Everyone Eats and Drinks Almost Constantly in ACCA (Part 2)

Episode 08 – Niino and his dad enjoy some of Dowa’s famous Apple Cake. A few years later, in Badon, Niino’s dad buys some chocolate-covered rice crackers. Later, Niino buys some chocolates from Parrot in the Northern Sector. Princess Schnee learns to bake bread. A few years later, Niino and his dad enjoy more apple cake. Niino befriends Jean at high school and hangs out with him during lunch often. Niino uses slight-of-hand to produce candies for a young Lotta. Niino and his dad prep a loaf of sandwich bread for mailing. In the present, Jean arrives home from Korore with multiple bags of chocolate from the district’s best shops, then he and Lotta tuck in to some—you guessed it—apple cake.

Episode 09 – Rail and his partner enjoy some donuts. Chief Owl and the office staff have some fancy Korore chocolates with their tea. Rail walks through a famer’s market with Lotta where many kinds of fruits and vegetables are for sale. The owner of Honig Cafe treats Rail and Lotta to snowball pastries, then puts away a case of apples. Boxes of what appear to be chocolate-covered pretzel sticks (or simply rod-shaped cookies) are on Lotta’s kitchen counter. The Peshi district chief gives Jean a huge basked full of fruitpastries, sausage, and other treats. Grossular and Lilium have a glass of champagne.

Episode 10 – The Chief officers confer, each with their own preferred hot beverage in distinct cups and mugs. Lilium and his brother sip some wine. Lotta has a dessert party, complete with many kinds of decorated cookies. In Pranetta, Jean samples hardtack that come in various flavors, as well as a bag of caramel and cheese popcorn from Jumoku. When he returns home, Jean has tea with Lotta. The Chief officers have tea again as well, along with Mugimaki sandwich bread in a variety of flavors. Pochard munches on a cookie. 

Episode 11 -Jean is served herbal tea with pastries and dates upon arriving in Furawau. That evening, he has a sumptuous feast with the Liliums composed of local delicacies, and washed down with wine. Mauve continues to wait at the Mugimaki bakery. Lilium serves Jean more wine at his home in Badon. Jean eats more sandwich bread toast back home with Lotta. The assembled ACCA agents drink coffee at HQ.  Schwan has tea aboard the royal airliner.

Episode 12 – At the ACCA agent briefing, there are green bottles of mineral water at the table where Jean and the chief officers sit. The night before the ceremony, Niino has some coffee with chocolates from Korore. In a flashback to when he was in hospital, a tray of hospital food is beside his bed. Pine, back in Jumoku, offers a customer the district’s famed giant strawberries. The Liliums share a hookah with their tea and biscuits. Lotta gives Prince Schwan and Magie fresh bread from Mugimaki. They have tea and snowflake pastries with King Falke. Grossular and Mauve have coffee at HQ’s Cafe Nido. Jean has a creme cake roll with his coffee. That night, while out drinking beer by himself, Niino shows up to join him. 

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Talking Shop: Little Witch Academia

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???

Preston: Yeah

Franklin: You ever read/watch The Magicians?

Preston: Neither

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.

2016 In Review – Our Favorites, Biggest Disappointments, and Guilty Pleasures

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Favorite Show: Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Season 1

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Best Episode: Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 16

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Biggest Disappointment: GATE 2

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Guilty Pleasure: Qualidea Code

I ended up reviewing the fewest shows among my comrades, but Gundam was so good (and so, well, long) that it made up for the lack of shows I was really interested in. I’ll admit to being a bit disappointed in both the last cour of Durarara!! and with Macross Delta in general, which I, perhaps misguidedly, believed would at least be as good as Frontier was.

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Favorite Show: ReLIFE

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Best Episode: Orange – 03

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Biggest Disappointment: WWW.Working!!

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Guilty Pleasure: Momokuri / Hundred

Both of my GPs offered good bang for the buck; there’s not much to either of them, but I was always excited to watch both; Momokuri to see how much farther the couple would progress that week, and Hundred to see what stupid thing they’d do (or fail to animate) next. WWW.Working!!, on the other hand, I just couldn’t get through.

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MagicalChurlSukui

Favorite Show: Hai to Gensou no Grimgar

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Best Episode: Re:Zero – 15

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Biggest Disappointment: Mayoiga

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Guilty Pleasure: Sousei no Onmyouji

Well, SnO was my GP until I realized it wasn’t really going anywhere and wasn’t really good enough to keep around once I fell behind due to other obligations. In a way, it replaced Ushio to Tora as my GP, and I really didn’t need two such shows back-to-back. SnO’s 50 episodes proved too many. As for Mayoiga, woof.

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Oigakkosan

Favorite Show: Boku dake ga Inai Machi

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Best Episode: Re:Zero – 01

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Biggest Disappointment: Mob Psycho 100

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Guilty Pleasure: Haikyuu!! Season 3

If not for the super unpleasant mid-point and throwaway section introducing the battle for the throne, I would gladly have given my top slot to Re:Zero, which was surprisingly unique in a year filled with ‘in another world’ AND ‘time travel mystery’ shows. Regardless, the opening episode flew me high and caught me by surprise with its dark twist and sealed my favorite single seating for the year. ReLife and Flying Witch both deserve honorable mentions too.

The Top 15 Anime We Watched in 2016

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In 2016 the staff of RABUJOI watched 101 shows and reviewed 42 of them to completion (and yes, that’s the answer to life the universe and everything). When all was watched and reviewed, these fifteen shows comprise the cream of the crop, based on our average ratings.

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15. Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge

Spring – 8.17

Tanaka-kun is one of only two shows from a pedestrian Spring that managed to make this list, despite its relatively modest rating. Call it an honorable mention. It’s here because few shows this year were funnier, made better use of silence, or possessed better comic timing. It was a deliciously witty high school comedy that made the classic “boring lazy protagonist” to the extreme and made him not boring. Tanaka wasn’t the only star of this show; the entire eclectic ensemble was imminently likable, and they attended a Shaft-esque, architecturally elaborate school in a mundane yet beautifully-rendered, often luminous town. And it wasn’t all comedy; there were some nice relationship moments too.

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14. Flip Flappers

Winter – 8.58

Flip Flappers shares this year’s title for most visually creative, dynamically animated show with Space Patrol Luluco. Beautiful and light, FliFla’s mysterious world exudes a storybook quality that should be inviting for most audiences. Unfortunately, as the mystery made way for a more anime-conventional conflict and a convoluted backstory, which FliFla’s weekly one-off adventures could not possibly set up, those dreamy visuals lost their luster. In the end, it remains worth a watch, if only for the first four episodes.

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13. ReLIFE

Summer – 8.46

Don’t let the average looks, gimmicky premise, or goofy title fool you: ReLIFE combined young adult regret and ennui with solid high school drama that really captured the undue importance young people place on their personal affairs and entanglements at that age. While not as dense or sophisticated as, say, Oregairu, the intensity with which ReLIFE presents the joys and trials of youth is plain to see, and every character is well-rounded, rootable, and just plain fun to watch. This show was also released all at once, Netflix-style, making it perfect for a midsummer binge.

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12. 3-gatsu no Lion

Fall – 8.55

Though not quite half over, March Comes In Like A Lion nevertheless earns a spot on this list. Its title may call to mind Your Lie in April, and features an emotionally stunted prodigy with shaggy black hair and Issues, but it stands on its own merits: one of the year’s more lovable families and coziest homes, a gorgeous watercolor palette, unique character design, and a toned-down but still interesting, often striking direction from Shinbo Akiyuki. I daresay the show succeeds in spite of its protagonist and his interminable inner dialogues, thanks to the care taken with the people and world around him.

11. Shokugeki no Souma: Ni no Sara

Summer – 8.62

While lacking the same novelty, inventiveness, and pace of its excellent first season, I still had plenty of appetite for Food Wars 2, which aired as a single Summer cour. Even matches and face-offs we knew were coming became thrilling in the heat of battle, and the culinary lessons learned (or confirmed) and ideas gleaned are a nice bonus. I’ve gone on record as saying the best part of this season, and a big reason it’s on this list, was the Stagiaire mini-arc, and watching characters outside of the arena and school applying their trade in real world situations. Food Wars is above all comfort food, and is always welcome as long as quality doesn’t dip too far (cough cough WWW.Working!!).

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10. Alderamin on the Sky

Summer – 8.62

Fantasy military shows seem like a dime a dozen, and on the ‘cover’, this ‘book’ looked like it had all the makings of another fun, if anonymous, low-fantasy romp. Further perusal of its ‘pages’ revealed Alderamin had two things that distinguished it as a rewarding, worthwhile viewing experience: an abundance of Gravitas, and a phenomenal core friendship. Ikta and Yatori made this show. For the first four episodes, we immediately learn the unique and complex nature of their relationship, then the fifth episode provides firsthand context and deepened my devotion to them all the more. While the show sometimes attempted (and failed) in its attempts at slapstick humor, I never tired of the witty – or serious – banter between these two.

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9. Hai to Gensou no Grimgar

Winter – 8.67

Grimgar draws you into its beautiful, brutal world and doesn’t let go. A pristine textbook lesson on the importance, and the spoils, of careful preparation. World-building, character-building, conflict-building; Grimgar’s first seven episodes prepare the audience for an electrifying reckoning in the eighth. The show could have ended right there and still been on this list – higher up in the rankings – but its final third still ended strong, for the same reasons the first two, only in a more compressed, less impactful form.

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8. Amaama to Inazuma

Winter – 8.83

I own and maintain a small child, about Tsumugi’s age and together we watched this show wrapped in our proxies’ worlds. AtI nails the specifics of a small child, for the most part, and the nature of being an adult living with that child. It’s earnest, charming, and the recipe of the week nature makes it easy to drop in and love. All it was missing was visual variety (almost always taking place in the wood toned kitchen) and a long term goal or purpose. Regardless, this is a thoughtful, insightful slice of life about people, food and loss and you should go back and watch it if you did not.

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7. Hibike! Euphonium 2

Fall – 8.85

Even though the vast majority of the cast are elite teen musicians, Euph remains the gold standard for the genuine depiction of relatable young people as they amble gingerly towards the responsibilities and (relative) emotional stability of adulthood. And there are few characters this year as inscrutably effective in getting things done as Kumiko, nor are there BFF duos with chemistry as good as Kumiko and Reina. The second season has seen Kumiko not only put out a number of potentially cohesion-killing brush fires among the band, but also mend fences with her estranged sister. And just when you thought all these dealings had her drifting from her beloved Reina, the two have a thoroughly touching reconciliation. Sure, Hazuki, Sapphire, and especially Shuu are pretty much background characters this season, but who cares?

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6. Orange

Summer – 8.92

The best romantic dramas (or comedies, or dramadies) preclude the viewer from asking questions like “why is everything so damned dramatic?” or “yes, but why should I care?” From word go, I never considered those questions, so immersed was I in the drama and suspense of the events in Orange. The show only stumbled when it got to granular about the mechanisms of its time-travelling correspondence, but while the ideas it presented were hardly new, their serious application in a shoujo romance made for compelling viewing; sometimes intensely so.

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5. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Winter – 8.92

The number of TV anime series we watched this year that depict wartime and postwar life in Japan as rigorously as Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu can be counted…on one finger. It’s a prickly space to work in, but Shouwa manages to thrive in a narrow corner with the very specialized vehicle of rakugo. It avoids being overly clinical in its explanation of the highly refined and deeply Japanese variant of oral tradition thanks to the powerful portrayal of its complex characters, two of whom approach their slowly waning craft from opposing directions. Once they get into a story, and that fantastic jazzy score kicks in, you can’t help but be swept in. I frankly can’t wait for the continuation of their story this coming Winter.

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4. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Winter – 8.96

The score above applies to the first twenty-five episodes of IBO, ending in March of this year. Yes, half of that season began last Fall, but it ended this Spring, with a lot accomplished and a lot of promise for the still-ongoing second season (which is also pretty damn good). From the start, it was clear this was going to be a gritty, low(er)-tech Gundam, packed with complex players who populate every possible shade of gray. Motivations and loyalties shift with time and circumstances. Battles rage to varying degrees of completion, and the stakes continue to mount as we become more invested in the combatants. There are characters who were born with everything, and some who were born with nothing. There’s the struggle between rebellious youth yearning for freedom and a stubborn over-class of adults of various levels of nefariousness, looking to cling to old systems. Finally, the gritty, rusty, brutally physical nature of the mobile suit battles themselves match the overall tone of the show.

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3. Boku dake ga Inai Machi

winter – 9.00

Prior to the Fall, Re:Zero and ERASED were pretty closely matched as Franklin’s favorite shows of 2016 and both have a time travel element. Of the two, ERASED is more tightly paced (as it must be with half the eps) and consistent in emotional impact. In ERASED, we ultimately know there is only one villain and one hero, with a small cast of friends to save along the way. This makes ERASED focused but it also means the world building largely works because it is our world, with recognizable structures. This also means that ERASED’s post-villain showdown payoff, that its protagonist finally has manga worth making and ‘gets the girl’ is somewhat unrelated feel-good gravy. But that doesn’t discount the quality, or the intensity, of the buildup that preceded that payoff, which is good enough to land ERASED in our 2016 Top 3.

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2. Re:Zero

Spring – 9.04

Re:Zero‘s gut churning mid-arc, where Subaru burns many of his bridges, was the boldest narrative decision made by any studio this year. Breaking Subaru into a sputtering, unlikable and emotionally raw character risked turning off viewers, but gave us a fantastic, rounded hero to cheer on by the end.

Yes, it is frustrating that the conflict of the moment all but crowds Puck, the Dragon and the Witch’s stories out but, by playing the exact nature of those mysteries close to its chest, and implying that those mysteries may not be knowable as they can be changed dynamically by Subaru’s actions, Re:Zero almost gives us something better.

What held Re:Zero from top show was, ironically, several elements that leave so much mileage left in its tank. Priscilla, Anastasia and Felt ultimately feel tacked on only to make the battle for succession bigger. Felt in particular feels like a genre cliche, with her “I’ll break the nobility system” yo-yo to/not to participate. While her response may have emphasized Subie’s downfall, it was mostly cringey and, since she wasn’t in the rest of the series, felt like a needless thread. That false thread also emphasized the needlessness of others like the blank letter and the exploding stones.

Similarly, Reinhard, Priscilla’s bare-chested knight and Otto each came off as plot-movers and not real characters. This would be more acceptable if each had functioned like a traditional NPC and appeared across a larger number of episodes. Otto in particular feels under explored or over exposed, since his magic drag racing ability wasn’t necessary for Subie’s final showdown with Sloth-chan.

However, at the end of the day, Re:Zero is packed with expectation-breaking moments, great highs, and deep lows. Subie writing an end to Sloth-chan’s book of prophecy (in his blood) was just one from the finale. Packed is how I would describe this show in general, as it regularly stuffed narrative into the opening and closing credits and, even at 25 episodes, rarely felt like it was ‘dragging its feet’ for the final battle.

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1. Yuri!!! On Ice

Winter – 9.42

In purely technical terms, Yuri on Ice!!! is the best-crafted show of the year. From color pallete, to gesture, to camera moves, to variable focal depths and character stylizations being used to control the viewers focus, it nails everything with a master level. But YoI is more than that – it builds a relatable world with dozens of characters, each with an intricate network of relationships, motivations and goals.

However, what truly elevates YoI above is what it is not. It is not a time travel show. It is not a mecha/scifi show. It is not a grim-dark drama with fate on the line. It has no story gimmick or genre familiarity or topical hook or magical spin on the visuals for the audience. It barely has stakes at all. Like Hibiki, this means the show must carry the audience’s attention entirely on its own merits, and boy did it.

Congratulations anime of 2016, you just got schooled by a quasi-boy love show about ice skaters!

Raising A Better Magical Girl

The following is some rambling preliminary analysis/speculation of Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku. Feel free to add your thoughts/theories in the comments. If you’ve read the source LN and already know the answers, no spoilers or hints, please. Thanks!

Five episodes in (and two girls down), I’ve begun to ponder the answer to the question, “What is the Magical Girl Raising Project?” Sure, it appears on the surface to be a cruel, zero-sum death match among sixteen girls, who must either knock out the other girls or die. And it might be as simple as that! Last girl standing wins, The End. Fav has said the field of girls must be reduced by half to eight, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Fav decides to half it again to four, then two, and finally one.

That’s key, because that’s the raising in the Raising Project. With each magical girl destroyed, her power (expressed as candies) is distributed among the survivors. That means the last girl standing will be an extremely powerful Magical Girl. And that seems to be Fav’s goal. The field of sixteen might not even be fully-formed magical girls; only “potentials”, and “raising” the single ultimate girl requires the sacrifice of the other fifteen.

Obviously, I don’t have much proof for this beyond what I feel to be logical sense – and while there’s no reason Fav has to be a logical entity, I can’t think of any other reason Fav (or the person behind Fav’s avatar) would do this, other than for sport, and there are far less time and resource-intensive ways to hold death matches.

I think it’s reasonable to assume Himekawa Koyuki will be the last girl standing. She’s certainly the favorite so far, despite her reticence to participate. I like to think it’s hinted at in the ending sequence above (if YouTube hasn’t removed it due to a copyright claim): One by one, the magical girls float by with their eyes closed, while Koyuki holds a growing plant in her hand. The plant is her, the Ultimate Magical Girl, being raised, nurtured and strengthened by the magic of her fallen peers.

The question, beyond whether I’m right or if the show will have more curveballs, and possibly drop Koyuki early (unlikely), is what Fav plans to do with this ultimate magical girl once she’s been fully raised. Is this a process normal people aren’t aware of, where such a girl must be raised in order to defeat some kind of Ultimate Evil, thus saving the world, only for the cycle to be repeated? Maybe!

If that’s the case, Fav is currently keeping the girls in the dark, perhaps so they stay focused on whittling themselves down. But it might behoove someone like Koyuki to know why she’s trapped in a fight she doesn’t think is right, fair, or just.

She’d still have a choice, but instead of a nebulous goal of “winning”, she’d know the stakes were far higher. Then again, while most would agree that fifteen lives is a small price to pay to save the world, Koyuki might think even one life is too costly.

In any case, we’ll see how this plays out. Also, I really dig the ending theme. The vocals remind me of Evanescence…in a good way!

Mob Psycho 100 vs Amaama to Inazuma

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While I certainly enjoyed Amaama to Inazuma more than Mob Psycho 100, which I stopped reviewing after the 7th episode, now that both shows are over, I must admit they both fail at greatness for remarkably similar reasons.

AtI being a slice of life gentle drama/cooking show with a small cast and MP100 being quirky action “comedy” with a huge cast, is a surprisingly small barrier to their comparison, since both focus on the dynamics of family and friendship and struggle with purpose.

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In the case of Mob, the first 6 episodes introduce multiple characters which only move Mob from plot point to plot point, yet do not participate in the larger narrative themselves and do not significantly effect Mob himself. For example, Tsubomi-chan, Mob’s love interest, only exists as a reason for Mob to join the body improvement club, and the clubs only purpose is to connect Mob with the telepathy club president (who only exists to make him go to a park and encounter an adult psychic enemy) and to connect Mob with the delinquents (who only exist to introduce Hanazawa and to add a minor extra reason people would mistake Ritsu for his older brother).

Ultimately, these baby steps towards characters who effect the plot, through characters that do not, delays the plot from taking shape coherently until episode 7. Sprinkle in Reagen’s one-note con artist jokes, and MP100 feels like it has no purpose and is wasting your time.

And that is terribly unfortunate, because Mob and Ritsu’s relationship has a great arc in the second half of the season, and the plot “Evil esper organization trying to take over the world” is the perfect format for more One Punch Man style antics.

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In the case of AtI, where there are really only 6 characters, a sad tragedy, and the slice of life / recipe an episode structure, things start out much more quickly. Tsumugi is carfully rendered as a believable child, from her silly dances, to the way she lightly flinches when being chastised, to the weird way she uses language, facial expressions, and emotional challenges to mundane-to-adults situations. Coupled with her father, her father’s college friend, her class mates, and Kotori and the restaurant, and the show has a sense of purpose: we are watching how these people grow and deal with tragedy.

While this works wonderfully in episodic chunks, AtI flounders at the point Mob finally became good: half way through the episodes became all the same. Kotori’s objectives are never explored or explained, Yaki and Kotori’s friend don’t have any goals, and Kouhei and Kotori’s mom only meet in the second half of the final episode — just long enough to imply a love triangle could form, and that some drama could build around that… but then roll credits. (this was so jarring I didn’t even realize I’d watched the final episode until Zane listed the show as complete in my review list!)

This is a shame because cutting 2-4 episodes out of the beginning and middle and introducing the adults, and the adult conflicts earlier would make for a fine show. And AtI proved regularly that, when it tried, the production staff were masters of human expression and nuance and charm.

Bizarrely, both shows end with hooks for future seasons and, despite their strengths, it’s hard to imagine watching either of them again. Mob clearly ends with more filler-humor and the idea of 12 episodes setting up and executing adult relationship drama around Tsumugi’s characters just sounds laborious.

What a weird season :-)

7 Awesome Non-Romantic Couples of Summer 2016

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Summer 2016 has shaped up to be bursting with interesting boy/girl relationships that aren’t necessarily (or in some cases, even remotely) romantic. Just friends, BFFs, best buds, call ’em what you want, they’ve already made a huge impact this season. Here are seven of our favorites. If you know of one we missed, let us know in the ‘ments.

Heavy Spoilers Throughout.

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Takamiya Naho x Suwa Hiroto (Orange)

Orange is primarily focused on the potentially future-and-life-saving romance between Naho and Kakeru, but Naho’s friends play a key role in facilitating her mission, and none more than Suwa. Indeed, in the future where Kakeru dies Naho marries Suwa and they have a child, but both of their future selves seemed committed to making sure their past selves saved Kakeru. That meant Suwa putting his own feelings for Naho aside.

Now that they both know about each other’s letters form the future, Naho and Suwa have a strong, unique non-romantic relationship. In the circle of friends, Hagita and Azusa are another romantic couple in the making, leaving Suwa and Takako, who we think should be a couple so everyone’s paired up and happy.

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Kariu Rena x Kaizaki Arata (ReLIFE)

Remember ReLIFE? Zane semi-binged in the first two weeks July, and it was full of great character pairings. Most were romantic: Kariu and Oga (better late than never); Kaizaki and Chizuru (a pairing potentially doomed by circumstance, but not dead); An and Ryou (who weren’t fooling anyone).

But one of the best combos wasn’t romantic: Kariu and Kaizaki. He helped end her misunderstandings about Chizuru’s behavior and brought them together as friends, and then Chizuru helped Kariu repair her friendship with Honoka. Kaizaki was also instrumental in getting Oga to realize his feelings for Kariu, leading to them finally pairing up at the Summer Festival. Being friends with and helping Kariu out also helped Kaizaki come to grip with his own social issues.

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Utara Canaria x Suzaku Ichiya (Qualidea Code)

Ichiya has been and continues to be a twerp in QC, but his friendship with Canaria was one of the most humanizing things about him. His boorish “I’m all we need” arrogance is borne out of his intense desire to be strong enough so that his friend doesn’t have to fight (even though he was at his best when she was buffing him with her song).

Not the most original dynamic, but the fact Ichiya and Cana were never even hinted at a romantic couple (and never acted awkwardly towards each other) made the couple more interesting.

Sadly, Canaria was suddenly killed off after just four episodes and all evidence suggests she’s not coming back. Since she was the only person Ichiya cared about in the world, he’s not so high on the world right now.

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Hoshino Yumemi x Customer (Planetarian)

This show only spanned five quick episodes, but still packed an emotional punch, and dealt with some very elemental Asimovian themes when it came to human-robot relations.

At first, the customer was impatient and indifferent to the planetarium host without an audience. But her relentless positivity wore him down, and he became enamored of the idyllic island in a sea of apocalypse she represented.

He became so fond of Yumemi that seeing that she made it out of the Sarcophagus City with him safe and sound became as much a priority as surviving, making it all the more tragic when she disobeys his order to stay put when she senses his life is at risk and she sacrifices herself to save him. Thank goodness her memories are backed up!

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Yukihira Souma x Tadokoro Megumi/Nakiri Erina/Nakiri Alice/Mito Ikumi (Shokugeki no Souma: Ni no Sara)

Yukihira Souma didn’t come to Totsuki Academy to find a girlfriend or wife, but he DID come to make friends. And that what he considers all the girls listed above: friends, whom he can talk with casually about a number of subjects, bounce ideas off of, and, of course, cook with (or against), enjoy meals with, and learn from.

Souma’s female friends don’t feel like an anime harem because it isn’t one; there are certainly actions and reactions from all of them that suggest they harbor affection or even some feelings for him, but Souma generally treats them non-romantically, as equals.

Which is just as well: his ideal woman would be someone with the qualities of all four: Megumi’s warmth, humility, and inner strength; Erina’s uncompromising pursuit of culinary perfection, unwavering confidence, and veiled decency; Alice’s technical know-how, cheerfulness and humor; and Nikumi’s infectious earnestness and generosity.

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Crusch Karsten x Natsuki Subaru (Re:Zero)

If you told us eight weeks ago that one of Subaru’s most intriguing friendships would be with one of his beloved Emilia-tan’s rivals for the throne of Lugnica, you would have sounded preposterous. Yet here we are. Crusch and Subaru aren’t exactly friends, but they do share mutual trust and respect for one another, which is an important step towards friendship…without the slightest hint of romance.

What’s interesting is how this was achieved: through trial and error (and some death and suffering), Subaru finally arrived at the formula of things to say, and when and how to say them (as well as the conviction to back those things up), to make Karsch believe him and agree to his plan to defeat the White Whale. The result of that battle remains to be seen, but it’s nevertheless impressive to see how far these to have come.

Compared with the other two candidates introduced along with her (Anastasia and Priscilla), Karsten’s character has been given the most depth and opportunity to empathize with her as a fully-dimensional person rather than a set of personality traits. Subaru shared a drink on the terrace with her, grovelled in vain and elicited her disgust, and finally came to her with head held high and an alliance she could get on board with. The fact she can magically detect when Subie is lying literally keeps him honest!

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Yatrisino Igsem x Ikta Solark (Alderamin on the Sky)

The undisputed crown for best non-romantic couple of the Summer are these two ridiculously-named characters from Alderamin. Preston has gone on at length about what makes these two so fun and riveting to watch, but it all comes back to the fact that you just can’t put them in a simple box like “siblings”, “lovers”, “soul mates,” or “brains and brawn.”

Instead, they have their own box: the Yatori & Ikta Box. Beyond friends, beyond family, and frighteningly effective as a duo, keeping each other out of trouble and making each other better. We were sold on them before an episode aired detailing how they met and forged their unique bond; after that portrait our regard for them only grew. These two make this show.

3 Reasons You Should Be Excited For Gantz:0

If you are unfamiliar with the franchise, Gantz is an unbelievably bleak sci-fi/horror tale about life, death, and morality. It’s existed as a sprawling manga, a truncated ‘first-ish arc’ anime, and alt-direction live action movies. Each of these treatments is absolutely worth your investment, and I’ll outline why below, but each also has weaknesses… Gantz:0 is poised to fix.

  1. Gantz’ story is fantastic. That said, if you read the manga, it’s absolutely clear Hiroya Oku had no idea where the story was going at first, or even at several points along the way. While enjoyable on their own, entire chunks of narrative like the Vampires and the Secret Government Conspiracy or even the human psychics feel unresolved and unrelated to what turns out to be an alien invasion story.

Gantz:0 has the distinct advantage of being scripted after the manga’s completion and, by the looks of it, hops over some of the introductory arcs (that are full of characters who die almost immediately). It looks tighter, more show-story than talk-about story.

2. Gantz’ heroes play a blend of selfishness and sacrifice off of the conventions of Japanese culture…but the individual stories can be lost amongst a massive and regularly shifting cast. The very fact that it has two heroes (Kuruno and Kato) that occasionally sit out arcs due to being dead (again) dilutes either of their stories.

Gantz:0 appears to have dropped Kuruno in order to focus on Kato, which is unexpected because Kuruno’s rise of a kill them all warrior is a more obvious choice than Kato’s rise as a compassionate keep them all alive leader to focus a movie. But if they blend those two stories together, Kato has more interesting stakes:

Where Kuruno has a love triangle/square that includes a duplicate of himself created by his frustrated Idol love interest, Kato has a younger brother with no parents to protect him — and relatives that beat him –and Kato’s love interest is single mom with her own son to protect as a love interest.

Both boys die more than once, and both grapple with the idea of not being the ‘original him’ but Kato has more at stake than ‘which girl should I tap?’ Further, without Kuruno to serve as his idealized childhood hero, Kato will have to build his own sense of heroism from scratch.

3. Gantz’ visual style is a big part of its appeal. Uko’s choice to render weapons and complex vehicles in full CG but keep the cast hand drawn brings contrast. It emphasizes how out of place humans are in the struggle.

Gantz:0 will lose some of that juxtaposition but it also clearly shines in another important way the anime and manga struggled: visual effects necessitated by the scifi weapons and gear. The teleportation effect alone is fantastic.

Now that you’ve seen the preview, what do you think?

9 Irritating and/or Evil Spring Prettyboys

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This season has been lousy with bishounen/prettyboy side characters, who we at RABUJOI have found to be underdeveloped, dull, one-note, and generally irritating, as well as comically evil. Here are the pros and cons of nine guys (in alphabetical order) we really wouldn’t miss if they were shot into the sun and never heard from again, regardless of the genres of the shows they inhabit:

1. Amatori Biba, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Pros: “The Liberator”, leader of the Hunters. Eldest son of the Shogun. Tall, handsome, and adored by the masses (those that are still alive, that is) as a hero. Great hair.

Cons: Not really a hero. Disowned by the Shogun. Uses people (including Mumei) like tools in his crusade to become stronger. Keeps Kabane around like rats aboard his ghoulish train-lab. It was never really in doubt that he was a bad guy, since the first time Ikoma saw him he basically said “This is not a good guy.”

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2. Aoyama Yuuga, My Hero Academia

Pros: Can fire a laser beam out of his navel. Good personal hygeine.

Cons: Annoying. Self-involved. Preening. Has a permanent V-shaped smirk on his face.

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3. Elliot Forster, Gakusen Toshi Asterisk

Pros: Young, handsome, talented, chivalrous.

Cons: Arrogant. Unable to last half an episode against Ayato and Julis. Barely a character.

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4. Ijika Yuuto, Sousei no Onmyouji

Pros: Extremely powerful exorcist. Can easily get under Rokuro’s skin. Great at pretending to be a nice, kind human being and brother to Benio.

Cons: Comically evil, power-hungry, and arrogant. Only really exists to provide a nemesis for Rokuro to duel. Made Benio cry. Not much else to him.

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5. Judar Harvey, Hundred

Pros: Tall, handsome, confident, successful. Runs a huge city/academy ship. Has a gorgeous sister in Claire.

Cons: Like Biba, clearly not a good guy and not really trying to pretend otherwise. Uses his other sister Liza as a power source for the ship, and might have designs on Karen too.

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6. Roswaal L. Mathers, Re:Zero

Pros: Rich, influential, a skilled wizard. Seems to want Emilia to be Queen. Welcomes Subaru into his fly palace and gives him a job. Same hilarious voice actor as Soul Eater’s Excalibur.

Cons: Looks like a goofy clown. Has a kinda Dracula vibe to him as well. Believes Subie could be a spy. Kinda annoying speech patterns. Uncertain motives. Possibly sleeping with Ram. Could be evil.

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7. Tsuchimikado Arima, Sousei no Onmyouji

Pros: Young, tall, handsome, uninhibited, full of joie de vivre. Powerful exorcist. Committed Rokuro x Benio shipper (like Preston).

Cons: Isn’t interested in Rokuro or Benio’s opinions on the matter of joining together to conceive the Miko. A shameless exhibitionist and voyeur who the cops should probably keep an eye on. All that conviviality could just be an act to conceal inner evil.

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8. Keith Aero Windermere, Macross Delta

Pros: Young (way under 30), rich, handsome, (de?)cultured. Ace pilot. Ordained aerial knight. Puts his country first. Cool name.

Cons: Bulky, overwrought wardrobe. Derivative cockpit banter. Driving his frail younger brother Heinz to an early grave. Really only interested in dogfights with Messer. Probably killed Messer.

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9. Ohta, Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge

Pros: Young, tall, and blonde. A slight air of delinquency. Devoted best friend to Tanaka, and makes sure he’s on time for classes and doesn’t end up in ditches. Neither irritating nor evil.

Cons: None. Ohta’s the best. Doesn’t belong on this list. Just messing with you!

4 Shows Flying Witch Effortlessly Ruined This Season

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Don’t let its 6th place rank on our Big Board fool you! More than any show before it, Flying Witch’s unique sensibilities caught RABUJOI so off guard that we’ve soured on several shows that would normally have coasted by.

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Kuma Miko: Maybe the way the central characters mildly abuse each other would have set me off in any season but, compared to Gugure! Kokkuri-san, a show with similarly quirky skin stretched over a simple premise, my criticisms seem harsh.

At the end of the day, Kuma Miko’s biggest fault is a lack of warmth between the characters (or enough warmth to counter balance the abuse, akward personalities and mental illness) and Flying Witch has that in spades.

Furthermore, Flying Witch has actually materialized a long-term plot in Chinatsu-chan wanting to become a witch, where KM largely abandoned its “Will Machi get out of the ‘burbs?” plot for one-off episodes. That lack of narrative goal just made it unbearable.

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Anne Happy: Has girls who go out of their way to accept each others’ quirks as they experience an unusual year in high school. Anne Happy’s characters are consistent, and consistently warm, but they are also very simple: each member has a single character trait paired with a single joke, which is repeated over and over again…for humor I guess?

Stepping back, I’m not even sure if Flying Witch tries to tell jokes. Sure, Nao-chan freaks out about slimy stuff and is generally off-put by the existence of magic, but she’s also curious, friendly, and bridges the cast from their foundation in family to a broader community. Again, FW uses her freakouts for humor, but there’s enough nuance to her relationships and personality that those ‘gags’ don’t feel lazy.

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Bungou Stray Dogs: Is such a different genre that it’s a stretch to draw its ruin into this discussion. However, the triteness of its personalities and the underwhelming ‘over the top’ use of magic may have been more obvious beside FW.

Let’s be real, FW uses very affordable animation. Last week’s laughter/sobbing spell was literally watching candles burn out. But the curiosity of the characters while those candles burnt out, and the simple consequences of the spell, has weight.

True, shows like Kiznaiver and Re:Zero do over-the-top so professionally well that BSD can’t hope to be taken seriously. (For all BSD’s CGI-‘splosions, most of its action happens around characters who are standing still) But given how rarely BSD’s cast remains affected at the end of each episode, it lacked a sense of consequence.

And a sense of consequence, in simple but understandable terms, is another secret strength of FW. While BSD doesn’t look lazy from the comparison, the comparison shows how cheap BSD’s glitz really is.

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Haifuri: Is currently on Review Life Support for trying very hard to make us care about the quasi-family relationships of its girls while stumbling over a convoluted mystery and military expose. The cast is mostly supportive of each other, some cast members have even come to aspire to be more than they are (Wheel-chan via Captain-chan).

Other dimensions Haifuri shares with FW are a lack of dramatic activity and an attempt to educate us about the world its characters occupy. In many ways, if Haifuri had no rat-virus mystery, hanging out with Harekaze’s crew and learning how a WWII destroyer works would be fine. If the crew featured a fish out of water who gave us a vehicle to learn about engines, baths, rescues, battle or whatever, it wouldn’t feel so pedantic. It wouldn’t feel so tech-pron.

Unfortunately, a grand mystery that puts friendships to the test, and allusions to politics beyond the casts awareness or engagement, makes that cast feel out of place in the narrative. Or it makes the lack of activity feel out of place in the narrative.

In many ways, Haifuri has only survived where other show’s review throats were slit because it contains more resemblance to FW. Ignoring what Haifuri is probably trying to achieve, R&R on the destroyer, exploring how a truly maritime society would keep elements of commerce and culture we can recognize, with a twist, and yes even the navy tech is interesting enough. Heck, even battles — casualty free battles — would be fine if they somehow tied into living in the world.

Sadly, I fear Haifuri will continue to focus on its lame rat-plot and slowly slip below the waves of me not caring. Another casualty of the Witch that defeated them all…without even trying.

The Best, Most Surprisingly Good, and Most Disappointing Shows of 2014

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2014 was a big year full of tons of shows, and tons of shows we reviewed. We went from several semi-silent reviewers with one voice to three reviewers to four, officially running their own schedules, arguing for the best and worst of each week. Looking back, here were our picks for highlights of 2014:

The Best Shows

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Sidonia no Kishi – We all agree that this was one of the best all-round shows, if not the best. It almost makes the Most Surprising list as well, because if it weren’t for Franklin accidentally stumbling across it early in the season, none of us were planning to watch it!

SnK’s storytelling is solid, dark, weird, and unique but that’s not even it’s most notable feature! For us, this was the first, fully CGI show that is both fun to look at and well-produced!

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Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – Frankly, this show looked like it was going to be great from the get-go, recalling shades of the Ghibli “real world” masterpiece Whisper of the Heart, as well as the more contemporary works of Shinkai Makoto and KyoAni. One 11-ep cour in and it has been great. No other show this year has delivered so many spellbinding moments, or so expertly blended abysses of despair with dizzying heights of triumph.

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Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works – No other show we weren’t watching (or had no previous exposure to) was more highly recommended by you, our treasured readers. And, for that, we thank you. Even if it has an eye-rollingly silly title, and we probably missed dozens of references to and easter eggs from other Fate media, it was still a confident, impeccably-crafted show we had no trouble immersing ourselves into.

The Most Surprisingly Good Shows

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Amagi Brilliant Park  A massive (yet massively fun and memorable) cast inhabiting a sprawling (yet specific) setting with lots of room to breathe convinced us to give this show constant praise. What made ABP surprising is how little attention its PR items got and how everyone here but Franklin dismissed it before it even came out.

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One Week Friends – This quiet, unassuming show packed a lot of powerful, even nosy emotion. We also didn’t catch on to this until after the season started, but we’re glad we did.

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Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji – Zane watched this with his nose pinched, worried it was another case of ‘guy treats girl like crap; girl keeps coming back.’ It turned out to be a lot more complicated, and satisfying, than that.

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Sabagebu! – Princess Ugly herself, even Franklin almost dropped this absurd show at first glance, assuming it was going to be a knockoff of Gainax’s mostly dull Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 (which only had one or two great episodes). It turned out to be much funnier; so much so that we could forgive it’s subpar (if we’re being charitable) production values.

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WTF?! Special Mention: Love Stage – 03 – A guy essentially sexually assaulting another with “Sailor Moon costume change”-style effects was not what Franklin was expecting at that point in the show!

The Most Disappointing Shows

These weren’t the worst shows, per se. Just shows that were surprisingly disappointing to us, especially because we liked them to begin with.

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InoBato – Put concisely: It simply never knew what it wanted to be. It was a good show, but that indecisiveness kept it from being great.

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PSYCHO-PASS 2 – It had its moments, and those were times when the show most closely hewed to its 2012 predecessor. Hannah was in the fairly unique position of having finished PP’s first season right before starting the second, with no time in between. PP2 too often traded the old show’s intellectual/philosophical battles for shootouts, explosions, and credulity-straining plot twists. Its ending also felt immensely rushed.

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Zankyou no TerrorThis pissed off Franklin most of all, but even Hannah can’t deny that the introduction of the highly cliched Five character really dragged the show down, especially when she attempted to speak English for no good reason.

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Special Mention: Aldnoah.Zero – 12 – ‘Killing off’ people who are most likely going to be back in the second season was kind of deflating.

The 12 Anime I dropped in Fall 2014

I started Fall 2014 with 22 shows on my review docket and eight more that I was just watching. Now, at the half way mark, that number has dropped to 10 being reviewed and four just watching.

The following is a list of the 12 shows I dropped, why I dropped them, and why you may want to give them a second chance.

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12. Karen Senki

Pounding action, slick sexy ladies with eye patches fighting robots and so little time to breath. The action is so constant, and so over the top, it wears out its welcome very quickly.

Worth watching if you want dumb action, especially if you can string a bunch of the episodes together. It’s also sort of attractive looking, as long as you aren’t turned off by the 3D CGI.

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10-11. Tribe Cool Crew and Kaito Joker

Both shows were harmless upbeat and kid friendly and nothing more interesting than that could be written about them. Additionally, I can only assume Kaito Joker was a parody of #8 Magic Kaito, which itself was a fairly young-audience focused show to begin with.

Both are worth watching if you want kid-friendly shows that are currently on the air.

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9. SHIROBAKO

This technically excellent, very well drawn and written anime drowned me in its gigantic cast and a deeply technical presentation on how anime is made… which I already know about, professionally.

Worth watching if you want to know what it’s like working in a studio. Just be warned, like real life, several characters are annoying, flaky, damaged people.

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8. Magic Kaito 1412

This acceptable teen ‘master thief’ action, comedy, mystery, enemy of the week romp established its formula and season long mystery goal fairly early. Unfortunately, the formula (that Kid is always going to win and that most of his opponents are buffoons) and the convoluted plot about the fountain of youth being hidden in gems lost my interest.

Worth watching if you like the Lupin III genre, if that is actually considered a genre?

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7. Akatsuki no Yona

This bafflingly popular swords and generals Korean princess betrayal romance comedy action show is not really hate-worthy. Rather, it’s completely average in all areas: visual execution, plot complexity, pacing and romantic growth.

Worth watching if you already love the manga or want a Korean alternative to Samurai aesthetics in your romantic action drama.

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6. Grisaia no Kajitsu

After an enticing opening that played with uncomfortable emotions and agendas hidden mere inches under every surface, this show devolved into an oddly talky harem trope. It’s still weirdly funny and can be attractive when it needs to.

Worth watching if all you want is a weird and fan service-heavy harem show. Extra points if you can find it uncensored.

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5. World Trigger

Didn’t hook me with it’s pseudo-Power Rangers, so-bad-it’s-funny design. Nor did I find it’s cast of obnoxious middle school heroes as harmless as I did in TCC or Joker. It was almost funny bad.

Worth watching if you’re younger or have an old flame for the Kid-Ranger genre.

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4. Trinity Seven

What began as a typical demon lord enters magical school and must create a harem out of the strongest girls on campus genre anime…didn’t go much farther. One of our commenters suggested this show is making deep criticisms of the Japanese education system and, while I found his argument a brilliant read, it doesn’t change the fact that T7 is a deeply formulaic, fanservice-driven show on the surface.

Worth watching if you like magical harem genre shows (it has decent boobies with minimal censorship) but be warned: T7’s color palette is very very gray…

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3. Nanatsu no Taizai

What truly boggles the mind about Seven Deadly Sins is the decision to run a kid-looking old man as it’s central heroThe criss-cross of his age is at odds with his function as an ultimate warrior in the princess’ time of need and as her constant sexual molester. Seven Deadly Sins avoids being the worst show of the season due to the fact that it set the bar so very low from the very beginning, that there’s no sense of loss by ignoring it.

Worth watching if you wanted more boob grabbing in Chaika or like Akatsuki no Yona but wanted more action and a One Piece-like art style.

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2. Madan no Ou to Vanadis

Big production goals and a grand plot about fantasy/medieval politics completely fell apart due to abrasive fanservice that had no reason for being there, shallow characters and, ultimately, a harem framework. Vanadis deserves a special spot in Anime Hell not just for being such a mess, but pretending it was something more from the get-go.

Worth watching if you want to watch women with giant tits yelling at each other while waving swords and, occasionally, need to have venom sucked out of their bodies.

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1. Hi Scoool! Seha Girls

Humor about Sega’s old gaming hardware, as told by anthropomorphic consoles, isn’t compelling in the best of light. Rendered in simplistic 3D CGI makes it all the uglier. There’s nothing else to it.

Watch this when you are ready to die inside.

Fate/stay night vs Fate/stay night – Unlimited Blade Works

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A fair number of people have argued that Fall 2014’s Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works is being rated as part of a beloved franchise, rather than on its own merits as a show. Since I hadn’t seen F/SN’s 2006 anime adaptation, and do not have time to read the LNs and other adaptations, I thought it would be interesting to put that theory to the test.

After only a few minutes with the older version, I’m surprised this franchise lived on to reach today, let alone carries a large fan base. Even before comparing the art styles and presentation styles, it’s obviously not a great looking show. With those comparisons… ouch?

Comparison Images are Old on Top of New.

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Cheaper, less immaculate storyboarding and detailing aside, F/SN’06 has downright terrible pacing. We get none of the breathing room that to mood build and silently develop characters as seen in F/SN’14’s.

’06 just jumps in with a narrator summing up what the Holy Grail War is and Bang! Rin is doing magic. Worse, the narrator poses the summoning process in what sounds more like a card-battle context, which just sounds dated and “Go buy a supporting CCG” product focused.

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Again, ’06’s short format forces Rin and Shirou’s opening stories to play out at the same time, in a quarter of the time they were given in ’14. The result is Archer shows up, says “Oh look I have a weird master” and then we cut to Shirou waking up the following day.

No character development, no world building, not even pretty costume design to look at. Hell, ’06 doesn’t even establish what some of the major magic elements are nor how they work!

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Speaking of Shirou, he’s a lage part of what makes ’06 so average, if not terrible. It’s not just because he’s a little obnoxious, a little cocky sounding, and has the contextual depth of a peanut. Really, It’s his constant narration.

I just don’t need a character to mentally introduce me to every character, backstory, and location. Especially when his explanations don’t carry any nuance or special detail that a real person — a believable character — would make. It’s all very lengthy and full of empty, textbook-style details.

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I can’t speak to people’s love of the franchise for it’s original LNs or any other adaptations, but man! Fate/stay night 2006 doesn’t seem like it would have done anything to keep the franchise in people’s minds.

Even by the standards of the day, it’s unimaginative and feels rushed. Sure, it was a TV series, which means smaller budgets than a lot of what I think back on at the time, but these drab colors seem more at home for a mid 90s anime.

If you watched more of the old adaptation that I did, or have an argument for it, shoot me a comment below!