Hanebado! – 06 – Not Just One More Match

Prelims are upon us this week, and it’s Izumi Riko’s turn to be angsty. It’s her last year and last prelims, and she wants to win. The only problem is, her first opponent is her childhood friend Nozomi, who also happens to be one of last year’s final four. Riko is not confident she can hang with the likes of Nozomi, and even though Nagisa tries her best to fire her up, Riko ends up frustrated and the two part ways for the evening on a bad note.

The day of the matches arrives, and Riko and Nozomi are cordial but cool, as imminent opponents must be. The team rocks their slick new one-piece uniforms, and Riko’s four cute siblings are in attendance, but she still manages to stink up the joint in the first half of the first set overwhelmed by her own lack of confidence as well as Nozomi’s unbeatable aura.

When the interval comes, Riko knows she has to do something…so she goes over the shots of the match so far, analyzes them, and finds that Nozomi is avoiding her backhand. Riko goes on the offensive and gets a point or two before Nozomi re-adjusts. It’s a beautifully-animated, fast-paced story told through the smooth, graceful, yet powerful motions of the players; a chess match of adjustments and counter-adjustments.

Riko still loses, but she makes Nozomi work for her win, going against her opponent’s strict coache’s insistence she conserve her stamina. It was just another match for Nozomi; a stepping stone to the next round. But for Riko, it was the match; the only match left in her high school career. And as her coach directed, she had fun out there.

Whither Ayano? Well, for most of the episode she seems to be putting up a strong front of Everything’s Okay, and may even believe she’s past worrying about her mother or Connie. But these prelims are uniquely equipped to not let Ayano escape her troubles so easily. Not only is she facing Serigaya Kaoruko in the next round, but her mother will be in attendance to watch their rematch. That should be interesting…

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online – 01 – The Girl with the Pink P90 (First Impressions)

SAOA:GGO (rolls right off the tongue) gets right down to it, dropping us into a Gun Gale Online battle royale called Squad Jam beside teammates LLENN and M. Thanks to the patient tactical mind of M, much their time in the Jam is spent not getting shot at, and when they are, it’s to draw dumb enemies into getting shot by smarter ones, all while LM stays clean.

LLENN resents having to play the decoy, but can’t argue that it works, and you have to go with what works in a battle where the team that’s dominating are professional fighters IRL, likely in the game for the training. They show off their skills so blithely, M is convinced that winning isn’t their main objective.

LLENN and M’s is, however, so once the field has been thinned from 23 starting teams to 8, they head somewhere isolated where the pro team will come for them (uninterested as they are in ambushing their opponents).

The pros work like a well-oiled, by-the-book machine, precise and practiced in movement and speech. But because they’re so damn orthodox and true-to-life in their tactics, and since winning isn’t their goal, M thinks he knows how to beat them, and prepares a tiny surprise.

That surprise is the unbelievably diminutive LLENN popping out of a suitcase, previously just another unremarkable piece of the garbage strewn across the street that the pro team leader realizes is a hiding place a beat too late.

A beat is all LLENN needs to go off with her pinkP90, using her super-human speed and agility to take the pros down one by one until only two remain. M wasn’t under-utilizing LLENN before, he was saving her for when it was the right time for her to shine; when it mattered most.

The remaining two pros could probably have made a fight of it, but LLENN’s superhuman abilities render their training program contaminated, as M suspected…so they both resign. We pull back from LLENN on a TV as six school friends watch, then turn to their host, the very tall Karen, for whom LLENN is her avatar.

And there you have it. If you’re a hopeless SAO consumer as I apparently am, you were likely satisfied with this start, which had a nice pared-down feel to it despite the scope of the Squad Jam, easing us back into its world without piling on new faces or places.

Until the reveal of LLENN’s player, we were in-game the whole time. We followed just two gunners in a relatively compact location as they talked strategy, let things unfold and waited for pieces to get into optimal position before striking with all available force. And we learn Karen plays as a chibi in a kind of negative size-compensation.

RABUJOI’s 2013 Anime Rankings, with Haiku

Here they are, dear readers: all 44 series we watched this year (five dropped), ranked by their cumulative ratings as of today. Seven Fall shows still have one episode to go this year, so we’ll update this list as we complete them.

We’ve also included what the thousands of denizens over at MyAnimeList (MAL) thought about these same shows (again, as of today). One of the reasons we switched to a 10-point rating scale is so we could roughly compare our ratings to MAL’s.

Analysis: While we’ve always thought we had a tendency to overrate things, we actually gave 21 non-dropped shows lower ratings than MAL, while rating 18 shows higher.

Our ratings actually came quite close to MAL’s—within 0.4 points or less—on a dozen shows:

  • Kimi no Iru Machi (+0.020)
  • Amnesia (+0.077)
  • OreShura (+0.082)
  • Tamayura: More Aggressive (+0.177)
  • Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (+0.217)
  • Kyousougiga (+0.310)
  • Free! (-0.013)
  • Nagi no Asukara (-0.177)
  • Oreimo 2 (-0.242)
  • Vividred Operation (-0.273)
  • Tamako Market (-0.320)
  • Kakumeiki Valvrave 2nd Season (-0.375)

MAL also agreed with us that Valvrave’s second season has been better than the first.

The biggest outliers (not counting dropped shows) were Aku no Hana (we rated it 1.358 points higher than MAL), and The Unlimited (we rated it 1.290 points lower than MAL). There’s a good reason for each: Aku was incredibly polarizing, while The Unlimited likely went over better for those familiar with the Zettai Karen Children universe (which we weren’t).

In all, we were off of MAL’s scores by +/- 1 full point or more on only six non-dropped shows. By no means do we strive to match the average consensus from MAL (we just looked them up today), but it’s fun to compare, and it’s good to know we’re not totally insane about our taste in anime. We may be way off the consensus on a few occasions, but that comes down to personal preference, which is unique to everyone.

Finally, we decided to write a haiku either summarizing the show or our impressions of it…with, er, varying results. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

44. InuHasa

Guy turns into dog
Become’s favorite author’s pet,
who then tortures him.

Final Cumulative Rating: 5.000 (scissored after 5 episodes)
MyAnimeList Score: 6.74

43. Log Horizon

Trio of heroes
in a real-life MMO;
Low rent SAO?

Final Cumulative Rating: 5.667 (logged off after 3 episodes)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.08

42. Strike the Blood

Powerful vampire
meets pretty young sword shaman
Childhood friend jealous.

Final Cumulative Rating: 5.714 (struck after 7 episodes)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.67

41. Coppelion

Follows adventures
of radiation-proof girls
icing stealth bombers.

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.000 (copped out after 4 episodes)
MyAnimeList Score: 6.74

vivid

40. Vividred Operation

Color-coded girls
with cool CG mecha suits
Lots of booty shots

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.417
MyAnimeList Score: 6.69

39. Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke

Really long-lived dude,
bad guy from the older show,
main character here.

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.500
MyAnimeList Score: 7.79

38. Valvrave the Liberator (1st Season)

Kids form a nation,
vampire mecha pilots,
screwed at every turn.

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.583
MyAnimeList Score: 7.44

37. Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta

High hopes for this show
after Hoshi no Umi.
Huge disappointment.

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.600 (panty-shot down after 10 episodes)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.51

36. Danganronpa: The Animation

High school whodunits
Demonic bear and pink blood
Hope versus despair

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.615
MyAnimeList Score: 7.56

amnesia

35. Amnesia

Heroine gets lost
jumping back and forth through time
Is caged at one point.

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.667
MyAnimeList Score: 6.59

34. Love Lab

Better than OP
Better than “love club” premise;
Better than rating!

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.692
MyAnimeList Score: 7.67

33. Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Ars Nova

World War II vessels
Pretty girl avatars
Ample explosions

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.727
MyAnimeList Score: 7.69

32. Servant x Service

Office slice-of-life
Long-named lovable she-goof
Tacked-on imouto

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.769
MyAnimeList Score: 7.93

31. Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince

Underachievers,
armed with shiny new mecha,
proceed to kick ass.

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.917
MyAnimeList Score: 7.52

oregairu

30. Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. (Oregairu)

Three social outcasts,
linked by a car accident
Snappy dialogue.

Final Cumulative Rating: 6.923
MyAnimeList Score: 8.05

29. Tamako Market

Weird conceited bird
Lovely lived-in market town
Slice-of-life done right.

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.000
MyAnimeList Score: 7.32

28. Blood Lad

Otaku vamp boss
Human girl turns into ghost
He vows to save her.

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.000
MyAnimeList Score: 7.74

27. Kimi no Iru Machi

Guy moves to Tokyo,
dumps new girlfriend for his ex.
A bit of a cad.

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.250
MyAnimeList Score: 7.23

25. (tie) White Album 2

Light music club formed
Love triangle formed with it
One girl cut in line

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.333
MyAnimeList Score: 7.98

railguns

25. (tie) Toaru Kagaku no Ralgun S

Railgun in too deep
Fights city’s dark underside
Gets help from her friends

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.333
MyAnimeList Score: 8.27

24. Valvrave the Liberator 2nd Season

Safe on neutral moon
Then things get complicated
Lots of people die

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.455
MyAnimeList Score: 7.83

23. Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru (OreShura)

Fresh take on harem
Girls have good motivations
Nice pastel palette

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.462
MyAnimeList Score: 7.38

22. Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen

Goddesses in girls
Gamer must reconquer hearts
Third time is the charm

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.500
MyAnimeList Score: 8.52

21. Oreimo 2

Kirino returns
Kyousuke dates the black cat
Then “marries” sister.

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.538 
MyAnimeList Score: 7.78

rdg

19. (tie) RDG: Red Data Girl

Shy god-vessel girl
Her reluctant protector
A quiet romance

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.583
MyAnimeList Score: 6.73

19. (tie) Nagi no Asukara

Town under the sea
Four struggle with their feelings
As their world’s end nears

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.583
MyAnimeList Score: 7.76

18. Hataraku Maou-sama!

Devil comes to earth
Gets a fast-food part-time job
Comedy ensues

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.615
MyAnimeList Score: 8.16

16. (tie) Tamayura: More Aggressive

Girl starts photo club,
which only has two members,
including herself.

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.667
MyAnimeList Score: 7.49

16 (tie) Maoyuu Maou Yuusha

Demon King’s a girl
She and Hero join forces
Great allegories

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.667
MyAnimeList Score: 7.45

stella

15. Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3

Girl joins war games club
Has a knack but grows obsessed
Alienates friends

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.692
MyAnimeList Score: 6.76

14. Monogatari Series: 2nd Season

Cat finds self; time travel
Snake god; the darkness comes
Deceiving a god

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.909
MyAnimeList Score: 8.67

12. (tie) Sasami-san@Ganbaranai

Amaterasu
Stuck inside a listless girl
Wants a normal life.

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.917
MyAnimeList Score: 6.81

12. (tie) Free!

Cast is mostly male
Swim club returns to glory
KyoAni trolling?

Final Cumulative Rating: 7.917
MyAnimeList Score: 7.93

11. Chihayafuru 2

Karuta battles
heat up exponentially,
much to our delight.

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.042
MyAnimeList Score: 8.67

The Top 10

kotourasan

10. Kotoura-san

Shy girl can read minds
Finds someone suited for her
Doesn’t ruin it.

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.083
MyAnimeList Score: 7.40

gatchaman

9. Gatchaman Crowds

Social media
Very cheerful heroine
A whimsical romp

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.250
MyAnimeList Score: 7.58

samflam

8. Samurai Flamenco

A hero rises
Bad guys get more outrageous
Never accept evil

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.182
MyAnimeList Score: 7.28

gargantia

7. Suisei no Gargantia

Earth one big ocean
Space pilot and his mecha
Fish out of water

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.308
MyAnimeList Score: 7.81

kyoukai

6. Kyoukai no Kanata

Girl with cursed blood
Half-demon half-human guy
Fall for each other.

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.333
MyAnimeList Score: 7.83

kyousougiga

5. Kyousougiga

A fantastic world
A tale of love and rebirth
of one family.

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.400
MyAnimeList Score: 8.09

kllllakill

3 (tie). Kill la Kill

To avenge her dad,
girl dons a strange uniform
Powerful weapon.

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.500
MyAnimeList Score: 8.04

goldentime

3 (tie). Golden Time

Guy has amnesia,
forgets old love, finds new one…
Then he remembers.

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.500
MyAnimeList Score: 7.99

akunohana

2. Aku no Hana

When he’s caught with shorts
Girl makes guy contract with her
Deviant within.

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.538
MyAnimeList Score: 7.18

ucho

1. Uchouten Kazoku

Tale of redemption
A family of tanukis
With “idiot blood”

Final Cumulative Rating: 8.769
MyAnimeList Score: 8.13