A Look at 10 Non-Sequel Anime from Summer 2017

A look at 10 Non-Sequel Anime from Summer 2017
This lovely crossover fanart is by Pixiv ID 6645145

Summer 2017, what many people labelled as the weakest season of the year. While I agree with that statement to a certain extent, the season wasn't that bad when you consider the non-sequels (fairly average, but not bad). Everybody is already aware of Made in Abyss' success as it is comfortably sitting on the top charts everywhere. But there were some shows that were worth looking into. Most of them were under-watched because they were experimental with their premise and the payoff wasn't that great. An excellent example would be studio Gonzo's 18if, which experimented with it's unique premise by switching directors and sometimes artstyle every other episode. A commendable effort, though it fell apart towards the end because of the writing. On the other hand, Mahoujin Guruguru's remake by Production I.G. went (or is being) heavily under-watched because of the promotional art. People thought it was an innocent show for little kids. Well, it's not. In fact, it is a great show.

In this post, I'll be taking a look at some of the non-sequel anime from Summer 2017 and sharing my thoughts on them — whether or not I recommend them, what they did right, what went wrong, the usual stuff. So, let us start with studio Gonzo's 18if, a brave feat and a noteworthy experiment, which, sadly couldn't achieve what it set out to do.

Episodes : 13
Studio : Gonzo
Genre : Mystery, Supernatural

Watching 18if is like having a bizarre dream - you're in a strange place, with no idea about what is going on but weird interesting things keep happening one after the other, the scenery changes wildly with every passing minute and then you wake up - with a strange sensation and barely any recollection of what happened.

So a guy wakes up in a dream world with a strange scenery. He opens his cellphone and a woman pops her head right out of it. She tries to drag him into the phone but is stopped when another girl intervenes. Our main character then follows her through a yellow door which ends up on a cliff where he is eaten alive by what appears to be a giant alligator monster. Cut to black and now we're back in the same room except this time, there is a strange red door there. Enter and you find yourself walking on space. The girl from before is hanging upside down telling you how you were interrupted earlier. You look back and the door vanishes into thin air. "Hey! The door is gone!" but there is no one to answer the question. The girl is gone too. And now a herd of sheep (yes, sheep) is charging at you. Just what the heck is going on?
I apologize for the long introduction but if I were to tell you that the story is about a guy saving some girls from their dream worlds, it wouldn't paint such a picture. At least the one I'm aiming for.

Anyway, when you consider the premise - a guy venturing into different dreams, the decision of having a different director for every episode sounds excellent. Each director will bring their own unique vision to the table making the transition feel more, let's say, organic. And it certainly works well for the show. The problem, however, is the content of those dreams. It is often, really weak, and doesn't evoke strong emotions. It covers a wide variety of themes, with every episode focusing on an individual issue, but it can't fully expand upon them because the theme changes after the episode is over. Not to mention the sometimes jarring animation quality. But I will hand it to them, they did a good job with what they had (episode 7 is a good example). It is difficult to portray something so abstract and vivid as a dream in moving pictures.

But in spite of all these praiseworthy imaginative ideas, I would describe the final impression of the show as satisfactorily dull. It had some moments of brilliance and it was an excellent experiment to watch, but it wasn't successful. And that's what my recommendation is, that if you are going to watch it, remember, that it is an experiment. Not very helpful as a recommendation maybe, but I think that's what suits it best.

Aho girl
Episodes : 12
Studio : Diomedea
Genre : Comedy, Romance, School, Shounen

Stupid girl doing stupid things.

Recently, I've noticed how it's becoming more and more normal for anime characters to do absolutely ridiculous things. Powerups, shouting attack names and a weird running pose are fine because it's normal given the context (well somewhat normal), but the medium just loves to push the limits of absurdity. For example, the whole little sister routine has gone way out of hand lately. But hey, we've had some good results out of all those nonsensical experiments.
So, this time, the experiment is about a stupid girl, a true master of the art of stupidity, a girl so stupid that if you were to tell her "Oh look, there's a flying banana!" 50 times in a row, she would fall for it, every single time. The rest of the cast has their hands full trying to deal with her antics. But she can be so over the top that the male lead has to often use violence to stop her.

While some of the gags in this show are quite funny, and I liked that they made the opening into little skits, it suffers from one big flaw in the character department. If you remove Yoshiko from the equation, the rest of the cast is fairly dull without any remarkable distinguishing quirks. They are not memorable and their purpose is mostly to explain her actions or be dragged along with them (an example of quirky support cast would be the last year's Saiki Kusou no Sai-nan. Every one of those whackos were amusing on their own). Not to mention, there are times when Yoshiko's stupidy can get on your nerves instead of making you laugh.

In short, this was fairly average if I were to judge it with my standards of a good comedy. But then again, it's my, somewhat twisted, sense of humour. So, give it a shot. Three episodes should give you a good idea.

Ballroom e Youkoso
Episodes I've watched : 13
Studio : Production I.G.
Genre : Comedy, Sports, Drama, Romance, School, Shounen

A show about everything related to ballroom dancing... except the dancing part.

An anime about dancing. When I saw the title for the show on the upcoming charts, I was quite excited. I love these kind of shows that give us a perspective on these "professions" from the inside. But Production I.G.'s take on ballroom dancing is so close to the actual thing and yet so disconnected that it is disappointing and often, borderline frustrating.

Now, I'm going to start with some "nonsensical" and "ridiculous" statements to make my point so please bear with me here. Ready? First — dancing is not a sport. At least, not in the context of how the anime medium looks at sports. There are no clear cut rules for winning - nobody is rushing to the finish line or trying to get the ball across the court. The opponents in dancing don't interact directly, because even if the stage is same, both parties aren't necessarily playing the same game. On top of which, the winning conditions are rather abstract and the judgement is fairly subjective. My point is, an anime about dancing should not be given the same treatment as a sports anime. Because if you do, and try to focus on certain "important" parts, the whole presentation would fall apart. How does that happen in Ballroom? The answer to that is my second point.

Which is this — the most important part and the whole point of dancing, is the dance. To let it sink in further, I'm going to take the example of music, since dancing and music are nearly inseparable. Plus it makes it easier to explain. Suppose I asked you to listen to a musical composition, but I only let you hear bits and pieces from the whole thing because those are best parts. Or just the end, because the finale matters the most. What would you enjoy more - the whole musical piece or just some bits and pieces or just one crashing chord at the end?

Ballroom e Youkoso is exactly like that, listening to bits and pieces of music rather than the whole thing. You can use such techniques if the show is about music — have some stills rotate on screen as the music keeps playing with carefully placed small comments in between (for example, Nodame Cantabile). It works because the main point — the music, is still there. In ballroom however, it does not. And that is why it is disappointing.

But that's not why it hurts so much, my gripe here is that Ballroom does so many things right, that for them to get the dance part "wrong", is just frustrating (I don't mean wrong technically, but the above issue). They have done an excellent job at portraying the emotions of the characters, the tension before the dance, the excitement during the heat and the payout afterwards, with excellent use of music and metaphors. They even have some excellent, well animated scenes here and there. And yet, and yet, and yet, you have scenes where a character points out faulty footwork in a dance, but the camera never goes near their foot. Close ups after close ups, with detailed shots of Tatara's smiling face but the act that is making him so happy, that he is immersing himself in, is nowhere to be found. Just a slide-show of stills with the occasional speed lines thrown in on top of some exposition. And so I can't feel it, I can't relate to his emotions at all. I feel like a blind guy in the ballroom who can only listen to how great the dance was.
Recommendation is a yes by the way.

Isekai Shokudou
Episodes : 12
Studio : Silver Link.
Genre : Mystery, Comedy, Fantasy

Restaurant to Another World. The title here perfectly describes the show.

So there's this guy who got reincarnated as a restaura— actually, Isekai Shokudou is about a restaurant whose door appears in different places in a fantasy world every seven days and beings of all shapes, sizes and races enter it to sit down and enjoy delicious meals.

For a simple food show, it puts a surprising amount of effort in building this fantasy world on the other side of the door — how interconnected it is, and how the appearance of the restaurant impacts the beings living in that specific area. The races compose of pretty much every fantasy race you can find - dragons, demons, beast men, humans, elves, half-elves, sirens, mermaids, dwarfs, fairies, etc, and with some suspension of disbelief at your side, you will come to enjoy the dynamic the show creates among all these races.

Furthermore, the narrative does not center itself on the quality of the food or the foodgasms (so it is nothing like Shokugeki no Souma), but instead focuses on the circumstances and the lifestyle of the person before they walk into the restaurant and how this encounter changes them. There is no one best selling dish either. Every character has their own reason for liking a particular dish and over time it has become an important part of their life. So, while there is no overarching story to keep you hooked from start to finish, you have these short moments of wonder as a small story wraps itself every episode.

I feel that the tags for this series on MAL are not justified. Firstly, it is missing a slice of life tag, and secondly, the comedy tag is also a bit of a stretch as the humour in this series is quite stale and not a focal point. My recommendation here is that this show is not for everyone. It does not have a main story, it follows the same formula for every episode and the main characters barely get any development by the end of the series. But the show delivers exactly what it promises — small stories about people, how they stumbled upon this restaurant and how they keep coming back for more.

Episodes : 12
Studio : MAPPA
Genre : Game, Mystery, Psychological, Drama, School, Shounen

Initially, before the show aired, I had three reasons to watch Kakegurui —
1. It was about gambling.
2. It was being animated by MAPPA.
3. It had Miyuki Sawashiro & Saori Hayami as VAs.

Now, when I think about the reasons why I should recommend this, only reason #3 comes to mind.

So you have a high school which basically serves as a gambling den for rich kids. Everything is decided by gambling, and it even has a pecking order. A new student rolls in and disrupts the entire student hierarchy with her "amazing" gambling skills. Eventually, the student council steps in and several of its members "play" with her one after the other in order to put a stop to her madness.

The show seems to be centered around this idea of "madness" in gambling. It often points to humanity's irrational nature, it's attachment to taking risks and how humans madly pursue the dangerous in order to get that thrill. And it reflects that in it's setting. To begin with, the whole idea of a gambling school is ridiculous as the habit is usually frowned upon by society in general. Then you have the complete lack of supervising adults and moreover, the students can do whatever they want (like bringing in and using firearms for starters) and are basically treating the lowest members of the hierarchy like livestock. Millions and even billions are being put at stakes making it look like they're using pretend currency. Almost everybody cheats. And yet, they all keep on playing. Basically, the show has "madness" oozing out of its every orifice. So, why doesn't it work?

I see people bringing up Kaiji when they talk about how Kakegurui failed but I think those two shows are quite different from each other. Kaiji was much more focused on survival, the protagonist was forced into situations where he had to win. And that made his struggle, the thrill and the suspense much more enjoyable. Kakegurui, on the other hand, I think, is more about the madness associated with gambling rather than gambling itself. Our main protagonist, Yumeko, wasn't forced into this setting, she came here by choice, because she is mad, mad about gambling and addicted to the thrill associated with it. She loses sight of everything once she smells it. And she would do absolutely anything to get the next high. Not to mention how every other character seems to be sprinkled with various degrees of "madness" as well (and ooh the faces).

I suspect that the series wanted to aim for something close to an "organised chaos" - where everything, from the setting to the characters and the games looked like a mess at first but the characters knew what they were doing. Instead, it ended up as a mess because the games weren't executed properly (e.g, they always explained how Yumeko won after the game was over), the exposition painted Yumeko as a super hack, and the characters had a bit too much "madness" sprinkled in them. I accepted Yumeko as a completely insane person at the start (props to Saori Hayami for the voice acting) so her nonchalant behaviour in the face of high stakes didn't bother me, but the games really screwed up her character. The show had the madness factor going for it, but it failed on other important fronts. I can go ahead and keep adding complaints to this but I think I will wrap it up with this — Kakegurui is full of "madness", but it is just that, it does not strive to achieve something beyond it. It certainly could have, but it didn't.
And so my recommendation is that you check out a couple episodes first if you are interested. And please do note that this is not the same as Kaiji - Ultimate Survivor.

Katsugeki Touken Ranbu
Episodes : 13
Studio : ufotable
Genre : Action, Samurai, Fantasy

Man, ufotable really needs to stop adapting video games titles.

First it was God Eater, then we had two seasons of Tales of Zestiria the X. While the former was a complete mess, the latter was, in many ways, somewhat tolerable and sometimes even commendable. And so this season, we have Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu — a show about animated, famous Japanese swords who travel back and forth in time to stop an army of goons from changing history.

The biggest problem with Touken Ranbu is that it never expands its story beyond that single sentence. From start to finish, it is just some stylish handsome men fighting a vague enemy over and over and over. The motives of the enemies — the Time Retrograde Army, are never explained, we don't know why they are doing it, what their ideals & values are, what triggered the event or why our heroes are trying to stop it. It makes them look like a very plastic, apathetic enemy. So you have characters who are constantly telling us that protecting history is the paramount concern, but the people who are trying to change it come off as pre-programmed bots or dummies. They could have at least given us something, something that could justify their pursuit in some way — either twisted or reasonable. But there is absolutely nothing for me root for. The only thing this show has going for it (besides ufotable's superb animation), is that it presents it's main characters with an interesting yet cruel moral dilemma (the details for which are in spoiler territory).

I think a significant amount of entertainment was hindered by my lack of information on Japanese history. Since the setting of the show involves key incidents and personalities from Japanese history, a good chunk of the sense of urgency and wonder was lost on me. And while the character designs are quite interesting, the premise doesn't provide them with much room for growth. I guess if I knew about the swords and their masters beforehand, I'd have a better understanding of their nature as the animated swords take after their masters. But even if we exclude the historical aspect, the show does not have anything to chew on. The action is great to look at, but that's it.

So, I'll be concluding this section with this analogy — Touken Ranbu is like an incredibly good looking dish. It looks absolutely delicious and appetizing. But when you take a bite, you realise that it has no taste at all. You might as well be chewing on cardboard.

Episodes I've Watched : 13
Studio : Production I.G.
Genre : Adventure, Comedy, Magic, Fantasy, Shounen

An RPG parody with Chibi-ish art style that oozes innocence. Doesn't look like much does it?
Wrong. This right here is a comedy gold mine.

So the evil Demon King has awakened from his long slumber and now the world is in dire need of a hero. The King of Ainshent has summoned all the Hero candidates promising a huge reward to whoever gets the job done. News of this reaches Boering Village — yes, you read it right, its called "boering", on how starting towns in RPGs are always boring, wait, why am I explaining a joke here. Anyway, the news reaches the village and now our young Hero's family is all excited to ship him to the frontline. Heck, they even prepared a giant bloody slingshot which they do use to launch our reluctant Hero across the forest. And it gets crazier from there.

Mahoujin Guruguru isn't your average parody show with random referential humour thrown on top of a sloppy story. It is much more than that. It has an innocent charm to it, thanks to the artstyle, and it makes full use of it for gags, light hearted & cute moments. It cleverly weaves it's story underneath the humour and regularly introduces interesting quirky characters while keeping the plot moving. It has solid animation quality, by which I mean how there is so much movement in this show, all of which is fluidly animated. And above all else, it has that most essential element that every good comedy has — it makes you laugh. While the majority of the humour revolves around the nuances of old RPGs, it is not an absolute requirement as it is not blocked by any cultural gaps (it would certainly help if you were acquainted with the general fantasy RPG lore). The jokes are mostly original, on point and the delivery is amazing.

Without going much into the details as that could potentially spoil stuff, I would tell you to just go and enjoy the show. It is sad that this show went so underwatched even when you had people complaining about a dry season. But that's just how it is sometimes.

Princess Principal
Episodes : 12
Studio : 3Hz & Actas Inc.
Genre : Action, Mystery

An ambitious work which, sadly, fell short because it couldn't carry it's momentum to the very end.

As I've said before on several occasions — "The thing about original anime is, you never know what you're gonna get. There's no source material to give you a heads up. And since the studio and it's staff are in control of things, the director can freely present their perspective." While that mostly works in their favor, original anime rarely get to enjoy the luxury of having sequels. They have to wrap up their story in the time they have and that could sometimes force them rush things. Princess Principal suffers from this because the show is too ambitious for it's own good.

The problem with Princess Principal is that it tries to be everything even though it only has enough time to barely wrap up half of the stuff. What do I mean? It is a show about a bunch of girls playing spy right at the heart of a divided, politically unstable nation. Now those two are already conflicting elements considering I said "girls" and not "women". The show tries to put on a serious air by doing things like victimizing it's cast, showing us people torn by civil war, poverty, disease, murder, assassination and a TV-MA certificate (wait what?), but at the same time you have a loli samurai jumping around and slicing people left and right. And did I mention the tea parties?
Not only that, it introduces some interesting plot points, the highlights being - the delicate political condition of the country, it's Royal family and the Commonwealth, a rare material called Cavorite which can alter gravity and the relationship between Princess and Ange, but by the end of the season, only one of those were sorted out. My point is, there was so much going on in the show, but so little mattered toward the end that it was disappointing.

Now, this does not mean that Princess Principal is a bad show. It sports an enjoyable cast of sassy looking characters, and while it may not have the sophisticated nuances of the spy trade, it does have that cool suave air about it in how it carries itself. It presents an interesting, peculiar world, has a stimulating soundtrack by Yuki Kajiura and some well animated action scenes. What it does not have, is a solid conclusion that ties up all the presented plot lines in a neat little bow. But it is not a bad show. Maybe it is the disjointed narrative, maybe it is just me.
So, this recommendation comes with an advice — watch it if you are interested, but it is probably not the kind of spy thriller you are looking for.

Tsurezure Children
Episodes : 12 (12 min per ep.)
Studio : Studio Gokumi
Genre : Comedy, Romance, School, Shounen

Typically, short anime can range across being endearing, heartwarming, ridiculous and/or funny. Tsurezure Children falls in the heartwarming and funny category. It takes a number of eccentric high school couples and, across its 12 episodes, has them go through the nuances and various stages of a romantic relationship. From confessions to covering the bases and everything in between and after — fights, teasing, jealousy, misunderstandings, breaking up and making up , the show has everything. It is short — i.e., every episode focuses on multiple couples, and it doesn't beat around the bush using the usual rom-com cliches. Furthermore, it has some relatable moments thrown in here and there. It's a quick, excellent, quality source of entertainment.
Since this is a short anime, I think this is all that needs to be said.

Episodes : 13
Studio : Kinema Citrus
Genre : Sci-Fi, Adventure, Mystery, Drama, Fantasy

Made in Abyss has to be one of the most stimulating, gripping and riveting shows I've watched this year. It's also the one with the most instances of urinary incontinence on screen (let us not talk about that).

The thing that excites me the most about this show, is it's worldbuilding. Now, I am extremely fond of shows that put a ludicrous amount of effort into building their world or a certain aspect of it, to the point that I'll readily ignore their flaws. A good example of this would be Mahouka's magic and One Piece's ever expanding Grand Line. Made in Abyss does a brilliant job introducing us to it's world — the Abyss.

Situated in the middle of an island, the show introduces it as a big hole in the ground, then it goes from being mysterious and hopeful, to an unforgiving and horrible place. It is vast, fascinating, more than 20 kilometers deep, and filled with different life forms. It is divided into several sections, each having it's own environment and ecosystem with unique life forms (there are some great monster designs here). The show introduces these layers in a way that makes the abyss an exciting place that's full of adventure and hidden treasures. But of course, everything comes at a price. And the price the Abyss asks, is what makes this show special. Obviously, the deeper you go, the more difficult, unforgiving and rewarding the place becomes (with more intelligent and dangerous monsters), but at the same time, coming back up becomes more and more impossible. And after a certain point, returning, means death.
Now, the mysteries of the Abyss don't end there but I'm going to stop for the sake of spoilers.

So you have this amazing environment all set up. Now, the question now is — What does the show do with it? What kind of characters it throws in? And, what do we get out of it?
Now this is where things look a little... fishy. If you've already seen the poster or the promotional video, then you know that the main characters are potato faced kids. Combine that with the description of the Abyss and you are probably thinking that this is one of those torture porn shows which showcase innocent characters going through hell for the sake of emotional manipulation. I was skeptical too and I had my guard up when I approached this. But, surprisingly, Made in Abyss manages to make it work by not giving false expectations and blatantly foreshadowing the nature of upcoming events. And it manages to have the desired impact because of the excellent execution of those events. The show has some brutal, gut wrenching scenes, and they do not feel forced at all.

As for the kind of characters, that's one department where this show failed to satisfy me. It's not that the characters are badly written in general, but relative to the other aspects of the show, they don't measure up. Especially the main characters — Reg and Riko. While Reg has the excuse of amnesia to compensate for his unlikable traits and awkward character, Riko's naivete gets on my nerves. I can understand her drive to go deeper into the Abyss, I can understand her unwavering optimism as the show gives some solid reasons for them, but even the mighty Abyss couldn't chip off that naivete. She's had multiple brushes with death over the course of the show but she did not change respectively. The side characters on the other hand, are great. Especially Ozen and Nanachi.

I suppose the biggest drawback of this show, is that it is incomplete. We only have a part of the whole thing. And since the manga barely gets a couple chapters per year, we probably have a long way to go before we see a sequel. Otherwise, the show is well put together and thoughtfully executed. Something that I will often recommend in the future. A must watch from this season.
And so with that I'll be wrapping up this end season post. And as always, I have no idea what to write in this part so let's just go with something random. NieR : Automata is a bloody good game. Go play it if you have the chance, along with the prequel (if you can't get the prequel, Youtuber Clemps has some amazing analysis videos on his channel which will bring you up to speed).
Also, thank you for reading this post. Feel free to talk about any show from the summer season (or from the current fall season), I'd be delighted. Also, have a great day.

A look at 10 Non-Sequel Anime from Spring 2017

A look at 10 Non-Sequel Anime from Spring 2017

So, umm, here I am! You guys probably don't remember the mess my previous seasonal post was, right? Right? I put out one post on ACCA and then the rest of the season was... gone. Well, you see I bought a new computer — i7 7700K 4.2GHz, Gigabyte Z170 HD3P, 16GB Corsair Vengeance 3000MHz, with a GTX 1050Ti, in case you were wondering, and a new hard drive as well. I installed the OS on the new HDD and to merge the partitions on the old one into one clean drive, I formatted the windows partition on it. Aaaaaaand that was a stupid thing to do because I had all the write-ups stored on it. So, well, that happened. And my lazy ass didn't bother with rewriting those.
Sorry about that.

Anyways, with that out of the way, let's start this post again from the top.

So, with the Spring season of Anime coming to an end, you're probably wondering - "What the hell am I going to watch after my favourite sequel ends?" The answer is JoJo (cuz I finished DiU recently and it was amazing), but since we're talking about this season, here is a list of 10 non-sequel anime you can watch from Spring 2017.

Alice to Zouroku
Studio : J.C. Staff
Genre : Adventure, Mystery, Seinen
Episodes watched : 10

Super short version : Hungry girl with superpowers meets grumpy grandpa and they get involved in some deep sh*t, at least for the first 5 episodes. It quiets down after that.

Back when I was going through the synopsis of various Spring Anime, the story of a child, who has the ability to do anything she imagines, meeting an old man, sounded really intriguing. I was particularly interested in the dynamic between an old man and a child, two people who are on the opposite ends of life - a child with its new perspective (or "no" perspective) and a "seasoned" old man with a lot of experience. I wanted this show to go along the lines of old-man Zouroku taking care of Alice as she causes trouble for him, him teaching her some lessons as well as learning something in return. All this in a way which hopefully won't be plagued by immature cliches. But the show takes a different route altogether. Without getting too much into the details and nitpicking things, let's just say that it unnecessarily dragged things on and didn't follow through a lot of ideas/subplots it presented initially (at least it hasn't so far).

So, what is this show about? Well, there's a girl, there's a research facility, girl runs, gets saved by an awesome mysterious woman with powers, meets the old man, gets taken care of (there's a car chase involved), some moe break time with old man's granddaughter, more running, kidnapping and rescuing, there's some violence and blood involved for a moment but all's good cuz magic, and after a refreshing bar of snickers we're back in the old man's house to continue the moe break.

See the thing is, I have too much to complain about but not enough things to praise. But those complaints are more on the side of why the show just "ignored" certain plot-points which were given time in the beginning, rather than the show just being plain bad. There are some things they do really well, like Sana's characterisation as a child. It is really consistent with her character and you don't see her acting all mature couple of episodes later. Then there's all these well animated references to the original Alice in Wonderland which is also consistent with Alice's character as she "grew up" reading picture books with a couple of twins. On top of that, the OST is pretty nice.

See, the thing is, this show is... unexceptional. It's good points aren't strong enough for me to highly recommend it, but it is not so bad that I'd tell you to skip it. So, if you are interested, try 3 episodes.

Granblue Fantasy the Animation
Studio : A-1 Pictures
Genre : Fantasy, Action
Episodes Watched : 11

Super Short Version : Generic RPG setting, plays out in a generic way.

Before we even begin this I'd like to give you a little bit of info on the source material for this show. Granblue Fantasy is based on a role playing game developed by Cygames for android and iOS platforms. The game was first released in Japan in March 2014 and it has quickly risen in popularity with its total downloads crossing the 10 million mark. The game also has a light novel adaptation which was released the same year.
Now why did I mention this? See Cygames' previous game instalment - Shingeki no Bahamut has a fabulous anime adaptation (whose second season is currently airing). So, I was pretty excited for this, given the game's reputation. But, the show isn't nearly as satisfying as I thought it would be. To put it in so many words, let's just say it is... generic, very generic. Let's get into it then.

In a world where people live on floating islands in the sky, lives a boy named Gran. With his talking lizard friend Vyrn, he lives a normal life on an island whose name I can't pronounce, which holds many mysteries. One day, a damsel in distress appears, being chased by the evil men of the evil Empire. Our protagonist, being a good person, just like countless other protagonists of an RPG game, decides to help her. And now he is involved in some stuff he shouldn't be involved in. But hey, it's a good excuse to go on an adventure. And that's all we need. To put it simply, the setup of the show is fairly generic. You have the goody-two-shoes protagonist, damsel in distress, her bodyguard, a pet mascot, evil empire to supply a countless number of bad guys and a vast world to explore with lots of mysteries waiting to be unraveled.

This show is more for the casual viewer who wants to get into a simple fantasy story with amazing scenery and a vast cast of characters (our main characters picks up new members as he goes along). The usual fantasy elements are there - flying ships, dragons and other mystical beings along with magic and different races of people. Watch this if you want a simple clear-cut fantasy story which progressively gets better (or so they say it does). Or if you want to watch a guy dunk a giant bomb down a monster's throat.

Quan Zhi Gao Shou
Studio : G.CMay Animation and Film
Genre : Action, Game, Adventure, Comedy
Episodes Watched : 12

Super Short Version : Ex-pro player wrecks some noobs in an online video game. Lots of action involved.

Yay! It's that Chinese cartoon everyone's been talking about. Once again, before we begin, some info time! (keep the booing down please, I'll keep it short) Quan Zhi Gau Shou (English title : The King's Avatar) is based on a Chinese Web novel with the same name, written by Butterfly Blue. The Novel received the title for Best Work in 2013 and has 1728 Chapters worth of material (and it is very descriptive).
Reason for this info? Well, you might have heard that flying rumor which says that this show is about Esports and professional gaming. But it is not. At least not in the sense you might be thinking. It has the premise of Esports as a plot element, used to bring together players for our MC to beat, but it is not sincerely trying to be a show about Esports (at least this first season isn't).

It's a show about a pro gamer who loves this MMO game called Glory and has been playing it for the past 10 years since it's beta release. He competed in the pro scene for his team and won several titles. His exceptional prowess at the game earned him the title of "God of Fighting". But now, even after being with the team for almost a decade, he is being kicked off of it for "some reason", and forced into retirement for a year. Distraught by this sudden change of events, he takes up a job as a night shift supervisor at an internet cafe and decides to log into his old glory account. We follow him along as he goes from just killing time playing Glory (and stomping noobs for stress release), to start thinking about getting back into the pro scene with players he met during his time as a netcafe manager.

The show features bits and pieces from the usual MMO game mechanics like Aggro, Tanking damage, APM, DPS, PK etc. But it still isn't fully dedicated to it. It is centered on Yu Qiu, his "love" for the game and his carnage in the 10th server. To conserve time and to keep the show from being overbearing, the mechanics of the game are not explained to us. Which leads to a few issues. A major one is that the main character comes off as absurdly OP in game. Yes, there is a backstory that he has been playing the game for 10 years and was the top player, but an explaining for why or how he can beat every single kind of player is missing. So watch out for that.

Another big hurdle is the voice acting. Since the anime is in Chinese, there isn't as much emotion in the sound, or should I say, the kind we are used to experiencing when watching Japanese dubs (with all the Masaka! Nani! Kisama! & Hayai!). Gladly the show is densely packed with action sequences and there aren't many exposition heavy instances, so you will get used to the Chinese voice acting really quickly (or even if you don't, it won't be too much of hindrance).

To conclude, this show has my recommendation but with a piece of advice attached - take this as an action show only and not as a serious sincere portrayal of the Esports scene. Because while this show has some great looking visuals, it lacks substance to chew on.

Studio : TROYCA
Genre : Action
Episodes Watched : 11

Super Short Version : What if anime/game characters came to life and started bitching about their ideals and how hard their life is as they engage in battle destroying everything while some kickass music plays in the background.

Tired of the whisked away to a fantasy world setting? How about the reverse? What if characters from a fantasy world were imported here. A couple of examples include the Fate Series and the Devil is a part timer. Where the former was more serious in it's approach, the latter was more on the playful side. Re:Creator lies more on the serious side of this spectrum. Different characters from popular anime and video games are forcefully transported into the real world by a square pupil-ed girl in a military uniform with a strange strange power. Her aim? Wipe out everything.

So, you have characters confronting their creators about how messed up their world is, and the fact that they did just for kicks, which is something totally new for a show. It is very serious about it's approach of transporting fictional characters into real life, and it tries to be as thorough as it can. How these fictional characters view this world, who they are, how they deal with their creators and how different characters from different worlds clash - in action and in ideals. And we have quite a cast here, where not everyone is the main character from their respective game/anime.
Here's the lineup - Girl in a military uniform with a weird power, Sword wielding female lead from an anime without her Mecha, an NPC Mage from a video game, a Magical Girl, Guy with a『Stand』, A teenage soldier MC with a mecha, some old guy with a gun who can fly, a very creepy looking evil Woman in a sailor uniform with OP magical powers, and lastly Saber with a giant lance riding on a flying horse.

Now you might be thinking about all the interesting ways these characters can engage in battle. Well, don't get your hopes up too quickly. Because there is a lot of exposition here, which is a bit off putting and done in a way that is a little overbearing. And while that is a realistic scenario, a very important part of characterisation and is consistent with several character's personality, it could have been presented in a much better way.

This show has my recommendation but I'll let you know that this requires quite a bit of patience to sit through (and maybe a bit of contemplating as well).

Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashik Records
Genre : Action, Magic, Fantasy, School
Episodes Watched : 11

Super Short Version : Magic high school anime #42069

Here comes another magic high school anime, with tournaments, magic, skimpy uniforms, a tsundere, tsundere's cute bffs and a possible harem (and don't forget the beach episode). But, here's the catch. The main character is not a student, he is a teacher, a lazy, usually unmotivated and dead broke guy with a dark past.

And so the students and their teacher were having fun playing games and learning magic. The lazy bastard teacher was being a lazy bastard at first but after getting scolded & beaten by tsundere-chan and forced by the sassy female mage, he started doing his job. For an episode or two, they were seriously discussing magic and I was thinking, "hey, this isn't so bad now is it?" And everything was going great, but then... the evil organisation attacked. Because no magic high school story can be done without an evil organisation. And from there on out I found myself often playing Clash of Clans on my phone instead of watching.

So, what is this show doing in this recommendations list? Well, I'll be honest. I made this list when the season started, when only a few episodes had aired. But then I procrastinated more and more and now here we are. So... Yeah. I don't like this show now. But you can still watch it, for a number of reasons. For example, if you haven't seen a lot of magic high school shows, or you just want to see a bunch of silly characters going through pain and joy. The show is a bit high on the moe side of things, so maybe that will pique your interest. But my recommendation is a no.

Sakura Quest
Studio : P.A. Works
Genre : Comedy
Episodes Watched : 11

Super Short Version : Cute adults doing responsible things, while changing wardrobe every episode.

Ho boy! Responsible, mature, adult characters doing life. What can possibly be better than that? The third entry in the "Working Girls" series by P.A. Works, Sakura Quest is about a girl who is accidentally given a job to re-establish a small town's tourism industry to it's former glory. She has one year to make things happen, and so she assembles her squad of super stylish ministers and starts working her butt off.

The series is very interesting in the way it presents the themes of rural vs urban life and the problems rural cities face in the modern era with the youth migrating towards the big cities. It also shows how changing a town is not an easy task. How it involves it's culture, it's history, it's current state, it's people and most importantly what those people do. But it's not just that, the characters also tackles some of the personal questions of life regarding things like career, love, finding one's place in society and the problems that arise when one starts pursuing them. The cast is quite loveable and the show is mostly devoid of your usual cliches. Not only that, there is some good, often subtle, humor sprinkled throughout.

Now, while I have somewhat adequately praised this show, I'll have you know that it will still be a matter of your own personal taste. Whether or not an all female cast is something you want. And when I said it features rural culture, I meant it. At times it is fascinating and makes you wonder that people are capable of creating beautiful things, but then sometimes it just goes over your head because of the cultural gap and sometimes it is just plain old second-hand embarrassment.
Long story short, this show is not everyone's cup of tea. I don't expect a whole lot of people to go crazy over a show about revitalising a rural town. So if you're bored by it after 3-4 episodes, don't shove the rest of the series down your throat. Though I still stand by my opinion that this is an excellent show and you should watch it.

Seikaisuru Kado
Studio : Toei Animation
Genre : Sci-Fi
Episodes Watched : 10

Super Short Version : What if some guy at Toei Animation saw Arrival and said, "I can do that. Here, hold my beer."

With the advances in science and technology, we have reached a point where the primitive nature of our psychology and biology are a hindrance to our progress as a species. We are inefficient at properly utilizing the Earth's resources, we are divided among nations and our primary form of communication as well as our language is full of flaws. So, what if an otherworldly entity comes here and shows us the way? Similar to the movie Arrival from last year, Seikaisuru Kado, has an alien being visiting the Earth to help mankind. So, how does the extra-terrestrial being go about doing it? Well, step one is infinite energy. Now if you're eyebrow is raised in curiosity, and you're thinking about all the applications of it, then this show is for you.

The show is mostly dialogue oriented rather than action and it talks about a wide range of concepts like language, communication, energy, morality, politics etc. The selling point here is the fancy alien tech and it's impact on humanity as a species (especially how much the viewer can speculate), granted most of it falls under the esoteric territory.
The cast is composed of mature adults and there aren't any of usual cliches and gags. But the show isn't devoid of humour either. It has some light moments here and there to keep the atmosphere from getting too heavy. So far, Toei's execution of this premise has been excellent and very entertaining. The way things are going right now, this will end up in my top non-sequels from this season (things have changed as of episodes 9 and 10).

Even though the current situation of the show is not looking as good and it has betrayed my expectations, still, the first 8 episodes of this series had me hooked and I was pegging it for best non-sequel of the season. So, while I am furious, I am still recommending this series.

Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka Isogashii Desu ka Sukutte Moratte ii Desu ka
Studio : Satelight, C2C
Genre : Sci-Fi, Drama, Romance, Fantasy
Episodes Watched : 11

Super Short Version :
Me : Oh, doesn't this series look wonderful. Look at all these adorable little characters.
Heart : hahahaha, yay! Weeeee!
Plot : Start counting backwards from 1000 by 7.
Heart : Eh?

Long light novel titles. A measure to get people's attention in this fast moving social community.
Well this particular one features a dystopian world where human beings were wiped from the surface of the Earth 500 years ago by some unknown entities which they unleashed in some experiment. And so the remaining species have inhabited these floating islands in the sky. As a measure for defending themselves from those vicious creatures they have developed some glorious weaponised lolis who are able to wield some ancient magical swords. Our protagonist is the last remaining human being(?) who was awoken from his petrified state from 500 years ago and is now incharge of taking care of these "weapons".

The show certainly has an interesting premise along with an interesting pilot. But things soon go downhill with the appearance of the usual rom-com cliches. It has presented tragedy for the sake of emotional manipulation of the viewer which often feels cheap and misses the mark. Still, it has hints of being a good story later on which is evident from the light novel's good reception, and also by the way they are handling the mystery aspect of the show. But anime adaptations don't usually deliver the same level of quality entertainment as the source material.

One of the better things about this series is it's easily consumable nature. If you are still interested in it after 3-4 episodes, you will probably end up bingeing the rest. Sadly, with every step this anime takes forward, it takes two steps back by doing things like out of place cliches and character developments that don't make sense. Still, it has been entertaining so far, so this show has my thumbs up.

Tsuki ga Kirei
Studio : feel.
Genre : Romance, School
Episodes Watched : 10

Super Short Version : Umm.. blushes Unnn... Ah.... more blushing Eh... Ano... Oh just get on with it you idiots!!!

Tsuki ga Kirei is an anime original by studio feel. which features a romance between middle schoolers in their final year of junior high. Now, I'll be completely honest here before I declare my judgement. I could not relate to the characters of this anime on any level, because of
A) Cultural differences. My school did not work like this and it didn't have this kind of environment,
B) I cleared 9th grade about 10 years ago. And the only cellphone we had in our family was a Nokia 3310 which belonged to my mother, and
C) When I was is 9th grade my life looked like this : Wake up → Go to School → Play Football or Cricket with friends → Come back home → Play Video Games on whatever I could get my hands on → Do homework and stuff → Sleep. Love? Who cares about that.
So, I am not going to pretend how relatable, realistic or nostalgic this romance is. I found it rather uninteresting except for the short episodes after the credits. They were very amusing. Still, I've put this show here for a reason, so let's talk about its particulars a bit.

What is this show about? It's a standard romance. Guy A likes girl B. But they can't straight up tell each other because both guy A and girl B are very shy and they don't get that many opportunities to talk to each other in their everyday routines. Still, they muster up the courage to make a move, and thanks to chance and social networking they are able to have a conversation. From there, things are set in motion and we proceed down the usual route. Good thing is, all this happens without your usual cliches of interruptions, misunderstandings or drama being dragged on unnecessarily. But that's all there is to it. It is just like your everyday romance between a couple of teenagers - cute, but at the same time, boring and a bit shallow.

See, because the characters are young teenagers, their views and their reactions to these emotions have this immaturity to them. Even though it is handled well, it is still something I am not too fond of or eager to see.
Anyways, just because I did not enjoy this show for my own stupid reasons, doesn't mean you won't enjoy it. I mean, if you counted the number of cliches in every romance anime ever and ranked them accordingly, then, this show would be somewhere at the bottom of that list (I guess that's not the best way of putting it). Also, this show is full of cute moments, and its world is filled with positive energy. So much that it is blinding and I have to wear sunglasses every time I watch this show.
I mean, there's middle schoolers falling in love and kissing around, and here I am sitting here as a 23 year old single guy. Man, f*ck this show!

Zero Kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho
Studio : White Fox
Genre : Action, Fantasy
Episodes Watched : 10

Super Short Version : A witch and her grumpy cat look for a lost book. Also, lots of "Wagahai".

Setup in a time when burning people on the stake was all the rage, Zero Kara Haimeru Mahou no Shou features your everyday witches fighting for survival killing people, burning villages, and unleashing plagues because the big daddys at the kingdom won't quit teasing them. In the midst of this rave party, our little powerful witch, who used to live in a cave by the way, is trying to find the lost grimoire that could "destroy the world". Along the way, she meets a really grumpy cat, well a humanoid-cat, a mercenary, who is often hunted by the witches as his head can serve as a powerful ingredient for a magic ritual. They make a contract and the cat becomes a magical girl that the mercenary would protect her from harm and in turn, after they find the lost book, she will turn him into a full fledged human being.

Despite it's rather interesting premise, the show's execution is mediocre. It lacks the ability to draw the viewer in. The developments are mostly predictable and the lingering sense of mystery isn't interesting enough nor is the suspense to grab 100% of my attention. Characters besides Zero are pretty bland and her interactions with the mercenary don't seem to move beyond a certain glass wall. That is not saying that I didn't find their banter entertaining. It was. But it didn't move past it in a way that would astonish me. So, my overall impression of the show is that it is average. I did not find it interesting enough for a recommendation.
Well, with that we are done with this season. Seeing how many sequels are piled up this year, I'm thinking I might have to release two lists for my yearly top 10 - one for sequels and one for non-sequels. That would be fun, I think. Anyways, which of the non-sequels did you guys think was the most entertaining from Spring 2017?

ACCA : 13-ku Kansatsu-ka | Winter 2017 Wrap-up

Studio : Madhouse
Genre : Police, Drama, Fantasy, Seinen
Episodes : 12

A season with Madhouse is a season to look forward to.
ACCA was one of the shows that caught my eye in the winter 2017 lineup because of two reasons :
1. Madhouse
2. A character with blue hair (they're fascinating, don't judge me)

But I am glad I got a lot more out of this show that I thought I would. The Seinen tag surely had me interested. And even though I tend to dislike police dramas (because I believe that anime isn't the right medium for it), this show turned out surprisingly well. Don't get me wrong, ACCA is a 'dull' 'boring' show for all you thrill seekers. But if you're into slow paced, dialogue oriented dramas with subtle characters, this will be a treat.

Here's a quick synopsis :
Long ago, after a civil uprising, an independent civilian organisation called ACCA was set up to unite the 12 states under the Dowa family rule. Headed by the five Chief Officers, the purpose of the organisation is to provide autonomy to the individual states but at the same time, keep everything working together. Furthermore, to keep the peace and to keep all the individual states in check, the ACCA inspection branch regularly inspects every state. Enter Jean Otus, Deputy Chief of the inspection department at ACCA. His job is to go and audit all 12 state branches. Meanwhile, as Dowa family's monarch's 99th birthday approaches, a devious plot is unwrapping itself and Jean is smack in the middle of it.

The thing that makes ACCA stand out for me is the presentation and the world-building. ACCA takes it's sweet time to give us the details of its 13 states. How every state is unique in it's scenery, it's way of operation, it's residents and how it contributes to the nation (it's produce). And all of this isn't done in one big info-dump. We follow along Jean on his audits and get a tour as he does his routine. And with every next audit, the mystery thickens and with it the balance in tone shifts towards the darker side. Of course all of this is balanced with sprinkles of light-hearted moments at regular intervals.

The way ACCA manages to keep everything interesting, despite lacking in action scenes or thrilling music, is commendable. It's got just the right balance of light hearted moments and serious ones, characters that keep you wondering whether they have a hidden side to them or not, a plot that keeps the mystery up until the very end, and a kickass opening and chill classy jazz background music to top it off. Since I feel I have showering this with more praise than necessary, let me balance it with some sober words.

And I will start with the characters. While the main characters - Niino and Jean, get a substantial amount of development, the supporting cast doesn't get the exposure it needs. Especially Director-General Mauve and Chief Officer Grossular. I feel that these characters needed to be fleshed out a bit more so that their involvement in the plot would have had more impact. I really wanted to know more about these characters, to be more invested in their world, but sadly, I was left wondering. And the same goes for some of the characters closely involved with the show's plot, who don't get any exposure at all. All of this can be attributed to the show's 12 episode run-time, but since this is an important aspect, it does take away from the overall enjoyment ration.

Overall, I feel that ACCA is a series which could have used a bit more 'flair' in the character department. It's lack of memorable characters is a drawback, especially because the series relies so much on character interactions. But it's presentation, excellent production quality, and intriguing plot make it hard to just pass over. While not everyone's cup of tea, this is a show I recommend from Winter 2017.

Don't know what the rating means? Check out the Rating System.

Kuzu no Honkai - Hanabi’s Turmoil

NOTE : This post contains spoilers.

We're always taught to be good. Starting with our parents, to teachers, relatives, sometimes friends and especially by the religious authorities. Everybody knows they should be good, but hardly anyone knows how. Or even what "good" is. So we start with imitation. As a child, you're thrown into this cruel ugly game where you're expected to behave a certain way. You're told stories about Kings, warriors, Gods and hermits. Pointing out their good deeds to you, they tell you to be like them. To grow up to be a good man/woman. And this behaviour, this urge, this need to be good is further hammered down into us by establishing a set of rules and then conditioning us using the reward and punishment system.

"Good vs Evil"

As a child, you don't wonder 'which' side to pick but 'why' pick a side. "Why be good?" "Because if you don't be good, you'll be sent to hell." (basically, God will smite your cheeky ass down if you don't do as he says). But that's not even the best part. To make the game further shitty, this is what we're told - "Now listen. You are a good person. And you must do good deeds because that's what good people do. Not because they're told to, but because they are a good person deep down."
So, you're required to behave a certain way which would only be acceptable if done voluntarily. See the paradox?

Of course, as a child you have no way of criticising that statement. So you grow up, cultivating this ideal of good inside you. An image, of how you should act and of who you ought to be. But then reality steps in. And you witness acts of evil first-hand. If they don't concern you, then you simply dismiss them as "the evil of the world" (because you were told there is evil in this world). But when it happens to you, that whole concept (the ego) you have cultivated in your head, starts to tear you apart from the inside out. "Why me?", "What did I do wrong?", "Why is this happening to me? I don't deserve this!" "The circumstances make no sense! It's ridiculous! What is wrong with this world?", "Why do bad things happen to good people?" And you just keep falling deeper and deeper into despair. Thinking that nothing is right in this world, nothing is fair. That it's not worth it. After all, you didn't ask for this in the first place.

And to make things worse, you see that the very people who taught you that discipline, aren't holy saints themselves. And you don't know what is what anymore. You don't know what to do, or how to deal with this feeling of betrayal, anger and frustration. "How can a person be like this?", "Why is he/she being that way?", "How can someone enjoy doing that to a person?", "This is just sad and pathetic!"
So. Now that that 'idol of who you ought to be' is shattered, nothing is left. The dreams, fantasies and scenarios you imagined yourself in, acting that way and getting what you wanted, are gone. And you're empty. What do you do?

Hanabi Gif

I think Hanabi's turmoil over what she is experiencing resonates with this. Except, instead of the idea of "being a (good) person", her ideals of "love" and "morals" are 'shattered', tearing her apart (I think it starts from that chat with her classmates about "love interests" and "specs"). Of course there are other factors involved - especially her father leaving and the guilt that was shoved onto her by her relatives. And this 'breakdown' never happens in that straightforward linear fashion as I mentioned. But it feels similar to it.

And I like how it is presented. How she didn't just go bat-shit insane after the teacher's "remark" (like you'd normally see in most anime). But she's still 'sane' and knows she's going down that path of self-destruction but she just doesn't know what to do or how to deal with the situation. Yes, the obvious and simple answer of "just rip the band-aid off" is there but she doesn't want to go there. The child 'self' who she talks to, knows all too well that this is not the path to take and her monologues affirm that. And that is interesting.

I wonder which way they will take it from here. On one hand her realisation that "everyone is sad and lonely" (i.e., in a way, suffering) is a step that can lead her out of this mess, but at the same time she can just keep falling deeper and deeper into the spiral if she keeps holding on. I'm excited to see which way this goes.
I don't want a forced happy ending for this, but an ending with scarred characters.

Hanabi Gif2

Now, one last thing.
Do any of you feel that way? I don't mean just the show but about being frustrated and angry growing up as a teenager because of all that shit "they" shoved into our heads. I don't mean they in a way that is like pointing and blaming 'them'. It's not their fault, they were brought up that way too. That paradox was handed down to them. They couldn't help it.
I was pretty naive growing up, so that whole "good" thing screwed me up when someone took advantage of my nature (and it happened again and again). Thankfully, I pulled myself out of it by adapting to a broader perspective on my life (there are a lot more 'demons' left to fight though).
Have you experienced something similar?

Top 10 Anime of 2016 [Non-Sequel]

Top 10 Anime of 2016

2016 was an amazing year filled with all kinds of surprising events. Trump got elected as President, Scientists detected gravitational waves, Eddie Hall pulled 500kgs on the deadlift, some celebrities died, harambe died, more random memes got famous, more people did stupid stuff, and a guy punched a kangaroo in the face. What a time to be alive!
On the other hand, in the world of Anime, the number of titles released this year surpassed the last. No surprises there, they just keep chucking them one after the other. While movies like Koe no Katachi and Kimi no Nawa created a lot of buzz, the shows also put up quite a performance. Here are my top 10 picks of 2016.

Disclaimer : This list does not include sequels, unless the whole series aired in the same year (example Ajin). So, no Durarara, Jojo, Haikyuu, Assassination Classroom, Hibike! Euphonium or Natsume's Book of Friends or anything else I forgot to include. Also, this is my list, an opinion on what I think are the best shows of 2016. It doesn't have to agree with your opinions. I'm sure you already know how the rest of this dialogue goes.
So, without further ado, let's begin.

#10 : Boku no Hero Academia

Studio : Bones
Genre : Action, Comedy, Super Power, Shounen
Episodes : 13

Putting My Hero Academia on the number 10 spot was a hard decision for me. After excluding the sequels and picking my top 7, the shows that I was left with were good in some aspects but they had some glaring flaws that I just couldn't ignore. After an extensive, thrilling elimination round of Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, I was left with 91 Days and My Hero Academia. And here we are.
The reason I didn't pick 91 days is because, to me, mafia shows (or shows related to gangs and violence, e.g., The Wire) have always been about strong memorable characters. And 91 days lacks that. Majority of the characters don't develop beyond their initial impressions (thanks to the short run time) and towards the end, the show questions the morality of its main characters' actions, something which I think is absurd. Anyways, let's move on.

My Hero Academia is a very conventional shounen anime, as conventional as it gets. It's the good old underdog story, about a guy who goes from zero to being a hero. The main character wants to become a hero because he really wants to, from the bottom of his heart. There's no "I'll be a hero and save this world" scenario. He wasn't born a hero, and he wasn't forced into it thanks to an accident (radioactive spiders or gamma ray exposures) or a tragedy. The job of a hero isn't thrust upon him by someone, it's what he wants, because superheroes are cool (I totally agree on that).

One thing I liked about the show is that it wasn't all about the war of good and evil. Instead, it was more about our main character, his past, how he deals with his powerlessness, then his newly acquired powers and his relationship with his "idol" All Might and his "friend" Bakugou. And towards the end, it incorporates some themes involving the hypocrisy when it comes to using violence, and about symbols and society; it's there and you are free to analyse (or over-analyse) them, but it isn't something to be taken too seriously. Despite the lack of "actual content" and sluggish pacing, the show has some quality moments in it. And it's fun to watch. So, you can pick this up if you want to see the old conventional superhero story, but don't expect to be blown away.

#9 : Ajin

Studio : Polygon Pictures
Genre : Action, Mystery, Horror, Supernatural, Seinen
Episodes : 26 across two seasons

So, a species of seemingly immortal beings appear and they are being hunted down by different groups from all over the world. A huge reward is put out and whoever helps the government catch an Ajin gets hundreds of millions. You are an average Japanese high-schooler, and listening to all the buzz and gossip about Ajins and catching them makes you a little uncomfortable. So, you're walking back home, thinking about all the things you should and shouldn't do, and out of nowhere... BAM! Plot hits you in the face and splatters your guts all over the asphalt. And it turns out, you're an Ajin. Congratulations! Better start running.

Actually, Ajin is a little more than just our peace loving protagonist running around for his life. It's got torture, inhumane experiments, politics, media, terrorism, a little bit of supernatural and lots of blood and violence, all in shiny full 3d animation. It's a great watch if you aren't bothered by the full CG art (you know the whole, sometimes it's cool, sometimes its like playing a game on ultra when your GPU can barely handle it on medium). It's got two seasons - the first season is amazing and while the second season takes a different route from the manga, it's still entertaining enough. I would recommend this if you are looking for a serious action series which incorporates the aforementioned themes in its story.

#8 : Fune wo Amu

Studio : Zexcs
Genre : Drama, Romance, Seinen
Episodes : 11

Now there's another profession I have deep respect for.
Getting to know what really goes into making everyday things is a delight for me. Especially things where humans do majority of the work and their character plays a huge role (so, episodes of How It's Made wouldn't count, probably). I get fascinated by watching other characters get fascinated by what they do. Usually, shows that feature such premises tend to have characters with fiery burning passion and 'intense' personalities. This is where Fune wo Amu steps in and shows us something different.

It's a show about making a dictionary - what it is, how it's made, what it means to it's creators and what purpose it should serve. Usually, shows with this kind of premise will have a very tense atmosphere with a lot of chaos among the characters (in the form of a competition or a deadline, or both). But Fune wo Amu is very calm and laid back, almost too laid back for it's own good. And this lack of "intensity" shows its effect in the character department. The main character, who really loves words and carries the word "serious" (or seriousness) in his name, is really bad at expressing himself. He is always introverted, doesn't actively participate in conversations, and would seem like a shy reserved person from the outside. Which is not bad, because his job requires him to be a very calm, collected person with monumental amounts of patience & dedication. But here's the thing, I still can't understand or relate to his passion for words, especially how 'intense' or deep rooted it is. And instead of providing us with more material to further his character, the series just constantly throws the ship analogy in our face.

I feel that the series could have done a lot more, but the creators just, sort of, didn't bother. Despite all that, it certainly gets it's message across, that making a dictionary is no easy task. This series is not a must watch for everyone and it certainly wouldn't get your blood pumping or keep you on the edge of your seat, but it'll show you how amazing humans are. So, if you are interested, go give it a shot.

#7[Tie] : Sakamoto Desu ga

Studio : Studio Deen
Genre : Comedy, School, Seinen
Episode : 12

#7 on the list is a tie between Sakamoto Desu ga and ERASED. Why? Well, because it is. Actually, I just want more anime on my list. Don't take it too seriously.

I like comedies, they're quite simple. You either laugh, or you don't. And Sakamoto Desu ga is one of those shows, where, you'll either like it from the first episode, or you'll just hate it because it's stupid. The story is about Sakamoto, a guy so perfect that compared to him, even Usui Takumi has flaws. We, the audience, get to witness his miracles as he goes about living an overwhelmingly cool and stylish high-school life. Popular guys, popular girls, average guys, average girls, bullies, seniors, teachers and even the birds and the bees can't keep up with him and are left in awe of his otherworldly godlike swag. Impossible situations? They're just everyday phenomenon for him, and he just glides through them gracefully. Not only that, his actions, directly or indirectly, end up helping others.

Point is, majority of the show's comedy is centred around Sakamoto getting out of impossible situations, most of which involve some kind of bullying. While not every gag is gold here, the kind of humour presented (suave humour) was refreshing because of it's ridiculousness and it's something quite different from the usual slapstick comedy you see in anime.

#7[Tie] : Boku Dake ga Inai Machi

Studio : A-1 Pictures
Genre : Mystery, Psychological, Seinen, Supernatural
Episode : 12

It's been a year since I watched this show but I still can't get over the frustration of that ending. The whole reason I watch mystery shows is to enjoy the rush of the reveal. When all the knots untie one after the other, when that one linchpin surfaces and all the dots connect to reveal the picture, when the curtain is finally lifted and our minds are blown away by the truth and the sheer genius of the deduction. That's what I wanted from this show, but what it delivered didn't even come close to a "surprise".
So, why is this show on #7?

Well, as much as I hate to admit it, up until the point where the reveal became "obvious", I enjoyed every moment of this show. The fact that we were going to solve a murder mystery by travelling back in time was fascinating, the protagonist's 29 year old psyche trapped in a child's body and all the monologues were amusing, the relationship between him and Hinazuki was cute and developing in an interesting way, the direction was on point and the animation really set the mood and pulled me in. But then....
Long rant short, I expected way too much from this anime. It's like Tokyo Ghoul all over again. And, considering the best moments of the show, it is more like a slice of life-ish show with a not-so-mind-blowing mystery on the side. Maybe I shouldn't have put this on #7. Oh well.

#6 : Re:Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu

Studio : White Fox
Genre : Psychological, Drama, Thriller, Fantasy
Episodes : 25

Perspective. It's interesting how people can have such varying points of view about the same thing, all justified in their own right, influenced by who they are.
After reading all the different opinions on Re:Zero and considering my own, I'm having a hard time presenting this show. I can't label all of it as bad because there were some amazing moments in the show, but I can't label it as a masterpiece because there were an equal amount of frustrating moments and nuances. What to do?

Re:Zero is a show that takes the old trusted formula, actually, several variants of it, adds some new things, slaps a new dress on it to hide all the patchwork and presents it to the audience. It's got blood, violence, moe, time travel, romance, drama, all in a fantasy world with cute characters, evil characters, cool characters, narcs, heroes, witches, elves and whatnot. It starts off really good, sets up the premise in an interesting way with a double first-episode, but as things go on, everything turns to mush. Into a sort of situation similar to when you turn up a big rock and there's all that going on underneath. But thankfully, it's entertaining. Cliffhangers at every episode, characters dying in painful ways to the point that its not overkill to call this a torture-fest, characters doing a 180 on their personality, lots of second hand embarrassment, an ever-present evil with no clear motive - you name a popular troupe, it's there. The downside? It's a mess. But it's fun.

#5[Tie] : Flying Witch

Studio : J.C. Staff
Genre : Comedy, Magic, Slice of Life, Supernatural
Episodes : 12

Always wondered if flying on a broom in that position hurt. I was convinced that the wonderful feeling of flight greatly overshadowed the agonizing pain of your privates getting crushed under your own weight. Glad I was wrong.
Flying Witch, a show by J.C. Staff that features a teenage girl by the name of Matoko Kowata who just moved to Aomori as part of her journey towards being a professional witch. Hearing the words "magic" and "witch" probably paints a very flashy, colourful picture in one's mind, one with transformation sequences, eccentric characters and bizarre phenomenon. But Flying Witch takes a modest and subtle approach to this premise. There is no great evil - external or internal, our characters have to fight against, no big dream or goal they are out to accomplish, there is no tension, no pressure on the characters. It's a slice of life show to the core. And it delivers.

The series has a calm atmosphere, complimented by serene, beautiful background art and soft loveable characters. The enjoyment comes not from eccentric over the top actions of the characters (as you'd expect from a typical slice of life show) but from subtle things like a child's reaction to seeing magic for the first time (like the fact that the witch can talk to her cat), or how the world of magic and witches is introduced to the audience. It's the kind of show you'll watch to unwind and relax, not to get a rush of adrenaline. So be mindful of your current mood if you do decide to watch this and you'll have a great time.

#5[Tie] : Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge

Studio : Silver Link
Genre : Slice of Life, Comedy, School
Episodes : 12

Me : "Hey, these two shows aired in the same season and belong to the same genre of SoL. Which one should we put on the list?"
Other me :"I don't know, which one's better?"
Me : "For that we'll have have to analyse both of these shows and based on factors like humour, direction, animation, execution of the jokes and overall character development, decide, which one is objectively a better show."
Other me : *Yawning* "Just put 'em both on the list!"
Me : "Wow! You're a genius man."
Aaaaaaaaaand, here we are.

Actually, Tanaka-kun is always listless is a delightful show. You have your lazy main character who has mastered the art of listlessness to the point that he can erase his presence. Not only that, the people around him are a peculiar bunch. Coupled with your everyday situations, this mix turns into a pleasant experience. Now, I'm generalising here but what Tanaka-kun does is it gives each of it's side characters a quirk that doesn't fit with their character at all, hence, turning them into characters "who aren't what they seem like". The most common overused example of this is the tsundere. But here this "method" isn't applied with a romantic interest in mind. For example, you have Miyano. A petite vivacious girl, who is always active, motivated and full of energy. But she gets fascinated by Tanaka's way of listlessness and decides to become his apprentice so that she can master it herself.
Or take Ohta - a tall, well built guy who looks nothing short of a delinquent (to the rest of the people in the show, I don't see it). But he is actually a pretty nice guy with a sweet tooth.

And here's the thing, it's not just Tanaka's listlessness and the side characters' peculiar personality which drives the show, the characters also share interesting relationships with each other and it contributes plenty towards the show's overall entertainment quota. The downside is that as the show progresses into the latter part, it's initial charm falls off. Not because it gets boring, but because the show starts to lean towards the romance aspect (trust me, it's not as bad as it sounds). Either way, the show is a notable addition to the genre, just like the other show it shares this #5 spot with.

#4 : Mob Psycho 100

Studio : Bones
Genre : Action, Slice of Life, Comedy, Supernatural
Episodes : 12

How does a show about a grade-schooler with super powers get on the #4 spot? What is so good about main characters with no drive, who only do something when they're "triggered"?
Well, if you think about it, that is unusual. But Mob Psycho 100 isn't about our main character trying to find motivation in life. Or how to utilise these awesome superpowers he was born with. It's more about how to deal with... life. I know that makes it sound like it's something grandiose, but it's not like that. Our main character isn't like your typical cool grade school kid who sits by the window seat in the corner and has all the pretty girls falling for him for no reason. He's socially awkward, has trouble making conversation, doesn't know what he wants most of the time, isn't good at sports or studying, and he's always dazed. On top of all that, he has these psychic powers that he can't fully control and doesn't know how to deal with them. He has grown up, watching people around him, with no super powers, lead perfectly fine, happy, ordinary lives. And that's what he wants. So, the conclusion he's arrived at is that psychic powers are completely unnecessary to live a life.

Now, there's a lot to look into if you sit down and analyse every bit of this show's aspects. Like the duality between the Kageyama brothers, how the show has cliches like the evil organisation but calls them out as "a group of children who never grew up", Mob's emotional outbursts and all the jokes and satire. But if you don't want to pick this show apart and just want to have fun, then you can do that too. There's tons of well-animated action, albeit, it's not your everyday animation with smooth contours and "beauty", it's a bit messy. But it's good. And there's some nice comedy with some of that second hand embarrassment that we all love.
Point is, this show is on #4 because I said so. That's all.

#3 : Saiki Kusou no Psi-nan

Studio : J.C. Staff & EGG FIRM
Genre : Comedy, Supernatural, School, Shounen
Episodes : 120 [5 min per episode]. 24 if you count them as 20 min compilations.

Being born with psychic powers sucks.
The reason we think that psychic powers are so amazing is because there are a lot of things we ordinary humans can't do. So, it's only fair to think that for a human to be able to do impossible superhuman feats would make their life awesome. In the case of someone obtaining superpowers, maybe yes. But being born with psychic powers means living a different kind of hell. Because when you're born with superpowers, the whole context of "I can't do something" disappears, and all the superhuman feats are just natural for you. And as you grow up, you realise how much of a pain those powers are. There is no sense of achievement because everything is a piece of cake. No surprises for you since you can see everything coming. You have to control your strength so you don't accidentally obliterate everything in a 10 kilometer radius. And if people find out about your powers, they won't stop nagging you for favours.

Saiki Kusou no Psi-nan is about a guy who is in a similar situation. Saiki Kusou was born with every imaginable psychic power - superhuman strength, psychokinesis, pyrokinesis, mind reading, telepathy, teleportation, power to change the very DNA make up of humanity, you name it, he's probably got it. He just wants to live a peaceful life and eat coffee jello everyday. But sadly, he is the main character of the show, so, life ain't easy for him.
The kind of comedy this show has, is the type of comedy I love. It consists of short, absurd gags filled with snarky remarks, references, fourth wall breaking and sarcasm. The characters are just the most ridiculous whackos you'll ever see and their interactions are just hilarious. Instead of talking more about how good this show is, let me put it this way :
The only reason KonoSuba is #2 on this list is because it was a much needed parody of the "trapped in a fantasy world" setting. And it did a good job. If it wasn't for that, this show would be my comedy of the year. No, wait, it is.

#2 : Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!

Studio : Studio Deen
Genre : Adventure, Comedy, Supernatural, Fantasy
Episodes : 10

The fascinating thing about comedy is that you can never quite explain why it's funny. It just is. If you've ever tried explaining a joke to someone then you know what I'm talking about. You can pick apart the whole thing and analyse how the joke is put together, how it's structured with a premise, how it draws you in and then how well it utilises the element of surprise to get that laugh out of you, but if you do that, you'll just end up killing the joke. Besides, the whole point of the joke is to make you laugh, and if you did laugh, there's no need to probe further and you move on. And even if you didn't laugh, you move on anyway. There's no point in trying to criticise a joke for not being funny.

Point is, KonoSuba is funny, I laughed a lot while watching it, and I said all that above because I don't want to explain why. I could tell you all about the whacky characters and how the show does an excellent job parodying the "trapped in a fantasy world" setting, but your experience with the show will depend largely on your sense of humour. Also, telling you about the characters sort of spoils the funny bits. So, just go watch the show. If you laugh, good. If you don't, don't force yourself to watch the whole thing, just move on.

#1 : Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Studio : Studio Deen
Genre : Drama, Historical, Josei
Episodes : 13

*Drumroll.....* Yay! Here we are, Anime of the Year.
I guess that whole drum-roll thing doesn't work when you write it. Not to mention, "Anime of the Year" just sounds.... lame.
Anyways, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is #1 on this list for obvious reasons. One, it was about a profession I didn't know anything of. Two, it had really interesting characters which developed throughout the show; and we saw the influence of not just Rakugo in their life but of other factors as well (take love for example). Three, the presentation was brilliant. And last but not the least because I said s- oh, I've already used that one.

This is a slow paced show about two people involved in the traditional Japanese 'art' (add an internal *ugh* as you read that word) of storytelling called Rakugo, where a guy sits in front of the audience and 'performs' a story. It's about how those two got into Rakugo, the difficulties and challenges they had to face to become a better performer, their relationship with each other, their personal lives - everything your everyday guy in that era would go through.

So, then, what's the big deal?
It's not. Yes, the show is different, an outlier, and it is put together well, and on your average scale, whatever that is, the show performs well above the threshold. But, in the end, it's a show about a guy 'performing' a story. Not everyone is going to go bonkers over something like that. And even in the show, the guy performs in a small theatre which isn't bursting with people (at least most of the time). Point is, the show is going to be boring for a lot of people. So, if you don't enjoy it, it's okay. Just remember, beauty is in the eye of the beer holder (whatever that means).

Honorable Mention : Yuri on Ice!!!

Studio : MAPPA
Genre : Comedy, Sports
Episodes : 12

Ah! This show.
If you've read my first reaction/review then you already know how I feel about this show. I thought this anime was gonna show me the beautiful world of ice skating - from everything that goes on in there to why the skaters love it so much (each with their own reasons). But what I got was something entirely different.
Since this is supposed to be an honorable mention and not a rant, I'd like to stop and say few words of praise.

Yuri on Ice is a good show.
There. I said it. That'd be all.
Okay, I know that's rude but any kind of praise I give to this show is bound to turn into a rant after a few lines. Because of how badly it screwed up the opportunity it had. It's as if you sent a guy into a cave full of treasure. And he walks out holding a rock saying "Hey look. I found this interesting rock. Almost looks like a penis." I don't know if that makes sense, but that's how I'd describe what I felt. So, my advice is, don't go in expecting a breathtaking show, or something crap. It's not THAT bad, it's just frustrating to see what it did with what it had.

Honorable Mention : ReLife

Studio : TMS Entertainment
Genre : Slice of Life, Romance, School
Episodes : 13

Oh god that smile.
I swear, that is the sole reason I've put this show here.
ReLife is one of those shows where you feel giddy that the main character is going to live his high-school life again, but at the same time it's kinda sad that he doesn't have anything in his present to be happy about. It's got your usual high-school cliches like the slippery stairway where girls trip and fall on our protagonist, and characters with their usual self doubt and guilt over being good or bad at something, characters who don't fit in because they're too awkward and just don't know how to deal with people all in your usual high-school ecosystem with all of it's phenomenon of tests, festivities and whatever. The twist here is that our main character is a 27 year old guy whose outer appearance has been altered to look like he's 17. It's an experience similar to when you replay that super hard level from a video game.

The show has some fun moments that got a good laugh out of me and I find Chizuru's awkwardness adorable. There's also your usual life lessons of treasuring your present and all that, along with adding a little weight to your usual high school stereotypes (take the whole talent and working hard 'argument' for example). The problem is that the show isn't complete and all we got was the setup of sorts - of how our protagonist influenced other people's lives and what we didn't get is how it changed him and what he does with that feeling/lesson to make a difference in his current life. Still, I liked it.

And with that, I wrap up this late-as-usual post. What were your favourite shows from 2016?