I’ve been watching anime for realsies and writing about it since back in 2010. I’ve seen a lot of anime between then and now and honestly; this is the weakest anime season I’ve ever seen. But that’s not to say that most of the shows this season were bad, far from it in fact. What I’m saying is a lot of the shows this season were aggressivelyi mediocre with only a few shows sniffing the category of elite but not quite making it there. Anime seasons, for better or worse, are remembered for their top caliber shows. They are defined by their Madoka’s, their Fate/Zero’s and their Attack on Titan’sii much more so then their Blue Exorcists, their Kuroko’s and their Devil is a Part-Timer’s. Are these shows still good? Without a doubt. Do I still love them? You’re goddamn right. But in the grand scheme of things, the shows in the former category tend to be remembered much more fondly then the shows in the latter. And that’s a lot of how this season felt. Now that I’m done breaking down this season, let’s break it down again….. but with love.
Top 5 Shows
Honorable Mentions: Love Live School Idol Project Season 2, The World is Still Beautiful
5. The Irregular at Magic High School
The Irregular at Magic High School is interesting. Very interesting. It’s rather seamless blend of magic and science while deftly interweaving literal class discrimination of Blooms vs. Weeds into the proceedings is very impressive. However, it’s unnecessary Bro-Con subplot and recent decisions to veer into an intensely vague overall story arc rather than the machinations of the engaging class warfare occurring inside the high school is somewhat troubling. Luckily, it has 10-11 more episodes to figure everything out. If done right, it has the potential to be a Top 10 show of the year. But a lot of shows are never done right.
4. Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou
I love these characters. There really isn’t all that much special or unique about this show, I just love the goddamned hell out of these characters. Sure it looks nice, one of the better looking shows of the season in fact, but the sharpness of the writing and how incredibly well all of the characters play off of each other is what kept me coming back. I’ve stated time and time again that the best comedy in anime is understated where the show does not constantly point to its own jokes and tell us how funny they are. While Kawaisou is not the best at doing this, (that title belongs to Seitokai no Ichizoniii) it does a damn good job of it.
The forgotten show of this season. It ended at such a strange number of episodes, 20 to be exact, that half way through our podcast I shouted “Oh fuck, NiseKoi” because we had forgotten all about it. I guess that somewhat speaks to the quality of the show because if it was an elite show, you best believe we wouldn’t have forgotten it. Which is a shame, because it may be the best show SHAFT has made since Madoka. It’s characters are all expertly written and well acted and it looks and moves with trademark SHAFT style. Honestly, it has very few weaknesses, while also having very few things really special about it. Calling it a “Jack of All Trades, Master of None” feels like an incredible writing faux-pas but unfortunately that feels like the best description of it. It is just a really good show. No more, no less.
2. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
I jumped right in to JoJo’s third arc, as I am wont to do with a lot of anime that reach a certainly level of hype that I missed the first time around. iv There’s something intoxicating about being in the middle of that chaos and saying “Oh no, don’t stop on my account. I’ll piece it together as I go along, just go man.” And boy, this show really goes. It has an incredible sense of style completely unto itself and boy does it simply not give a fuck. It’s battle scenes are exceptional and it’s art style harkins back to yesteryear while looking quite modern. I went back and forth for days about putting this show as the best of the season but it lost out by a small margin. But trust me, it doesn’t matter though.
1. No Game, No Life
If there is any show that is going to be remembered for sometime after this season, it’s No Game, No Life. Simply put, it’s one of the smartest and most cleverly written shows I’ve seen in quite a while. It gives me vibes of the Monogatari series where sometimes I feel like the plot is just straight up taking me to school. There were times watching this show where I felt like I was simply not smart enough to take it all in, and this feeling of inadequacy was oddly compelling. Two genius siblings falling into a world based on games and rules rather than war and bloodshed is an interesting premise already but the writing takes it to another level. There were times when I wanted to call bullshit and felt like the show had over-stepped its bounds of “UNREALISTIC” v levels of absolute genius from the characters but that’s a small nit to be picked with a show this strong. All told, this show was too smart for me. And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Best Female Character
“Shiro” of No Game, No Life
Best Male Character
“Sora” of No Game, No Life
Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou
Mekaku City Actors
Remember how I said that No Game, No Life had the type of writing that made me feel in adequate? Well, Mekaku City Actors feels like it was going for the same feel but ended up just mind-fucking itself. It’s such a stark contrast from NiseKoi, even though they were made by the same studio. They are really just two ends of the same spectrum. While NiseKoi is one of SHAFT’s more understated projects when it comes to style and it’s famed cinematography, Mekaku City Actors may ironically be one of the most pure SHAFT shows I’ve seen since Sasami-san. And I don’t think that’s a good thing. MCA has something interesting hiddenvi under all of it’s insufferably obtuse writing, hard camera cuts, panning shots and head-tilts but glimpses of any true substance is so few and far between that I just don’t have the energy to investigate with any sort of vigor.
Best Insert Song
“Snow Halation” by Muse (Love Live: School Idol Project)
Honorable Mentions: “Beautiful Rain: The Song of the Falling Rain” by Rena Maedaviii (The World is Still Beautiful), “Shocking Party” by A-RISE (Love Live: School Idol Project)
Top 5 Openings
Honorable Mentions: “Sōshō Innocence” by Maaya Uchida (Akuma no Riddle), “Believer’s High” by flumpool (Captain Earth)
5. “This game” by Konomi Suzuki (No Game, No Life)
4. “Killy killy Joker” by Kanon Wakeshima (Selector Infected Wixoss)
3. “STAND PROUD” by Jin Hashimoto (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders)
2. “Daze” by Jin ft. MARIA from GARNiDELiA (Mekaku City Actors)
1. “Rising Hope” by LiSA (The Irregular at Magic High School)
Top 5 Endings
Honorable Mentions: “Tokohana” by Nagi Yanagi (Black Bullet), “Oración” by Ai Kayano (No Game, No Life)
5. “Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders)
4. “Days” by Jin feat. Lia (Mekaku City Actors)
3. “ego-izm” by La La Larks (M3 Sono Kuroki Hagane)
2. “Survival” by Yoshino Nanjō (Akuma no Riddle)
1. “RAINBOW” by LEGO BIG MORL (Blade & Soul)
Remember how weak this season was? That’s literally how stacked next season is. Top to bottom, it looks to be the strongest anime season I’ve seen in a long time. Sword Art 2, Aldnoah, Persona 4 Golden and Tokyo ESPix are all looking like potential Top 10 shows of the year and some of them might even be Show of the Year caliber. I can’t wait to find out. In the meantime, always remember…
-Crit Chance and Luck