Fall 2017 Season Preview

Summer is over halfway done. It was a little rough at first, but once we found some more 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, Kekkai Sensen, 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 over at MAL.

As always, shows, and authors for reviews of the shows, are subject to change. If there’s an adaptation you’re excited about, whether it’s on our list or not, let us know in the comments.

Braverade

Houseki no Kuni
Inuyashiki
Saredo Tsumibito wa Ryuu to Odoru
Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou


sesameacrylic

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
Kekkai Sensen & Beyond
Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World
Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau
Mahoutsukai no Yome
Ousama the Game

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THE PURGE: RABUJOI Summer 2017 Edition

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 Altairand 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.

—RABUJOI STAFF

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 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

 

Tales of Zestiria the X Dropped

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Last Sunday, sitting down to watch and review Zestiria felt like a chore. It did not impress, or pull me out of the cloud of, well, not malevolence, but certainly apathy and detachment for the show and everyone in it.

I was mildly excited to see more adventures in the world of Zestiria this Winter (and I’ll admit I miss Velvet Crowe this season), but the second half has been an unfocused mess and the leaden characters are just barely there.

The only thing to do when you’ve run out of passion for a show is to either pass it on to Zane for mockery (he refused) or simply drop it altogether (which is what I’m doing).

I’m content to review only Gundam and ACCA—shows with stories and characters I actually care about—for the remainder of Winter.

Spring 2017 Season Preview

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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)

Winter 2017 Master Schedule

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Monday

Little Witch Academia
Demi-chan wa Kataritai*

Tuesday

ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka

Wednesday

KonoSuba 2
Akiba’s Trip The Animation*
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon*

Thursday

Kuzu no Honkai
Masamune-kun no Revenge

Friday

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu 2
Fuuka*
Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen

Saturday

3-gatsu no Lion
Youjo Senki*

Sunday

Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans S2
Tales of Zestiria the X

Schedule subject to change.

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

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Braverade

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

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

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Biggest Disappointment: GATE 2

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Guilty Pleasure: Qualidea Code

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

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sesameacrylic

Favorite Show: ReLIFE

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Best Episode: Orange – 03

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Biggest Disappointment: WWW.Working!!

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Guilty Pleasure: Momokuri / Hundred

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

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MagicalChurlSukui

Favorite Show: Hai to Gensou no Grimgar

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Best Episode: Re:Zero – 15

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Biggest Disappointment: Mayoiga

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Guilty Pleasure: Sousei no Onmyouji

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

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Oigakkosan

Favorite Show: Boku dake ga Inai Machi

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Best Episode: Re:Zero – 01

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Biggest Disappointment: Mob Psycho 100

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Guilty Pleasure: Haikyuu!! Season 3

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

The Top 15 Anime We Watched in 2016

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

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15. Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge

Spring – 8.17

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

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14. Flip Flappers

Winter – 8.58

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

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reli104

13. ReLIFE

Summer – 8.46

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

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12. 3-gatsu no Lion

Fall – 8.55

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

11. Shokugeki no Souma: Ni no Sara

Summer – 8.62

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

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10. Alderamin on the Sky

Summer – 8.62

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

hai81

9. Hai to Gensou no Grimgar

Winter – 8.67

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

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8. Amaama to Inazuma

Winter – 8.83

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

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7. Hibike! Euphonium 2

Fall – 8.85

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

oran74

6. Orange

Summer – 8.92

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

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5. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Winter – 8.92

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

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4. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Winter – 8.96

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

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3. Boku dake ga Inai Machi

winter – 9.00

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

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2. Re:Zero

Spring – 9.04

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

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

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

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

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

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1. Yuri!!! On Ice

Winter – 9.42

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

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

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

THE PURGE: RABUJOI Fall 2016 Edition

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Due to significantly increased time constraints in the last few weeks, three shows – Drifters, Gi(a)rlish Number, and Sousei no Onmyouji, have fallen by the wayside and will probably not be picked back up. :(

The fate of Shuumatsu no Izetta is presently TBD. All other Fall shows are on our watchlist and we will catch up on reviews when we can. We apologize for the inconvenience.

—RABUJOI STAFF

Gone Cabinin’

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Our Saturdays have gotten a bit mundane of late, so we’ve decided to take a trip to the woods for some autumn cabin-staying, light outdoor activity, and moderate drinking. As a result, all weekend reviews will be delayed.

—RABUJOI STAFF

Fall 2016 Master Schedule

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Monday

Kuromukuro
Trickster

Tuesday

None

Wednesday

Hibike! Euphonium 2
Sousei no Onmyouji

Thursday

None

Friday

Drifters
Watashi ga Motete Dousunda

Saturday

Shuumatsu no Izetta
3-gatsu no Lion
WWW.Working!!
Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku

Sunday

Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
Gi(a)rlish Number

Oigakkosan

(Review days flexible)
Flip Flappers
Keijo!!!!!!!!
Soushin Shoujo Matoi
To Be Hero
Yuri!!! on Ice

Not Reviewing

Nanbaka
Occultic;Nine
Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru
All Out!!
Anitore! XX
Ao Oni The Animation
Bernard Jou Iwaku
Bloodivores
Cheating Craft
Chi’s Sweet Home
ClassicaLoid
Gakuen Handsome
Kiitarou Shounen no Youkai Enikki
Magic Kyun! Renaissance
Nobunaga no Shinobi
Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume
Tiger Mask W
Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari

Schedule subject to change