After the success of embracing a hermit lifestyle last year over the Christmas+New Year break; I was all guns blazing to do it again this year. And it was great. My original plan was to hit up the local streaming sites and work through the things I’ve bookmarked there. But then my landlord broke the home WiFi network and that was out of the picture. So instead I decided to work through the “Backlog” folder I have on my laptop and in doing so managed to clear out near 200GB worth of bluray quality anime. While also playing games and reading books and such.
So lets get into it:
So I remember this when it came out as it was literally the season where I was introduced to anime. And I remember how when it came out everyone was creaming themselves over it. So while I really enjoyed it at the time (and talk about the… good(?) timing of the tsunami disaster meaning that after the ep10 reveal there was a two week delay on the rest of the show airing) given how many other popular shows are actually kind of garbage (Attack on Titan, SAO etc) I always had some reservations in my mind about how good this was. Holy shit were those reservations un-warranted. From the opening scene this show fucking grabs you as something is ominously off-kilter and you can’t really place what. And the tension just keeps building and building but you have no real idea why (you know, ignoring that you already know what is going on if you’ve not been under a rock all decade). Doing the rewatch I was surprised that the big twist in ep3 with Mami wasn’t at the very end of the episode as that would have really made the impact there even greater. And even though I knew it was coming the reveal in ep10 with Homura it still brought a few tears to the eyes. Of particular note was the use of the changing in art style and the awesome music during the witch encounters that really drove the excellent direction this series had. Also fuck Kyubey is such a conniving and sneaky little cunt, always there with his offer to make things better as things spiral more and more out of control. And as an aside, Sayaka’s wish really frustrated me- not because she was “wasting” it on someone else but because she wasted it with such a narrow scope. Like “fixing his hands” is such a waste of an all-powerful wish, there are broader ones she could have used that would fix his injury and then have more benefits for him and her. There’s not much more I can really say without being spoilery and even though this is nearly a 10 year old show I don’t want to spoil it- if you haven’t seen this show it should definitely be on the shortlist. Interestingly, with it fresh in my mind I want to rewatch the sequel movie (Movie 3, with 1+2 being remakes of the TV series) to see if it is still as fucked as I remember at undercutting the entire point of the TV series. As it is, I included Madoka in my Top 10 of the 2010s and am very happy I did so.
Angel Beats is another show I caught as I was discovering anime and for some reason I didn’t include it in my top 10 of the 2010s list. After rewatching it I feel that was maybe a mistake. To jump all the way to the end, at the end of the penultimate episode I got really angry that the titular Angel wasn’t included in the group photo that the ED played over. Then in the last episode they changed the photo to include her. And my god did I start crying. God this show pulled at the heartstrings. Although that being said, I found episode 10 way harder to watch than the finale- because I remember the finale. The episode 10 (semi) self-contained story fucking had me bawling my eyes out with the maybe real world romance between Yui and guy-with-blue-hair (Hinata?). Also given I remembered the ending of this show, the atrocious bullying that Angel suffers at the hands of the SSS is also quite heart breaking. That being said there were a few things I didn’t like about this on the rewatch. Mainly the last few eps were super rushed and felt like a last minute change of direction to finish the show in 1-cour rather than 2. Like the random introduction of the evil shadow monsters almost right after the Otonashi+Angel plan to make people move on starts just didn’t fit with the show. Like it was poised to shift from an ‘us vs them’ battle of SSS and Angel to a ‘make peace with yourself’ battle. Where I could see each of the characters who make up the SSS getting an episode to deal with their own unique problems and then move on. Instead we get this weird computer programmer related story and half the SSS characters who we see from episode 1 just disappear off screen. In particular I felt bad fro the bloke-who-swung-an-axe because he clearly was in love with Yuri but that was never dealt with and then he got to disappear off-screen even though Yui got a full episodefocused her and was introduced 3 episodes after purple-axe-man. Also there was the surprisingly ripped nerd guy with glasses who was corrupted by the evil programmer shadow things and then his story is finished with a casual line of ‘oh yeah, he got better and then moved on with internal happiness to’. And there’s also a ninja girl who likes cute things and is kind o an idiot who doesn’t get developed beyond those dot points and then also disappears off screen. Basically the way they handled the secondary characters was so inconsistent that most of them got really short changed. Also I entirely forgot about the Vice President arc before the rewatch. And when doing my initial write up. Shows how much it mattered in the end. But again, the Vice-President is one of the final 5 people who gets a big emotional moment at the end despite not being around for like, the first half of the show and not being super necessary to anything. Also the OVAs were a bit of a let down after the emotional rollercoaster and torrent of sadness the ending brought. One was placed way back near the start of the series and was just a bit of fun that seemed out of place knowing where it ended. And the other sort of tried to undo one of the big emotional beats of the finale by having Otonashi not move on. While this show was definitely fantastic, I reckon making it two-cour and letting the characters all develop and breath the same as ep10 did with Yui would have made it one of the best of all time. As it was it was just really good (and still probably one of the best of the 2010s)
Yet another show I originally watched when I was first finding out about anime, this is probably the first one from that era of watching that I’ve revisted and had it go down in my esteem. Don’t get me wrong, it is great. Episode 19 (the Christmas episode) had me bawling my eyes out. But goddamn, Minorin is objectively best girl and best person and the fact that Taiga gets Ryuji in the end infuriates me. To the point where I’m accepted as head cannon the Minorin x Ami lesbian love story idea because the idea of Minorin ending up sad and along is unacceptable. I just really don’t like Taiga as a person and think that Ryuji really deserves someone better. One thing that I did love in the rewatch was the unexpected emotional beats of Yasuko (Ryuji’s Mum) and her parents reconciling after… 17(?) years since she ran away from home coz she didn’t want to abort her child. Same with the (sort of) love story between Kitamura and the Student Council President. Plus the bit where Inko successfully says it’s own name was surprisingly awesome (as was Yasuko’s reaction to it). But yeah, while this is a really enjoyable show and I do recommend people do watch it, I think the titular Taiga really undermines it by being such a bad and useless person. Also the music (OPs and EDs) are really fucking good.
Fate Zero (S1+S2)
Damn this show is fantastic. Combined with the UBW series this is the first half of the only good storyline in the entire Nasuverse in my opinion (Heavens Feel is still TBD depending on the last movie). I remember at a recent GAMMA.CON panel some idiot said that Kiritsugu was not a relatable/enjoyable protagonist. They are so fucking wrong, he is True Neutral to the extreme (somehow) and that makes it really interesting e.g. how he takes out Lord El-Melloi. And a great contrast with (ironically) his ‘son’ Shirou in Fate Stay who’s all about doing good/justice. Especially when interacting with Irisviel and Saber on his own side and opposing Kirei Kotomine. Plus there’s the awesome Rider and Waver stuff going on which is a great little ‘discovering who you really are’ arc for Waver and ‘getting the respect of your enemies’ for Rider from Gilgamesh. Plus the differing philosophies on how to be a King from Saber, Rider and Gilgamesh. There’s also some great fights- the Caster storyline was a bit weak but I was surprised that the climatic battle in it took three whole episodes. And they were good episodes. I also eno=joyed how they used the Caster storyline to do the mandatory Rin Tohsaka fan-service but made it not dumb or jarring or over staying its welcome. Plus I really liked ho in the anime Rin saves her friend form being mutilated and murdered by a serial killer, apparently in the novel she doesn’t. Also fuck me it is crazy that Kotomine gave Rin the dagger he used to murder her father as a symbol of her becoming a mage. That being said, Kirei’s heel-turn and betrayal of Tokiomi Tohsaka felt kind of forced and didn’t make a lot of sense. Like, I know it needed to happen to get Kotomine in place for Fate Stay but I just didn’t super buy it as being plausible for the character they set him up as in the beginning. On the rewatch I was surprised how early that betrayal came and even more surprised that the Kariya-Sakura stuff lasted all the way to the finale. Poor Kariya, literally dying and falling into the rapey-magic-worm-pit as he was about to ‘rescue’ Sakura… who after he died it was revealed had been completely broken and wouldn’t have gone with him anyway. I also found it odd that Kariya strangled Rin/Sakura’s Mum… but then she didn’t actually die, she just got crippled… I don’t recall Rin’s Mum being wheelchair bound and mentally handicapped being a plot point in Fate Stay. But maybe it is a thing. Oh and the music in the series is so good.
This was a pretty average show that honestly I only half watched on Christmas Day while cleaning and rearranging my statue/figure collection. I found it really interesting how they established an attractive, intelligent girl to be part of the MC’s harem and then killed her off-screen due to inept military decision by the ‘good guy’ commanders. Very atypical. I also do like the general concept of a lazy as fuck guy trying to avoid work (as that is very relatable) and at one point showing up the crazy hard working enemy commander by working smarter rather than harder. I do wish there was more of this show as it ends with a big ‘our journey has just begun’ as the princess tasks the MC with saving the nation by destroying it by becoming the main military commander and deliberately losing a war but not losing it too badly. But it is clearly an advertisement for the original manga/novel/whatever where you have to go read the original to get the rest of the story. Well, probably not the rest as it probably won’t finish but you’ll get more of the story.
As with Alderamin of the Sky, this was a pretty harmless show that I started a rewatch of like… 18 months ago… but didn’t finish. So after finishing Alderamin I jumped in on this again and knocked it over in a couple hours. It’s a pretty harmless and forgettable Isekai. But I do like how it isn’t focused on the MC being the greatest fighter of all time but on being more well rounded e.g. developing skills and economic trade and picking up a wide variety of girls for his harem. But honestly this show is so un-edgy there’s like nothing really worth commenting on…
Uhh… there was some physics lessons about water and states of matter which was different?
This was a really odd one to rewatch. For the first six episodes I decided that I wasn’t enjoying this and I’d drop it. But I forced mysel to keep watching as I remembered that it was a very different show when it first aired and a bloke I know constantly raves about how good and unique it is. I think the super long episodes were the issue for me- especially given how dense yet slow they were. But it did have an oddly interesting art style and animation. In the end I would watch an episode, watch something else for a while and then come back to it. I found the way the main characters interacted and grew really interesting. Less so was the concept of super swords that weren’t swords, like the ‘swords’ included a suit of armour, a pair of guns, a piece of metal that was super heavy and a solar powered spider robot. I liked how the hyped up the greatest swordsman in early eps and then had him be defeated off-screen while we followed the sister’s story. Where she fucked up 1/4 of the Maniwa Ninja corps. I vaguely remembered there being 12 Maniwani ninjas and expected to have one die each episode. Which is accurate up to ep 3 or 4. Then they get massacred and there’s only 3 left by the halfway point. And they’re all dead before the finale. There was also a twist with Togame at the very end that I didn’t expect which was pretty exciting to see play out. But then there was another sort-of-twist in the very final scene/epilogue that just seemed silly and kind of undercut much of the Togame-Shichika development. I think Katanagatari is worth a watch but I wouldn’t put it high on people’s lists. Again, some pretty good music although it has an unusual amount of vocals which kept making me think I had some random browser tab or other program playing audio.
To my surprise, the very opening sequence, like pre-OP of ep1, was such a struggle to get through (very much like Watamote) that I nearly gave up on the rewatch instantly. But I remembered just loving this show and persevered. Which was a great call on S1, it was fantastic. Hachiman being uncannily accurate with how he reads people and situations and gets to the solution of their school-aged-based problems is equal parts hilarious and bitter-sweet-depressing. In particular with the final arc where he reads the situation of the Cultural Committee President both in the lead up to the festival and on the day when she disappears and he calls he out on her bullshit is executed brilliantly. Basically embodies every mid-tier workers dream of calling out their idiot boss. However it really irked me how the other characters in the show receive Hachiman’s actions so negatively. I fully buy that to the wider school community he is a complete weirdo and jerk who no-one likes. But by their nature of being characters in the show, in particular the ones in his class, the people who are involved with the problems and issues he solves get the full picture of the situation and how his solution is, well, correct. Especially when there are characters who see past it and get Hachiman- Totsuka, Komachi etc. Hayoto especially irks me as he’s clued in enough to see the same meta-factors Hachiman is and his overly negative (and borderline violent) reaction to Hachiman’s actions just doesn’t play right. I presume that in part of the story yet to be animated the situation there is elaborated in on a way that makes it all make sense. One small joke I foound really fnny was in the camp-councellor arc when the pretty/popular/dumb blonde girl’s solution to one of the kid sbeing bullied was “why doesn’t she just go make friends”. As someone who was not in the popular circle of kids at school it just really rang true about how people who have others wanting to be their friends (popular, pretty people) don’t get how hard making friends can be. On the flip side, I found the escalating joke of Totsuka being an incredibly pretty, feminine boy wore itself off quite quickly. While the borderline siscom-brocom joke between Hachiman and Komachi stayed on the right side of the border to be quite funny. Especially in the OV where it was played as if she was basically his wife yet at the end they had a really touching (but brief on screen and played for laughs) moment where he consoled her as her elder brother after she was bullied/terrified by a teacher… well… look if I explain the situation is gets too complicated. Just go watch the OVA I guess. I was surprised with the S1 rewatch that there was such a focus on Yuigahama over Yukinon. In my memory I’d thought that Yukinon had always been the main female lead/focus/potential love interest. As a fan of Yuigahama I very much enjoyed that part of S1.
I don’t have any particular notes from S2 other than being surprised that I found it a step down from S1. I think the larger focus in Yukinon and her stupid/explained family situation emphasized to me how she wasn’t really a good person but where Hachiman was selflessly bad she was selfishly bad. Like S1 ends with an unresolved plot thread of how Yukinon’s car had been the one to run over Hachiman and hospitalise him, thus putting him on the out socially at school. But that isn’t brought up once in all of S2. Instead we get a drawn out inter-club conflict between Hachiman and Yukinon that is incredibly silly given how they have both been shown to thinkk/solve problems previously. Although the introduction of Iroha and her increasing number of unasked-for-confession-rejections was amusing. (I’m really struggling with this one, it’s been a while since I watched it and didn’t write down any specific points about it)
This has been on my ‘I should watch this at one stage because it’s a foundational part of modern anime’ list for years now. I’m not a super big fan of harems or lazy ecchi shows and that is basically what it is. I mean, when it came out 20 years ago it was revolutionary stuff for young boys everywhere. It’s the granddaddy of those genres. But it is pretty lackluster with a modern viewing. Kind of. It’s weird. Like, there is SOMETHING in here that makes me want to keep watching it even though none of the obvious components are worth watching- concept, characters, storyline, art, animation etc. The OP song is a surprisingly good banger tune though. I watched four or five episodes and while at some point during every episode I wanted to close it and do something else, but the end I was keen to start the next one. Unlike the prior shows I’ve talked about, I am yet to finish this show. So I’m going to keep at it and watch episodes every now and then when I have time or when it suits (likely as something to watch just before going to bed). Will see if I have more concrete thoughts on it if/when I finish or drop it.
This was unwatchable. Bad idea/concept, bad art, bad animation, bad dialogue. Was presumably sexy and horny back in 2003 but I couldn’t finish an episode.
This show was also entirely unwatchable. But where Ikkitousen was boring and stupid, this was far too painfully real as it perfectly articulated all of the worst bits about nerds and anime fans and their being-a-fucked-human. I dunno how anyone can watch this without feeling super awkward as it basically shows how trash you/your friends/people who like the things you like are. And not in a fun, self-deprecating way. In a really mean way.
I don’t have a lot to say about either of these shows, other than that my reaction to them both was the same. I would watch one episode and it was hilarious. Then I would try to immediately binge another episode afterwards and find my attention drifting. Given they are both comedies of the same style, that being little shorts and funny self-contained segments without (so far) any long form storytelling or character development, I came to the conclusion that these are not “bingeable” shows and need to be consumed piecemeal over time. So like Love Hina I’m hopefully going to catch the odd episode here and there over time and eventually finish them. Or drop them. I found this reaction particularly interesting for Nichijou given how much my anime-fan friends rave about it being one of the greatest meta-comedies of all time. It very well could be but I would have thought it’d be more all consuming and irresistible if it was.
Now for some reason despite writing down notes about this show three or four times in my little note file, I apparently didn’t manage to save them properly or deleted it repeatedly or something. I dunno. Very frustrating. I actually started watching this show maybe 1-2 years ago at my local anime club but then missed a heap of episodes and gave up. But it was pretty interesting so I decided to give it another crack. And while it wasn’t amazing, it was good enough for me to start downloading the sequel and prequel to watch more. It’s a very fascainting world and the characters are pretty interesting. But I found it really struggled with the transitions between arcs. I dont know why but at the start of each new arc I found my desire to keep watching just plummet. But once each arc got cracking it was fanastic- the first one in the dungeon with Alibaba helping out Morgianna establishes the world really well, the third one where they’re in Balbadd (with a cliche revelation about Alibaba) does a fantastic job interplayin physical/magical battles and political ones. The stuff with Sinbad is weird to start with but really pays off in the end. My main dislike in the show was the Kaseem character who was frankyl an irredeemable fuckwit (depsite what the show tried to do with him) and the fact Alibaba kept going back to Kaseem and fucking himself up/over by doing so was really stupid. Also it is absolute fucking bullshit that Hakuryuu becaome the master/owner/partner of the Djinn Zagan when Alibaba did 100% o the work clearing the dungeon and was almost literally carrying Hakuryuu through it ater Hakuryuu had proven to be completely useless and inept. But across the 25 episodes the set up did set up a bunch of cool longer plots that I want to se resolved- what’s the deal with Aladdin?And with the dungeons? What’s going to happen with their nations wanting to resist the Kou Empire etc.