What I Watched This Week – 6/28 – 7/4

Title image for Sekaiichi Hatsukoi 2. A taller man holding a smaller man with roses around them.Sekaiichi Hatsukoi S2 – More of everything season one had, for better or for worse. I still had a lot of trouble telling characters apart since there were only two models – seme and uke – and had to remember who had which voice actor or eye color. The manga publishing content was still my favorite part, but the romances were enjoyable enough for yaoi. 6/10 Funimation

Title image for Dorohedoro. Various characters in masks against a backdrop of a gritty cityscape.Dorohedoro – I didn’t know much about this before I started it, but I was surprised by how hard it made me laugh considering how gritty and gory it was. It felt really 90s to me, like something that might’ve been on MTV back when I was in high school. The balance of comedy, mystery, and violence was just right, with a fun cast of likeable characters, protagonists and villains alike. My only big complaint is how it ended sort of abruptly without much of a conclusion. 8/10 Netflix

Title image from Natsume's Book of Friends. A boy holding an old book stands on a forest staircase with a catNatsume’s Book of Friends S5 – There’s not much to say about this that I haven’t said about the previous four seasons. Natsume is a delight, and I love him and his friends so much. Watching this series is so relaxing, I wish it could continue indefinitely. 8/10 Crunchyroll/VRV

 

Title image for Naruto. Title character in his orange tracksuit stands with various characters in front of a mountain with faces carved into it.

Naruto Ep. 1-25 – I’ve never seen any of this before, but the kids who grew up with it are the adults writing today’s material, so I figured I should watch it. It’s certainly not aimed at middle aged women, but I’m still entertained enough. I’m a little offended by how utterly useless they’ve written this Sakura character, I’m amused at how Naruto makes Natsu look level-headed, and I don’t understand why a ninja would wear a bright orange track suit, but I’ll keep watching. 7/10 Crunchyroll/VRV, Netflix

Spring 2020 Anime Roundup

The spring anime season wrapped up for me today with the last episode of Woodpecker Detective’s Agency, so let’s look back at the season Coronavirus tried to kill. Ranked from best to worst, here’s what I watched:

Completed:

Title image for Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. Five girls and two boys standing together wearing black school uniforms in front of a fancy high school.Kaguya-sama: Love is War S2 – I thought season one was pretty damn funny, but somehow this season had me laughing harder and more often while squeezing my poor heart. Shirogane and Kaguya continued to deliver as everyone’s favorite tsundere-tsundere couple, and best boy Ishigami finally gets to shine in the sports festival arc that had me sniffling.  9/10 Funimation

Title image for Sing Yesterday for Me. Two young men and two young women sit on a bench in an art gallery.Sing “Yesterday” for Me – If you like love triangles about people who can’t get out of their own way, this is the anime for you. It felt a little rushed in the last two episodes, but I really enjoyed this romance about people fumbling around in the transition period between school and adulthood. 8/10 Crunchyroll/VRV

Title image for Wave, Listen to Me. Main character wearing a waitress uniform stands with the staff of a radio station.Wave, Listen to Me! – In a rare twist, we got multiple stories about working young adults this season, and this comedy about a hot mess of a woman who falls into a job in radio was a riot. Minare’s voice actress gave the performance of the season with how she delivered the wild, drunken monologues Minare often went on. If you want a flawed but 100% relatable heroine, this is it. 8/10 Funimation

Title image for My Next Life as a Villainess. Characters in gowns and suits gathered in a ballroom.My Next Life as a Villainess – I watched three isekais this season, and this one about getting reincarnated as the villainess of an otome game was my favorite of the bunch  Caterina was frustratingly dense at times about her friends’ obvious romantic feelings towards her, but I really enjoyed how her devious machinations to outwit the game and avoid her character’s bad ending all involved just being a genuinely nice person and good friend to everyone. A nice girl collecting a mixed gender harem is my kind of party. 8/10 Crunchyroll/VRV

Title image for Kakushigoto. Main character dressed like a businessman crossing the street holding his daughter's hand with the rest of the cast on the pedestrian bridge behind them.Kakushigoto – Going into this without reading the manga, I was expecting a fluffy slice of life about a dad hiding his job writing a raunchy gag manga from his young daughter, but the ending segments of each episode kept hinting at a tragic present that didn’t feel very fluffy at all. Like most stories about manga artists, it has a lot of inside jokes and self-deprecating humor about writers’ anxieties and procrastination activities, but the added layer of trying to write dick jokes for a living while being a single dad sets it apart from the others. 7/10 Funimation

Title image for Ascendance of a Bookworm. Various characters in medieval like dress against a colorful background.Ascendance of a Bookworm Part 2 – The second half of this isekai about a librarian reincarnated as a young girl in a European-flavored fantasy world follows Myne as she navigates noble society as an apprentice priestess. While I loved watching her work towards her dream of filling this world with books accessible to everyone, a lot of the fish out of water conflict of an isekai falls a little flat with a child protagonist. Of course she can’t manage church and noble society, she’s eight. 7/10 Crunchyroll/VRV

Title image for Tower of God. Various characters holding their respective weapons.Tower of God – I don’t generally call things over-hyped, but I absolutely cannot understand why this mediocre show was the talk of the season. It didn’t do a very good job with introducing characters or establishing the world building, because I barely understand who’s who or what the rules are after 13 episodes. And, wow, was Bam a Mary Sue/Gary Stu. Instantly powerful and beloved by all with a personality like lukewarm vanilla ice cream. I don’t get the hype, but it was entertaining enough with good voice acting. 7/10 

Title image for Arte. Main characters in period dress on the streets of Renaissance Florence.Arte – I was really excited for this when it was announced, as a story about a female painter in Renaissance Italy tagged as romance sounded entirely up my alley. Unfortunately for me, there wasn’t really any romance beyond the old “why does my chest hurt when I look at him? What is this mysterious feeling?” trope, and Arte herself annoyed the shit out of me with her impulsive need to involve herself in other people’s business. The show also seems to think sexism is both displayed overtly by blatant sexists and overcome by just working as hard as a man with a smile on your face and that’s some hot nonsense. 6/10 Funimation, Hulu

Title image for The 8th son? Are you kidding me? Main characters together in fighting poses.The 8th son? Are you kidding me? – Of all the isekai this season, this was by far the weakest. It’s supposed to be about a twenty-something year old office worker who wakes up as the youngest son of an impoverished minor noble, but other than pining for Japanese food, his previous life as an adult in a technologically advanced society never really plays a role, making this more like a straight fantasy than an isekai. There was a lot wrong with this – the magic looked silly, the fights suffered from bad CGI and a lack of tension, the final confrontation is wildly anticlimactic – but for whatever reason I enjoyed watching it each week. It’s a decently entertaining story about a nice boy and his friends fighting dragons for fun and profit. 6/10 Crunchyroll/VRV

Title image for Woodpecker Detective's Agency. Young men in a mix of suits and kimonos standing on a street in Meiji era Japan.Woodpecker Detective’s Office – While I liked the art style and it had a couple of voice actors I generally enjoy, the story didn’t really go anywhere or have a point. Maybe if I was familiar with Japanese literature and knew more about the authors these characters were based on, the story might have held more meaning. I don’t have that knowledge, though, so this was just a story about a self-centered, lying asshole and his enabling friend solving mysteries without leaving clues for the audience to play along. 5/10 Crunchyroll/VRV

Title image for Listeners. A teenage boy and girl in a desolate rail yard with an amp speaker.Listeners – Man, I don’t know how you make a rock and roll themed, post apocalyptic mecha anime boring, but the brain geniuses behind this managed it somehow. Incoherent plot, sterile CG fights, and poor music direction made this the worst show by far this season for me. 4/10 Funimation, Hulu

Continuing:

Title image for Fruits Basket 2nd Season. Tohru and the Soma family at the beach running after a straw hat blowing in the wind.Fruits Basket 2nd Season – You’d be forgiven for looking up the plot synopsis and deciding it sounds too silly – I mean, orphaned high school girl sleeping in a tent meets family of cursed young people who turn into an animal of the Chinese zodiac when hugged by someone of the opposite sex *does* sound pretty silly – but it’s such a great story about finding people you can trust and friends supporting each other through life’s nonsense. Season two continues the drama and romance, and ships are starting to sail. 9/10 Crunchyroll/VRV, Funimation

Title image for Ahiru no Sora. Five high school boys in basketball uniforms.Ahiru no Sora – It’s currently at 36 of 50 episodes and about two months into to the story and it’s been a mixed bag. The slice of life episodes that focus on the characters’ various struggles are really engaging, but the animation for the basketball scenes is straight-up bad. It has good writing and a solid cast of voice actors, so if you can get past the animation quality, it’s pretty enjoyable. 7/10 Crunchyroll/HIDIVE/VRV

What I Watched This Week – 6/21 – 6/27

Title image for Rurouni Kenshin. Various characters in kimonos with the title character holding a katana.Rurouni Kenshin Ep. 35-63 – Man, that Kyoto arc was great. The fights are a little silly sometimes, like the flying dynamite guy and the reasoning given for someone’s flaming sword, but I was totally here for all the ruminating on violence and how to live well. Kenshin is the social justice samurai I didn’t realize I needed in my life. It’s all filler for the next 30 episodes, though, so I probably won’t marathon the rest of it. 8/10 Crunchyroll/VRV, Hulu

Title image for Elegant Yokai Apartment Life. Various characters both human and yokai, in front of an old building covered in vines.Elegant Youkai Apartment Life – This started out okay with a high school kid moving into an apartment building when his dorm burned down, only to find out all of his neighbors are youkai, exorcists, or mystics. The first half had a nice slice of life vibe where he befriends his paranormal neighbors and plays house with his hot boyfriend best friend, but after he finds a magic book and develops powers, it gets weird fast. The conflicts he involves himself in are silly, the fights use magic in nonsensical ways, and the attempts to get philosophical or teach a moral lesson fall flat. I really didn’t like the episode about girls lying about sexual harassment to get an unpopular teacher fired, nor did I like the thread of “people these days are always looking at their phones” throughout. 6/10 Crunchyroll/VRV

Title image for Otome Yokai Zakuro. Men in army uniforms and cat-eared yokai women in kimonos against a floral background.Otome Youkai Zakuro – Absolutely do not know what to say about this one, but it had romance and some fun fight choreography, so I enjoyed myself. 7/10 Crunchyroll/VRV

What I Watched This Week – 6/14-6/20

Title image for Big Windup 2. A group of high school boys in white baseball uniforms and black hats.Big Windup S2 – This had everything I loved about season one – strategy, psychology, realistic characters, feelings – and less of what I disliked – fewer weird reaction faces, the main character’s voice was less squeaky. It was great to see our anxious main character gain confidence while still being himself. I just need someone to explain to me why people in baseball anime like to slide into first. 8/10 Crunchyroll/VRV

Title image for Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid. A boy in black armor and a girl in school uniform stand in front of a giant mech.Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid – I really enjoy the characters in this series, especially Sousuke and Chidori, but you can’t think about it too hard, or you realize it’s an action/adventure romcom about a child soldier with untreated PTSD currently being exploited by the “good guys.” That said, the haircut scene is one of the most romantic things I’ve seen in anime. Whew. 8/10 Crunchyroll/VRV/Funimation

Title image for Sekaiichi Hatsukoi. Taller man has his arms wrapped around a frazzled looking man holding manga in his hands.Sekaiichi Hatsukoi -This felt like a yaoi with the sex scenes left out, which makes sense, since that’s exactly what it was. It had “yaoi hands”, I couldn’t tell anyone apart beyond tall = seme and short =uke, and nobody seemed to grasp the concept of consent, as all makeouts involved pinning the short guy down and ignoring his calls to stop. Why bother having three couples if you’re going to make them identical? I did enjoy the parts about their work publishing manga, and I’m curious enough about the main couple that I’ll probably watch the sequel. 6/10 Funimation

Title image for Danchigai. A boy in a school uniform stands outside his house with his four sistersDanchigai – This series of three-minute shorts about a high school boy and his four sisters had to have been written by an only child. The weird sexual tension was uncomfortable, and the jokes were pretty blah. 5/10 Crunchyroll/VRV

Title image for Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga. Various characters surrounded by flames.Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga – I enjoyed this more than I enjoyed the first season, but the beginning was a little weird with how it acted like the anime-original stuff at the end of season one didn’t happen. Rin’s just one of my favorite screaming shounen characters. He’s such a charming ball of feelings. Additionally, Rin and Yukio are up there with Schitt Creek’s David and Alexis for capturing the dynamic between siblings pretty much perfectly. When Yukio said “I love my brother. I hate my brother.” I felt that. 8/10 Crunchyroll/VRV/Hulu

Title image for Rurouni Kenshin. Various characters in kimonos with the title character holding a katana.Rurouni Kenshin Ep. 24-34 -I’m enjoying this even more since the Kyoto arc kicked off. The story’s gaining some momentum now. Crunchyroll/VRV

Title image for Elegant Yokai Apartment Life. Various characters both human and yokai, in front of an old building covered in vines.Elegant Yokai Apartment Life Ep.1-13 – I’m not entirely sure who this is meant for. The cast of handsome guys talking about their feelings and playing house seems aimed at women, but the episode about high school girls lying about sexual harassment to get a teacher they don’t like seems like a giant f-you to women. I’m going to keep watching, but it’s got some issues. Crunchyroll/VRV

What I Watched This Week – 6/7-6/13

Title image for Rurouni Kenshin. Various characters in kimonos with the title character holding a katana.

Rurouni Kenshin Ep 8-24 – I’m still enjoying this nostalgia trip, and Kenshin’s philosophy on violence and redemption is apropos for the moment we’re in right now, but VRV is acting up lately, so I decided to go watch stuff on other platforms for a bit. Crunchyroll/VRV.

Title image for Cautious Hero. A blond goddess prays while various busty goddesses pose above the title character

Cautious Hero – For a comedy parodying isekai tropes, it was pretty funny, but it also seemed to want to be a serious fantasy in its own right, and that was a little less successful. It was perfectly enjoyable, and bonus points for making the MC hot, so the women lusting after him made some sense for a change. Hulu. 7/10

 

Title image for Snow White with the Red Hair. Girl with red hair holds basket of herbs while a silver haired prince stands behind her

Snow White with the Red Hair – I was in the mood for a sweet shoujo-y romance, so I decided to rewatch a favorite, and ended up liking it more than I remembered liking it before. Zen and Shirayuki are just the cutest and sweetest couple, and I love how they encourage each other. My only complaints are how everyone who meets Shirayuki is invariably charmed by her, and the overuse of turning her into a damsel in need of rescue to add conflict and that Obi x Zen x Shirayuki isn’t canon. Hulu. 8/10

Title image for Natsume's Book of Friends 4. Various people and youkai mill around a Japanese style home.

Natsume’s Book of Friends S4 – This season mixes a little more drama about Natsume’s past and present relationships into his interactions with the yokai, and I really enjoyed it. Seeing his childhood trauma explains so much about his present behavior without making him into a one-note victim of cardboard villains. It’s satisfying and healing to watch him grow up and get comfortable with people. Crunchyroll/VRV. 8/10