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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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!

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.

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

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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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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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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.

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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?

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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!

End-of-Month Rundown – April 2016

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Click to view full-size

Stats

Most Popular Shows (by MAL members)

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress 126,818
My Hero Academia 111,307
Kiznaiver 92,308
Bungou Stray Dogs 91,983
Re:Zero (1-13) 90,996

Least Popular Shows (by MAL members)

Sansha Sanyou 13,950
Macross Δ 15,507
Bakuon!! 18,984
Haifuri 19,363
Kuromukuro 21,288

Highest Positive Scoring Discrepancies (compared to MAL)

Space Patrol Luluco (S) +1.54
Flying Witch +0.89
Macross Δ +0.87
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress +0.85
Kuromukuro +0.79

Highest Negative Scoring Discrepancies (compared to MAL)

Hundred -0.91
Bungou Stray Dogs -0.42
Ushio to Tora -0.42
My Hero Academia -0.41
Haifuri -0.12

Closest Scores to MAL

NetoYome? -0.01
Sousei no Onmyouji -0.03
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk +0.09
Sansha Sanyou +0.12
Haifuri -0.12

End-of-Month Rundown – March 2016

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Click to view full-size

These seasons seem to come and go faster and faster. Before we knew it, there were only two episodes left of our Winter 2016. We whittled our watchlist down to just ten (an ambitious feat for the upcoming Spring that probably won’t be achieved), not counting Zane’s bitty 4-short She and Her Cat reboot.

Overall, it was a very good season. The presence of four shows in the 8.5-9 range are proof of that, but even the lesser shows had their charms. Let’s break it down into bullets:

  • ERASED wavered a little near its end, and did not stay long in MAL’s Top 5, but that’s not to say it’s not an all-time great, and easily belongs in the Top 15-25, with strong climax and finale
  • Few anime have so artfully and sensually chronicled a life’s worth of artistic and interpersonal struggles of a single talented yet flawed individual like Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. Every week it’s transported us to a staggeringly vivid and realistic world full of rousing performances and complex emotions
  • Gundam gave us two things: an excellent, action and character-packed ending, and the promise of more to come, which is fine with us, as there’s a lot more stories to tell
  • Grimgar was achingly beautiful, joyful, tragic, and redemptive fantasy fare. It featured above-average RPG combat and way-above-average character work and drama, all at an deliciously unique, leisurely pace
  • KonoSuba was the anti-Grimgar, but just as successful due to the thoroughness with which it lampooned the genre. It wasn’t as polished or cohesive as, say, Amaburi, but it delivered more than its fair share of hearty laughs and ridiculous situations
  • Shirayuki-hime was often the Winter’s feel-good show, unless of course the titular character was being held hostage. Tthis Bones show soared as an earnest, richly-rendered romance/adventure tale, just as good at high-seas swashbuckling than it was quiet scenes between to young people in love
  • Things got a little hectic and hairy near the end of Durarara!!x2, but it delivered a decent, moderately satisfying finale that turned the page for many of the show’s major players. A Durarara!!x3 hasn’t been confirmed, but nor has it been ruled out
  • GATE wasn’t the most subtle show, and often got bogged down in teriary plotlines and dull political wrangling. But there’s not arguing that it also could deliver one hell of a fist-pumpin’ action set-piece when it wanted to, be it the fire dragon showdown, the paratroopers, or the final rescue op
  • Dimension W turned into an inter-dimensional mess, fast. It was one of two shows we could have done without altogether this Winter, and Zane regrets not dropping it in the midst of that bizarre haunted mansion arc
  • Dagashi Kashi has its sweet moments, but is ultimately a take-or-leave proposition. If Zane hadn’t picked it up, he probably wouldn’t have missed it

Oigakkosan’s Winter 2016 Rundown

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I’m only following Erased, IBO, Grimgar, Konosuba, Dagashi and Haikyuu this time around (but too busy until after April to write reviews for any of them).

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ERASED is by far the best show. The narration has a very specific pacing and language. The occasional spoken narration and moments of sincere humor keep it fun and lite. (without resorting to anthro-character/boob jokes most shows would use and ruin the atmosphere) – it may be worthy of the heritage list because I suspect it would be worth watching again.

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Grimgar is lovely. It’s oddly unique in its treatment of a completely generic topic. The final 4 eps will make or break being a classic because the plot may sputter out OR try to pack too much in. Either way, it’s my second pick of the season.

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IBO is everything that Gundam Zeta, Double Zeta and Req-G were not: a retread of Gundam but with better graphics, contemporary/more believable characters, and a twist of expectations. Being semi-outside UC’s setting, it also escapes the mire of cameos and baggage narrative that choked Unicorn to death. I would argue that War in the Pocket tells a more original, complete and more compact Gundam story and that Thunderbolt may eventually do similar, but I’ll agree with Hannah that IBO deserves a top 5 slot in the franchise*.

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KonoSuba is great wife & popcorn watching. Like Coffin Princess and Dungeon Dating in seasons past, the colorful cast, action, and RPG setting are easy to get into. Unlike those shows, this is a comedy and side steps any plot building issues because the plot, ultimately, doesn’t matter. More impressively, it uses the harem structure, without the protagonist wanting any of the women nor feeling like a spoiled jerk for not wanting them. “Life in an RPG would be annoying and sacks of loot largely worthless!” “A Harem would be annoying and largely worthless!” great twists on convention — certainly not enough to be a classic but a very clever show all the same.

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Dagashi’s novelty as a history/cultural lesson and a soft romance side plot were fun for a while but there’s just not enough there. The characters are simple, not designed to develop, and the humor wears thin. Last weeks festival episode demonstrated this clearly: dagashi was barely in it as a topic, there was little context given for the non-dagashi items/food and festival, and the romance part that occupied the majority of the run time was generic. Nothing offensive but watch and forget to be sure.

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Haikyuu S2 has dragged its heels from summer training to 2-episode mini arcs of Korasuno beating another good volleyball team in the prefecture’s high school tournament. Giving 2 episodes to each team the Crows defeat lets the show explore different group dynamics, motivations for playing, and responses to challenge (and losing) but it also introduces 2-5 new characters every 2 episodes (and then shelves them forever, presumably) which just feels distracting. This season was always about the Crows finding their feet as a team, rounding out the second string players backgrounds, and having revenge on the Emperor of the Court. The middle games don’t need to be here at all, let alone as 2-episode arcs. It just distracts from the central cast’s growth and makes the viewer feel like he’s wasting half an hour each week/could just binge the whole thing at the end.

*We disagree over Macross Frontier for the exact same reason. Like IBO, Frontier is a solid ‘new take’ on the franchise formula but the full series length and some of the cast-size and drama bloat that entails, makes it less impactful than tighter (and shorter) narrative of Macross Plus. (M+ having the best music and visual styling of the entire franchise) In nerd-war terms, the question is more ‘is IBO superior to 00’ (aka is Macross Frontier superior to Macross Zero) in a battle for 2nd-3rd place ;-)

End-of-Month Rundown – February 2016

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Click to view full-size

Weather-wise, it’s been a kinder, gentler Winter here at RABUJOI HQ. This past Sunday in particular was unseasonably warm and lovely. Spring is on the way, and with it at least 20 new shows to check out and vet, with hopes of whittling that collection to a dozen or less.

Since dropping Phantom World, we’ve been happy with the group of ten Winter shows that remain. Here’s where those shows currently stand with one month left:

  • ERASED continues to be a revelation; easily the best show watched by any of us since Steins;Gate, which is oddly enough an opinion shared by the FMA and Gintama-loving MAL community, who have elevated the new show to 5th all-time
  • Speaking of superlatives, Hannah is willing to go ahead and declare Gundam IBO the finest and most complete Gundam series she’s seen (though she’s watched a lot less than some)
  • Grimgar rose to dizzying heights this month, progressing in Preston’s mind from curious SAO facsimile at the start to a emerging classic that stands on its own
  • Zane has been pleased as punch with SGRS and its mature, sophisticated and witty storytelling in a postwar Japan bursting with the promise of hope and redemption
  • Snow White with the Red Hair went Full Swashbuckle with pirate kidnappers, stormy seas, hidden bases and a daring rescue.
  • There are times when it feels like KonoSuba’s male protagonist protests too much when it comes to his new life, so it’s good he learned he liked that life a lot more than he thought when it almost came to an end
  • Hannah is hoping Durarara!!x2 will sort out the sometimes imposing tangle of personalities and motives both human and supernatural in the final installments of an epic 36-episode run
  • GATE delivered a hell of a dragon battle to save Tuka’s sanity, then gave us more of the underutilized Lelei. Sherry was a pleasant surprise, but the likable core cast always seems to be competing for time with the wider political issues of the two worlds
  • Dagashi Kashi is a competent diversion, with glimmers of a sweet romance and sporadic laughs, but the detailed history lessons can drag, as does Hotaru’s statically eccentric personality

End-of-Month Rundown – January 2016

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January ended with a snowy bang in our parts (over two feet in some areas) so it’s appropriate several shows that failed to make the cut were subsequently buried.

Those who came here to read reviews of the likes of Norn9, Divine Gate, or Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya, etc. may be disappointed, but we’re committed not to waste our or anyone else’s time with shows that just don’t do it for us.

We’ll probably be sticking with eleven shows you see above; all have passed the 3-episode test.  It’s not a huge list, but that’s fine; we can maximize our attentions and memories far better with a small group than the huge ones of past seasons. The smaller sampling also means a sharper drop-off.

Quick observations:

  • There is an undisputed King of the Winter, and it is Boku dake ga Inai Machi, which blows every other Winter show out of the icy water. It’s cracked 9 on MAL and continues to rise (good for 11th all-time) with the most voters of any Winter show we’re watching, which is a very rare thing.
  • Preston is confident that quality can be maintained or even surpassed, but a slight regression on the back end wouldn’t be the end of the world. Her second pick Grimgar, while not quite as excellent, is also breaking conventions in its ostensible genres and providing its fair share of emotional punch.
  • Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu has only a small fraction of Inai Machi’s audience, and it’s not for everyone, but it’s engrossing enough to be Zane’s top pick. Dimension W is proving the best of recent shows that are about “A Lot of Stuff”, but it’s not guaranteed to stay as good as it started.
  • As for Hannah’s shows, they’re all second seasons or sequels, with Gundam, Durarara!!x2 and GATE all plugging away nicely, in that order.
  • Zane has not committed to finishing Prince of Stride, but the recent racing has been enough of a distraction from the bland characters to keep him interested. As for KyoAni’s latest effort Phantom World, Preston is taking a similar ep-by-ep approach.

Anyway, we hope you’re enjoying our reviews. It’s always better to write and be read than to simply write. Please keep up the thoughtful discussion, but be sure to clearly mark spoilers if you absolutely must include them in your comments. And as always, thanks for reading!

—RABUJOI STAFF

 

End-of-Month Rundown – December 2015

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Average Episode Word Count (AEWC):

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans: 931
Prison School: 859
Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry: 750
Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai: 683
Sakurako-san no Ashimoto: 639
Ushio to Tora: 634
Noragami Aragoto: 652
Subete ga F ni Naru: 637
Owari no Seraph 2: 594
Owarimonogatari: 591
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk: 587
Atack on Titan: 558
One Punch Man: 555

Stray November Observations:

  • The Top 5 remained the same from last month’s EOMR
  • Hannah’s Gundam IBO episode 13 review was the most wordy of the Fall at 1,209, but Zane’s Prison School episode 5 retro review went for 1,278
  • The final three Prison School retro reviews didn’t quite make it to this chart; they’ll be published next week.
  • Subete ga F and Asterisk finally got 9 ratings due to strong finishes
  • One Punch Man and Owarimonogatari remained the only two shows with average RABUJOI ratings below MAL’s (0.38 and 0.12 below, respectively)
  • OPM was the third highest-rated show despite having the lowest AEWC; Taimadou was the second lowest-rated despite having the second-highest AEWC. So word count doesn’t always correlate with show quality…just usually
  • Total Fall 2015 review word count (Including Prison School and Attack on Titan): 106,165, or 212 single-spaced 12-point pages