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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Sword Art Online Extra Edition – Review

Pretty happy with this one. Not the show itself – Extra Edition’s a hot sack of garbage, there’s no reason to watch it. But I think the review itself gave me a pretty cathartic opportunity to give one last goodbye to SAO… at least until season three comes out. Or until I have to review season two’s blurays. Or until…

Alright, maybe SAO isn’t actually done with me at all. Still, I had fun with this review, and I have to say I’ve really developed a fondness for the show in spite of it all. Until we meet again, Sword Art Online.

My full ANN review is available here. My copious fanservice special notes are below!

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Fall 2014 – Week 12 in Review

We’re nearing the end of the year, and I’ve got presents to wrap, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I keep this brief. Not many surprises to speak of this week, outside of SAO somehow ending on… uh, maybe the highest note it’s ever reached? Normally when SAO is okay, it’s because it leans totally on its fight animation – but this week didn’t even have a fight. Instead, it just ended the arc in a way that satisfyingly ties up the thematic lines and character journeys of this story. Huh. Funny thing. Maybe try that more often next time, SAO!

Anyway, enough praise for my nemesis. Let’s run ‘em all down!

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Sword Art Online II – Episode 24

It’s over. Dear lord, it is finally over. I know that it’s not actually over – I still have to review Extra Edition for ANN, and the looming threat of a third season always hangs overhead. But for what it’s worth, SAO ended on about as high of a note as the show has ever reached – not only was this episode sharp aesthetically, it actually legitimately tied this arc’s themes together in a graceful way. I’ve had problems with SAO, I am very sure you know, but even with a couple serious dud episodes, Mother’s Rosario has turned out to easily be the show’s best arc. Plenty of reasons for that – a lack of Kirito, an actual character focus, a new perspective on the show’s central ideas – but the sum total of it means I can’t really complain. It’s been quite a ride, Sword Art Online. Now get the fuck out of here, you little scamp.

My full ANN post is here. Notes below!

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Fall 2014 – Week 11 in Review

This was a somewhat hit or miss week in animeland, with the usual top tier turning in great episodes, but everyone else varying from solid to blargh. Amagi Brilliant Park, Chaika, and Bahamut are looking like they’ll fall somewhere under my initial expectations, the top four of Shirobako, KimiUso, Parasyte, and FSN are all keeping it together in solid form, and the MMO contingent are both doing their best to end the season on a high note. Let’s see what we got!

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Sword Art Online II – Episode 23

SAO tricked me again this week, pulling off a surprisingly effective episode after last week’s absurdity. The story didn’t necessarily get “better,” but its variables were used more thoughtfully, and the execution was stellar. Even in Fairy Dance, the lion’s share of SAO’s aesthetically effective moments were the ones in the real world – Sugu’s story didn’t land for a variety of reasons, but it was often solidly expressed nonetheless. This episode somehow arrived at a pretty respectable end for Mother’s Rosario, so nice job, SAO.

My full ANN post is right here. Notes below!

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12 Days of Anime #12: My Neighbor SAO

Hey guys! Yeah, I’m participating in the 12 Days of Anime – an aniblogger project where bloggers put out one post reminiscing on some anime-related moment or memory from the year on each day leading up to our day of pagan tree worship and reverence to our god, consumerism. Considering I already put out basically a post a day, this may not be the most intelligent of choices, but I don’t think anyone’s ever accused me of making many of those. I’ll probably alternating these more or less between personal moments of stuff I either worked on, did, or failed to do and straight-up Perfect Moments in Anime, so look forward to a broad scattering of posts over the next couple weeks. Today I’m starting off with one of my many not-so-bright ideas – going on a journey with Sword Art Online.

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Fall 2014 – Week 10 in Review

Pretty killer episodes this week, at least from the top shelf. KimiUso, Shirobako, and Parasyte all turned in stellar performances, Chaika kept up the dramatic intensity from last week, and Log Horizon suddenly decided to toss off one of the best speeches I’ve seen. The other episodes were middling, but the season’s looking strong as we move into the endgame. Look forward to a pretty stupid amount of content over these next couple weeks – I’m planning on participating in the 12 Days of Anime posts (one post a day for the twelve days leading up to the 25th) along with all my usual review shenanigans, my top shows of the year post will follow that, and even ANN might have some kind of bonus piece to contribute. I hope this is what you want, internet. This is all the blood I have!

Alright, enough of that. Let’s run down some cartoons.

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Sword Art Online II – Episode 22

Oh boy. This episode. What is there to say? Sometimes Sword Art Online can be pretty okay, and sometimes it tries to get really, really sad. This episode was basically Yui The Doll You’re Supposed to Care About Vol. II, with Yuuki and her Sleeping Knights piling on basically every sad-sack revelation the show could possibly muster. It’s so transparent and inept that I can’t even feel insulted by it – it’s like a little kid trying to tell a sad story. Episodes like this make me marvel at the fact that Sword Art Online is a massive production involving the work of hundreds of people. And all… all for this.

Here’s the full ANN post. Notes/incredulous tweets below!

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Fall 2014 – Week 9 in Review

This was kind of a slow week overall, outside of nuts-good episodes from usual highlights Shirobako and KimiUso. Although both Chaika and Fate Stay Night also pulled out very fun episodes, Rage of Bahamut and Amagi were kind of subdued, and the bottom tier of Log Horizon and SAO both fell below average. But I mean, I’ve had seasons where I was happy to see one show keeping it together… I should probably be able to take it in stride when only four of the six shows I really like put out top-notch episodes. And this was the first great Chaika in a while, a very important Chaika in fact, so let’s start right there. Running it down!

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