We’ve been notoriously inconsistent with when we do rundowns or rankings, but from here on out, we’ll be doing it at the end of each month. Wherever we are on that last day, that’s where we’ll take stock of what we’ve watched, as we’ve done here:
11. Sket Dance – 65-71/- (5.857) – Many episodes are simply all right, but once in a while a great one comes along that has us laughing the whole way through. The series is very self-referential at this point, so much of the humor requires prior understanding of the vast flurry of characters who bow in and out.
10. Accel World – 14-20/24 (6.000) – Nomi Seiji is one nasty villain. Kuroyukihime’s little seaside-quest was pretty lame. We’re looking forward to seeing how Haru defeats Nomi without Hime’s help.
9. Binbougami-ga! – 9/13 (6.111) – Rindou Ranmaru is a bit of a walking cliche, but we find her butch voice amusing. Momiji’s rival, however, is a dud so far. The comedy has yet to return to the highs of the first episode, suggesting they used up all their best firepower there.
8. Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse – 9/24 (6.222) – This funnily-named series started strong but then regressed, but at the moment the relationship between Yuuya and Yui is getting more interesting…or rote, depending on your POV. We’d like to see more battles and chaos, but we loathe the Beta monster designs. When blood is spilt it’s over-censored.
7. Rinne no Lagrange Season 2 – 13-20/24 (6.875) – A great reintroduction of the series that resolves the La Garite/De Metrio conflict without typical good-vs.-evil cliches and stayed true to its likable cast. Something big is on the horizon.
6. Sword Art Online – 8/25 (7.000) – The first third of this series has been set-up and adept world-building combined with Kirito meeting girl after girl and forming various bonds with them before moving on. It seems like he’s settled on Asuna for now, so we’re hoping he/they face more challenges relating to clearing the game – admittedly something still pretty far off.
5. Tari Tari – 9/13 (7.222) – Once we sorted out who was who, we started ranking our favorite characters: Wakana, Sawa, Taichi, Konatsu, Wien. Granted, those first two have gotten the most development, but the last two are still irritating so far.
4. Kokoro Connect – 8/17 (7.375) – This was the opposite of Muv-Luv in that it had an uninspiring start, but it has a solid 8.000 average since week 3. It owes that to the strength of its talented voice cast, increasingly textured characters, a nice understated romance, and generous helpings of powerful drama, borne out of the antics of the trickster Heartseed.
3. Eureka Seven AO – 14-17/24 (7.500) – We still don’t know what the heck’s going on half the time, but it doesn’t matter, and we’re not sure we’re even supposed to. Ao doesn’t, after all. And Ao’s proving far more likable lead than his dad Renton. Also, EXPLOSIONS.
2. Hyouka – 14-19/21 (8.000) – The festival arc was epic in its scope, complexity, and conclusion, never neglected the little details, and gave the whole cast something to do. The standalone episodes that have followed have maintained the quality. We’d love some kind of payoff vis-a-vis Oreki and Chitanda, but we won’t get our hopes up.
1. Natsuyuki Rendezvous – 9/11 (8.444) – Truly Noitamina as it was meant to be. Brilliant writing, incredibly vital characters you care about, and a powerful, grown-up story of loss, grief, and the difficulty of moving on. Easily the best series of the year, with only Nazo no Kanojo X and Sakamichi no Apollon approaching its level of excellence.