Rate the last anime you watched out of 10

Lordhippos

Stand User
@awadama fever - I think Hanamonogatari was probably the weakest arc out of them all including the arcs you've not seen yet.

Owari and co get back on form though after the really good 2nd season.

Surprised you haven't tried more isekai perhaps! It's one of my fav genres, but admittedly a lot of trash isekai gets made.

If interested in trying more, for good ones I enjoy: Overlord, Saga of Tanya the Evil, Shield Hero, That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime, RE:Zero, My Next Life as a Villainess.

Some that are worth trying if you want more: Grimgar puts a more realistic spin on the genre, and Mushoku Tensei looks amazing and has great animation, but a heavy "content warning" from me as some of what it shows may be a little distasteful. Cautious Hero was a lot of fun, and Bofuri was easy going (though not technically an isekai it also kind of feels like it is). You may also enjoy Ascendance of a Bookworm.
 

Dai

Thousand Master
Kodocha (season 1)
This series about a hyperactive child actor and her conflicts both in class and at home was super-popular 20 years ago, but rarely gets mentioned these days. That's a shame because it holds up well. Admittedly Sana can take some getting used to, since her arrogance and perpetual sugar-rush state can be aggravating at times, but she becomes easy to warm to as the series progresses.

The comedy side of Kodocha is often hilarious, and gets more so as its sense of humour grows increasingly surreal over time. Its drama side also presents some compelling arcs that cover some unusually heavy themes for a story about primary-school-age children. Where it falters is in how it combines the two. There's a definite conflict of interests here, with the author trying to tell serious stories at times, but someone keeps throwing gags in at the worst moments to break the tension. I haven't read the manga, so I don't know if this was the author's editor or if this issue is exclusive to the anime, but it can be jarring at times. Like a Marvel movie cranked up to 11 there's this constant self-sabotage of dramatic moments, as if they're afraid to let the audience feel anything.

Consequently, this is a show to enjoy for its comedy and lively characters first, and its drama second. If it had managed to create some appropriate separation between the two it would have been an easy 9/10, but as it stands it's still a strong 8/10.
 

Amffy

Hikikomori
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni/When They Cry (2006) - 7.5/10

Starts off pretty interesting and gets more and more confusing. Some cool twists but a lot of unanswered questions. Hoping it will get cleared up when I watch the second season.
 

awadama

Cardcaptor
@awadama fever - I think Hanamonogatari was probably the weakest arc out of them all including the arcs you've not seen yet.
Ahhh, that's good to know! I've started on Tsukimonogatari and that's already more lively and interesting than Hana, so I think I'll just write Hana off as an anomaly 😅

Surprised you haven't tried more isekai perhaps! It's one of my fav genres, but admittedly a lot of trash isekai gets made.

If interested in trying more, for good ones I enjoy: Overlord, Saga of Tanya the Evil, Shield Hero, That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime, RE:Zero, My Next Life as a Villainess.

Some that are worth trying if you want more: Grimgar puts a more realistic spin on the genre, and Mushoku Tensei looks amazing and has great animation, but a heavy "content warning" from me as some of what it shows may be a little distasteful. Cautious Hero was a lot of fun, and Bofuri was easy going (though not technically an isekai it also kind of feels like it is). You may also enjoy Ascendance of a Bookworm.
I don't know why I haven't watched more isekai TBH - I got absolutely obsessed with SAO after I watched the first season (the second didn't do much for me though), so I'm not sure why I never really jumped onto anything else in the genre

Thanks for the recommendations! I've picked up a few of those in various sales over the past couple of years, so I think I'll probably start watching one of them tonight - Cautious Hero seems to have a similar kinda vibe to Konosuba, so I think I'll get on that one first 😄
 

Lordhippos

Stand User
SAO Season 2 is kind of a different feel to Season 1 for sure, but the movie (Ordinal Scale - assumes some knowledge of Season 2 but comes immediately after it) and Seasons 3 and 4 are again kind of different.

They definitely got a much higher budget for the movie and Seasons 3/4, so if you liked Season 1 you could possibly just do the movie and then check out 3 and 4 sometime.

Season 3 opening, you can see the change in art style is quite drastic.

 

ActionFaust

Za Warudo
They definitely got a much higher budget for the movie and Seasons 3/4, so if you liked Season 1 you could possibly just do the movie and then check out 3 and 4 sometime.
It's often mistaken for a higher budget but the reality is simply a change in compositing directors. Kentaro Waki took over from the season 1 and 2 duo Mutsumi Usuda and Takeshi Hirooka. He's worked on other projects like God Eater, Gundam Hathaway, Gundam Thunderbolt and the OP for Girls Frontline. Definitely one of the best compositing directors in the business.

Recommend checking his Twitter. He's posted a lot of before/after shots of his work. The difference is incredible.
 
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Dai

Thousand Master
Boogiepop Phantom
Several years usually go by between each time I feel like watching this show. Despite my high opinion of it, Boogiepop Phantom is (by design) not a pleasant experience. When anime tackles the horror genre the result is usually pretty blunt, either leaning on tedious gore to get a reaction from the viewer or finding its attempts to build atmosphere being undone by adhering to standard TV anime aesthetics. This show dodges both those bullets, creating one of the few truly unsettling horror anime out there. It does this in two ways.

First, there's the audio-visual presentation. It's practically monochrome throughout, washed in a dirty sepia tone. The frame is encircled by a shadowy ring that creates a claustraphobic tunnel-vision effect. There's also some use made of focus effects that blur parts of the image at times, again increasing the oppressive, dream-like atmosphere. This is coupled with sound design that's full of queasy high-pitched sounds and grinding electronic rhythms that can frankly be quite nauseating at times. All of this combines to build an aesthetic unlike any other anime, with the only close approximation being Serial Experiments Lain. It's a night and day difference to the more conventional (and far less creepy) look of the recent Boogiepop & Others series.

The other bold decision is its narrative structure. There are a group of characters and an overarching plot that wouldn't be too unusual for a supernatural thriller, but those characters and plot elements are sidelined. Instead each episode is told from the perspective of different characters who would normally be bit parts in a story like this. Consequently, none of these characters have plot armour, and can meet a horrific end at any moment. Most episodes follow a downward arc for the perspective character as we watch them start at an often mundane beginning and eventually spiral into despair, madness, or death. The 'heroes' of the story are usually distracted elsewhere, and can't be counted on to save anyone, and even then some of their ideas of what saving someone means are ambiguous and unsettling.

Above all that, the power of this show's horror reaches for something deeper and more relatable than monsters or gore. It's the horror of normal people watching their lives fall apart.

8/10
 

Dai

Thousand Master
Super Dimension Century Orguss
There's a strong feeling of early Gundam to the structure of this show. Most of it involves a group of misfits travelling through enemy territory in their ship, getting embroiled in local conflicts for an episode or two, and fending off attacks with their mechs. Where Gundam added variety with a new mech design almost every episode, Orguss instead shows us new species and cultures that have been mashed together in a cross-dimensional apocalypse.

The broad strokes of the plot in Orguss are great, presenting some tough moral dilemmas for the characters to overcome. The scene-by-scene execution of those ideas often fall short, however, mostly due to clunky dialogue and a habit of telegraphing upcoming twists. The characters are likewise an entertaining bunch, from the playboy pilot to the grumpy old combat robot, but many aren't given enough screen time to develop. It remains a good watch throughout its 35-episode run though, and only really falls down in the final minute with a confusing and frustrating ending.

7/10
 

Dai

Thousand Master
The Heike Story
Anyone who has been watching anime for a while probably has a rough idea of Japan's Edo period. So many shows have been based around its beginning circa 1600, when the Tokugawa Shogunate was established, and its end in the 1860s when the Meiji Restoration reinstated the imperial line. The Heike Story takes place long before this, however, during the last years of the Heian period in the late 12th Century when two powerful clans vied for control of Japan. Far fewer anime tackle this era, making this a difficult show for a gaijin like me to assess. My only prior knowledge of the Heike clan comes from the film Kwaidan, which features a monk who recounts the end of The Tale of Heike. So I knew where this story was going, but not how it gets there.

I expect any Japanese middle-schooler would have some knowledge of these events and the major historical figures involved, and the show does seem to assume some knowledge here because it throws the viewer into the deep end. There's a lot of political machination and many, many names are thrown around. Since the people being discussed often aren't present, it's difficult to keep track of who is being referred to and how they all relate to each other. This is compounded by some very similar names for several characters, some who look similar, and a confusing situation where up to four different people are being referred to as emperor all at the same time.

If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, it is. Honestly there were a few places in the middle where I couldn't keep track of the flow of events. Despite that, I kept watching to the end, and intend to watch it again. That's because this isn't just a dry recounting of historical events; it's about the people who drove those events. The Heike Story brings together the creative dream team of director Naoko Yamada, writer Reiko Yoshida, and composer Kensuke Ushio. The result is a visually and musically striking series that humanises the historical figures it presents. It neither pardons them for the terrible acts they committed, nor vilifies them for the mistakes they made, and instead looks at them as flawed people, but ultimately still people.

Most of this is viewed through the eyes of Biwa, an orphan taken in by the Taira clan, who experiences their daily lives together as a family as much as the history-shaping events they were responsible for. Biwa also brings with her the story's one fantasy element, as she is able to glimpse visions of the future. She suffers the classic Cassandra Complex though, being able to foresee the future, but not change it. Through these visions, even a viewer with no knowledge of this period is left in no doubt early on that this isn't a heroic adventure, but rather a classical tragedy.

The Heike Story demands a lot of the uninitiated non-Japanese viewer, but is absolutely worth the effort.

9/10
 
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Vashdaman

Za Warudo
The Tatami Galaxy

Would my precious university days not have been the rose coloured kind I imagined they should have been, would I not have found the true love I tirelessly pursued to the complete exclusion of all academic work, if I only had just joined that other cooler looking society? Would I not have been saved from flailing and failing through the years, etching rejections onto my bedpost and slurping infamy down with every overpriced flat white until I became a quasi hikikimori, until my life was essentially ruined and all chance of happiness lost? These are real questions I have pondered on a nearly daily basis, and I suspect I'm not alone in this morbid grass is greener-itus. These are also questions the protagonist of TTG also asks himself, but unlike us, thanks to unwittingly being able to time travel, or at least traverse parallel realities, he can really put the theory to the test and discover if there's really a life which doesn't end in infamy but rather in happiness. Thus every episode we see our hero trying out every alternative combination of social clubs trying to find one reality which his Yokai visaged friend/enemy, Ozu, doesn't corrupt and burn to a crisp.

The structure of the show is simple but unusual, each episode is somewhat formulaic but somehow also keeps us guessing as to just what the heck is going on, and we see the constellation of campus misfits that orbit the main character slightly tweaked every time but their personalities and fundamental roles never changed as they get up to all manner of hijinks. It's a quirky show to say the least, and I found it very funny, every episode building the ridiculous absurdity to a new crescendo. And yet I never stopped caring about the main character's plight and only warmed more with every episode to the eccentrics around him.

The final episode almost reaches a final episode of Evangelion-esque level of introspection, but less obtusely and more humorously, as we come to appreciate the complex hearts of the the people around us, who make our lives what it is, even Ozu stops being a 2D yokai and finally is seen as a human. The show takes us all the way out to the edge of the universe, to the brink, in order set us down lightly and warmly and bring everything together effortlessly.

And in the end TTG answers our burning question, no there's no reality where we don't end up being infamous failures of some kind, but it's all part of the ride and we might still find happiness despite that or even because of it. Savour all those preciously wasted minutes. 10/10

Notes: I loved the kind of weird mix of animation style, and boy keeping up with the subtitles was a challenge.
 
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Dai

Thousand Master
Police in a Pod
Equal parts workplace comedy and straight police procedural, this show has a ring of authenticity that some other police anime lack, thanks to the author having worked in law enforcement for a decade. The show's comedy and drama elements both work well, but it has an unfortunate habit of placing them too close together at times. Each episode typically adapts two or three standalone stories, bolted together with no particular theme, so it can be focused on lighthearted workplace drudgery one minute and the minutiae of examining a corpse the next.

I don't normally comment on a show's OP and ED, but it's worth mentioning that they are misleading, throwing fan service shots into what is otherwise a generally reserved series that would feel more at home alongside live-action cop shows than other workplace anime. It's only the jarring tonal ping-pong that drops this show from an 8.

7/10
 

Dai

Thousand Master
Arte
Yet another show that has been misattributed as Slice of Life on MAL. At this point I'm convinced that label gets slapped on any anime that doesn't revolve around fight scenes. Be in no doubt though, while Arte's tale of a young noble girl who runs away from home to become an artist doesn't involve overt fisticuffs, the story has more in common with sports anime like Hajime no Ippo than it does with SoL shows like Yurucamp. The trademark SoL genre traits of minimal conflict and loose plot structure are nowhere to be found here.

Set in renaissance Florence, Arte's quest to become a professional artist is met with constant roadblocks due to the overwhelming sexism of the time. Armed with borderline genki girl tenacity, Arte bull rushes her way through each obstacle, often becoming literally bruised and bloodied in the process. This results in a classic battle anime fight-then-bond cycle where Arte's unwavering drive and spirit turns today's opponents into tomorrow's friends. The first episode even follows the classic sports anime trope of the grumpy master setting the cocky young whelp a seemingly impossible test because he thinks she's underestimated the hard work and guts required.

If the show does have one problem, it's in setting the bar too low for itself at times. By setting the story in a time and place even more sexist than modern Japan, we end up with a cast of characters who spend the first several episodes being baffled that a girl would attempt to do anything other than bat her eyelashes at potential suitors, which can get repetitive. While this does present strong conflicts for Arte to overcome, the story can come across as being a little too pleased with itself for having her accomplish... well, basically anything. It's not too much of a blemish on an otherwise engaging story, however, especially when this is one where the protagonist views even falling in love as just another obstacle getting in the way of her career.

8/10
 

Girls with Guns

Mad Scientist
Arte was my favorite anime of the season when it aired. I would really love to see a second season made for it. I've already watched my Blu-ray twice and showed the series to my mother, who also very much enjoyed it too.
 
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Vashdaman

Za Warudo
Baccano
Spoilers ahoy so be careful

A pretty bizarre show this one. Set in 1930s America, it's a tale of immoral immortals, mafia and an assortment of other weird folk getting mixed up with and mostly trying to kill each other. It's almost Tarantino-esque it's blend of brutal ultra-violence and comic humour, but it's tone more cheerful, it's a very cheerful show. It's as light and breezy as it is grim-dark nihilistic, and it's as imaginative and clever as it is very stupid.

It flits haphazardly back and forth between a few years, but chuffing through it's core is a long train ride where various factions bump into each other, get into a big fight and we watch the breathless chaos unspool with each episode. To be honest I can't particularly recall what they were all even doing on the train and what their various motives for the bloodshed were, it was either hazy to begin with or became so in the midst of all the madness. There's a fair bit of mystery and hanging threads that this show doesn't ever elucidate, whether its by design or by dint of the story coming from a novel series, I don't know, but it does give you something to mull over and lets your imagination fill in the blanks. Why each character is such a crackpot and what they're really after is mostly left unexplained. I guess the ensemble cast is far too big (some of the characters named in the OP barely get a couple lines of dialogue in the whole show) to go in depth in any of them. And the characters don't in any way behave like real people would. And yet, they are interesting and fun and feel like they do exist within their own self contained universe and have elaborate histories written for them that we're just not privy to all of.

The heart and most likable of the lot are Isaac (voiced perfectly by none other than Masaya "Vash(da man)" Onosaka) and Miria. The goofy, unrelentingly chirpy robbers who don't realise they're immortal. Despite all the somewhat disturbing violence in the series, it's the optimism and happy go lucky attitude that comes across the strongest. The show doesn't really condemn any of its villains (apart from I guess Szilard). By far the evilest character in the show, apart from child-torturer Fermet, is possibly worse child-torturer and assassin the so called Rail Tracer, and yet we're informed he has sense of justice, albeit warped, and he even comes out of it all with a star crossed lover inexplicably waiting for him.

But even more than Isaac and Miria, if this show was one of its own characters, it would be Elmer, the fool who tells Sylvie to laugh it off when her lover is killed and then tries to appeal to the heart of a murderous psychopath by doing a handstand. Baccano seems to say, life is awesome fun and immortality would be rad but since we can't be immortal don't sweat anything nor all the awful homicidal maniacs. It's not an attitude I can ever adopt myself, but between all the winces, B! did make me laugh, and I appreciate that.
7.5/10

Note: This is based on the 13 episodes of the main series. I still need to watch the 3 OVA, and I may come back and add an addendum if needed.
 
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awadama

Cardcaptor
Tsukimonogatari

It's Monogatari being Monogatari. A welcome return to the status quo after Hana bored me. I wish Deishuu Kaiki was in it though. 8/10
 

Vashdaman

Za Warudo
Blood Blockade Battlefront

I enjoyed this quite a bit. Based on the manga by Trigun author Yasuhiro Nightow. New York has inexplicably merged with the fantastical 'alter-world' three years ago and Leo a young boy with the all seeing eyes of god has fallen into a job at a secret agency that works to keep the balance or some such. Most episodes are pretty much self contained romps through this mad world, but there is also a vague overarching plot humming away in the background that has something to do with magical siblings William and Mary Macbeth. While I haven't read the source material, from this show it certainly seems that Nightow has continued on his trajectory towards embracing all out imaginative excess, this is potentially even more maximalist than Trigun Maxium ended up being. Although in a way there is also less to this as it is stripped of the gravitas that the Trigun manga and anime both managed to have despite its goofiness. This is more of a straight up zany sci fi fantasy action comedy, and while all the cast are impeccably cool and fun there isn't really a whole lot to them beyond their zane, we're not treated to the backstories of many of them, just the scantest titbits here and there. The show simply isn't of that character driven disposition, it's too busy coming up with wild new monsters and action packed scenarios with the breathless excitement of a hyperactive child buzzing off e numbers. Honestly half of the time I didn't know what was happening, but I didn't care either and was happy to watch it with a big stupid grin on my face.

BBB does rarely try to get sentimental every now and then but it fell flat for me, particularly in the last episode. Its feet are already too far off the ground by that point and its attempts are as overblown and ludicrous as everything else, the emotional highpoint of the show for me was probably Leo's friendship with a ravenous burger munching mushroom. But every episode is just a blast of unadulterated imaginative nonsense, and I enjoyed every one, they're all colourful sparkly little gems. Or maybe they're more like colourful little sweets, undeniably a joyous treat for the senses, but not a journey that will stick with me as Vash's did. 7/10
 

Dai

Thousand Master
Gundam Unicorn
Of all the non-Tomino Gundam series, this one feels the most Tomino-esque. The likes of 0080, 0083 and The Origin lean heavily into the military SF angle, but Unicorn also embraces the spiritual and...well, the depressed nihilist aspects of Tomino's works. There's a classic Univeral Century setup: a boy stumbles upon a Gundam, is able to pilot it immediately because newtype, and finds himself embroiled in an all-out robowar between various factions. Also a longstanding antagonist picks up yet another accidentally sexual pseudonym (Full Frontal? Really?).

In so many ways, Unicorn could have been called UCporn, since it's full of references to earlier entries in that continuity both thematically and in its characters, factions, etc. In fact it pulls so many characters and factions from earlier entries (along with some new ones) that this ends up being one of the weaknesses of an otherwise strong series, since they're not all introduced properly and their agendas aren't always made clear. It hasn't been that long since I last watched Zeta and ZZ, but I still couldn't remember who Londo Bell were and how they fit into the political landscape. That said, if you're into Gundam for the epic robot battles then this isn't a problem, since Unicorn features some of the best giant robot action ever animated. Considering it's a relatively recent show, I was pleasantly surprised to see most of the mechs hand-drawn, and the attention to detail is stunning. You get a real sense of the power of the artillery these things are lugging around as they smash each other to pieces and beam rifles melt through armour like a soldering iron through butter. It's glorious.

In terms of characters, the protagonist is fine. Unlike many a UC pilot he has more on his mind than just beating the enemy or getting back to his normal life, though he can get a bit one-note at times. It's nice to see Mineva Zabi turn up as a character with her own agenda, considering that she had just been a puppet in her previous appearances, though she spends too much of the series being damselled. The rest of the cast would all feel at home in a Tomino series, and in fact probably fare better here due to Unicorn's stronger sense of pacing compared to some of the franchise's meandering 50-episode series.

Probably the most Tomino thing about Unicorn is its focus on the evolutionary potential of newtypes as a way for people to understand each other, and the tragedy that this understanding is often only possible after they die and their souls are set free from worldly attachments. The idea that people would get along better if they all just died is as Tomino as it gets. On the other hand, pushing the newtype angle so much results in the one aspect of Unicorn that feels a bit un-Gundam. As trump card mechs, Gundams usually ride the line between military hardware and super robot, but the titular Unicorn Gundam is pure super robot, especially in some of the crazy feats it pulls later on. This is part of why, for all its military SF dressing, there's something of a fantasy quest feeling to Unicorn. That's not a complaint, since it gives a distinctive angle to a franchise that can often feel homogenised, though it is an odd choice for an entry that was designed to harken back to the UC series of old.

Overall though, this is a solid series that fits well into the UC continuity, and is elevated to excellence by some of the best mech action I've ever seen.

9/10
 
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