as I wasn’t the biggest fan of Steins;Gate 0, didn’t dislike it but just couldn’t help but compare it to the original, I really did love this song each week and I will admit I didn’t skip listening even once. Great song, solid visuals, and a really good effort at capturing the core emotion of the story.
Number 4: Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi Episode 3 – Negai Hana by Katsuyuki Konishi
This is an odd one because it isn’t the ending the whole way through. Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi had some great music and I liked that at intervals various characters would get an ending focused on them, and in this case the Ogre Master’s voice actor performed the song, and in the process very nearly knocked Daisuke Ono off from being my favourite voice actor. The visuals aren’t much with this one, but I really loved this song.
Number 3: Dakaichi – Chuntaka! by Junta Azumaya (Yuuki Ono), Takato Saijou (Hiroki Takahashi)
There’s genuinely no excuse. The song is generic as, the slow pan over the characters and the heavy use of the stereo is pretty lazy. The dance sequence is simple and incredibly twee. And yet, I genuinely love this ending. It make me smile and I genuinely feel like getting up and dancing with the characters by the end of it. So while I will accept this song is very much not a sensible choice, and if I were to rewrite this list in six months it probably wouldn’t be here, right now this song is so getting this spot.
Number 2: March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 – I am Standing by Ruann
You want an ending that captures a character journey over an entire series, sounds great, and is visually interesting, than March Comes in Like a Lion delivers. I love the song and the mood it sets. I love how it shows Rei over his life and the heavy link to the water and colour symbolism used throughout the whole series. Favourite moment though is when he runs toward the colours and the sisters appear, Hina the last of them at the very centre, Rei’s sun. Truly beautiful and perfect for the anime.
Number 1: Banana Fish – Prayer X by King Gnu
Visually, this is perhaps the least impressive ED on the list, but the music is so incredibly distinctive and haunting and so perfectly suited to the character (as are the visuals) that I can’t help but get totally drawn into this. Just hearing the first few notes of the ED can suck me right in at this point and after listening to it the song will be stuck in my head for hours. I really love it and I feel it is the perfect song for the show so here it is at number 1.
Alright, over to you. What would you pick for your favourite anime endings in 2018?
Right from episode one of Steins;Gate 0 I kind of sat on the fence about whether or not I was on board with this most recent addition to the Steins;Gate anime world. Overall it was an up and down experience but now we come to the final review and I have to figure out exactly how I feel about this show.
Steins;Gate 0 takes on the task of exploring an alternative time-line, one in which Mayuri lets Okabe stop trying to save Kurisu and as such we see an Okabe Rintaro we have never seen before. This is an Okabe who has given up his delusions, his manic laughter, and even the white lab coat because he’s just a student suffering from some severe depression with a huge fear that something will happen to destroy the peace he sacrificed so much to achieve. But things are never that easy (that was easy) and soon Okabe is going to be plunged back into conspiracies and time travel intrigues whether he wants to be or not.
We also have the involvement of America and Russia, the need to stop World War 3, and an AI based on Kurisu who may or may not be a real character but ultimately is fairy unexplored compared with what they could have done.
I will admit, the idea of seeing Okabe as a more ‘normal’ person and seeing him dealing with the fallout of failure is an interesting concept. The problem is how this impacts on the overall tone of the show. It isn’t just Okabe who lacks energy and charisma. The entire cast takes a hit and the beloved chemistry and rapid fire dialogue that permeated the original Steins;Gate anime is gone for the vast majority of 0’s run-time. This could have worked if they’d spurred Okabe into action earlier after giving us a taste of this alternative version of him but it went on for so long and even after he’d been given every reason to get back to time travel he continued to dig in his heels and refuse. While this is believable as a human to not want to change a hard made decision, it doesn’t make for overly compelling viewing.
That said, it isn’t as though this season is devoid of good moments. We get some fantastic moments between Mayuri and Okabe. Mayuri was a fairly underused character in the original as she ended up more of a plot device than anything else and in Steins;Gate 0 she becomes the driving force for a lot of the action. She fully understands that it is her fault Okabe has essentially lost sight of who he was and while she isn’t planning on abandoning him anytime soon, she very much wants to bring Hououin Kyouma back to life and she’s happy to break time and space to do it.
We also get a great episode where Okabe for whatever reason ends up in an alternative time line where Kurisu is still alive and essentially she gives him a pep talk before sending him back. This was one of the few moments in the first half of the show where we see the rapid fire dialogue and chemistry that is sorely missing from so much of this anime. Not to mention it is Kurisu and Okabe together again in a way that just makes you realise how lacking Amadeus, the AI based on Kurisu, is as a substitute.
I’ll also say that from episode 20 to 23 we get a fairly solid run to a conclusion and these episodes are actually very entertaining. Part of me almost wishes they’d done this series in 12 episodes and condensed everything before episode 20 into 8 episodes and then maybe it wouldn’t have felt so bloated and it could have been a tight series keeping us on our toes. It is very rare for me to wish less episodes on an anime but I really feel content-wise this anime just didn’t have enough for its run time.
And that brings us to some of the real issues I was having, other than just not enjoying the characters very much this time around. The question of should we or shouldn’t we mess with time lacks weight here because we’ve already had it explored. We get that Okabe is scarred but his arguments for not building and using the machine are weak and ultimately we know he’s going to have to. With this central premise more or less dead in the water, there are other avenues the anime could explore but ultimately not a lot came of them.
For instance, episode 12 spends a great deal of time constructing a bootstrap paradox. One of the characters from the future (travelled with Suzuha) is singing a song that she heard from someone and they try to track down the song’s origins. We go around in circles before realising that Okabe taught it to the others but he heard it from the girl when she’d travelled back in time and so the question remained where did the song come from. It was an entire episode to set up a paradox that ultimately served zero purpose. And while it still could have been fun given time travel shows inherently do have paradoxes in them and this one seemed to plunge us into it just for the fun of it, ultimately it just felt like more clutter and distraction from where we knew the story would have to go.
The AI is perhaps the part that suffers the worst from this. There are so many ideas and questions that could have been explored with Amadeus. And while the anime certainly walks around the edges of whether or not the AI is a person given it has the same thoughts and memories as a person, very little is done with this. Nor do they open up obvious questions such as how this will change people if we could in fact copy our thoughts and memories into a program. Or what it could be used for. Or even the ethics of erasing it. While we get an emotional sequence where all the characters kind of say goodbye, the anime isn’t really interested in asking whether or not this could be considered murder if we could consider the AI a character. I’d have loved for them to do more with this.
There are also a whole bunch of characters who ultimately just don’t serve much purpose here and lots of red-herrings just because.
Steins;Gate 0 did introduce us to Maho though and while at first I wasn’t really sold on her character she actually did a good job integrating with the core cast by the end. At the very least she served a fairly valuable plot point and her interactions with Daru and Okabe were pretty good by the end.
And while we’re on that point, Daru certainly came out of Steins;Gate 0 leaving a better impression than the original. So in terms of fleshing out Daru and Mayuri, this spin off really succeeded.
Ultimately that is what will determine your overall enjoyment of this show. If just seeing more of these characters is enough and those few glimpses of development are sufficient to make you happy, here are 23 episodes for you to sink your teeth into. However, in terms of giving a great story, Steins;Gate 0 relies to much on nostalgia for these characters and it stretches things out and has too much that feels like filler to really be something amazing. I’m not unhappy that I watched this but it isn’t exactly blowing me away.
Summer has indeed had its ups and downs and to be honest, it is probably the weakest of the seasons 2018 has offered us so far. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a whole lot of fun to follow, review, and discuss. However, I did find if a lot harder than normal to narrow down my choices for best of the season given there was a lot that was kind of okay but nothing that really demanded I pay attention to it. (Banana Fish and Attack on Titan Season 3 are missing from my own awards as they are both going to continue on to the next season).
As always, thanks to people who voted in the poll for best of the season. After I get through my picks, I’ll announce the winners of the reader’s poll.
While there’s some questionable execution and pacing issues with this story, in terms of the story I was most interested in following, Steins;Gate 0 wins hands down. Angolmois is too straight forward, How Not To Summon a Demon Lord was entertaining but not exactly a riveting narrative. There just hasn’t been much that I’ve watched this season with an overly interesting plot so Steins;Gate 0 remained my favourite story of the season even if I did criticise it, a lot.
Best Visuals from Summer 2018 – My Hero Academia Season 3
Bones continues to deliver some quality visuals and animation in My Hero Academia this season. While I felt the characters and the plot were a fair bit weaker than season 2, the visuals did not drop the ball and whatever scene we were watching was delivered with impressive or interesting visuals.
The fight between Midoriya and Bakugou is probably the stand out from the second half, but realistically the action in My Hero Academia is always exciting to watch. It would be nice to see the kids get into a wider variety of settings from time to time, but this is still my visual pick for the season.
Am I coming up with excuses to include platelets? Definitely. But because I took Attack on Titan out of the running, I had to choose the opening to Cells at Work as my favourite. It is good fun with a lot of energy and I loved that for one episode we even had different characters singing the opening. It was a surprise and a bit of fun. This one really suits the show and just gets you excited for the adorableness to follow.
Right, so it is kind of rare for an isekai protagonist to make it into my favourite character list, but I really like Diablo. He’s great fun to spend time with and a lot of the draw for the show is his character. I would love to see more of him in a follow up season and just see if he learns to balance out his inner insecurities with his external demon lord persona. One thing I know for sure is that it will be fun.
And of course, cutest character from Summer 2018 goes to the the Platelets
Having taken out Attack on Titan and Banana Fish from the running, I was pretty much left with Cells at Work, How Not to Summon a Demon Lord or Phantom in the Twilight as shows I genuinely enjoyed this season. Phantom in the Twilight fell short with its ending. How Not To Summon a Demon Lord is fun and all, but it isn’t without its issues. So the anime that was most consistently entertaining this season was Cells at Work.
I’m actually fairly surprised that this is my best of the season, but it kind of speaks of how hit and miss the season has been. That said, this one is a fairly solid piece of entertainment. It isn’t going to change the world, but it is a great way to spend a Sunday morning and it certainly kept me entertained this season. I even learned a couple of things from it.
Finally, Reader’s Choice – Best Anime From Summer 2018
Voting was incredibly close and also pretty scattered this season. By the final days the top two were deadlocked and remained that way until the final hours of the vote. With 178 votes this is the most participated in vote to date so hopefully we can continue to grow this number and make the data more reflective of the community as a whole. Still, here are the results.
And the winner is… Banana Fish.
Totally not surprised, though I am amazed at how close the vote was between Cells at Work and Banana Fish with Attack on Titan dropping off early on. Still, all three of these will go on to the best of the year poll joining the best from the last two seasons and whatever wins the Autumn poll. I’m also throwing My Hero Academia into the best of the year poll because amazingly I totally left it out of this vote (whoops).
Anyway, Banana Fish has kind of taken over my twitter timeline most weeks after the episode airs so I’ve really enjoyed it and there are some really excellent blog posts being written about the series so I can tell there are some really big fans out there. Hopefully the second half is as entertaining as the first was.
Thanks everyone who participated in the vote. We say farewell to another season of anime but enter a new one with all new possibilities laid out before us. Check back later for my worst of the season poll.
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime. Join the discussion in the comments. Karandi James
One final attempt at sending Mayuri and Suzuha into the past to change everything (or rather get Okabe back into trying to save Kurisu which the audience already knows happens so I’m not entirely sure if there was any point to this or not) and then we have a few loose ends to tie up but otherwise we’re done. Okay, there’s still an OVA to go so I guess there’s more to this story but I think for me, I’m done.
If I’m brutally honest, the few points I got out of this spin-off probably could have been covered in about six episodes rather than 23, however it has been kind of fun rejoining these characters. I’ll save further thoughts on this for the whole series review and focus more on episode 23, an episode that brings things together and links us back to where we needed to be for Okabe to make the choice he needs to make.
Seeing the roof-top scene, yet again, even with the slightly modified role for Kagari, wasn’t exactly thrilling but at least we finally get some closure on this scene. The phone call from Mayuri to Mayuri was probably the stand out moment of the episode and did exactly what it needed to and then watching Suzuha and Mayuri accept their fate was one of those moments that made me remember how good Steins;Gate could be.
That said, this episode was much like this series has been. A series of good ideas and great moments surrounded by moments that we perhaps could have done without and ideas that aren’t fully realised. It works in the moment but on thinking back there just isn’t enough here.
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