Theme: “Flashback” by MIYAVI vs KenKen
Theme: “Flashback” by MIYAVI vs KenKen
The end of the year is nigh, so we here at RABUJOI thought we’d give you some “Best of” lists, starting with the 10 best anime we watched in 2017. Mind you, these aren’t simply the ten shows that gained the highest scores, though that is part of the equation. Rather, these are the ten shows we enjoyed the most and would/will likely watch again, and highly recommend to all.
Despite its conventional, non-flashy visuals and the uneven strength of its arcs, Sagrada Reset earns a place on this list for being so damned ambitious, memorable, and weird. It starred a couple of characters who always hid their emotions behind wooden exteriors, and yet it worked. The idea of an entire town of ability users, full of mysteries as to how a peaceful balance was struck, the attempts by some parties to destroy the magical place, and an increasingly fascinating web of world rules and creative use of ability combos kept be tuning in.
Nobody ever expected or even thought much of Inuyashiki Ichirou. But when he and Shishigami Hiro are crushed by aliens and given new robotic bodies capable of flight, miraculous healing, and terrifying destruction, Ichirou not only becomes a hero, but the only hero who can save his family, Japan, and the world Hiro’s adolescense-fueled rampages. Often dark, brutal, and cruel, Inuyashiki is balanced by some welcome moments of comedy as Ichirou discovers and tries out his numerous powers, as well as the emotional impact of Hiro’s tortured, conflicted soul, as well as Ichirou’s restored bond with his daughter Mari.
Two girls in a ruined world. It doesn’t get much simpler than that, and the audience is along for the ride as those girls trundle through a seemingly endless three-dimensional labyrinth of roads, tracks, ramps, stairs, underground passages, platforms, elevators, and structures, each time discovering something new. Chito and Yuuri couldn’t be more different in personality, but there’s no doubt they’re both glad the other is by their side for their adventures. Moments of friendship, comfort, and life cut through the gloom.
Like Sagrada Reset, ACCA marched to the beat of its own drum, and was unlike nothing else that aired this year. Focusing on a mid-level bureaucrat with a pretty cushy life who has a mysterious past that plunges him and his sister into the heart of a royal coup attempt, ACCA had both a compelling narrative, likable, rootable characters, a wonderfully-realized world composed of countries with very specific themes, plenty of intrigue, and a surprisingly understated yet effective finale. And the food…the loving depiction of food and drink gave even Food Wars a run for its money.
I didn’t know I wanted to return to the world of Spring Comes In Like a Lion until I found myself there. Rei is a little older and lot more confident and less self-hating in the second season, and it’s a good thing too, because the person enduring the most conflict this time is Hina, enduring a bullying campaign simply for doing what was right defending her friend. Hina saved Rei last season, now it’s his turn, and it’s never not a delight to behold.
Continuing the theme of “Weird but Good”, Land of the Lustrous may be the best example of the year. Androgynous anthropomorphic gems fighting aliens from the moon with designs drawn heavily from Hindu iconography seeking to use them for “decoration”? Weird. But more than the awesome 3DCGI execution of those battles and their shimmering participants is the character development of the show’s protagonist Phos, who has grown into one of my favorite characters of the year.
I haven’t seen a school romance as good as Tsuki ga Kirei in a good long time. When it came along and told the slow-burn story of Akane and Kotarou became an item, it was a crisp breath of fresh air. It keeps things simple, keeps things real, and doesn’t skimp on all the resonant little non-verbal gestures and expressions that really bring the characters to life. The show also makes good use of the LINE app that’s apparently become the go-to communication tool for kids of this age.
The first season of SGRS was truly great anime, but as it took place mostly in the past, we can almost look at it as a prologue for the second season, which is outstanding. Put together, it’s a sprawling, epic tale of several generations of storytellers fighting against a world increasingly indifferent to their craft, while wrestling with their own various personal demons. It’s about women’s empowerment in what had been an all-men’s world for centuries. It’s about brotherhood, familial love, romantic love, lust, and one spellbinding rakugo performance after another, usually accompanied by a top-notch jazzy soundtrack.
“Endstory” is pretty self-explanatory; in another epic chronicle that started with Araragi Koyomi’s eventful Spring Break in late March of 2006 (covered in the excellent film trilogy Kizumonogatari), it’s hard to believe Owarimonogatari wraps the whole thing up just a year later, in March of 2007 (the Kanbaru Suruga-centric Hanamonogatari takes place a month later). But enough about the timeline; Owari 2 is a fantastic conclusion to the mega-arc that takes Araragi literally to Hell and back, ascends Hachikuji Mayoi to godlike status, filling a longtime hole in the city’s spiritual tapestry, and finally reveals the mystery of who/what the Loki-like “Oshino Ougi” is. Araragi and Hitagi even get to spend time together as lovers. It has pretty much anything a Monogatari junkie like myself could ask for, and leads me to hope this isn’t really the end, since there’s a lot more Nisio Isin material to work with.
Made in Abyss came out of nowhere to become one of the best animes of this century. That sounds like hyperbole, the century ain’t that old, and it really is that damn good. Imagine a Ghibli movie spread over nearly five hours with unique character designs that, while cutesy, avoid being annoyingly so; a intricately-detailed and truly awesome setting, ominous mysteries, terrifying monsters, ample mortal peril, tremendous music and sound design, and some really top-notch performances from the two leads. Abyss will pull you in, grab your heartstrings, kick your adrenaline gland, and blow your mind. And it’s not over yet; though a date has not been set, a second season is on the way. Even if it had ended at one, however, the twelve episodes we got unquestionably comprised the very best of 2017.
Winter approacheth with haste. Here’s what we’ll be taking a look at (so far) come January! Shows, statuses, and authors subject to change. We’ll be updating this list to reflect current conditions.
Last Updated 22 Jan 2018
Tally as of 22 Jan 2018:
Today we give thanks…for, among other things, Hiroyuki Sawano.
Summer is over halfway done. It was a little rough at first, but once we found some more good-to-great shows to watch (Abyss, Classroom) things picked up. Still, now is the time to start glancing on what’s to come next season. Below is a list of shows we’ll be taking a look at this October.
We’re excited about a third helping of Food Wars, a second season of Kekkai Sensen and 3-gatsu no Lion, and a Kino no Tabi re-imagining. You know the drill (unless you don’t): click on a title to learn more about a show over at MAL.
As always, shows and authors are subject to change. We’ll be updating this list as we explore Fall 2017 shows.
Update-3 Oct 2017: Watching Shokugeki no Souma 3. Juuni Taisen TBD. Black Clover and Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte kara skipped.
Update-4 Oct 2017: URAHARA skipped.
Update-5 Oct 2017: Just Because! TBD. Ousama Game skipped.
Update-6 Oct 2017: Watching Kino no Tabi. Dies Irae and Net-juu no Susume TBD.
Update-7-8 Oct 2017: Watching Kekkai Sensen & Beyond and Mahoutsukai no Yome. Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou TBD.
Update-9 Oct 2017: Watching Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau. Imouto sae Ireba Ii. TBD. Houseki no Kuni TBD.
Update-11 Oct 2017: My Girlfriend Is ShoBitch TBD.
Update-12 Oct 2017: Watching Iyunashiki.
Update-13 Oct 2017: Dies Irae. dropped.
Update-16 Oct 2017: Watching 3-gatsu no Lion S2. Imouto sae Ireba Ii. dropped.
Bold = Watching
* = TBD
Crossed out = Skipped/Dropped
Last Updated 16 Oct 2017
We haven’t had a major purge since Fall 2016, but Summer 2017 has turned out to be a major disappointment overall, so a culling was necessary and inevitable.
Specifically, we are saying goodbye to THE REFLECTION, Shoukoku no Altair, and Isekai Shokudou, effective immediately. All three suffer from different degrees of mediocrity, and interest has waned.
Those who continue to follow the three axed shows, we apologize for cutting our reviews short, and thank you for reading up to this point.
In other news, now freed from two less-than-stellar shows, Braverade has finally, finally committed to watching the vaunted Fate/Zero, which has been highly recommended from readers both here and elsewhere.
It’s currently available to stream on Netflix in the U.S.; expect the first review in the next few days.
Note to Readers: We’ll be offline most of the weekend, which unfortunately means no fresh-squeezed anime reviews until Sunday at the earliest (unless Oigakkosan emerges from his burrow).
It’s not ideal, what with the season just starting (and frankly, kind of flagging) and a couple new shows on the horizon, but RABUJOI’s Summer Staff Data Collection Retreat is long overdue. Memories must be made!
So take care, all, and as always, thanks for reading…when we have stuff to read!
—Braverade / sesameacrylic / MagicalChurlSukui
Summer is almost here! While all of us at RABUJOI are looking a bit pale and are in need of Vitamin D, there’s a huge batch of new shows on the way, in addition to the second cours of three Spring shows. We’ve perused the Summer list and have made some tentative choices.
Note that as always, the presence of a show on this list does not indicate we’ll be reviewing that show regularly yet, we’re just taking some initial looks.
Aside from a new entry in the now massive Monogatari series and a Fate spinoff, it’s a fairly sequel-free Summer (at least for us), so there are a lot of unknowns on this list. We look forward to sussing it all over in the next couple of weeks!
This week hews close to the Loki core of Ais, Lefiya, the Amazon twins, and Loki herself. While their goddess attends a banquet of the gods, Ais and Lefiya spend the evening adventuring alone together. The minute anything jumps out to attack Lefiya, she is rescued by Ais. It’s a common refrain thus far, and I feel confident in saying everyone is getting a little sick of it.
Things take a turn for the worse when they get home too late and the Monsterphilia date plans Lefiya thought were in the bag are crushed when Loki decides to punish them both by taking Ais herself. Lefiya then cries herself to sleep before realizing she’s acting like a petulant child and really needs to get her shit together, vis-a-vis being useful on the battlefield, and not a liability and perpetual grateful rescuee. Standing beside Ais means bringing more to the table than nice clothes, gifts, and a sweat towel.
As it did in the previous series, Monsterphilia goes a bit awry when Freya releases some dangerous animals, turning the streets of Orario into a battlefield. Loki sends Ais out to take care of the beasts, which she does in quick order with her Tempest ability, but Lefiya still can’t quite get a spell chant out before getting pummeled by a mandragora-style predatory plant. Even the twins can’t penetrate its thick skin, but Ais arrives on the scene and halves the plant, saving, and frustrating, Lefiya once more.
No one would think any less of her if she just gave up and went with the medics (there’s not much less to think of her, at least in battle, after all), but thankfully Lefiya finds her courage, performs a full summon burst chant—her hidden specialty—then a massive Wynn Fimbulveter blizzard spell that destroys the remaining three mandragoras.
Turns out Freya didn’t release these vicious monsters; that would be Dionysius. Is he testing Lefiya? If so, I think she passed. And to her credit, while she finally did a thing and was useful, nothing’s really changed yet: she’s still far behind the one she wants to stand beside. She’ll have to prove to others and herself that she can keep it up—just as this DanMachi Gaiden has to continue to prove it’s worth my time.
Preston (MagicalChurlSukui): Reviewed 10 after all — Not Great :/
Franklin (Oigakkosan): Yeah…let me read your take :)
Franklin: Yeah you captured it.
I just want it to be about something and it’s not. It’s random throwaway skits featuring mostly jerks. Akko isn’t especially likable. Nor Sucy. And Lotte gets rare screen time.
It’s just like whuuut dooo you want me to get from you show???
Franklin: You ever read/watch The Magicians?
Franklin: Magicians the show is fine. Not great but fine. The book is terrible.
It’s more like LWA. It just doesn’t go anywhere. Lots of wheelspin and underdeveloped characters
Preston: It’s weird. LWA has always felt like it should be more serialized. Oh well
Franklin: Diana’s love for Chariot hasn’t even become a thing. Diana knowing Akko is powerful hasn’t become a thing. Those were good eps but even they haven’t gone anywhere
Preston: It’s weird. LWA has always felt like it should be more serialized. I almost feel like a Harry Potter TV show would be like this…big arc events at either end of seasons but lots of padding in the middle.
But I would be very surprised if LWA drops something big at the halfway point
Franklin: The HP books are full of dead ends and fluff. Malfoy is like a cartoon villain in the first three. Individual episodes would have content but it wouldn’t work well as arcs.
As eps with self-contained arcs I mean. Like Hermione’s Elf Rights Arc. It would last a whole season and end with nothing happening. Forgotten in the next season entirely
At least each HP book has a villain and a mystery. LWA has neither. We know who Chariot is, we know Diana liked her once, we know Akko can be powerful. We don’t know why knowing that matters
Preston: There’s no real coming-of-age story either after the first ep. Any elements of that are too wishy-washy.
Akko seems locked in 10-year-old mode
Franklin: Not a slice of life either, since there’s not much to the characters
Preston: It seems the non-magical world love shitting on witches in the show…so they could theoretically have a situation (or crisis) where suddenly the world needs witches again…
But it just hasn’t been building to that, or anything like that. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Franklin: No buildup. No development. No payoff.
Preston: It’s not as if I’m some anime-writing expert, but those seem like no-brainers to have in a show like this
Preston left the conversation.
Franklin left the conversation.
Wouldn’t you know it, we forgot to post a Season Preview for Winter, so this will be our first of 2017. If it seems early, it’s not; we’ve released previews as early as the beginning of February; this is actually the furthest into the month we’ve waited. And why is that? No real reason beyond we just “hadn’t gotten around to it.” (Also, it’s feeling very Springlike around RABUJOI HQ of late).
Below is the preliminary list of shows we’ll at least be taking a look at this Spring. The only Winter carryover we know of (so far) is Little Witch Academia. Note that there are many sequels to popular shows (ahem Attack on Titan) among the titles, and as always, authors for reviews of these shows are subject to change, depending on which shows appeal to which writer. Click on a title to learn more via MAL.
Shows we’re definitely reviewing are in bold. Six weeks to go. Can’t wait to dig in!
Alice to Zouroku (Alice & Zouroku)
Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka Gaiden: Sword Oratoria (DanMachi / Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Side Story)
Kekkai Sensen & Beyond (Bloodline Battlefront)
Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records (Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor)
Schedule subject to change.