The Best Anime Next Steps

There are a lot of anime out there! Literally thousands, with over a hundred more being released every year. There are new hits every season, and old favorites that have slowly lost their topical sheen. Given all those shows, it can be understandably hard to pick what to watch next – anime, like every other medium, is full of stuff that will disappoint you, and everyone’s tastes are different.

My own tastes in particular are a little weird – I like arthouse stuff and intimate character studies and occasional cathartic message-focused shows. But fortunately, there is indeed such a thing as “normal” taste in anime, or at least the most common preferences shared by fans outside of Japan. And today, I’m hoping to help that audience – or more specifically, hopefully, You.

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One Punch Man – Review

Aw dang, I reviewed the season/year’s big breakout hit. My review turned out roughly how you’d expect if you’ve been reading my weekly thoughts – I felt the show certainly had beautiful animation, occasionally had interesting moments outside of that, and was mostly just a kinda mediocre gag comedy/action thing. I guess it’s become traditional at this point for me to have lukewarm feelings on the year’s big action hit, from Attack on Titan through Kill la Kill up to One Punch Man, and I think that makes sense. Action shows care about action, and I personally think pretty much any show is lesser if it doesn’t provide you with characters or ideas worth caring about – but the sorts of scenes that result in those things aren’t necessarily the kind of scenes people who like action for its own sake want to see in their shows. Pure action shows will continue to come out and electrify the western fanbase, and I will continue to find them kinda mediocre. So it goes.

You can check out my full review at ANN, or… wait, nevermind, I don’t have any notes. So go over there!

One Punch Man

Top Ten Anime of 2015

And so, another year of anime winds to its end. There have been surprises and disappointments this year, and my ultimate list doesn’t really look much like what I’d expected to find, but in the end, anime is anime. At the beginning of this year, I was looking forward to crowning two of 2014’s better series – Your Lie in April and Parasyte. Unfortunately, both of those shows kinda lost their way in their second halves, which was sad for everyone. Later on, at the year’s halfway point, I was again excited about my end-of-year list – I already had a good seven or eight shows I felt were top ten-worthy, and was beginning to think this would be a year to rival 2013. Unfortunately, the year’s second half only really gave me the last couple shows I needed, and so here I am, recognizing just enough shows to fill out a full list. This year didn’t end out quite as strong as I’d hoped, but ultimately I probably shouldn’t complain about any year that featured enough shows to fill a list plus honorable mentions.

And I actually do have an honorable mention, one I honestly feel a little bad not including on my list proper. Although not all its sequences were equally strong, Studio Khara’s Animator Expo definitely deserves a mention – you might have heard of it just because of Me! Me! Me!, but the whole thing is full of wonderful, creative little vignettes. If you’re interested in the visual potential of anime, or just want to see some cool short-form pieces, Animator Expo is a can’t-miss experience. The third season is still available online (here’s a particularly good one), so I’d definitely check that out. I should also probably mention One Punch Man, since I get the feeling not mentioning it means it will dominate the comments. Yes, I watched it, and no, I didn’t think it was that great. Strong animation, but everything outside of that felt pretty mediocre, and so you won’t see it here.

But that’s all preamble. You guys are here for the top shows, and top shows you will have – shows from a wide span of genres and creators, shows to thrill and shock and make you cry. Every year in anime brings new treasures, so let’s buckle in and run down the best in one more year of Japanese cartoons!

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Fall 2015 – Week 12 in Review

I don’t tend to enjoy writing negative stuff. If I can make some kind of upbeat game or challenge out of it, like I did when writing about Strike Witches or Dragonar Academy, it can be pretty okay – but when it’s just a grim reporting of disappointment and failure, continuing week after week, that’s just the saddest kind of writing. I like being enthusiastic about stuff, and sharing that enthusiasm with people, and lately it’s been feeling like my week in review posts are just too dang negative. But like all good critics, I’m going to remain confident the problem isn’t with me, it’s with the media. I’m just watching too many bad shows! I’ve got bad shows I’m watching on contract and bad shows I’m watching on faith and mediocre shows I’m watching for their occasional glimmers of greatness. If not for all these bad shows, everything would be fine.

So yeah, I’m looking forward to next season. The only show I’ll really be sad to see go is Owarimonogatari, and that one ended so well that I can’t even complain (plus hey, Kizu’s on its way). Other than that, this shambling collections of rejects and ne’er-do-wells can just shuffle on into the past, and we can embrace a whole new collection of anime hopes and dreams. Plus I’ll be posting my top ten shows of the year about a week from now, and it doesn’t really get more positive than that! This cloud shall pass, but for now, let’s take a somewhat skeptical look back at this week’s shows and RUN ‘EM DOWN.

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Fall 2015 – Week 11 in Review

This week in anime wasn’t the best, I’m sad to say. My reliable favorites were reliable-to-great, but… well, there are only two of those. And everything else kinda let me down. I feel like I’ve more or less set myself up for disappointment this season – instead of accepting that it’s a bad season and relying wholly on backlist shows to get me through, I’ve basically just assumed a handful of shows are permanently in “dud episodes” and keep feeling disappointed when they consistently prove their dud episodes are actually just their normal episodes. It’s no way to live, frankly, and I don’t actually know if next season offers any escape – considering how tentative my excitement is for basically everything on my preview list, it seems pretty likely that Monogatari and Iron-Blooded Orphans will be next season’s best shows, too.

But I don’t mean to depress you. Even if this week’s shows were bad (and even when it comes to what I was reviewing for ANN, they were), that doesn’t mean I don’t have stuff to say about ’em. And hey, not every show tripped on its face – in fact, Owarimonogatari pulled off an episode that I’d probably count among the best of the year. So let’s put on a brave face, assume a stiff upper lip, and contort your muscles in any other way you feel appropriate as we RUN ‘EM DOWN.

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Fall 2015 – Week 10 in Review

We’re approaching the end of the season, which at this point means we’re also approaching the end of the year. On a seasonal level, this means shows have really stopped pulling out too many surprises – Perfect Insider and One Punch Man demonstrated some welcome strengths over the last few weeks, but even they seem to be settling into a rhythm for the finales. And on an annual level, this means holy crap it’s time to do all that end-of-the-year nonsense! I’ve more or less settled on my top ten shows of the year, and am working my butt off to manage that list, weekly reviews, actual full show reviews, and regular current project articles for all you lovely people. It’s been an extremely busy week on basically all those fronts; I spent a great deal of last week barreling through way too many episodes of Black Lagoon, and this past weekend I also managed to sneak in the excellent When Marnie Was There. All those and many more attractions in this here week in review! Let’s RUN IT ALL DOWN!

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Fall 2015 – Week 9 in Review

This week in anime was really good! Super good, in fact! It wasn’t just held up by one or two shows – almost every show I’m watching (aside from Beautiful Bones, but that doesn’t really count) either held strong or pulled off one of its best episodes, and a bunch of these episodes even demonstrated strengths their shows hadn’t previously exhibited. The Perfect Insider was full of strong character moments, Owarimonogatari returned to the beautiful art designs of arcs long past, and One Punch Man succeeded not just as an animation showcase, but as an emotional drama. I’ve got all sorts of good things to say about these episodes, so let’s get right to it and RUN ‘EM DOWN!

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Fall 2015 – Week 8 in Review

It’s Wednesday again, which means time once more for the ol’ week in anime! And this week in anime was… well, it was a week in anime. Not really all that much to report, frankly – pretty much everything maintained a fairly even keel, acting more or less in the ways you’d expect them to act. The biggest outlier this time was The Perfect Insider, in that it was both very good and good in ways that defied standard expectations, but everything else existed within its expected parameters. That said, there’s still plenty of finer details to sift through, and I actually watched a fair amount of non-weekly anime this week, so don’t worry, I’ll make today’s tour worth your while. So pull up a comfortable chair and let’s RUN ‘EM DOWN.

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Fall 2015 – Week 7 in Review

Things didn’t go so well this week! The majority of the shows I’m watching demonstrated some pretty lackluster episodes, from my favorites down through the bottom of the pack. Owarimonogatari’s new arc started off poorly, The Perfect Insider stumbled over its worst episode yet, and Utawarerumono tried to perform the same mediocre trick for a third time straight. In contrast, One Punch Man actually consistently impressed me, working as a satisfying episode of anime even outside of its visual tricks. We’ve got a lot of doldrums to get through, but let’s start with that positive note, and then maybe finish up with a guest appearance by something I really, really did enjoy.

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Fall 2015 – First Half in Review

Holy crap we’re already at the halfway point. It doesn’t really feel like a halfway point – Owarimonogatari’s just finished its first larger arc-sequence, and Okada Gundam is still basically in its preamble, so it kinda feels like we’re just getting started. But apparently everything else is already half over, and the halfway point ranking thing has become one of this site’s many random traditions (look, routines help with my insecurities), so here we are again. As usual, this will be the one and only time I rank this season’s overall shows. Ranking shows when they’re only halfway done may seem like an inherently useless gesture, but I assure you, that is definitely the point. “But Bobduh,” you might respond, “you rank your favorite shows of the year anyway, so how can you say you’re making a point about the futility of rankings when you then proceed to buy into them in the same exact way everyone else does?” “Shut up,” I say to this. “Shut up, stop talking, your face is bad.”

With all that cleared up, let’s get right to the listing! What has risen, what has fallen, and what is just sort of staggering on? ALL WILL BE REVEALED.

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