Isekai, Ranked

If Anime is escapism, there is no better way to escape than 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 shows on this list but 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 Red’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. 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.

16. 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.

17. 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.

18. 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.

19. 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.

20. 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.

21. 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.

22. 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.

23. 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.

24. 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.

25. 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 sleeze 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.

26. 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.

27. 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…

28. 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.

29. 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.

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Fall 2019 Season Guide (Updating)

“Autumn”, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798 – 1861)

Lots of huge sequels/continuations air this Fall, which will make it tough for us to check out all-new shows. Here’s what’s on our radar so far. Chances are we’ll stick with most of these, and we’ll see if there’s any time for more.

RABUJOI STAFF

LAST UPDATED 23 Aug 2019

Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia (Absolute Demonic Front)
Fire Force (Summer Carryover)

Psycho-Pass 3
Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld

Vinland Saga (Summer Carryover)


sesameacrylic

Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai 2 (We Can’t Study 2)
Chihayafuru 3 
Kabukichou Sherlock
Ore wo Suki nano wa Omae dake ka yo (Are You Really the Only One Who Likes Me?)
Shokugeki no Souma: Shin no Sara (Food Wars: The Fourth Plate)


MagicalChurlSukui

Assassins Pride
Beastars
Choujin Koukousei-tachi wa Isekai demo Yoyuu de Ikinuku you desu! (CHOYOYU!: High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World!)
Shinchou Yuusha: Kono Yuusha ga Ore Tuee Kuse ni Shinchou Sugiru (This Hero is Invincible but “Too Cautious”)

Summer 2019 Season Guide (Updating)

Kuniyoshi Utagawa, Sudden Shower in the Summer, c. 1849-1851

Spring is almost over, and with the warmer weather comes a fresh batch new anime, including some very familiar franchises (Fate, Index, DanMachi). We’ll be watching and writing about some of those shows when July comes around.

As usual, Bold titles mean we’re watching that show; non-bold means TBD, and crossed-out means dropped/skipped. Additional Spring 2019 shows may carryover; we will add them to the list below if/when their Summer cours are officially confirmed.

A reminder: we don’t read any manga, novels light or dark, or video games the below shows may be based upon—RABUJOI is an anime-only blog. This list will be updated as needed. If you think we’re missing something, let us know in the comments.

Thanks! —RABUJOI STAFF

LAST UPDATED 12 Aug 2019

Enen no Shouboutai (Fire Force)
Kanata no Astra (Astra Lost in Space)
Katsute Kami Datta Kemono-tachi e
Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note
Vinland Saga


sesameacrylic

Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo. (O Maidens of the Savage Season)
Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru? (How Many Kilograms are the Dumbbells You Lift?)
Carole & Tuesday (Spring Carryover)
HenSuki (Would you love a pervert as long as she’s cute?)
Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 2 (Skilled Teaser Takagi-san)
Tejina-senpai


MagicalChurlSukui

BEM
Cop Craft
DanMachi II (Is It Wrong That I Want to Meet You in a Dungeon)
Fruits Basket
(Spring Carryover)
Isekai Cheat Magician
Toaru Kagaku no Accelerator
Tsuujou Kougeki ga Zentai Kougeki de Ni-kai Kougeki no Okaasan wa Suki Desu ka? (Do You Like Your Mom? Her Normal Attack is Two Attacks at Full Power, Okaasan online)

Why, MAL, Why?! – Mid-April 2019 Edition

For all its faults, MyAnimeList is one of the best places to organize all the anime we’ve watched and it can be fun learn how public opinion for said anime fares over the course of its run. It is also unqualifiedly AWFUL!

(and yes, Chrome spell check, unqualifiedly IS a word, I checked!)

Everybody knows MAL has never a particularly accurate way to gauge the critical value of any given show. For one thing, its underlying business model hews closer to “marketing and e-book sales”.

Viewers naturally tend to under-rate anime they hate or over-rate shows they love, which means any MAL score must be taken with a veritable Makgadikgadi Pan of salt, especially since scores aren’t even factored into the average if a user hasn’t watched more than 20% of the show.

And yet, we still go there, we still post the shows we’re watching or have completed, and we still contribute what we feel to be fair scores to anime we watch. A MAL score will never be the determining factor in whether we watch a show, but it would be disingenuous to declare they have no influence on anyone.

So How Awful is MAL so far this Spring? Let’s go show by show, comparing both our current score—along with an estimate of the expected final average score – to that of MAL. We found that sometimes MAL still does get it right…at least from our perspective.

(Note that there aren’t any Spring shows we believe to be “TOO HIGH!” on MAL—at least not yet—though that doens’t mean it doesn’t happen: TenSura, OverLord III, Grand Blue, and Banana Fish are all past shows we scored much lower than their MAL averages.)

All Verdicts Are FINAL…but if you respectfully disagree with any of the below, feel free to voice your alternative opinions in the ‘ments!

Carole & Tuesday

Progress: 1/24
RAB Score: 10
Expected Final Score: 8.75
MAL Score: 8.17 (-0.88)
Verdict: TOO LOW!
Notes: Just a very underwhelming initial score for the best first episode of the Spring. 10 may be overdoing it a bit; 8.5 seems more fair down the stretch.-Zane

BokuBen

Progress: 2/13
RAB Score: 9.00
Expected Final Score: 8.10
MAL Score: 7.20
Verdict: TOO LOW!
Notes: Yes, it’s another high school harem, but so far it has been executed almost perfectly, featuring vibrant characters with solid motivations. A mid-to-high 7 score would be more fair here.-Zane

One Punch Man 2

Progress: 2/-
RAB Score: 9.00
Expected Final Score: 8.33
MAL Score: 7.94
Verdict: TOO LOW!
Notes: OPM has switched studios from Madhouse to J.C. Staff, but I haven’t detected a dire drop in quality. 8.2-8.3 seems more fair.-Zane

Dororo

Progress: 14/24
RAB Score: 8.64
Expected Final Score: 8.65
MAL Score: 8.58
Verdict: JUST RIGHT!
Notes: No complaints. Solid show that MAL acknowledges as solid. Keep it up!-Hannah

Rising of the Shield Hero

Progress: 15/25
RAB Score: 8.27
Expected Final Score: 8.40
MAL Score: 8.38
Verdict: JUST RIGHT!
Notes: Another fair score, but if the show gets too mired in Naofumi’s victimization rather than the world-saving aspect, our score could drop lower.-Hannah

Isekai Quartet

Progress: 2/12
RAB Score: 8.00
Expected Final Score: 7.60
MAL Score: 7.56
Verdict: JUST RIGHT!
Notes: Low-stakes chibi crossover fun. 7.50 is sufficient.-Preston

Sarazanmai

Progress: 1/11
RAB Score: 8.00
Expected Final Score: 8.25
MAL Score: 7.27
Verdict: TOO LOW!
Notes: Like Yurikuma Arashi and Penguindrum, woke Ikuhara shows just don’t get the love they deserve on MAL.-Preston

Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin

Progress: 2/12
RAB Score: 7.50
Expected Final Score: 7.50
MAL Score: 6.79
Verdict: TOO LOW!
Notes: …But not by much! The premise is fun, but the production values are 3D Kanojo-levels of meh.-Preston

Fairy Gone

Progress: 2/24
RAB Score: 7.00
Expected Final Score: 7.20
MAL Score: 6.57
Verdict: TOO LOW!
Notes: Also not by much. Looks better than the above, but lacks compelling characters, and 24 eps of them feels like a major slog.-Preston

Senryuu Shoujo

Progress: 2/-
RAB Score: 7.00
Expected Final Score: 7.10
MAL Score: 7.16
Verdict: JUST RIGHT!
Notes: Pure lighthearted comfort food. Score is fair.-Zane

Ao-chan Can’t Study!

Progress: 2/-
RAB Score: 6.50
Expected Final Score: 7.00
MAL Score: 6.77
Verdict: JUST RIGHT!
Notes: I just don’t see episodes going far beyond 7, while I can definitely see it dropping to 6.-Zane

This has been the Mid-April 2019 Edition of “Why, MAL, Why?!”. Stay tuned for the Mid-May 2019 Edition, hopefully closer to the actual  middle of May!

Spring 2019 Season Guide (Updating)

Tsuchi-yama, Spring Rain, in The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Road, c. 1834

Winter is almost over, and with the (hopefully) warmer weather comes a fresh batch new anime, including some very familiar titles. We’ll be watching and writing about some of those shows when April comes around.

As usual, Bold titles mean we’re watching that show; non-bold means TBD, and crossed-out means dropped/skipped. additional Winter 2019 shows may carryover; we will add them to the list below if/when their Spring cours are officially confirmed.

A reminder: we don’t read any manga, novels light or dark, or video games the below shows may be based upon—RABUJOI is an anime-only blog! This list will be updated as needed. If you think we’re missing something, let us know in the comments.

Thanks! —RABUJOI STAFF

LAST UPDATED 21 Apr 2019

Braverade

Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2
Dororo (Winter carryover)
Magmel of the Sea Blue
Rising of the Shield Hero (Winter carryover)


sesameacrylic

Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai (Ao-chan Can’t Study!)
Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai (BokuBan)
Carole & Tuesday
Joshikausei
Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo YU-NO
One Punch Man Season 2
Senryuu Shoujo


MagicalChurlSukui

Fairy Gone
Isekai Quartet
Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin
Sarazanmai
Shoumetsu Toshi

RABUJOI’s Top 10 Anime of 2018

We watched over forty shows this year – not a record by any means, but definitely a product of our commitment only to watch the best shows available (with some notable exceptions in cases where we’re too far behind with certain franchises). As a result, a quick glance at our Big Board will show a lot of blue, indicating a lot of 8’s and 9’s with a handful 0f 10’s mixed in.

It’s not that we just like everything; it’s that we (usually) set a high standard for what we watch. If something is consistently scoring below 8 or 7, we’ll probably drop it, since there’s just not enough time to waste on subpar show. That being said, even among these forty shows (out of the 100+ that aired) there are a select few we would recommend over the rest; the Cream of the Crop…The Best of The Best of The Best (with honors).

Ok, enough cliches…let’s get down to it, shall we? Say you were incredibly strapped for time this year, and couldn’t watch any anime. To binge forty shows now, with just a couple weeks left in the year, would not be good for your health. So we’re making it easy for you: watch the ten shows below, and you’re sure to be satisfied!

Our tastes may differ a tad from the masses here at RABUJOI so we’ve included weighted scores from both MyAnimeList and Anime News Network, and then very unscientifically averaged them with our own scores for the final ranking.

10. Darling in the FranXX

7.82 | RAB: 8.92 | MAL: 7.61 | ANN: 6.93

The adolescent male-female pilot pairs of the titular FranXX live to fight the mysterious yet deadly enemy, and nothing else; they weren’t given a choice in the matter. This is a story of the bonds they share, the joys and trials of living together, falling in love, stumbling into adulthood, and finally coming to question the roles assigned to them by the adults. It features Trigger’s signature visual flair and compelling performances from Tomatsu Haruka and breakout newcomer Ichinose Kana. It wasn’t perfect by any means but it was thoroughly exhilarating more often than not.

9. Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (After the Rain)

7.92 | RAB 8.58 | MAL 7.61 | ANN 7.56

A high school student falling for the 45-year-old single parent manager of the restaurant where she works could have been a landmine, but their story is handled with a deftness, sensitivity, realism and beauty, matched by achingly gorgeous animation and character design and some powerful voice work from the HanaKana-channeling Watabe Sayumi.

8. Yagate Kimi ni Naru (Bloom into You)

8.28 | RAB: 8.80 | MAL: 7.76 | ANN: n/a

Perhaps the best pure romance of the year despite not being over yet and one half of the couple quite adamant she doesn’t have feelings for the other. Yet she seems to be gradually coming to like her senpai—wonderfully voiced by Kotobuki Minako—more and more, which is exactly how my love for this series has progressed: like a blooming flower.

7. Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara – Toutsuki Ressha-hen (Food Wars! The Third Plate: Totsuki Train Arc)

8.35 | RAB: 8.75 | MAL 8.37 | ANN: 7.93

Food Wars is definitely one of those shows you’re either all-in from the beginning or hopelessly lost, but this second arc of the third season was one of the strongest due in no small part to watching how Souma and his numerous allies closed ranks and started to fight Azami’s oppressive new culinary regime. Best of all, it means Erina and Souma finally on the same side. Not to mention there are few shows that so seamlessly integrate the art and science of cooking, not to mention leave their audience hungry both for the next episode and for the food that had been presented.

6. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) Season 3

8.39 | RAB: 8.75 | MAL: 8.52 | ANN: 7.91

Like Food Wars, those who sign up for Titan are well aware they’re in it for the long haul. Indeed, the mysteries that have unfolded in the manga may never be put to the screen, with the show’s apparent primary goals to simply entice its audience into consuming the source material. But while we only got twelve episodes this time, not a single one was wasted. A lot of secrets were revealed, and the girl formerly known as Krista Lenz took her rightful place beside Eren as one of the chief protagonists of the series with a bizarre (this is Titan) and utterly righteous arc.

5. Hinamatsuri

8.45 | RAB: 8.83 | MAL: 8.34 | ANN: 8.18

Perhaps the best pure comedy of the year, Hinamatsuri is full of interesting, colorful, and imminently rootable characters, from the yakuza with a heart of gold and a love of antiques, to the young woman with telekinetic powers who suddenly enter and complicate his life, to that girl’s ridiculously hardworking classmate who ends up tending bar (and being pretty damn good at it). But while the comedy is almost omnipresent, there’s still some pockets of meaty character drama within the dozen episodes.

4. Steins;Gate 0

8.50 | RAB: 8.96 | MAL: 8.65 | ANN: 7.89

Seven years is a long time to wait between an anime and its sequel, though I only had to wait three since I got into the first series late. I’m glad I did, though; it’s one of my favorite (if not favorite, full stop) shows, animated or otherwise, whose emotionally dizzying heights were matched only by its emotionally hellish lows. spends much of its time in the depths, with Okabe never not mourning the loss of his beloved Kristina, even if it meant saving his beloved Mayuri. But thanks to a little help from friends old and new, including a virtual version of Kurisu called Amadeus, Okabe gets his groove back and foils the plans of a scientist even madder than he.

3. Violet Evergarden

8.68 | RAB: 9.15 | MAL: 8.59 | ANN: 8.30

VE has the distinct air of the anime equivalent of “Oscar Bait,” as goes to almost obsessive lengths to demonstrate its peerless quality of animation, music, and melodrama. I don’t usually go for Oscar Bait movies, myself, but doggone it, Violet Evergarden, despite being a bit pretentious, is nevertheless a gorgeous, marvelously-crafted, and exceedingly enjoyable piece of entertainment. Watching its deeply wounded inside-and-out titular heroine gradually gain the humanity that had been repressed in her bloody past is never not spellbinding.

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

8.75 | RAB: 9.15 | MAL: 8.61 | ANN: 8.50

Ordinary girls seek an extraordinary adventure, and end up forming bonds that will last and memories they’ll cherish for a lifetime. That those ordinary girls are in Japan and the adventure they seek is all the way in Antarctica makes heir goal feel unattainable at first, even naive. But Shirase, Mari, Hinata, and Yuzuki gradually make believer of us. And that they manage to actually achieve the feat of going to the literal end of the earth is just the beginning. Overflowing with charm, love, and camaraderie, Yorimoi is a Must-Not-Miss.

1. 3-gatsu no Lion 2 (March Comes In Like a Lion 2), Second Cour

8.92 | RAB: 9.18 | MAL: 9.05 | ANN: 8.54

We don’t consider it cheating that a show that first aired in 2017 gets the top billing here. First of all, the eleven episodes of the sequel all aired in 2018, and secondly, it was just that damn good. Indeed some of the best episode sof the entire series took place this year, as examination of Rei’s depression gave way to those of his fellow shogi players like the ethereal (and profoundly lonely) Souya, as well as his young friend Hinata, who despite being quite simply one of the kindest souls alive became the target of horrendously cruel school bullying. Since Hina was one of the people instrumental in saving him, Rei considers it his duty to return the favor, with overwhelmingly gratifying, life-affirming results. No anime this year exuded love as powerfully or consistently as Lion. For that and many other merits to its name, it was the best of 2018.

 

The Top 10 Anime of 2017

The end of the year is nigh, so we here at RABUJOI thought we’d give you some “Best of” lists, starting with the 10 best anime we watched in 2017. Mind you, these aren’t simply the ten shows that gained the highest scores, though that is part of the equation. Rather, these are the ten shows we enjoyed the most and would/will likely watch again, and highly recommend to all.

10. Sagrada Reset

Despite its conventional, non-flashy visuals and the uneven strength of its arcs, Sagrada Reset earns a place on this list for being so damned ambitious, memorable, and weird. It starred a couple of characters who always hid their emotions behind wooden exteriors, and yet it worked. The idea of an entire town of ability users, full of mysteries as to how a peaceful balance was struck, the attempts by some parties to destroy the magical place, and an increasingly fascinating web of world rules and creative use of ability combos kept be tuning in.

9. Inuyashiki

Nobody ever expected or even thought much of Inuyashiki Ichirou. But when he and Shishigami Hiro are crushed by aliens and given new robotic bodies capable of flight, miraculous healing, and terrifying destruction, Ichirou not only becomes a hero, but the only hero who can save his family, Japan, and the world Hiro’s adolescense-fueled rampages. Often dark, brutal, and cruel, Inuyashiki is balanced by some welcome moments of comedy as Ichirou discovers and tries out his numerous powers, as well as the emotional impact of Hiro’s tortured, conflicted soul, as well as Ichirou’s restored bond with his daughter Mari.

8. Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou

Two girls in a ruined world. It doesn’t get much simpler than that, and the audience is along for the ride as those girls trundle through a seemingly endless three-dimensional labyrinth of roads, tracks, ramps, stairs, underground passages, platforms, elevators, and structures, each time discovering something new. Chito and Yuuri couldn’t be more different in personality, but there’s no doubt they’re both glad the other is by their side for their adventures. Moments of friendship, comfort, and life cut through the gloom.

7. ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu Ka

Like Sagrada Reset, ACCA marched to the beat of its own drum, and was unlike nothing else that aired this year. Focusing on a mid-level bureaucrat with a pretty cushy life who has a mysterious past that plunges him and his sister into the heart of a royal coup attempt, ACCA had both a compelling narrative, likable, rootable characters, a wonderfully-realized world composed of countries with very specific themes, plenty of intrigue, and a surprisingly understated yet effective finale. And the food…the loving depiction of food and drink gave even Food Wars a run for its money.

6. 3-gatsu no Lion 2

I didn’t know I wanted to return to the world of Spring Comes In Like a Lion until I found myself there. Rei is a little older and lot more confident and less self-hating in the second season, and it’s a good thing too, because the person enduring the most conflict this time is Hina, enduring a bullying campaign simply for doing what was right defending her friend. Hina saved Rei last season, now it’s his turn, and it’s never not a delight to behold.

5. Houseki no Kuni

Continuing the theme of “Weird but Good”, Land of the Lustrous may be the best example of the year. Androgynous anthropomorphic gems fighting aliens from the moon with designs drawn heavily from Hindu iconography seeking to use them for “decoration”? Weird. But more than the awesome 3DCGI execution of those battles and their shimmering participants is the character development of the show’s protagonist Phos, who has grown into one of my favorite characters of the year.

4. Tsuki ga Kirei

I haven’t seen a school romance as good as Tsuki ga Kirei in a good long time. When it came along and told the slow-burn story of Akane and Kotarou became an item, it was a crisp breath of fresh air. It keeps things simple, keeps things real, and doesn’t skimp on all the resonant little non-verbal gestures and expressions that really bring the characters to life. The show also makes good use of the LINE app that’s apparently become the go-to communication tool for kids of this age.

3. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen

The first season of SGRS was truly great anime, but as it took place mostly in the past, we can almost look at it as a prologue for the second season, which is outstanding. Put together, it’s a sprawling, epic tale of several generations of storytellers fighting against a world increasingly indifferent to their craft, while wrestling with their own various personal demons. It’s about women’s empowerment in what had been an all-men’s world for centuries. It’s about brotherhood, familial love, romantic love, lust, and one spellbinding rakugo performance after another, usually accompanied by a top-notch jazzy soundtrack.

2. Owarimonogatari Second Season

“Endstory” is pretty self-explanatory; in another epic chronicle that started with Araragi Koyomi’s eventful Spring Break in late March of 2006 (covered in the excellent film trilogy Kizumonogatari), it’s hard to believe Owarimonogatari wraps the whole thing up just a year later, in March of 2007 (the Kanbaru Suruga-centric Hanamonogatari takes place a month later). But enough about the timeline; Owari 2 is a fantastic conclusion to the mega-arc that takes Araragi literally to Hell and back, ascends Hachikuji Mayoi to godlike status, filling a longtime hole in the city’s spiritual tapestry, and finally reveals the mystery of who/what the Loki-like “Oshino Ougi” is. Araragi and Hitagi even get to spend time together as lovers. It has pretty much anything a Monogatari junkie like myself could ask for, and leads me to hope this isn’t really the end, since there’s a lot more Nisio Isin material to work with.

1. Made in Abyss

Made in Abyss came out of nowhere to become one of the best animes of this century. That sounds like hyperbole, the century ain’t that old, and it really is that damn good. Imagine a Ghibli movie spread over nearly five hours with unique character designs that, while cutesy, avoid being annoyingly so; a intricately-detailed and truly awesome setting, ominous mysteries, terrifying monsters, ample mortal peril, tremendous music and sound design, and some really top-notch performances from the two leads. Abyss will pull you in, grab your heartstrings, kick your adrenaline gland, and blow your mind. And it’s not over yet; though a date has not been set, a second season is on the way. Even if it had ended at one, however, the twelve episodes we got unquestionably comprised the very best of 2017.

Winter 2018 Season Preview (Updating)

Winter approacheth with haste. Here’s what we’ll be taking a look at (so far) come January! Shows, statuses, and authors subject to change. We’ll be updating this list to reflect current conditions.

Braverade

BEATLESS  (Dropped)
Darling in the FranXX ✓
Fate/Extra Last Encore ✓
Overlord II ✓
Violet Evergarden ✓


sesameacrylic

Citrus ✓
Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens (Dropped)
Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san ✓
Koi wa Ameagari no You ni ✓
Sora yori mo Tooi Basho ✓
Takunomi. ✓


MagicalChurlSukui

3-gatsu no Lion 2nd Season ✓
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card ✓
Death March kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyoku (Dropped)
Devilman Crybaby (Dropped)
Kokkoku (TBD)
Mahoutsukai no Yome ✓


Tally as of 31 Jan 2018: 

  • 11 Keeps
  • 1 TBD
  • 4 Drops

Fall 2017 Season Preview

Summer is over halfway done. It was a little rough at first, but once we found some more good-to-great shows to watch (Abyss, Classroom) things picked up. Still, now is the time to start glancing on what’s to come next season. Below is a list of shows we’ll be taking a look at this October.

We’re excited about a third helping of Food Wars, a second season of Kekkai Sensen and 3-gatsu no Lion, and a Kino no Tabi re-imagining. You know the drill (unless you don’t): click on a title to learn more about a show over at MAL.

As always, shows and authors are subject to change. We’ll be updating this list as we explore Fall 2017 shows.

Update-3 Oct 2017: Watching Shokugeki no Souma 3. Juuni Taisen TBD. Black Clover and Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte kara skipped.

Update-4 Oct 2017: URAHARA skipped.

Update-5 Oct 2017: Just Because! TBD. Ousama Game skipped.

Update-6 Oct 2017: Watching Kino no Tabi. Dies Irae and Net-juu no Susume TBD.

Update-7-8 Oct 2017: Watching Kekkai Sensen & Beyond and Mahoutsukai no Yome. Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou TBD.

Update-9 Oct 2017: Watching Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau. Imouto sae Ireba Ii. TBD. Houseki no Kuni TBD.

Update-11 Oct 2017: My Girlfriend Is ShoBitch TBD.

Update-12 Oct 2017: Watching Iyunashiki.

Update-13 Oct 2017: Dies Irae. dropped.

Update-16 Oct 2017: Watching 3-gatsu no Lion S2. Imouto sae Ireba Ii. dropped.

Bold = Watching
* = TBD
Crossed out = Skipped/Dropped

Last Updated 16 Oct 2017

Braverade

Dies Irae
Houseki no Kuni*
Inuyashiki
Juuni Taisen
Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou


sesameacrylic

Boku no Kanojo ga Majimesugiru Sho-bitch na Ken*
Imouto sae Ireba Ii.
Just Because!*
Net-juu no Susume*
Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte kara
Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara
URAHARA


MagicalChurlSukui

3-gatsu no Lion 2nd Season
Black Clover
Kekkai Sensen & Beyond
Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World (2017)
Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau
Mahoutsukai no Yome
Ousama Game The Animation

Summer 2017 Season Preview

Summer is almost here! While all of us at RABUJOI are looking a bit pale and are in need of Vitamin D, there’s a huge batch of new shows on the way, in addition to the second cours of three Spring shows. We’ve perused the Summer list and have made some tentative choices.

Note that as always, the presence of a show on this list does not indicate we’ll be reviewing that show regularly yet, we’re just taking some initial looks.

Aside from a new entry in the now massive Monogatari series and a Fate spinoff, it’s a fairly sequel-free Summer (at least for us), so there are a lot of unknowns on this list. We look forward to sussing it all over in the next couple of weeks!

Braverade

Fate/Apocrypha
Jikan no Shihaisha (Chronos Ruler)
Shoukoku no Altair (Project Altair)
THE REFLECTION
Re:Creators (Spring Carryover)
Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul (Spring Carryover)


sesameacrylic

Hajimete no Gal
Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun (Cleanliness Boy! Aoyama-kun)
Koi to Uso (Love and Lies)
Netsuzou TRap
Owarimonogatari 2nd Season
Tsurezure Children
Youkai Apartment no Yuuga na Nichijou


MagicalChurlSukui

Battle Girl High School: Battle Girl Project
Clione no Akari
Isekai_Shokudou (Restaurant to Another World)
Knight’s & Magic
Sagrada Reset (Spring Carryover)


Oigakkosan

 

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. 

Everyone Eats and Drinks Almost Constantly in ACCA

acca0food

If you’ve been watching ACCA, you’ve probably thought to yourself: “Goddamn, they’re almost always stuffing their faces or drinking on this show!” And, well, you’d be right; they are indeed! In fact, so much of each episode is given over to eating, drinking, purchasing, or talking about food and where to get it, you could take out all the scenes without food and drink and still have a pretty sizable episode left…as I shall demonstrate:

acca1food

Episode 01 – We start with Jean and Lotta’s usual breakfast of toast with jam. Then we move on to his co-worker’s ten-o’clock snack of roll cake from Hachikuma. Once in Famasu, Jean chows down on what looks like a Reuben while Eidar orders a cheeseburger. The Five Chief Officers have tea and biscuits. The next ten-o’clock snack at Jean’s office is a five-pack of flan.  Jean buys more bread at a bakery with Knot while Rail and his colleague eat donuts. Jean joins the Five at a cafe for coffee. Jean has beers with Niino.

acca2food

Episode 02 – Jean and Lotta have a breakfast of what looks like eggs on toast with cucumbers and mayonnaise. Lotta asks Jean to buy tomato bread from Mugimaki, where he runs into Mauve. Lotta enjoys some chocolate cake al fresco at Picidae. Niino tucks into a sundae. Once in Jumoku, Jean samples the giant burgers, fries, and fruit at Basswood. Jean buys local produce to bring home. Lotta and Owl sample a nut cake at Honig. Niino and Jean have a huge dinner of meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, and bread, and wash it down with beer and wine. Later, Jean takes Niino on a drunken trip to the supermarket.

acca3food

Episode 03 – Jean gives his co-workers a 10-pack of cream puffs from Hachikuma for their ten-o’clock snack, and a package of fancy cookies for Lotta. Lotta and Niino have a dinner of meatpotatoes, and salads. Lotta receives a parcel of potatoes in the mail, with which she plans to make gratin. Jean has dinner with Mauve at Veil, consisting of fine wine, rare steaks with black truffles. Prince Schwan samples some fine pastries. After dinner Jean has more wine with Niino, along with grapes, pretzels, and a selection of cheesesPrior to Schwan’s celebration, Jean, Nino and Lotta attend a catered affair at the palace with pastriesbreads, and various jamsjellies, and sweets. That night, after the King’s address, they enjoy various desserts like Dowan nut cake and strawberries.

acca4food

Episode 04 – In the episode with the least food and drink, Niino and Lotta have tea and chocolate layer cake, as she packs chocolatenuts, wine, and other gifts for the building owner. At Chez Pierre in Suitsu, Jean has a bowl of rustic stew. Warbler buys some loaves of bread. Lotta polishes off a bowl of something, as one of Magie’s underlings eats an elaborate sundae. Pastis drinks some brown liquor. Jean’s captives give him some bread

acca5food

Episode 05 – Schwan has tea and cookies. Lotta has blueberry pancakes at Kakesu. Rail introduces Magie to toast made from sandwich bread. Jean’s co-workers plan to make microwave potato chips. Lotta has a snack of some kind of pink confection with an orange soda. Later at Mugimaki she orders two-centimeter slices of walnutcheese, and chocolate bread. Birra district’s branch chief presents a spread of local foods to Jean for dinner, including rye bread (to go with the wheat bread not made there), the local grog, meat and potatoes. Magie introduces the joy of buttered toast to Schwan. Niino takes Jean and Lotta for a dinner of steamed mussels served with bread and french fries. While Jean is in Rokkusu, Niino takes Lotta out for vegetable, meat, and cheese fondue.

acca6food

Episode 06 – Jean’s co-workers have apple cake for their snack. Jean invites them to his and Lotta’s apartment building party where they have drinks, and a buffet. Both Rail and Owl give Lotta cakes as New Years presents. The Five have tea and coffee in their common area. While in Hare, Jean is treated to an elaborate, sumptuous feast consisting of grilled meat and shrimp skewers, whole fish, red and green curry, beef stew, pork belly, salad, and more, washed down with quite a lot of beer, to the point Jean refuses to share a bottle of booze with Niino later. Jean and Lotta have toast with jam for breakfast when he’s back.

acca7food

Episode 07 – Magie puruses a catalog listing all of the flavors of bread Mugimaki makes. Jean passes by fancy cakes at Patisserie Fuchs in Dowa, searching for famous flavored snowball (“Yukinotama”) pastries Lotta wants him to bring home. Niino takes him to Cafe Berg, where Jean orders the snowballs and tries one for himself, then joins King Falke over a spread of fruit and nut tartspies, and rolls. Jean and Niino have wine with a platter of sausagesmeatspatecheeses, and other snacks. Jean samples Mugimaki’s new walnut mugwort bread. Niino eats squares from a chocolate bar. While in Korore, Jean inspects all of the chocolatiers the district is known for.

Please, dear readers, I implore you: Don’t watch ACCA on an empty stomach. Have some food and drink nearby. I’m going to go eat some bread now.

Spring 2017 Season Preview

spg17

Wouldn’t you know it, we forgot to post a Season Preview for Winter, so this will be our first of 2017. If it seems early, it’s not; we’ve released previews as early as the beginning of February; this is actually the furthest into the month we’ve waited. And why is that? No real reason beyond we just “hadn’t gotten around to it.” (Also, it’s feeling very Springlike around RABUJOI HQ of late).

Below is the preliminary list of shows we’ll at least be taking a look at this Spring. The only Winter carryover we know of (so far) is Little Witch Academia. Note that there are many sequels to popular shows (ahem Attack on Titan) among the titles, and as always, authors for reviews of these shows are subject to change, depending on which shows appeal to which writer. Click on a title to learn more via MAL.

Shows we’re definitely reviewing are in bold. Six weeks to go. Can’t wait to dig in!

Braverade

Clockwork Planet
Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul (Rage of Bahamut)
Shingeki no Kyojin 2 (Attack on Titan)


sesameacrylic

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata ♭ (Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend Flat)
Sakura Quest
Tsugumomo
Tsuki ga Kirei (The Moon is Beautiful)


MagicalChurlSukui

Alice to Zouroku (Alice & Zouroku)
Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka Gaiden: Sword Oratoria (DanMachi / Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Side Story)
Kekkai Sensen & Beyond (Bloodline Battlefront)
Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records (Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor)


Oigakkosan

Little Witch Academia
Uchouten Kazoku 2 (The Eccentric Family)


Up For Grabs

Re:CREATORS
Eromanga-sensei
Kabukibu!
Renai Boukun (Love Tyrant)
Sakurada Reset
Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho (Starting the Magical Book from Zero)