10. Magia Record
The style, atmosphere, and whimiscal visual language of the original Madoka are there, but the narrative depth (not to mention novelty) are notably absent. Questions are often answered with more questions in a story that remains stubbornly opaque, the very Madoka-esque MC Iroha’s central quest leads to a dead end, and there are probably more magical girls introduced than needed. That said, it’s not terrible, and probably a must-see for Madoka completionist. Hopefully its second season will improve upon the shortcomings of the first.
It’s full title—i don’t want to get hurt so I’ll max out my defense—is its general premise, but the devil’s in the execution, details, and above all tone, and BOFURI excels at all three and kept me coming back, where a similar VRMMO game, Infinite Dendrodragon, lost me in its opening minutes. In addition to being cute as all get-out, Maple represents a bright (light-wise, not smarts) ball of optimism who values making friends and having fun together over winning…though she wins plenty!
While there are times when calling this “animation” is generous, the lushness of the painterly stills that suffuse Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun more than make up for the occasional lack of complex motion. Unlike other Lerche entries, it also benefits from a much smaller cast and an optimistic outlook that brightens its darker corners. Nene, Hanako, Kou & Co. are all beautifully drawn and voiced and easy to root for.
Drawing from a dizzying array of sources from Sherlock Holmes to Blade Runner, ID:INVADED makes up for it’s lack of solid resolution and occasionally scattered ideas with slick character design, a smattering of likable (or at least sympathetic characters with clear motivations, and some truly weird dreamscapes.
A show that celebrates both traditional and modern forms of storytelling, Kyokou Suiri is anchored by it’s surpassingly spunky, takes-no-prisoners, pint-sized supernatural detective extraordinaire, the one-legged, one-eyed Kotoko. There’s a lot of talking in this show, but it’s almost never not thrilling, and often accompanied by just the right amount of action and comedy. Your mileage may vary when it comes to her likability or the show’s structure (half monster of the week, half final showdown), but I loved In/Spectre’s tendency to march to the beat of its own drum.
We’re only nine episodes into a planned 25-episode series, but Railgun T marks a return to character-driven, (relatively) straightforward storytelling and planting a firm spotlight on the titular uber-heroine Misaka Mikoto, frightening and adorable in equal measure, depending on her mood. She finds herself and her friends in the middle of a squabble between factions of her city’s underworld, but (perhaps) with her sparkly-eyed frenemy Misaki she looks poised to make life inconvenient for all of them.
An “It’s All Down To This/Us” pervades every episode of F/GO, but while the future of human civilization is taken to the absolute brink, there’s never the slightest sense of nihilism or fatalism in its narrative. That’s thanks to the dogged bravery of its two leads Ritsuka and Mash and their galaxy of awesome-looking gods, goddesses, and kings doing increasingly awesome things by their side. A feast for the eyes with the capacity to warm the heart.
Chihayafuru manga and anime fans alike probably found a lot to like about the long-awaited third season, arriving six years after the second with a lot to do. The primary gripe, then, is that we may have to wait another few years to return to this quirky world of intensely competitive karuta players more often than not finding the game a haven of clarity from their tangled relationships, emotions, and futures.
Can a human child survive in a world that hates (and eats) humanity? More importantly, does her golem guardian love her? Yes and yes, as explored in a sumptuous fantasy anime packed with gorgeous painterly settings and equally colorful (and morally diverse) characters, in which the destination of the last human colony takes a backseat to the journey, which is educating for father and child alike.
An deeply satisfying and heartwarming anime about three startlingly different yet equally lovable young women coming together to create something amazing. A Yuasa Maasaki love letter not just to anime, but the creative process itself. Any other challengers for Anime of the Year will face an uphill climb: Eizouken is in the stratosphere.