More to come…
Most Popular Shows (by MAL members)
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress 126,818
My Hero Academia 111,307
Bungou Stray Dogs 91,983
Re:Zero (1-13) 90,996
Least Popular Shows (by MAL members)
Sansha Sanyou 13,950
Macross Δ 15,507
Highest Positive Scoring Discrepancies (compared to MAL)
Space Patrol Luluco (S) +1.54
Flying Witch +0.89
Macross Δ +0.87
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress +0.85
Highest Negative Scoring Discrepancies (compared to MAL)
Bungou Stray Dogs -0.42
Ushio to Tora -0.42
My Hero Academia -0.41
Closest Scores to MAL
Sousei no Onmyouji -0.03
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk +0.09
Sansha Sanyou +0.12
These seasons seem to come and go faster and faster. Before we knew it, there were only two episodes left of our Winter 2016. We whittled our watchlist down to just ten (an ambitious feat for the upcoming Spring that probably won’t be achieved), not counting Zane’s bitty 4-short She and Her Cat reboot.
Overall, it was a very good season. The presence of four shows in the 8.5-9 range are proof of that, but even the lesser shows had their charms. Let’s break it down into bullets:
- ERASED wavered a little near its end, and did not stay long in MAL’s Top 5, but that’s not to say it’s not an all-time great, and easily belongs in the Top 15-25, with strong climax and finale
- Few anime have so artfully and sensually chronicled a life’s worth of artistic and interpersonal struggles of a single talented yet flawed individual like Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. Every week it’s transported us to a staggeringly vivid and realistic world full of rousing performances and complex emotions
- Gundam gave us two things: an excellent, action and character-packed ending, and the promise of more to come, which is fine with us, as there’s a lot more stories to tell
- Grimgar was achingly beautiful, joyful, tragic, and redemptive fantasy fare. It featured above-average RPG combat and way-above-average character work and drama, all at an deliciously unique, leisurely pace
- KonoSuba was the anti-Grimgar, but just as successful due to the thoroughness with which it lampooned the genre. It wasn’t as polished or cohesive as, say, Amaburi, but it delivered more than its fair share of hearty laughs and ridiculous situations
- Shirayuki-hime was often the Winter’s feel-good show, unless of course the titular character was being held hostage. Tthis Bones show soared as an earnest, richly-rendered romance/adventure tale, just as good at high-seas swashbuckling than it was quiet scenes between to young people in love
- Things got a little hectic and hairy near the end of Durarara!!x2, but it delivered a decent, moderately satisfying finale that turned the page for many of the show’s major players. A Durarara!!x3 hasn’t been confirmed, but nor has it been ruled out
- GATE wasn’t the most subtle show, and often got bogged down in teriary plotlines and dull political wrangling. But there’s not arguing that it also could deliver one hell of a fist-pumpin’ action set-piece when it wanted to, be it the fire dragon showdown, the paratroopers, or the final rescue op
- Dimension W turned into an inter-dimensional mess, fast. It was one of two shows we could have done without altogether this Winter, and Zane regrets not dropping it in the midst of that bizarre haunted mansion arc
- Dagashi Kashi has its sweet moments, but is ultimately a take-or-leave proposition. If Zane hadn’t picked it up, he probably wouldn’t have missed it
I’m only following Erased, IBO, Grimgar, Konosuba, Dagashi and Haikyuu this time around (but too busy until after April to write reviews for any of them).
ERASED is by far the best show. The narration has a very specific pacing and language. The occasional spoken narration and moments of sincere humor keep it fun and lite. (without resorting to anthro-character/boob jokes most shows would use and ruin the atmosphere) – it may be worthy of the heritage list because I suspect it would be worth watching again.
Grimgar is lovely. It’s oddly unique in its treatment of a completely generic topic. The final 4 eps will make or break being a classic because the plot may sputter out OR try to pack too much in. Either way, it’s my second pick of the season.
IBO is everything that Gundam Zeta, Double Zeta and Req-G were not: a retread of Gundam but with better graphics, contemporary/more believable characters, and a twist of expectations. Being semi-outside UC’s setting, it also escapes the mire of cameos and baggage narrative that choked Unicorn to death. I would argue that War in the Pocket tells a more original, complete and more compact Gundam story and that Thunderbolt may eventually do similar, but I’ll agree with Hannah that IBO deserves a top 5 slot in the franchise*.
KonoSuba is great wife & popcorn watching. Like Coffin Princess and Dungeon Dating in seasons past, the colorful cast, action, and RPG setting are easy to get into. Unlike those shows, this is a comedy and side steps any plot building issues because the plot, ultimately, doesn’t matter. More impressively, it uses the harem structure, without the protagonist wanting any of the women nor feeling like a spoiled jerk for not wanting them. “Life in an RPG would be annoying and sacks of loot largely worthless!” “A Harem would be annoying and largely worthless!” great twists on convention — certainly not enough to be a classic but a very clever show all the same.
Dagashi’s novelty as a history/cultural lesson and a soft romance side plot were fun for a while but there’s just not enough there. The characters are simple, not designed to develop, and the humor wears thin. Last weeks festival episode demonstrated this clearly: dagashi was barely in it as a topic, there was little context given for the non-dagashi items/food and festival, and the romance part that occupied the majority of the run time was generic. Nothing offensive but watch and forget to be sure.
Haikyuu S2 has dragged its heels from summer training to 2-episode mini arcs of Korasuno beating another good volleyball team in the prefecture’s high school tournament. Giving 2 episodes to each team the Crows defeat lets the show explore different group dynamics, motivations for playing, and responses to challenge (and losing) but it also introduces 2-5 new characters every 2 episodes (and then shelves them forever, presumably) which just feels distracting. This season was always about the Crows finding their feet as a team, rounding out the second string players backgrounds, and having revenge on the Emperor of the Court. The middle games don’t need to be here at all, let alone as 2-episode arcs. It just distracts from the central cast’s growth and makes the viewer feel like he’s wasting half an hour each week/could just binge the whole thing at the end.
*We disagree over Macross Frontier for the exact same reason. Like IBO, Frontier is a solid ‘new take’ on the franchise formula but the full series length and some of the cast-size and drama bloat that entails, makes it less impactful than tighter (and shorter) narrative of Macross Plus. (M+ having the best music and visual styling of the entire franchise) In nerd-war terms, the question is more ‘is IBO superior to 00’ (aka is Macross Frontier superior to Macross Zero) in a battle for 2nd-3rd place ;-)
Weather-wise, it’s been a kinder, gentler Winter here at RABUJOI HQ. This past Sunday in particular was unseasonably warm and lovely. Spring is on the way, and with it at least 20 new shows to check out and vet, with hopes of whittling that collection to a dozen or less.
Since dropping Phantom World, we’ve been happy with the group of ten Winter shows that remain. Here’s where those shows currently stand with one month left:
- ERASED continues to be a revelation; easily the best show watched by any of us since Steins;Gate, which is oddly enough an opinion shared by the FMA and Gintama-loving MAL community, who have elevated the new show to 5th all-time
- Speaking of superlatives, Hannah is willing to go ahead and declare Gundam IBO the finest and most complete Gundam series she’s seen (though she’s watched a lot less than some)
- Grimgar rose to dizzying heights this month, progressing in Preston’s mind from curious SAO facsimile at the start to a emerging classic that stands on its own
- Zane has been pleased as punch with SGRS and its mature, sophisticated and witty storytelling in a postwar Japan bursting with the promise of hope and redemption
- Snow White with the Red Hair went Full Swashbuckle with pirate kidnappers, stormy seas, hidden bases and a daring rescue.
- There are times when it feels like KonoSuba’s male protagonist protests too much when it comes to his new life, so it’s good he learned he liked that life a lot more than he thought when it almost came to an end
- Hannah is hoping Durarara!!x2 will sort out the sometimes imposing tangle of personalities and motives both human and supernatural in the final installments of an epic 36-episode run
- GATE delivered a hell of a dragon battle to save Tuka’s sanity, then gave us more of the underutilized Lelei. Sherry was a pleasant surprise, but the likable core cast always seems to be competing for time with the wider political issues of the two worlds
- Dagashi Kashi is a competent diversion, with glimmers of a sweet romance and sporadic laughs, but the detailed history lessons can drag, as does Hotaru’s statically eccentric personality
January ended with a snowy bang in our parts (over two feet in some areas) so it’s appropriate several shows that failed to make the cut were subsequently buried.
Those who came here to read reviews of the likes of Norn9, Divine Gate, or Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya, etc. may be disappointed, but we’re committed not to waste our or anyone else’s time with shows that just don’t do it for us.
We’ll probably be sticking with eleven shows you see above; all have passed the 3-episode test. It’s not a huge list, but that’s fine; we can maximize our attentions and memories far better with a small group than the huge ones of past seasons. The smaller sampling also means a sharper drop-off.
- There is an undisputed King of the Winter, and it is Boku dake ga Inai Machi, which blows every other Winter show out of the icy water. It’s cracked 9 on MAL and continues to rise (good for 11th all-time) with the most voters of any Winter show we’re watching, which is a very rare thing.
- Preston is confident that quality can be maintained or even surpassed, but a slight regression on the back end wouldn’t be the end of the world. Her second pick Grimgar, while not quite as excellent, is also breaking conventions in its ostensible genres and providing its fair share of emotional punch.
- Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu has only a small fraction of Inai Machi’s audience, and it’s not for everyone, but it’s engrossing enough to be Zane’s top pick. Dimension W is proving the best of recent shows that are about “A Lot of Stuff”, but it’s not guaranteed to stay as good as it started.
- As for Hannah’s shows, they’re all second seasons or sequels, with Gundam, Durarara!!x2 and GATE all plugging away nicely, in that order.
- Zane has not committed to finishing Prince of Stride, but the recent racing has been enough of a distraction from the bland characters to keep him interested. As for KyoAni’s latest effort Phantom World, Preston is taking a similar ep-by-ep approach.
Anyway, we hope you’re enjoying our reviews. It’s always better to write and be read than to simply write. Please keep up the thoughtful discussion, but be sure to clearly mark spoilers if you absolutely must include them in your comments. And as always, thanks for reading!
Average Episode Word Count (AEWC):
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans: 931
Prison School: 859
Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry: 750
Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai: 683
Sakurako-san no Ashimoto: 639
Ushio to Tora: 634
Noragami Aragoto: 652
Subete ga F ni Naru: 637
Owari no Seraph 2: 594
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk: 587
Atack on Titan: 558
One Punch Man: 555
Stray November Observations:
- The Top 5 remained the same from last month’s EOMR
- Hannah’s Gundam IBO episode 13 review was the most wordy of the Fall at 1,209, but Zane’s Prison School episode 5 retro review went for 1,278
- The final three Prison School retro reviews didn’t quite make it to this chart; they’ll be published next week.
- Subete ga F and Asterisk finally got 9 ratings due to strong finishes
- One Punch Man and Owarimonogatari remained the only two shows with average RABUJOI ratings below MAL’s (0.38 and 0.12 below, respectively)
- OPM was the third highest-rated show despite having the lowest AEWC; Taimadou was the second lowest-rated despite having the second-highest AEWC. So word count doesn’t always correlate with show quality…just usually
- Total Fall 2015 review word count (Including Prison School and Attack on Titan): 106,165, or 212 single-spaced 12-point pages
Average Episode Show Word Count (Words per review):
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans: 906
Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry: 748
Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai: 702
Sakurako-san no Ashimoto: 649
Noragami Aragoto: 642
Ushio to Tora: 616
Owari no Seraph 2: 601
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk: 594
Subete ga F ni Naru: 593
One Punch Man: 568
Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen: 398
Stray November Observations:
- Gundam IBO remains the best Fall show, with Noragami, One Punch Man, Owarimonogatari, and Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry rounding out the Fall Top 5
- Zane’s review of RKC episode 9 was 1,196 words, tops among Fall ’15 reviews, edging out Hannah’s IBO episode 1
- Hannah is continuing her Retro Reviews of Attack on Titan, but is quitting Utawarerumono due to declining interest
- Among shows we’re still reviewing, only Subete ga F and Asterisk have yet to be awarded a 9 rating, and only those two shows and Taimadou have average ratings under 8
- One Punch Man and Owarimonogatari are the only two shows with average ratings below MAL’s
- OPM’s MAL rating (8.88) seems over-inflated, while Taimadou’s (7.17) seems oddly underrated (both, probably, due to source material reader opinion…which is just as valid as anime-only watcher opinion)
- No Fall shows are experiencing any significant second-half fall-off; it’s been a pretty consistent season
- To reach the rare 9 average rating, the final four episodes of IBO’s first cour will have to average 9.5 (or two 9s and two 10s)
- So far, the writers of RABUJOI have written 73,281 words (including 7,377 for the first 13 episodes of Attack on Titan
- If we printed those words out in single-spaced 12-point type on standard letter stock (~500 words per page), it would be about 147 pages
This month, we thought we’d take a look at exactly how much we were writing about each show. One unscientific conclusion to be drawn from this superficial analysis is that “Better Shows” don’t always equal “More Words”…but they can.
Average Episode Show Word Count (Words per review):
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans: 987
Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai: 745
Ushio to Tora: 686
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk: 665
Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry: 646
Owari no Seraph 2: 607
Noragami Aragoto: 590
One Punch Man: 589
Subete ga F ni Naru: 569
Sakurako-san no Ashimoto: 564
Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen: 406
Top 10 Episode Review Word Counts:
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 01: 1,138
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 03: 1,073
Owarimonogatari – 02: 1,029
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 05: 987
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk – 03: 922
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 02: 893
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans – 04: 846
Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai – 04: 820
Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai – 03: 803
Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry – 05: 792
Bottom 10 Episode Review Word Counts:
Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen – 03: 301
Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen – 02: 308
Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen – 05: 400
Owari no Seraph 2 – 04: 422
Sakurako-san no Ashimoto – 04: 431
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk – 05: 435
Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen – 04: 438
Sakurako-san no Ashimoto – 01: 462
Noragami Aragoto – 01: 482
One Punch Man – 02: 489
Author Verbosity (Words per review):
Summer is over as of last week, and we watched and reviewed the last of the Summer anime last night. We’re all done and ready for Fall! As usual, our final watchlist grew beyond our preferred group of 10-12, but unlike usual, there weren’t any late drops.
Other Fun Facts:
- As you can see from the matching colors on the left edge, we’ve got an unintentional “Preston Sandwich” with three of her five shows sandwiched between four Braverade and four sesameacrylic slices of bread.
- Gakkou Gurashi! narrowly edged out Ore Monogatari!! and Charlotte as the King of Summer, with no ties. According to the voters at MAL, the best show of the Summer was Food Wars at 8.72, and the best non-carryover was, oddly, Working!!! at 8.21.
- The two shows we disagreed with MAL with the most were Gakkou Gurashi (which we rated 1.02 points higher than MAL) and Rokka no Yuusha (which we rated 0.64 points lower).
- According to our ratings, MAL grossly underrated Gakkou and Charlotte and overrated Rokka, GATE, and Working!!!.
- The overall weighted average rating for the Summer (including carryovers) was 7.98. MAL’s average rating of that same group of shows was 7.81, or 0.16 points lower.
There were eleven 10-rated episodes this Summer:
(* indicates inclusion on the World Heritage List)
- Charlotte – 07*
- Charlotte – 09*
- Charlotte – 11
- Gakkou Gurashi! – 04*
- Gakkou Gurashi! – 10*
- Gakkou Gurashi! – 11*
- Ore Monogatari!! – 16
- Shokugeki no Souma – 14
- OverLord – 09
- OverLord – 12
- GANGSTA – 08
Best Female Character
Hannah: Tadokoro Megumi (Shokugeki no Souma)
Zane: Takeya Yuki (Gakkou Gurashi!)
Preston: Shirayuki (Akagami no Shirayuki-hime) and Ichinose Hajime (Gatchaman Crowds Insight)
Best Male Character
Hannah: Momonga (OverLord)
Zane: Gouda Takeo (Ore Monogatari!!)
Preston: Otosaka Yuu (Charlotte)
Hannah: Albedo x Momonga (OverLord)
Zane: Yamato Rinko x Gouda Takeo (Ore Monogatari!!)
Preston: Tomori Nao x Otosaka Yuu (Charlotte)
As expected, Gakkou Gurashi! remains the Summer’s highest-rated show, with its engrossing atmosphere and addictive combo of school slice-of-life and zombies. While it probably won’t unseat Ore Monogatari!! as overall King of Summer, the show has a firm lead over Food Wars.
Rounding out the Top 5 are a couple of shows that had a very strong August: the suddenly sensational Maeda Jun joint Charlotte (P.A. Works is BACK), and the equally awesome GANGSTA. Ushio to Tora and Durarara!! are humming along, though neither has 10 episode (yet), which is what separates them from the Top 5.
The second tier of Very Good shows is populated by Shimoneta, Akagami no Shirayuki-hime, a resurgent (if often tardy) GOD EATER, and OverLord, a pleasant surprise we only started watching this month. All these shows are tied at 8.
In the third and final tier there’s still some good stuff, with Dandelion fielding its first 9, Working!!! is its usual lightweight self (MAL rates it much higher than we care too). Gatchaman, GATE, and Rokka no Yuusha remain hit-or-miss, but unique enough to stay on our watchlist for now. Sore ga Seiyuu! brings up the rear, but continues to entertain and inform on the life of a seiyu.
A quarter of the way into the Summer 2015 season and what do we see? Two Spring shows at the top of the charts. That only means one thing: nothing this Summer is quite as good as Ore Monogatari!! and Shokugeki no Souma. Even MAL agrees the latter is the best show we’re watching right now by pure rating, while they rank OreMo fourth behind GANGSTA. and Durarara!!x2 Ten.
That doesn’t mean this Summer has been a disappointment so far. It just speaks to the exceptionalism of a “They Will!” rom-com and a delicious cooking battle show, the kinds of shows we only get two per year of anyway, if we’re lucky. Our Summer field is led by another Zane show early on, Gakkou Gurashi, whose first episode demands and then handsomely rewards patience and looks to be at or near the top of the list for it’s whole run.
Akagami no Shirayuki-hime is the Ghibli anime we wanted and wished Ronja had been, with conventional animation (no creepy-ish CGI that you don’t really want to get used to) and a grown-up protagonist (though we didn’t watch far enough to know if Ronja ever grew up). Durarara!!x2’s second of three cours is doing what it do, and Shimoneta is a fun screwball ecchi comedy with social commentary on the limits and travails of population control.
Because we’re only a quarter of the way in, we’ve got a lot of ties in the middle, but their identical ratings (all within a half-point of MAL) belie their diversity: we’ve got a lively new P.A. Works anime in Charlotte; the gritty underworldy GANGSTA.; the freewheeling, hilarious shonen yokai romp in Ushio to Tora; an always welcome new Working!!; and the pretty, if not altogether original, new ufotable joint GOD EATER.
A pair of fantasies, one of which melds the modern with the medieval and undermines its vivid core by casting foreign powers as drooling morons (GATE), while another employs RPG conventions with striking design and music and a true sense of scale and grandeur (Rokka no Yuusha). Gatchaman seems a little wishy-washy about where it’s going, and the RABUJOI watch-list is rounded out by two lightweight but original slice-of-lifes in Dandelion and Sore ga Seiyuu!
As always, there’s something for everyone, and all the shows in the 8s indicate there’s a lot to like, but we’re still waiting for sustained streaks of greatness for the top Summer shows to surpass the best of the Spring. A couple are close.
Just a couple more episodes (one more Hibike! Euphonium and one more Kekkai Sensen) and Spring 2015 will be a distant memory. Well, a recent memory, anyway. And you know what? It really wasn’t a bad season!
Part of that is that we continued our trend of dropping any shows that couldn’t stay above a 7.5 average on our rating scale, resulting in one of the highest-rated seasons ever on this site. But it was also just because from top to bottom all of the shows offered something either fun, original, entertaining, hilarious, exciting, or all of the above. We were, however, surprised and a little disappointed with how many shows simply ended, often with the regular ending sequence, without any kind of “Thanks for Watching!” card at the end. What gives??
The good news: Two of the Springs top shows—Ore Monogatari!! and Shokugeki no Souma—will continue into the Summer. The bad news: it doesn’t look like we’ll get a second season of Hibike, and who knows if and when Oregairu gets a third season. Good/Bad news: Hannah watched all of UBW, but many have said Zero is better show. Definitely bad news: our budding politician Franklin probably won’t be able to review anything this Summer either. :\
We’re preparing to tackle a very full Summer schedule, and even if we eliminate half of the shows we try out, we’ll still end up with another dozen-show season, at least. It will be a lot to plow through, but we look forward to the process. To get reviews up faster, we’ll continue to try to keep reviews brief and avoid the temptation to upload the entire episode in screencaps. We’ll see how we do.
Stay tuned and thanks for reading!