RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade – 10-1 – No Going Back

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Welcome to the final entry in RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade, a comprehensive and hastily-researched list of the 100 best anime we watched from 2010 to 2019. We attempt to provide one brief statement about each show, based in some cases on very fuzzy recollection and possibly guesses. This list is final. No reviews, no appeals, COMPLETE EXONERATION!—RABUJOI STAFF


10. One Punch Man

Fall 2015

Saitama’s hilarious adventures in boredom and easy victories provided some of the comedic highlights of the decade in this stylishly irreverent parody of hero shows

9. The Promised Neverland

Winter 2019

One of the scariest, tensest, dread-filled series of the decade, as well as one of the best underdog stories, its single season left us gasping to see what became of the poor kids

8. Shingeki no Kyojin 3 Part 2

Spring 2019

In just ten episodes, perhaps more stunning secrets were revealed than in the previous three seasons combined, creating potential the fourth and final season will be hard-pressed to meet

7. Monogatari Series: Second Season

Summer 2013

A giant tiger stalks the town, Araragi battles zombies with an aged-up Mayoi, Nadeko gets tangled up with the Polar Snake, Shinobu regales us with some her centuries-long history, and Hitagi and Kaishou form an uneasy alliance—there’s a little of everything and it’s all excellent

6. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen

Winter 2017

The first season of SGRS was amazing…the second was transcendent

5. Shigatsu wa kimi no uso (Your Lie in April)

Fall 2014

One of the saddest anime of the decade, but also one of the most beautiful, both visually and musically

4. Owarimonogatari Second Season

Summer 2017

While just seven episodes, this second season is the long-awaited culmination of eight years of supernatural stories, and it was worth the wait

3. Made in Abyss

Summer 2017

Very little before or since has quite looked or sounded like Made in Abyss, but even less FELT quite like it. Blending moments of whimsy, wonder and awe with primal horror and cruelty in a richly-detailed, fully-realized fantasy world. Desperately needs a second season to continue the story

2. 3-gatsu no Lion 2 (March Comes In Like A Lion)

Fall 2017

The first season was mostly about the MC’s personal traumas and depression, but the second story spreads out as he learns how to support others, exploring bullying, the struggles of a surrogate mom, and the ravages of old age

1. Steins;Gate

Spring 2011

With its twisting, churning time travel odyssey, central love triangle, and meditations on causality, inevitability, guilt, and obsession, Steins;Gate is the best anime of the decade.

RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade – 20-11 – Things are Starting to Get Real

Welcome to RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade, a comprehensive and hastily-researched list of the 100 best anime we watched from 2010 to 2019. We attempt to provide one brief statement about each show, based in some cases on very fuzzy recollection and possibly guesses. This list is final. No reviews, no appeals.—RABUJOI STAFF


20. Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED)

Winter 2016

Maybe the best representations of being transported into your younger self, and given the opportunity to save someone who didn’t have to die

19. Shingeki no Kyojin 3 (Part 1)

Summer 2018

The curtain is pulled back on many mysteries (though not the basement), and the Scouts must rebel against the powers that be to protect Eren and Historia, culminating in an epic Titan battle that eventually serves as the stage for the Historia’s ascension

18. AnoHana

Spring 2011

Very few anime this decade achieved as much in a scant eleven episodes, as a circle of childhood friends grow, change, and reconnect over the loss of their friend

17. Steins;Gate 0

Spring 2018

We didn’t know the original needed a sequel to continue Rintarou & Co.’s story—until we watched it. New faces and alliances help the mad scientist achieve what he could not in the previous show

16. Vinland Saga

Summer 2019

Thrilling and at times heartbreaking pseudo-historical tales of revenge, hatred, betrayal and redemption made this the best Wit Studio offering to date to  challenge the Attack on Titan juggernaut’s dramatic hegemony

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15. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu (Season 1)

Winter 2016

Plunged us into a previously unknown and unimaginably rich world of traditional Japanese raunchy storytelling, we go back and forth through time as some of the art’s best living performers rose to fame—and paid the costs of that fame

14. Fate/Zero 2

Spring 2012

As the battle for the grail intensifies, F/Z’s second half elevates the tension and quality of storytelling, action, and character to even greater heights

13. Violet Evergarden

Winter 2018

A beautiful and heart-wrenching tale of an elite instrument of unspeakable violence and war trying to heal and find a new purpose in a world at peace

12. Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei (The Tatami Galaxy)

Spring 2010

Filled with wistful tales of campus nirvana and romance deferred, resetting timelines and different clubs joined and choices made, Tatami Galaxy is a gorgeous freeform, often bizarre ride no anime enthusiast should miss

11. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further than the Universe)

Winter 2018

Four girls with very different personalities and paths in life all find themselves on an Antarctic expedition in a brilliant exploration of friendship, love, grief, self-exploration, and growth

RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade – 30-21 – The Kids Are All Right

Welcome to RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade, a comprehensive and hastily-researched list of the 100 best anime we watched from 2010 to 2019. We attempt to provide one brief statement about each show, based in some cases on very fuzzy recollection and possibly guesses. This list is final. No reviews, no appeals.—RABUJOI STAFF


30. 3-gatsu no Lion (Season 1)

Fall 2016

Shaft and Shinbou delved into the life and mind of a depressed and traumatized shogi prodigy discovering family, home and happiness with three sisters as he traverses his fiercely competitive sport

29. Bunny Girl-Senpai (Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai)

Fall 2018

Smart, mature, and engaging romantic comedy done right, BGS combined ordinary high school life with clever supernatural phenomena

28. Bakuman. 2

Fall 2011

Few shows captured how life and love went on as countless hours of hard work either amounted to a hit manga or an absolute dud. We’ve always regretted not continuing with the third season

27. Barakamon

Summer 2014 

A distinguished young calligrapher seeks refuge in a small town, and instead meets a spunky young girl and other characters who lend color and warmth to his black-on-white world

26. Houseki no Kuni

Fall 2017

A brilliant, moving, and visually dazzling tale of gems in human form, focusing on one unremarkable gem who has one hell of an arc. Desperately in need of a sequel

25. Owarimonogatari

Fall 2015

Araragi’s discussions with Oshino’s mysterious “niece” Ougi and exploration of a classmate he somehow forgot makes for some of the most emotionally complex and nervy interactions of the sprawling Monogatari series

24. Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)

Spring 2013

When it all started in 2013, I watched the first episode, was put off by the naked man-eating giants, and…put it aside. Two years later, before the second season, I gave it another try and was not disappointed

23. Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Souma)

Spring 2015

The wonderful combination of shounen battles, ecchi elements, and culinary education has been going strong for years, but it all started with Souma terrorizing his childhood friend with peanut butter octopus

22. Usagi Drop

Summer 2011

A single salaryman’s life is changed forever when he takes in a girl no one else will. Heartwarming and detailed in the practicalities of childcare

21. Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu (Parasyte -the maxim-)

Fall 2014

An adaptation of a manga from the 80s, Parasyte is an often deeply dark and messed up, always thrilling story of a once-normal high school kid whose body is infiltrated and augmented by an alien parasite

 

RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade – 40-31 – Heroes Come in Many Forms

Welcome to RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade, a comprehensive and hastily-researched list of the 100 best anime we watched from 2010 to 2019. We attempt to provide one brief statement about each show, based in some cases on very fuzzy recollection and possibly guesses. This list is final. No reviews, no appeals.—RABUJOI STAFF


40. Boku no Hero Academia

Spring 2016

We would eventually drop this colorful shonen series about young supernatural heroes taking up the mantle of the previous generation, but the first season was unquestionably zany fun

39. Shokugeki no Souma 2

Summer 2016

Once the Autumn Elections were over, it was nice to see the young chefs test their skills in the real world, particularly Souma being paired with Hisako at a run-of-the-mill family restaurant

38. Shokugeki no Souma 3

Fall 2017

The start of a major coup in which Central takes control of Totsuki and threatens the culinary creativity of all. What had been a show about food skirmishes becomes all-out war between an authoritarian regime and a plucky rebellion

37. Fate/Zero (First Half)

Fall 2011

In our opinion, the best of the Fate anime continuum, plunging into the personalities, passions and vulnerabilities of Servants and Masters alike like no Fate before or since

36. Katanagatari

Winter 2010

The unique art, eclectic Iwasaki score, engrossing story, twisting, clever dialogue, and epic action made this a show to look forward to each month

35. Kids on the Slope (Sakamichi no Apollon)

Spring 2012

In a sleepy Kyushu town in the 60s, kids from disparate backgrounds find harmony in jazz and dissonance in love in a captivating Watanabe/Konno collab

34. PSYCHO-PASS

Fall 2012

A futuristic cop show in which invasive technology determines the latent criminality of all citizens. Introduces one of the decade’s baddassest women, Tsunemori Akane

33. Shingeki no Kyojin 2

Spring 2017

In the first sequel to Attack on Titan megaseries, the world is expanded with the arrival of the Beast Titan and the revealing of Krista’s true identity

32. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Winter 2011

A seminal series that subverted and heightened the Magical Girl genre popularized by Sailor Moon, turning inward on the struggles and sacrifices of said girls and the cruelty of their fate like never before.

31. Shinsekai yori (From the New World)

Fall 2012

Quite simply one of the darkest, strangest, and most haunting explorations of our species’ possible eventual future ever put to the screen, animated or otherwise

RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade – 50-41 – A Little Better All The Time

Welcome to RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade, a comprehensive and hastily-researched list of the 100 best anime we watched from 2010 to 2019. We attempt to provide one brief statement about each show, based in some cases on very fuzzy recollection and possibly guesses. This list is final. No reviews, no appeals, and no Gintama (but only because we’ve never watched it).—RABUJOI STAFF


50. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (Oregairu) 2

Spring 2015

Things get a little more complicated and dramatic, but with this show, those are both good things

49. Tsuki ga Kirei

Spring 2017

With all its awkwardness, false starts, devastating setbacks and ecstatic victories, we’d be hard-pressed to find a more detailed, relatable, and downright heart-swelling depiction of falling in love for the first time. Great voice work too

48. Fate/Stay night: Unlimited Blade Works

Fall 2014

Our entrance into the vast world of Fate was a ufotable masterpiece that often left other great-looking shows looking 5-10 years older. We’d eventually find Fates that, while not as good-looking, told a better story with stronger characters

47. Hibike! Euphonium 2

Spring 2015

Who ever thought band could be so serious, so dramatic…and so dang good?

46. SKET Dance

Spring 2011

A sprawling high school epic (78 episodes) bursting with quirky characters you can’t help but grow to love. While usually a comedy, some of its best outings are played straight

45. Shokugeki no Souma 3 – Totsuki Train Arc

Spring 2018

There’s Food Wars, and then there’s Food Wars on a train, baby!

44. Fruits Basket 1st Season

Spring 2019

A show that explores all manner of social and psychological disorders with compassion, through the lens of character who transform into Zodiac animals when hugged. Some of the best characters of the year can be found in this anime

43. No Game No Life

Spring 2014

A shut-in and his sister brave a video game world in this lush, colorful early-ish entry in the decade’s Isekai explosion

42. KonoSuba 2

Winter 2017

Picks up where the first season left off and improves our motley crew’s living conditions…and builds on the zany comedy

41. Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu

Spring 2016

Owner of some of the highest emotional highs and lowest emotional lows, Re:Zero is at times endearing, triumphant, and terrifying…but it’s almost never boring

 

RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade – 60-51 – The Soaring Fifties

Welcome to RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade, a comprehensive and hastily-researched list of the 100 best anime we watched from 2010 to 2019. We attempt to provide one brief statement about each show, based in some cases on very fuzzy recollection and possibly guesses. This list is final. No reviews, no appeals, and no Gintama (but only because we’ve never watched it).—RABUJOI STAFF


60. Nagi no Asukara

Fall 2013

P.A. Works’ moving depiction of two adjacent worlds—one by the sea, one under it—and one of the most complicated and compelling love polygons of the decade

59. Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou (Girls’ Last Tour)

Fall 2013

Austere and hauntingly gorgeous, as charming and life-affirming as it is devastatingly bleak and cruel

58. Nisemonogatari

Winter 2012

Puts Araragi’s two sisters in the spotlight, and features such memorable risque scenes as the bathroom scene, the Twister scene, and…the toothbrush scene

57. Dororo

Winter 2019

A imaginative 50-year-old tale is updated and expanded with truly powerful results. The party is ovah…

56. Kamisama Hajimemashita

Winter 2015

Before we learned about Fruits Basket, there was Kamisama Kiss, a charming and heartwarming tale of a down-on-her-luck human girl and her supernatural friends

55. Angel Beats!

Spring 2010

An early, stylish P.A. Work that explores life after death and the battle to right the wrongs of one’s life, fulfill what had been unfilfilled, and be remembered

54. Bakuman.

Fall 2010

The first part of an epic series in which young creative people take a chance on careers writing and drawing manga, just as much about their growing and evolving lives and relationships than the manga itself

53. Durarara!!

Winter 2010

The first, accept-no-substitute original that painted such an absorbing portrait of Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district, we were inspired to visit the place IRL. We found no headless couriers, but it was still pretty cool

52. Kanata no Astra

Summer 2019

Episodic space adventure anime were hard to come by this decade, but Kanata no Astra scratched that itch well, providing twist after twist to its serial arc while juggling a large cast we came to like and root for one by one

51. Chihayafuru

Fall 2011

Before Chihayafuru: What even is Karuta? After Chihayafuru: “Oh, that’s Karuta! I could never play that because both my Japanese and my memory suck!” Still, it’s fun to watch pretty young people kick ass at it

 

RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade – 70-61 – There’s Something Happening Here

Welcome to RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade, a comprehensive and hastily-researched list of the 100 best anime we watched from 2010 to 2019. We attempt to provide one brief statement about each show, based in some cases on very fuzzy recollection and possibly guesses. This list is final. No reviews, no appeals, and no Gintama (but only because we’ve never watched it).—RABUJOI STAFF


70. Oregairu (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU)

Spring 2013

Not all high school harem rom-coms are created equal…this one’s pretty good

railgun17

69. Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S

Spring 2013

We actually watched Railgun before Index…and still kinda like Railgun more due to the focus on Misaka

working48

68. Working!!!

Summer 2015

The third season of the family restaurant sitcom finally resolved will-they-won’t-they situations with “they wills”—and did a really good job doing it

67. ReLIFE

Summer 2016

If you could go back to your high school days, what would you say and do differently? ReLIFE, the first 13 episodes of which released all at once, Netflix-style, brilliantly explored every facet of that question

dr311

66. Durarara!! x2 Ketsu

Winter 2016

The third and best of the Durarara!! sequel cours

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65. Kill la Kill

Fall 2013

Studio Trigger dazzles the stage with a completely ludicrous action/sci-fi/adventure odyssey involving sentient—and often extremely skimpy—clothing

kami11

64. The World God Only Knows 3

Summer 2013

The third season that gave us hope that maybe the MC would actually end up with a real-life girl in the end. It wasn’t to be…maybe the upcoming Season 4?

znt34

63. Zankyou no Terror

Summer 2014

Two human experiments with numbers for names meet a neglected girl from a broken home, and as the title suggests, there is a bit of terrorism

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62. KonoSuba

Winter 2016

One of the most consistently hilarious isekai anime ever made, KonoSuba commits to laughs like no other show in its genre

61. Kuragehime

Fall 2010

Squid. Princess. Any questions?

RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade – 80-71 – Hibike! at the Disco

Welcome to RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade, a comprehensive and hastily-researched list of the 100 best anime we watched from 2010 to 2019. We attempt to provide one brief statement about each show, based in some cases on very fuzzy recollection and possibly guesses. This list is final. No reviews, no appeals, and no Gintama (but only because we’ve never watched it).—RABUJOI STAFF


80. Shiki

Summer 2010

The character design is…interesting, but you get used to it, and I even grew to enjoy it—what strange hair color or style would show up next?—Because the bottom line is, Shiki made anime vampires scarier and more sympathetic

79. Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san

Winter 2018

Or: How I Learned to Stop Trying to Beat the Adorable Teasing Master and Just Fall In Love With Her Already

78. Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld

Fall 2019

Move over Kirito, Asuna, Sinon, and Eugeo: Alice is currently the shining star of SAO, and it would be a crying shame to lose her

77. Working’!! 2

Fall 2011

Working!! 2: Work Harder is more of the same great restaurant slice-of-life, only slightly better because our connection to the characters comes built-in

76. Mawaru Penguindrum

Summer 2011

A manic, dizzying feast for eyes, ears, and mind, as Ikuhara’s anime tend to be

75. Hibike! Euphonium

Spring 2015

High School life, love, fierce competition, and stirring brass music, beautifully presented as always by the incomparable KyoAni

74. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Fall 2015

In our opinion one the best entries in the vast Gundam continuum, IBO centered on scrappy underdog heroes fighting for freedom with low-tech equipment…and the odd friend in high places

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73/72. Durarara!! x2 ShouDurarara!! x2 Ten

Winter/Summer 2015

After a solid 26-episode first season, we asked if a sequel to the Ikebukuro-set story about stories was needed, but the first two of three cours answered that in the affirmative

71. Kokoro Connect + Michi Random

Fall 2012

An example of a show that didn’t impress us much at first, but got better and better and drew us in deeper and deeper. Body-swapping is only the beginning

RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade – 90-81 – From Family Restaurants to Generation Ships

Welcome to RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade, a comprehensive and hastily-researched list of the 100 best anime we watched from 2010 to 2019. We attempt to provide one brief statement about each show, based in some cases on very fuzzy recollection and possibly guesses. This list is final. No reviews, no appeals, and no Gintama (but only because we’ve never watched it).—RABUJOI STAFF


90. Knights of Sidonia

Spring 2014

One of the only full-CGI animes that works better because it’s CGI, owing much to its futuristic sci-fi setting. Gritty, bleak, and awe-inspiring, its characters don’t inhabit the uncanny valley, but the infinite void of space.

89. Mirai Nikki

Fall 2011

A cute but murder-happy stalker and a battle royale to determine who inherets immortality and omnipotence from a character literally named Deus Ex Machina…what’s not to like

88. Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt

Fall 2010

Notable for its distinctive American cartoon-style look and general raunchiness, this was the last great anime Gainax made before Trigger split off

87. Working!!

Spring 2010

An absorbing slice-of-life centered on the eccentric staff of a run-of-the-mill Japanese family restaurant, filled with wit, humor, and a couple will-they-won’t-they situations that would take three seasons to resolve

86. O Maidens in Your Savage Season

Summer 2019

Took an strong unblinking look at the lives of a group of very different young women and men approaching their respective sexual awakenings in different ways

85. Golden Kamuy

Spring 2018 and Fall 2018

Part treasure hunt using human pelts as maps, part documentary of Ainu life, culture, cuisine, and spiritualism, all badass

84. Inuyashiki

Fall 2017

The story of the world’s most depressing salaryman finally gaining the power to protect family and strangers alike (thanks to aliens) is full of body horror and black humor in equal measure

83. Knights of Sidonia 2

Spring 2015

Like Knights of Sidonia 1, only Sidonia-er. Things get a bit darker, a bit weirder, and, at times, a bit funnier. The only mark against the series is that it needed a third season

82. The World God Only Knows

Fall 2010

In one of the first harem anime we watched that we enjoyed, an dating sim expert must reluctantly date girls IRL to capture the evil spirits hiding in their hearts. It’s much better than it sounds

81. Saraiya Goyou (House of Five Leaves)

Spring 2010

An unglamorous but absorbing drama in which a timid ronin joins a group of bandits making their own way in gritty Edo-period Japan

RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade – 100-91 – The Worst of the Best

Welcome to RABUJOI’s Anime of the Decade, a comprehensive and hastily-researched list of the 100 best anime we watched from 2010 to 2019. We attempt to provide one brief statement about each show, based in some cases on very fuzzy recollection and possibly guesses. This list is final. No reviews, no appeals, and no Gintama (but only because we’ve never watched it).—RABUJOI STAFF


saoii238

100. Sword Art Online II

Summer 2014

Asuna is finally able to reach détente with her strict mother, and a terminally ill girl receives a fitting sendoff from her fellow gamers. A lot more happened, but that was some memorable stuff

99. Yuri Kuma Arashi

Winter 2015

Using heavy symbolism and vibrant iconography to promote LGBTQ advocacy and critique a nation notoriously weak in that area

98. Aku no Hana (Flowers of Evil)

Spring 2013

Animating a popular manga with live action rotoscoping was bold as hell, but not too popular, crossing a boundary between anime and reality

97. Darling in the FranXX

Winter 2018

An admirable bid to bring Evangelion into the 21st century, depicting a harsh world where too heavy a weight is placed on the slender shoulders of the young

96. Sword Art Online

Summer 2012

Not the first, not the best, but the show that launched a thousand isekai, anchored by a compelling central love story that endures to this day

95. Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (Saekano)

Winter 2015

A witty and attractive self-aware harem rom-com that explored artistic talent, collaboration, and the practicalities of making a video game as much as cute outfits and compromising situations

94. Re:Creators

Spring 2017

An anime that brought colorful characters from anime, books, and games of many genres—all fictitious, in-world works—into the real world, resulting in an Avengers-style fish-out-of-water crossover epic, a tantalizing premise

93. Sword Art Online: Alicization

Spring 2018

Crippled IRL, Kirito dives deeper than ever before, starts over in a new virtual world utilizing tech coveted by governments and organizations the world over, and makes friends along the way

92. Kekkai Sensen

Spring 2015

In a premise that combines Men In Black, Hellboy, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, universes and realms collide in the former NYC in a stirring feast for eyes and ears

91. Akame ga Kill!

Summer 2014

A majority-female assassin guild-vs.-empire bloody slugfest that managed to became surprisingly emotionally resonant as it went on

Winter 2020 Season Guide (Updating)

Koishikawa in the Morning after a Snowfall, Hokusai, c.1830-1835

It’s right up there in the site description: Purveyors of Fine Anime Reviews and Ratings Since 2010. That means 2020 will be our tenth year in operation. A decade might as well be a century on the interwebs, and all we can say is we’ve been both blessed and cursed with the time and the means to do this as a hobby for so long.

We’ve watched a lot of shows in the last decade—the 100 best of which we’ll probably be posting listicles for in due time—but before that, it’s time to do our thing we do when the current season is around half-over: present the shows we’ve penciled in for viewing next season, which will also mark Decade Number Two.

Those shows are below. We’ll update this list as we add or drop shows. Leave any recommendations you might have in the comments and we’ll take them under advisement!

RABUJOI STAFF

LAST UPDATED 13 Jan 2020

Braverade

Darwin’s Game
Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia (Fall Carryover)
ID:INVADED
Infinite Dendrogram

Kuutei Dragons
Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T


sesameacrylic

Chihayafuru 3 (Fall Carryover)
A3! Season Spring & Summer
Dorohedoro
Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na!
Jibaku Shounen no Hanako-kun
Rikei ga Koi ni Ochita no de Shoumei shitemita.


MagicalChurlSukui

Bofuri
In/Spectre
Isekai Quartet 2nd Season

Kabukichou Sherlock (Fall Carryover)
In/Spectre (Kyokou Suiri)
Magia Record: Mahou Shoujo Madoka☆Magica Gaiden
Somali and the Forest Spirit

Summer 2019 Anime, Ranked.

With the exception of Fire Force’s twelfth episode, we’ve wrapped up our coverage of the Summer 2019 season, which is just as well since we’re technically in the second week of Autumn.

Between Braverade, sesameacrylic and MagicalChurlSukui we watched and reviewed eleven shows in all (plus additional coverage from Oigakkosan, not detailed here), totaling 132 episodes, or approximately 53 hours. Without further math, here’s how we ranked those shows, and why. Break out the thesaurus!

11. HenSuki

RABUJOI Score: 7.00/10 MAL Score: 6.83/10

Pros: Novel premise, colorful pastel palette, likable characters, generally witty banter, risque ecchi situations that never cross hard lines of decency.

Cons: Uneven at best animation, silly central mystery that drags on too long, “twist” resolution feels like a cheat.

Verdict: An enjoyable, fluffy guilty pleasure. I try to watch one per season.

10. Lord El-Melloi II Case Files

RABUJOI Score: 7.77/10 MAL Score: 7.44/10

Pros: Built-in goodwill from Fate/Zero, always intriguing setup for cases, sumptuous setting, production, and mechanical design, stirring score, bonkers magical battles.

Cons: Excessive magical technobabble can be exhausting, conclusions to mysteries can feel contrived/arbitrary, non-Fate fanatics will end up hopelessly lost by most cameos or name-drops.

Verdict: A pale shadow of the classic upon which it’s based, but nonetheless a fun and moderately clever detective series.

9. Fire Force (Episodes 1-11 of 12)

RABUJOI Score: 7.82/10 MAL Score: 7.75/10

Pros: Gorgeously bizarre alternate-universe setting, elegant world-building, virtuoso action sequences, powerful orchestral soundtrack.

Cons: And MC who is dull and cliched within an inch of his life, Characters who go from evil-to-good (or vice versa) at the drop of a hat, a tedious central conspiracy, the potential for character bloat, frustratingly uneven gender balance, pathetic bouts of fanservice.

Verdict: A stylish show primarily about spontaneous human combustion might’ve weathered news of the horrific KyoAni arson attack, but isn’t quite good enough to watching following into the Fall.

7 (tie). How Heavy are the Dumbbells You Lift?

RABUJOI Score: 7.83/10 MAL Score: 7.68/10

Pros: A fresh, original premise to which it remains totally devoted, marvelous comic timing in the rapid-fire, self-deprecating, fourth-wall breaking dialogue, lovable and believable MC, decent animation, one hell of an earworm OP.

Cons: Ecchi elements and a superfluous Russian chick don’t add much, some parody bits are too on-the-nose, the show loses momentum in the final couple episodes.

Verdict: The show that inspired me to get off my skinny, underdeveloped backside and actually join a gym for the first time in my life!

7 (tie). Cop Craft

RABUJOI Score: 7.82/10 MAL Score: 6.94/10

Pros: Cool reverse-Isekai-lite premise, Range Murata character design, toe-tapping OP and lively soundtrack, entertaining buddy cop dynamic, engaging fights and chases.

Cons: Lame villains, some odd narrative choices, inconsistent/unfocused direction, disappointing animation, underutilized supporting cop cast, lots of loose ends.

Verdict: A show with some good parts to work with, mostly used badly. A wasted opportunity that’s not as good as our episodes ratings indicated.

6. DanMachi II

RABUJOI Score: 8.25/10 MAL Score: 7.45/10

Pros: Appealing, charismatic characters you love to root for, amusing romantic polygons, tremendous score, superb utilization of twelve episodes to tell a variety of engaging stories with a beginning, middle and oh-so-epic end, culminating in a quiet finale that doesn’t forget its core goddess-child dynamic.

Cons: Villains’ barks prove far worse than their bites, a couple slower episodes between mini-arcs don’t really distinguish themselves, and that huge Amazoness Phryne…what the hell?! 

Verdict: After the very lame Sword Oratoria spinoff DanMachi got a proper sequel, focused on the characters we cared about, full of emotion, excitement, and good old-fashioned fantasy ass-kickin’.


5. Fruits Basket 1st Season (Episodes 14-25)

RABUJOI Score: 8.50/10 MAL Score: 8.36/10

Pros: Impeccably-rendered characters and depictions of their various psychological issues, dark and poignant flashbacks, exquisitely cozy slice-of-life, a good balance of the mundane and the mystic, and hard-hitting cathartic scenes.

Cons: Some members of the Souma family are more interesting (and tolerable) than others, but even the less interesting ones get plenty of screen time, Tooru’s saintly selflessness can wear thin at times.

Verdict: A beautifully-crafted second half that rewarded patience by delivering some of the strongest and most moving episodes of the year.

4. Master Teaser Takagi-san 2

RABUJOI Score: 8.58/10 MAL Score: 8.40/10

Pros: Truly magnetic chemistry in the central pair, Deft use of subtle facial expressions and body language in the animation, superb performances by Takahashi Rie and Kaji Yuki.

Cons: Like the first season, the various teasing games can grow repetitive, as can Nishikata’s denseness and inability to see more than one or two moves ahead, the side stories involving side characters often felt like padding.

Verdict: Continues and refines the brilliantly simple teasing formula of the first season, while ever-so-gradually blurring of the line between teasing and flirting. A sweet and touching, slow-burn portrayal of young, awkward first love.

2 (tie). Vinland Saga (Episodes 1-12)

RABUJOI Score: 8.67/10 MAL Score: 8.57/10

Pros: Flawed but rootable MC whose character is more complex than it initially seems, his multi-layered antihero mentor, exemplary action and battle sequences, powerful score, compelling exploration of the hard old world, with enticing glimmers of a brighter new one.

Cons: That said mentor would keep a kid dedicated to murdering him around so long stretches credulity at times, those battle sequences sometimes feature individuals or groups doing superhuman things that detract from the otherwise naturalistic milieu.

Verdict: While not quite as big, loud, epic, or bonkers as Attack on Titan, or Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, Vinland Saga is arguably Wit Studio’s most balanced and human series. Looking forward to the second half.

2 (tie). Astra Lost in Space

RABUJOI Score: 7.77/10 MAL Score: 7.44/10

Pros: Very well done futuristic world- and space-building, a large-ish main cast that you steadily come to know and love, the sense of family that arises from the crewmembers’ experiences together, an optimistic spirit of exploration that isn’t constantly beset by mortal peril, creative planets and lifeforms, thankfully subverted expectations for a Lerche-style bloodbath.

Cons: “Character gets a backstory” formula to some episodes felt repetitive at times, the crew almost faces too little mortal peril considering their circumstances, they similarly rely on a lot of luck, some major plotlines and twists could have been left out and still resulted in a pretty strong show.

Verdict: Maybe the season’s biggest surprise hit, the ambitious Astra calls to mind some of the best of live-action shades-of-gray sci-fi (Firefly, Battlestar, Expanse) while maintaining an old school optimistic, exploratory outlook. It set out to do and say a lot, and was mostly successful in doing so.

1. O Maidens in Your Savage Season

RABUJOI Score: 8.58/10 MAL Score: 8.40/10

Pros: Fearlessly tackles tough social topics on adolescence, sexuality, gender roles, upbringing, and abuse, ably juggles multiple, diverse love stories and triangles at once, pleasingly drawn and animated, and despite all its serious themes, doesn’t leave out the comedy.

Cons: What seemed to be an irreversible dive into an abyss that would tear the five girls apart, they work almost everything out almost too easily for a tidier ending than expected; while the show dips a toe in LGBTQ themes through Momo’s awakening, her’s is one of the least developed arcs despite being one of the most interesting.

Verdict: A rare-for-anime honest and unblinking exploration of the awkward, painful, and sometimes savage emotional journey to adulthood all kids must face (and not always at the same speed). By the numbers, the best show I watched this Summer, and the one I looked forward too most from week to week.


Summer 2019 Big Board:

Isekai, Ranked

If Anime is escapism, there is no better way to escape than Isekai’s theme of plunging Into Another World, where our niche skills and routine possessions may shake the fabric of reality! From MMO-inspired, to hard fantasy, there are many types of Isekai on this list. However, there are no movies, nor series we haven’t seen recently. Bring all disagreements to the comments below!

1. Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World
Re:Zero takes Isekai’s love for fish-out-of-water stories on step further: through brutal, expectation breaking blind sides, it makes the viewer a fish out of water too! Dripping with fantastic animation, Re:Zero’s true strength is the balance of its highly detailed world without over explaining its magic system, time loop mechanic and political systems. It also earns bonus points for  limiting the application of its protagonist’s powerful magic and technological advantages.

2. Sword Art Online (1st season) 
In the narrowest of second places, SAO pairs top shelf animation with an approachable cast and easy to appreciate central conflict. Put its lovingly constructed MMO setting aside, and Kirito’s mistakes and occasional darkness elevate him above his potentially generic good-at-everything character type and Asuka plays the strongest heroine/love interest on the list.

3. Now and Then, Here and There
Imagine if Digimon told a bleak story about sex trafficking child soldiers trapped on a waterless world with a maniac king? NTHT’s intense swerve from adorable into darkness is on par with Re:Zero and, much like Natsuki Subaru, HTHT’s Shu must rely on ‘durability’ and ‘heart’ to make it through. While some of it’s later tragic moments are predictable, this f’ed-up little anime scores major points for telling a complete story and having that story grow Shu from simpleton into a conflicted young adult.

4. Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
While Ledo’s post-earth scifi origin may stretch the common definition of Isekai, being trapped in a primitive culture that treats him (and his AI-driven mech Chamber) like a hero of old does not. Beautifully, Gargantia flips the script and makes Red’s overwhelming power, and killing in general, counter productive and at odds with the local people.

5. Yōjo Senki / The Saga of Tanya the Evil
Give us World War I with magic, a gender swapped villain as our protagonist, and God as our antagonist, and you’ve given us something pretty damn original. Like Gargantia, this reborn in another world captures thinking differently about the world can be as powerful and terrifying as unworldly strength. Without question, Yojo Senki’s cast is the most uniquely imagined on this list.

6. No Game No Life
Like Tanya, the Blank twins piss off god and are sent to another world as punishment. However, their punishment is much more stylish and… harem. Underneath NGNL’s acid-soaked panties, over the top protagonists and the psychedelic color pallet, is a show featuring thoughtful puzzles and imaginative spins on classic gamble-to-win story telling. Sadly, its story ends unfinished…

7. KonoSuba
One part jab at Isekai and one part love letter to the starting town of every fantasy MMO, KonoSuba is all parts ruthlessly funny! While this reborn in another world (with a goddess!) show is not as smartly written as NGNL, and it becomes repetitive after a time, the constant frenetic action more than makes up for it.

8. Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
Quiet, thoughtful, and full of sadness, this hard fantasy Isekai doesn’t care if its heroes are reborn in another world or trapped in a dungeon crawl afterlife. Building family bonds and connecting with people who would not normally be friends is all that matters… and it’s lovingly animated to boot!

9. ReCreators
As a reverse Isekai, ReCreators distinguishes itself by bringing the other world to us. The experience is fantastically animated and packed with clever dialog that somehow breaths sincerity into a profoundly silly plot. The cast is quite diverse, both in design and personality, which keeps the action fresh, yet somehow cohesive throughout. It’s only major flaw is, the final act, which is way to drawn out.

10. The Devil is a Part Timer
No I’m not kidding! This reverse Isekai’s premise that the Devil is trapped in our world and must work at McDonnald’s to get by is charming. While DiaPT’s humor isn’t particularly specific to the devil, the jokes are punchy, and the overall plot develops at a respectable pace. As an added treat, the opening gothic fantasy fight scenes are surprisingly well animated.

11. Log Horizon (1st season)
Most exposition heavy, trapped in an MMO themed Isekai featuring ‘top ranked’ players crumble after a few episodes. More often than not, these shows try too hard to sell the coolness of their game worlds, user interfaces, and central characters. Miraculously, Log Horizon gets better mid season with a simple question: if former NPCs have personalities, can grow and learn, and even die, are they more human than the former players that dismiss them as background texture? Still, it takes Log Horizon six episodes to get going and good lord is it gray looking…

12. Overlord (3 Seasons)
This transported into an MMO Isekai mirrors its main character: it is competent but not sure what it should be doing at any given moment. Sometimes the protagonists are villains and sometimes they are heroes. More often than not, characters are given lavish screen time to develop, only to be slaughtered whimsically. The resulting narrative is full of call backs and revealed foreshadowing… yet hasn’t gone very far in 3 seasons and hasn’t asked any interesting questions along the way.

13. El Hazard – The Magnificent World (OAV/TV)
Predestined paradox, trans-dimensional time jumping high school students (and their drunk gym teacher) are trapped in an Arabian Nights’like land besieged by sentient bugs, a secret tribe of assassins from another dimension, and a death star like eye of god orbiting nearby. If you watched anime in the 1990s it will all be familiar but it still manages to feel original yet cohesive production. The character abilities are wonderful, the tragedy is nice, and plenty is left up to your own imagination to fill in the blanks. A bland, fault free, protagonist and a boy-crazy harem vibe are the only reasons it isn’t higher on the list.

14. Gate: Jieitai Kano Chi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri
This invading the other world Isekai flips the script to deliver political intrigue, clash of culture, and commentary on Japanese society. It loses points for being a overly harem, relying on super dumb/super evil antagonists, and a dull protagonist but it’s fun enough to watch.

15. Juuni Kokuki (The Twelve Kingdoms)
This brought back to the world you actually were born in Isekai begins with a whiney good-girl who doesn’t want to be queen pissing off her not-friend, who would really like to live in another world, but no one cares, because she’s not the chosen one. Whiney protagonist who has limited agency over the plot aside, that central theme, and the magic and political intrigue around it grow nicely over time. Sadly, the second arc introduces a new character, tons of vocabulary heavy exposition, and just drags. The result is a slightly dated looking show but completely watchable show.

16. Drifters
Stylishly violent, strikingly ugly, historical character filled and utterly bonkers, this reborn in another world Isekai’s uniqueness will hold your attention. Even if you do not want it to.

17. Rise of the Shield Hero (2 Seasons)
On paper, this transported to an MMO world Isekai’s “treat the hero like crap,” “watch him accept the role of a slave-buying villain” and ultimately “rise to become the true hero” concept is great. Revealing that the world he’s saving may be less redeemable than the world the invaders are trying to save is also great. Too bad its padded and many of the arbitrary delays and narrative dead ends feel like cop outs.

18. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
While it lacks the initial hardcore’ness of Shield Hero, this reborn in another world Isekai is pleasantly animated and full of heart. The idea that naming monsters grants them power is a pretty neat mechanic too. It just sort bounces from idea to idea without a sense of purpose of resolution. One minute it’s a story of unlikely friendship, then magic destiny, then town builder, then harem, and onto magic school and isn’t about anything in particular until a hastily thrown together plot ties it up at the end. It scores points for making its hero a slime… although the reborn aspect never feels played with or justified.

19. Angel Beats!
If the gun fetish, kids fighting a loli-angel instead of attending school in the afterlife plot weren’t so dumb and drawn out, this rebirth story’s touching moments would push it much higher. There’s a really good tale of life cut short, reunion after death, and again after rebirth here and it gets major bonus points for finishing the story it had to tell. Totally squandered.

20. Death March / Kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyoku
Like Shield Hero, this reborn in an MMO Isekai is actually quite good looking. However, its Gary-Stue protagonist, harem and absurd narrative padding make it far less interesting.  OMG how many episodes are about making lunch?! That’s too bad because the concept of code-like “copy and paste” magic system is pretty neat.

21. Wiseman’s Grandson / Kenja no Mago
Despite opening with a modern day man being killed, this reborn into a fantasy world Isekai is more Magic School than Isekai. The only thread that connects the protagonist’s lives is that he can look at magic with an eye for process instead of outcome. The result is harmless easy watching but harem elements, a slow pace and lack of getting anywhere narratively hold it back.

22. How Not to Summon a Demon Lord
This summoned into an MMO Isekai starts off as charming, but ecchi-heavy, before abruptly turning dark at the end of the season. We’re talking ‘make a child watch as her best friend is slowly tortured to death’ and creepo ‘finger-bang a loli cat girl in order to give birth to the demon inside her’ level dark. While those elements elevate HNtSaDL above niche appeal of its harm and MMO content, they aren’t so interesting to earn my recommendation.

23. Problem Children are coming from Another World, Aren’t They?
T
he non-ecchi poor man’s No Game no Life features a talking cat that only some characters can understand and dreadful music. TFW smooth jazz? There’s some cuteness to be had, and the solutions to gambling games can be clever, but the overall vibe is low energy. It loses drama points because its protagonist is as smart as a god and physically stronger.

24. Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks?
This poor man’s Konosuba is occasionally funny, satire of RPG conventions and family relationships. Mama’s skill that interrupts whatever her son is doing, no matter what it is or where he is in the game world, is particularly charming. Unfortunately, there’s no avoiding the creepo factor of sexualizing that family relationship.

25. Restaurant from Another World
My mom is secretly from another world and my restaurant’s front door connects back to that world each day is certainly unique, but it’s structured more like a food-porn show than Isekai. While the linkages of each patron become clear over time, few characters are not aware of those connections themselves. The result never feels like it gets anywhere.

26. Dot Hack//Sign
This stuck in an MMO Isekai dedicates too much animation and story to grunting, chuffing, whimpering, and sighing. Combined with a grotesque color pallet, hilariously terrible early 2000’s character designs, and awkward ‘weapon up’ pose each character takes, and it just bleeds out before you can invest in the character drama.

27. In Another World With My Smartphone
Stories without risk are still watchable when they immerse us an interesting world, or delve into niche details like food or how magic works, or hilariously us with harems and sex appeal. Smartphone fails all of these things. Worse, it does nothing with it’s one idea: protagonist Touya is reborn in a fantasy world with smartphone. Except, GOD GIVES HIM GOD TIER MAGIC FROM THE GET-GO! Ironically, Re:Zero and No Game No Life both use of a cell phones in more interesting ways, and Tanya’s God isn’t even comparable. Unoriginal, unfunny, not dramatic, not sexy, not worth watching.

28. Maou-sama, Retry!
This transported to an MMO Isekai’s trash production values, and bizarre characters are hard to take seriously. The results are sometimes so terrible they are funny, such as incompetent background music transitions and detailed horses hiding at the edges of the frame. Sadly, a bland harem and complete lack of narrative objective kill the mood.

29. Isekai Izakaya
Imagine a low energy, public access style show, with a tourism theme, that featuring a modern Japanese restaurant that serves fantasy world patrons…

30. Isekai Cheat Magician
A loveless summoned to a fantasy world Isekai who’s protagonists are the most powerful and purely good characters could deserve a niche rating. Not this one. The narrative sort of ‘skips the boring stuff’ and, in doing so, skips character development. Hilariously, what the narrative does show is poorly animated, always underwhelming magic battle scenes or people standing around talking.

31. Endride
Without dialog, this stumbled into a magic world Isekai’s vibrant color and crisp art would be watchable. The fact that the world is somehow inside of Earth’s core and the sparse use of mythology are unique, but its dumb-as-bricks whiny teen protagonists have the maturity of a small children. There are many unintentionally funny moments like scientists using gigantic laptops or the king’s magic weapon looking like a safety pin. Ultimately, the cast is so unlikeable that the show itself is unwatchable.