May your world lines be acceptable, your cocoa hot, your cookies tasty, and your hearts filled this holiday season. And if you need them filled a little more, uh…go watch Your Name. again! —RABUJOI STAFF
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.
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. 0 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.
I’ve decided to cut bait on Banana Fish. It’s not an awful show, but I’d become increasingly frustrated with the nearly laughable level of misfortune and torment in Ash’s life, as well as the absurd extent of Dino’s financial and political power.
I’ve enjoyed the simple human moments between Ash and Eiji, or Ash and Max, et cetera, but more often than not those are overshadowed by all of the ridiculous over-the-top crime and ultra-conspiracy shit that’s going down around them.
It’s simultaneously too simplistic (mostly good guys vs. completely evil monsters) and overly complex (I really never cared that much about the titular drug investigation). I gave it twelve episodes, but my heart’s not into twelve more.
Leaving aside the fact that I don’t think Aoi is using the word “nasty” properly (Holmes has occasionally been impish, but never outright disgusting or offensive as the word “nasty” implies), watching the latest episode on a Full HD TV cemented my opinion that this show is just too crappy-looking to keep watching.
Its status as my “Comfort Food Show” of the Summer is undermined both by its appalling production values and the presence of a “baddie of the week” with convoluted motivations. An ideal CFS is either easy on the eyes, is light on conflict or stakes, or both. Holmes is none of the above, and so we bid it, and him, adieu.
We’ve been on vacation in Denver the past week (beautiful city), but now we’re back! Hopefully within the week we’ll be caught up on all of the new Summer 2018 shows at which we’ve planned to take a look that have aired in our absence. We apologize for the delay. —RABUJOI STAFF
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.
Tally as of 31 Jan 2018:
- 11 Keeps
- 1 TBD
- 4 Drops
Summer is over halfway done. It was a little rough at first, but once we found some more good-to-great shows to watch (Abyss, Classroom) things picked up. Still, now is the time to start glancing on what’s to come next season. Below is a list of shows we’ll be taking a look at this October.
We’re excited about a third helping of Food Wars, a second season of Kekkai Sensen and 3-gatsu no Lion, and a Kino no Tabi re-imagining. You know the drill (unless you don’t): click on a title to learn more about a show over at MAL.
As always, shows and authors are subject to change. We’ll be updating this list as we explore Fall 2017 shows.
Update-3 Oct 2017: Watching Shokugeki no Souma 3. Juuni Taisen TBD. Black Clover and Osake wa Fuufu ni Natte kara skipped.
Update-4 Oct 2017: URAHARA skipped.
Update-5 Oct 2017: Just Because! TBD. Ousama Game skipped.
Update-6 Oct 2017: Watching Kino no Tabi. Dies Irae and Net-juu no Susume TBD.
Update-7-8 Oct 2017: Watching Kekkai Sensen & Beyond and Mahoutsukai no Yome. Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou TBD.
Update-9 Oct 2017: Watching Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau. Imouto sae Ireba Ii. TBD. Houseki no Kuni TBD.
Update-11 Oct 2017: My Girlfriend Is ShoBitch TBD.
Update-12 Oct 2017: Watching Iyunashiki.
Update-13 Oct 2017: Dies Irae. dropped.
Update-16 Oct 2017: Watching 3-gatsu no Lion S2. Imouto sae Ireba Ii. dropped.
Bold = Watching
* = TBD
Crossed out = Skipped/Dropped
Last Updated 16 Oct 2017
We haven’t had a major purge since Fall 2016, but Summer 2017 has turned out to be a major disappointment overall, so a culling was necessary and inevitable.
Specifically, we are saying goodbye to THE REFLECTION, Shoukoku no Altair, and Isekai Shokudou, effective immediately. All three suffer from different degrees of mediocrity, and interest has waned.
Those who continue to follow the three axed shows, we apologize for cutting our reviews short, and thank you for reading up to this point.
In other news, now freed from two less-than-stellar shows, Braverade has finally, finally committed to watching the vaunted Fate/Zero, which has been highly recommended from readers both here and elsewhere.
It’s currently available to stream on Netflix in the U.S.; expect the first review in the next few days.
Note to Readers: We’ll be offline most of the weekend, which unfortunately means no fresh-squeezed anime reviews until Sunday at the earliest (unless Oigakkosan emerges from his burrow).
It’s not ideal, what with the season just starting (and frankly, kind of flagging) and a couple new shows on the horizon, but RABUJOI’s Summer Staff Data Collection Retreat is long overdue. Memories must be made!
So take care, all, and as always, thanks for reading…when we have stuff to read!
—Braverade / sesameacrylic / MagicalChurlSukui
Summer is almost here! While all of us at RABUJOI are looking a bit pale and are in need of Vitamin D, there’s a huge batch of new shows on the way, in addition to the second cours of three Spring shows. We’ve perused the Summer list and have made some tentative choices.
Note that as always, the presence of a show on this list does not indicate we’ll be reviewing that show regularly yet, we’re just taking some initial looks.
Aside from a new entry in the now massive Monogatari series and a Fate spinoff, it’s a fairly sequel-free Summer (at least for us), so there are a lot of unknowns on this list. We look forward to sussing it all over in the next couple of weeks!