Anime Apocalypse: Fall 2018 Season Review

By: Michael Smith

 

Well it’s that time of year again, when the leaves change color, the air gets cooler, pumpkin spice inexplicably dominates the food markets, and giant robots fight each other. Yes that’s right, it’s Fall Anime Season, which means a bunch of new shows to shift through in an attempt to find the diamonds in the rough, do you give up after the first episode or wait it out til episode four to see if things go anywhere? Does the cool splash graphic for this new show accurately represent what it’s going to be about? Will SAO be good this year? (Spoiler alert: no.) Can there just be a good anime that’s also gay? (Spoiler alert: yes.) Fear not dear readers because I, your guide to all things anime, have done all the work for you (you’re welcome, by the way). By now almost every show has aired around 3-5 episodes which is typically all you really need to accurately assess the relative worth of each series and I will now present to you which anime are hot, and which are hot garbage.

First some ground rules, this is already going to cover a frankly absurd number of series so in order to save both your time and mine, I will only be considering anime which premiered in September/October 2018 so any anime which premiered over the summer but is still airing will not be covered here, nor will I be covering any OVA/ONA/Specials/Movies/etc. I will also not be reviewing children’s shows or literal hentai/porn (although some of these might as well be actual porn) shows for fairly obvious reasons. In addition to my review I will providing a one sentence description in case you’re either too busy or too lazy to read the entire review as well as alternative suggestions for anything outside of my honorable mentions or top ten. Finally while I’m sure the wily internet weeb could find all of these shows on a…..less reputable site, I will only be providing the simplest, legal way to watch these anime. All times are in Eastern Daylight Time.

Special Thanks to MyAnimeList for providing me with a fairly comprehensive list of anime airing this season as well as their descriptions which I have linked below each show. If you’re only interested in the top ten scroll to the bottom.

Didn’t Make the Cut:

These are the shows which simply didn’t make the cut for top ten or honorable mentions; what that means is that I didn’t find them to stand out above the pack in a discernible way and/or they just didn’t appeal to me personally. I found this season to be above average in quality though so you’ll still be able to find some pretty good shows among this lot and if something catches eye more often than not it will be decent. There are some notable exceptions though. Presented in alphabetical order.

A Certain Magical Index: Season 3 (https://myanimelist.net/anime/4654/Toaru_Majutsu_no_Index):

TLDR: Psychics vs Wizards but not as interesting as that sounds

The Toaru series comprises some light novels, an anime adaptation of said LN, multiple spin-offs, some manga, some games, and a movie. The main series focuses on the conflicts between various factions of Espers, people who have gained supernatural powers via science, and Magicians, people who have gained supernatural powers via magic, who are at odds with each other despite the fact that both groups appear to have an entirely random assortment of supernatural powers and seems indistinguishable from an outside perspective. At the center of this conflict is our hero Touma with the ability of being fairly bland protagonist, oh and he can cancel supernatural powers too I guess; also at the center is Index, our title character with the power of being absent and not doing much for most of the series so it’s kind of a misnomer really. Fortunately Toaru gets around it’s dull main character syndrome by having a large cast of supporting characters, unfortunately it has too many supporting characters so very few of them get to actually shine in any meaningful way and end up being little more than archetypes than actual characters.

Season 3 is more of the same really, same old boring protagonist, generic anime villains new and old, easily predictable fight scenes; repeat as necessary. Mostly the Toaru series ends up being a generic shonen action anime, fights happen for little to no reason, characters come and go, the animation quality is about what you’d expect from recent anime, and nothing really stands out. Toaru certainly isn’t the worst anime in this genre, but it’s also not the best and by 2018 there have been simply way too many good anime that have come out over the years to bother spending the time necessary to catch up to Season 3 of an average anime unless you’re already a fan of the series.

You can watch A Certain Magical Index: Season 3 Fridays at 10:30 am on Crunchyroll.

Alternatives: My Hero Academia – For a show about teenagers with superpowers who go to school and fight each with an equally large cast, but is somehow much better at handling those elements. Ao no Exorcist for the magic church people with superpowers vibe.

Ace Attorney: Season 2 (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37490/Gyakuten_Saiban__Sono_Shinjitsu_Igi_Ari_Season_2):

TLDR: Inferior Video Game Adaptation Esquire

AA is a wildly popular series of mystery/visual novel games and with good reason; the characters are great, the music is fantastic, and the twists are spectacular; I’ve played every single game released thus far, even the ones not in English, and I would highly recommend anyone reading this right now who has never played them to pick up the first trilogy on one of the numerous platforms it is now available. AA the anime unfortunately never quite lives up to that to that greatness, as is typical in the time honored tradition of adapting a video game into an anime, television show, or movie; the adaptation either ends up going off in a wildly different, and much less popular, direction; or ends up just being a streamlined, less interesting clone of the original work. AA falls into the latter category with the series being a mostly straight adaptation of the first three games in the series with some minor changes and additions (although episode 13 of the first season is a wholly new story so far as I can tell). While you could probably watch the entirety of the AA anime in less time than it would take you to play through the exact same events in the game, you could also achieve the same result by reading a summary on Wikipedia and similarly ruin your first time experiencing AA. Therein lies the chief conundrum with AA the anime, the games are clearly the superior experience and no one should watch this anime without having played them first, however if you’ve already played the games then there’s also not much to get from watching the anime as it winds up being basically the same story only told in a less interesting medium.

You can watch Ace Attorney: Season 2 on Crunchyroll at 7:00 am on Saturdays.

Alternatives: Just go play the games, maybe watch the Danganronpa anime for another VN to anime adaptation.

As Miss Beelzebub Likes It (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37716/Beelzebub-jou_no_Okinimesu_mama):

TLDR: What if Hell was actually Heaven?

Lesser Demon Mullin finds out that his dream job as the assistant to Beelzebub, current ruler of Hell while Satan is away, isn’t what he thought it would be when it turns out that Beelzebub is actually a teen girl interested in all things fluffy and cute. Basically this show is a RomCom plain and simple with the addition of having the lightest color palette of any show this season and full of cream puffs, pink puffs, puff ball creatures and just every thing cute and fluffy you could possible imagine. I’m not really sure why this is set in Hell actually other than as a excuse to use a bunch of Demonology in an ironic fashion because this show is about as violent as a cotton ball. The pairings are fairly obvious as are the various twists and character archetypes but if you’re in the mood for the lightest, fluffiest, cutest RomCom all season look no further.

You can find As Miss Beelzebub Likes It on Crunchyroll, Wednesdays at 2:50 pm.

Alternatives: Working! for more light slice of life/comedy Ouran Host Club for more RomCom but reversed positions.

At That Time, She (https://myanimelist.net/anime/38251/Sono_Toki_Kanojo_wa):

TLDR: Romance Drama for people with literally no time to watch an actual drama 

Sono Toki is a series of 3 minute shorts following the love lives of 4 girls through high school, college, and adulthood, if that sounds like I just copied the description of some anime site that’s because I did. I don’t really have much to say about this show mostly because there’s not here to talk about, the animation is almost minimalist which is interesting I suppose, but every episode is too short to actually get invested in any one plotline and each successive episode switches perspective to a different girl before you can even fully comprehend what happened in the last one. I suppose since it’s so short you could probably blaze through Sono Toki, Kanojo wa but good luck finding a legit stream of it anywhere.

Alternatives: Tsurezure Children for slice of life/romance longer than 3 minutes.

Between the Sky and Sea (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37490/Gyakuten_Saiban__Sono_Shinjitsu_Igi_Ari_Season_2):

TLDR: Space fishing/girl empowerment which delivers on neither concept.

In the future fish are mysteriously vanishing from the Earth so giant fish tanks were built in space to hold them, now 6 girls must travel to space to fish for giant space fish in order to prove that girls can do just as much as the boys do gosh danget! First off as with many anime you kind of just have to accept the silly premise of space fishing from the jump because this show does very little to explain it and continues to throw you new concepts left and right in the premiere. You can really tell that this show is a tie in with a mobile game, the show feels very video gamey especially when the characters use a mobile app to summon “fisher deities” to assist them in every episode. Some of the CG giant fish look silly but overall the animation is neither stand out nor terrible enough to really comment on, the characters feel pretty stereotypical and the concepts are nothing to write home about. The Girl Power theme might work better if the sexist males weren’t so cartoonishly over the top in their misogyny so it all comes across as far too broad to really leave an impact, moreover this show takes what should be a fairly entertaining concept (who doesn’t want to watch something as silly sounding as fishing in space?) and makes it feel very by the numbers.

You can find Between the Sky and Sea Wednesdays at 12:00 pm on Crunchyroll.

Alternatives: Shoujou Kageki Revue Starlight for more ridiculousness and A Place Further Than the Universe for a show with similar themes that pays them off better.

Bakumatsu (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37584/Bakumatsu):

TLDR: Sci-fi alternate history with hot anime samurai boys

The historical Bakumatsu period of Japan refers to a time between 1853 and 1867 in which the Tokugawa Shogunate was overthrown and supplanted leading to the Meiji Restoration. Bakumatsu asks “What would happen if you took the most prominent figures from that period, made them hot anime boys, and also introduced time travel and sci-fi elements?” I’m not entirely sure why the historical elements are included in this to be honest, if you’re unfamiliar with the actual historical period characters like Takasugi Shinsaku might as well be entirely made up, and if you are familiar with it the story is so divorced from actual history that it really only elicits an “oh I understood that reference.” Unsurprisingly this show draws more inspiration from the mobile game it’s adapting than the actual historical event. Otherwise the animation is fine, the action passable, and the male exhibition plentiful, and honestly that last factor is the real reason you’d be watching this show in the first place.

You can watch Bakumatsu Thursdays at 4:30 pm on Crunchyroll.

Alternatives: Drifters for another show that combines real history with sci-fi elements.

Boarding School Juliet (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37475/Kishuku_Gakkou_no_Juliet):

TLDR: Romeo and Juliet in High School

A retelling of Shakespeare’s classic work as a high school RomCom, the show re-imagines the titular characters as leading figures of rival dorms attempting to conceal their relationship from their peers. If you’ve come here looking for a modern retelling of the Romeo and Juliet story then look again because this is more or less your standard high school RomCom with some Shakespeare slapped on it, there are plenty of your classic tropes here such as: going undercover as the opposite gender, unrequited loves, and yes entirely unnecessary fanservice. Any sort of strong themes or character developments set up in the premiere have predictably fallen to the wayside in favor of RomCom shenanigans and overall this show feels like something you might enjoy watching in the moment but largely forget about after it’s done, if you’re in the mood for a RomCom though I suppose there are worse options out there.

You can watch Boarding School Juliet on Amazon Prime Video, Fridays at 12:25 pm.

Alternatives: Romeo x Juliet for more messing around with Shakespearean works.

Conception (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37823/Conception):

TLDR: “Anime Was A Mistake”

In a season featuring unnecessary rape scenes, incest, and 50 episodes of SAO it takes some real effort to be the bottom of the barrel, but Conception “wins” that particular award almost gleefully. This show features two seemingly normal high school students, who happen to be cousins, a fact that will become relevant shortly, who are inexplicably transported to a fantasy world wherein our male protagonist must sleep with 12 star maidens and conceive magical star children in order to save fantasy land from some evil demons or something. Who are these maidens you might ask? Well they come in all shapes, sizes and personality types including but not limited to: ridiculously over proportioned, almost certainly underaged, and yes in fact our protagonist’s very own cousin whom he sleeps with in the very first episode! This show also happens to feature the worst animal mascot maybe in all of animation in the form of the perverted magical floating red panda Mana who’s only real purpose is to spout off obscenities, grope all the women, and grab our hero’s junk whenever he needs a pick me up or whatever. Supposedly this anime is based on a series of turn-based rpgs/dating sims but the team behind this show couldn’t possible care less about anything other than the “sex scenes” which I say in air quotes because this show can’t even deliver on that potential as it constantly cuts away by having endless clones of the resident rape panda (see the clever word play I did there?) float by whenever the characters get down to actual act.

The dating sim aspect is laughable, every girl in the show exists for the sole purpose of mating with the hero and bearing his children, a fact which they all express numerous times, the battle aspect is somehow even worse as the show simply breezes over any actual fighting by having Mana explain how cool that fight you’ll never see just was in a 2-3 minute monologue and the few fights that actually do occur on screen are poorly animated at best. If at any point you the viewer are ever confused by what’s happening on screen don’t worry, the show will do it’s best to remind you that it’s simply an overly long advertisement for the game series by having Mana hold up an onscreen sign directing you the website for more information. If this all sounds like a terrible show that’s because it is, there are no depths too low, no tropes left undone, no ridiculous porn setup too outlandish for this show in it’s pursuit to be the most aggressively terrible anime of the season. Having said all of that, if you are A. over the legal drinking age and B. find yourself in the company of a group of similarly minded friends also above the legal drinking age then I can confirm that I’ve never had as many genuine laughs while watching any other show on this list than this garbage anime but that’s really not a compliment.

You should absolutely not watch Conception Tuesdays at 2:30 pm on Crunchyroll, seriously don’t watch it.

Alternatives: Literally anything, if you just used a random anime generator you’re almost guaranteed to get a better show than this one.

Devidol (https://myanimelist.net/anime/38284/Devidol):

TLDR: 3D high school/idol girl parody

Three devil girls attend high school and attempt to become idols despite having no idea what being an idol actually means. This is another 15 min comedy series with the added twist that’s it’s entirely animated in 3-D. Typically 3-D anime are hit or miss and entirely dependent on how well the animation studio manages to pull it off, sometimes you get a Ghost in the Shell and sometimes you get Devidol. If the idea of mediocre 3-D animation turns you off then give up on this one immediately because it’s not going to get much better. If that doesn’t turn you off the next fact might because Devidol doesn’t stream anywhere outside of Japan so good luck finding it.

Alternatives: Love Live if you’re looking for more idols that sometimes perform in 3D, if you’re looking for a better idol parody scroll down to the top ten.

Fairy Tail: The Final Season (https://myanimelist.net/anime/22043/Fairy_Tail_2014):

TLDR: The Power of Friendship! For over 200 Episodes!

My history with Fairy Tail is complicated, despite having watched most of the anime and read the entirety of the manga I do not actually believe FT is a good anime. Now that doesn’t mean I think it’s a terrible anime but at it’s most successful FT never really achieve anything higher than being an average action/comedy anime and at it’s worse is painfully mediocre and repetitive. Why then have I read the entirety of this series? Well that’s because in being middle of the road FT is also very easy to binge or background watch because in lacking any sort of complexity you’ll never really miss anything important by not paying attention to it. However I also can not recommend anyone watch The Final Season unless you’re already a FT fan simply due to the fact that it’s over 200 episodes long and it’s just not worth the time investment necessary to get to this point for a show that never really goes anywhere, all of the fights resolve in the exact same way, all of the plot points are exceedingly predictable, and because there are as many characters as there are episodes of this series they all wind up falling into the same molds time and again.

The Final Season is really just more of the same, our heroes and their literal hundreds of allies must face down an overwhelming foe which they will inevitably defeat by yelling about friendship and pulling some new power out of nowhere because that’s how every conflict in this series plays out.

You can watch Fairy Tail: The Final Season on Crunchyroll at 6:30 pm on Saturdays.

Alternatives: Rave Master is another series by the creator of FT that’s both shorter and more interesting, or you could try out The Seven Deadly Sins for a more recent anime the same vein that’s also not oppressively long.

Goblin Slayer (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37349/Goblin_Slayer):

TLDR: Edgelord D&D with some fanservice 

Did you ever think to yourself, “I’m a person that both enjoys fantasy, D&D, and anime but all these fantasy/D&D anime are just too bright and cheery for me, I need something real, I need something gory, I need something with depth and stakes”… well congratulations because Berserk exists and has both more style and more substance than this dumb anime in which a guy goes around murdering a bunch of generic goblins with the help of some anime boob ladies. Look I’ve certainly watched my fair share of grim-dark, edge-lord, super serious anime so I can get behind them as much as the next person but for Osamu Tezuka’s sake at least watch a good one. I know that anime fans latch onto mature, dark shows whenever they see them because they’re so backed up by all the light, happy fun times that is most anime but don’t saddle yourself to something so mediocre for the sake of some diversity in your watching experience.

If you really can’t find a better version of Goblin Slayer (and you can) you can watch it Saturdays at 12:30 pm, on Crunchy Roll, at least until Funimation decides to retroactively remove all their shows from there.

Alternatives: Beserk as previously mentioned or Bastard!, if you just want some good gore with occasional comedy and great action watch Castlevania which isn’t an anime but is way better than this dreck.

Hangyakusei Million Arthur (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37555/Hangyakusei_Million_Arthur):

TLDR: Somehow the worst shonen action/comedy on this list

A bunch of hot anime girls/guys (a one loli) named Arthur must travel through time defeating a million other guys and girls named Arthur in order to fix the time-stream or something. Look, this anime is based on an MMORPG which was based on a series of mobile card games that I cannot find many reviews of and those that I did find were not so great, so that combined with the vast history of subpar video game to anime adaptations spells disaster ahead for this show, and episode one does nothing to dissuade me from that opinion. The action scenes are just our heroes showcasing their various magic weapons off against a horde of nameless mooks who all predictably lose in mere seconds, most of the run-time is spent on typical anime nonsense which in this case means tons of shots of our lead heroine in various revealing situations. None of the jokes lands, the characters might as well be from literally any anime, the plot is bare bones at best, and this really just feels like what would come out of an assembly line if you gave someone the broad guidelines of how these types of shows usually work. Also you can’t even stream it anywhere so why would you even bother trying to find this?

Alternatives: This show is so surprisingly not good that even the other mediocre action/comedies I have on this list are better than this one.

Himote House (https://myanimelist.net/anime/36945/Himote_House):

TLDR: 3D slice of life/comedy/anime parody

HH is a 12 minute 3D animated comedy about 5 girls with supernatural anime powers living together in a house. The animation is honestly pretty mediocre but the jokes hit fairly well, anime references fly left and right (one girl is just a walking JoJo reference machine and there are zero attempts made to disguise this fact), and you can tell the voice actors are having fun goofing around on this show. If you’re a fan of Tesagure! Bukasumono this show has a lot of overlap. As with most of these short comedy shows, how you react to the first episode is highly deterministic of how much or little you’ll enjoy the rest of the series so give it a try.

You can watch Himote House on Crunchyroll, Sundays at 12:45 pm.

Alternatives: Tesagure! Bukasumono or gdgd Fairies

Hinomaru Sumo (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37007/Hinomaruzumou):

TLDR: Manly Men wrestling in in Manly ways

Ushio Hinomaru, the titular character, wants to become a yokozuna (the highest rank in professional sumo), but first he wants to be the king of high school sumo. It’s another shonen sports anime which means a bunch of hot-blooded teenagers, who look far older than the age they’re supposed to be representing, join various groups to compete against each other in highly formulaic patterns in whilst sometimes more, sometimes less representing whatever real life sport the anime is about, in this case sumo. If you like manly men who should technically be teenagers doing manly things like sumo wrestling then you’ll like this show.

You can watch Hinomaru Sumo on Crunchyroll, Fridays at 11:00 am.

Alternatives: Grappler Baki for more manly wrestling.

I’m Glad I Could Keep Running (https://myanimelist.net/anime/38254/Hashiri_Tsuzukete_Yokattatte):

TLDR: Basically a short movie about becoming a voice actor

HTY is a short OVA type series consisting of 4 15 minute episodes, it’s a drama/slice of life featuring two college students and their attempts to become seiyuu (Professional Japanese Voice Actors). It’s not particularly remarkable nor memorable but the concept is intriguing and at a total run time of around an hour it’s pretty easy to binge in one sitting. Unfortunately there are no legally available streams of Hashiri Tsuzukete Yokattatte so I can’t even really recommend it for it’s ease of access.

Alternatives: Seiyuu’s Life for another show about voice acting.

Inazuma Eleven: Mark of Orion (https://myanimelist.net/anime/38235/Inazuma_Eleven__Orion_no_Kokuin):

TLDR:  Teen Superhero Soccer

Inazuma Eleven is fairly popular series of soccer (or football for you non-Americans) rpg games developed by Level-5, most notable as being the company behind other successful game franchises adapted to animation like Yo-kai Watch and Professor Layton. The series encompasses over a dozen games, several anime and manga adaptations, and even a few movies to boot. Orion, a sequel to IE: Ares, features our team of plucky mid-teen soccer boys as they represent Japan against the best teams in the world in whatever this world’s version of the World Cup is I suppose. Like every other sports themed anime in existence, IE follows a fairly predictable pattern in which our team of junior high school boys must compete against ever more challenging opponents in their quest to be the kings of soccer or something I guess. Unlike other sports anime which frequently blur the line between reality and fantasy in the simply ridiculous moves that some characters get up to, IE just ignores any semblance of pretending to be realistic and includes things like literal superpowers and aliens so these kids get up to all sorts of crazy shenanigans whilst playing soccer. As you might expect this anime is aimed at a much younger audience so things like narrative or characterization take a back seat to the ridiculous super-powered soccer shenanigans and it’s honestly not even a good representation of the actual sport. If you’re not here to watch a bunch of 15 year olds kick the ever loving crap out of both a soccer ball and themselves in increasingly over the top ways there’s really nothing to see here but if that sounds interesting to you there are plenty of episodes over multiple series to keep you entertained, or you could probably just start with this one since the plot is kind of an unnecessary aspect towards enjoying this show. Good luck finding someplace to stream this though.

Alternatives: Captain Tsubasa for a more realistic take on soccer anime that’s still pretty ridiculous. Giant Killing for a show about adults playing soccer.

IRODUKU: The World in Colors (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37497/Irozuku_Sekai_no_Ashita_kara):

TLDR: All style, no substance

Hitomi is a girl from a family of mages living in 2078, she’s also color blind a fact this anime will do it’s best to remind you by explaining it quite often but very rarely actually doing anything with it, her grandmother sends her back in time to 2018 for……reasons. This show has everything going for it, a female protagonist with a disability, absolutely stunning animation, magic, slice of life, romance! Unfortunately it never actually utilizes any of those things in anything approaching an unique or interesting way so it really just ends up being a mediocre slice of life drama that will likely become a romance drama with some really good production values to distance itself from all the others. I love slow paced slice of life/romance dramas, especially ones with great animation or interesting concepts, and I was bored to tears by this show.

You can watch IRODUKU (still not sure how that became the agreed upon name) Fridays at 12:55 pm on Amazon Prime Video.

Alternatives: Violet Evergarden for a show that looks great but also has substances, if you just want the romance drama there are better versions of this type of show this very season so read on.

Karakuri Circus (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37447/Karakuri_Circus):

TLDR: Puppet fighting action/comedy

A young orphan boy who is the inheritor of a multi-million dollar company and his two protectors: a manly martial artist with an odd medical condition and a master puppeteer woman, must defeat a series of literal puppet masters and their crazy murder puppets. The animation is kind of mediocre, the comedy feels forced, the characters are little more than stereotypes, and the action isn’t even that exciting which in a show about killer puppets is of paramount importance. Honestly the central concept of killer puppets is the only thing separating this anime from every other action/comedy anime this season and while the puppets do look fun, how they’re inevitably used to fight each other is not that fun which is disappointing but it may not be for you, in which case you can find Karakuri Circus on Amazon Prime Video, Thursdays at 9:30 am.

Alternatives: Thunderbolt Fantasy an actually fun show about Taiwanese puppets fighting each other, not technically an anime but a good puppet based action show nonetheless, JoJo for a better battle anime (more on that later).

Kittens on the Island of Stars 

(https://myanimelist.net/anime/38147/Hoshi_no_Shima_no_Nyanko)

TLDR: Insert Shrug Emoji here

A trio of CG cats stumble upon the eponymous “Island of Stars” and have 15 minute adventures while attempting to start a new town there. If if sounds like Animal Crossing but not as good you’d probably be right, I say probably because neither you nor I will ever see it because it’s not streaming anywhere, but you can watch some footage of the the mobile game it’s based on to get a general idea I suppose.

Alternatives: Chi’s Sweet Home for more cute cat antics.

Merc StoriA: The Apathetic Boy and the Girl in the Bottle (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37232/Merc_Storia__Mukiryoku_no_Shounen_to_Bin_no_Naka_no_Shoujo):

TLDR: Family Friendly Isekai

Merc, an outgoing liquid bottle fairy, and Yuu a shy boy with the power to “heal” monsters (which basically just tames them) travel across the fantasy world solving troubles and helping out monsters and people alike. It’s cute and not very violent and probably promotes a lot of those good, family friendly ideals on kids and there are a lot of adorable looking fantasy creatures. Personally I couldn’t care less but clearly this anime was not made for me,  if you’re the target audience though I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun watching this.

You can watch Merc StoriA Thursdays at 10:30 am on Crunchyroll.

Alternatives: Digimon for more fun with fantasy creatures.

Money Pitch: Season 2 (https://myanimelist.net/anime/35183/Gurazeni):

TLDR: Baseball Economics

MP is yet another “sports anime with a twist” which chronicles the lives of professional Japanese baseball players in general, and mid-range pitcher Natsunosuke Bonda in particular. Unlike most sports anime which focus on Youthful Passion! or The Drive to be the Very Best! MP is more concerned with the practical aspects of baseball such as earning a decent enough paycheck to be able to support yourself comfortably after retiring. Our protagonist is more concerned with earning a pay raise than becoming the emperor of all baseball or whatever. There are no over top, physics defying scenes or impressively choreographed action shots, the animation isn’t all that impressive and the sound design is largely forgettable, but if you’re looking for the most realistic look at what life is like as a professional baseball player in Japan, then look no further.

You can watch Gurazeni: Money Pitch Season 2 Fridays at 10:30 am on Crunchyroll.

Alternatives: One Outs for more money ball, Ace of Diamond for a more traditional baseball anime.

My Sister, My Writer (https://myanimelist.net/anime/36632/Ore_ga_Suki_nano_wa_Imouto_dakedo_Imouto_ja_Nai):

TLDR: Incest porn without the porn

Yu, our protagonist, is a failing light novel author without any real hits, his younger sister Suzuka is the student council president who moonlights by anonymously writing incest romance novels, when one of Suzuka’s novels wins an award she convinces her brother to act as the face behind the novel in order to maintain her reputation. I’ve never really understood the appeal of little sister shows which are ostensibly about the pairing up of two siblings romantically and sometimes sexually but honestly even if you are this show simply isn’t good enough to justify investing time in. First off this is the laziest animation job I’ve seen this season and that’s including the 3D shows because at least those tried. There are entire articles on the internet right now about how bad this show looks and I encourage you to go read those if you have even the slightest inkling to watch this show because they’ll all give a much more detailed explanation of just how much failure is involved in the animation. The writing is almost as bad as the animation and none of the jokes land whatsoever. The characters might as well be pulled straight from a hentai with how stereotypical they are, including of course the requisite “20 year old who looks like she’s 10” because in addition to the incest crowd this show also needs to pander to the lolicon crowd I guess. Honestly if Conception didn’t exist this would probably be the worst anime this season by far but as it is it’s only the second-worst so really it can’t even succeed at being a failure which is pretty emblematic of this show as a whole.

If you feel the need to watch My Sister, My Writer you can see it Wednesdays at 10:30 am on Crunchyroll but why would you?

Alternatives: I don’t really watch any incest anime but I imagine they’re almost all better than this one.

Non-Human Creature Wife (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37992/Jingai-san_no_Yome):

TLDR: Monster Girl RomCom, but more Monster and less Girl

A 3 minute (although really more like 2 and a half due to the ending) show featuring a large goat-bear-thing getting married to a high school boy, comedy ensues? Considering that half of the first episode is taken up by the full length ending (thankfully shortened for future entries) the entirety of this series accounts for less than 15 minutes total over 5 episodes thus far this is honestly another series which you could just watch in almost the same amount of time it would take you to skim through this article. Personally I think the incredibly short length hinders any sort of comedy or message this show is attempting to deliver but if you want to check it out it’s pretty short.

You can watch Jingai-san no Yome on Crunchyroll Tuesdays at 1:00 pm.

Alternatives: How to Keep a Mummy for the same concept minus the romance but normal length episodes.

Our Maid is Way Too Annoying! (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37722/Uchi_no_Maid_ga_Uzasugiru):

TLDR: Lesbian Maid Pedophilia, but also comedy?

In most aspects UzaMaid (as the internets like to call it) is a fairly typical maid anime, a young girl loses her mother and constantly sabotages any and all older female presences who attempt to come into her life until our spunky female protagonist comes along fill that missing maternal aspect. Except our spunky female protagonist is also super into little girls, like in a way that transcends weird hobby and takes the train all the way into creepy town, obsession station. This show is honestly quite baffling because it doesn’t seem to condone this behavior at all and yet treats it like a bit of harmless comedy, “oh look isn’t it funny how the main heroine is a lesbian pedophile,” instead of legitimately disturbing. I’m honestly just disappointed in this show more than anything, plenty of anime like to feature unhealthy obsessions with children as gags but this show has so many good aspects like female bonding, a lesbian main protagonist designed in a masculine style not normally represented in anime, and one of the cutest animal mascots all season… and all of that potential is wasted by including this unnecessary creepy factor that doesn’t even add anything! Sigh, UzaMaid! may not be the worst anime this season but it’s certainly wins the award for breaking my heart.

You can UzaMaid! find it Fridays at 11:30 am on Crunchyroll and be similarly frustrated.

Alternatives: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid for a lesbian dragon maid in love with an adult woman.

Radiant (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37202/Radiant):

TLDR: Sky Wizards vs Sky Monsters in the Sky!

Surprise surprise, another European inspired fantasy action/adventure show starring a young precocious, but well meaning male protagonist who dreams of being the best magic guy in all the land. In this case our hero Seth wants to defeat all the magic sky monsters and end magic anime racism by proving that magic people are just as good as non-magic people.  Unlike most of these shows this one is based on a French comic so that’s something new, otherwise this show shares a lot of the same beats as other shonen action/comedy shows like Black Clover, Dragon Ball, Fairy Tail, etc. but notably this one isn’t as prohibitively long as those other series so it’s much easier to catch up on at least. This show does remind me of the aesthetic of Castle in the Sky what with all the air ships and floating stuff so it has that going for it I suppose.

You can watch Radiant Saturdays at 7:15 am on Crunchyroll.

Alternatives: Hunter x Hunter or Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic for similar shows.

RErideD: Derrida, who leaps through time (https://myanimelist.net/anime/35835/RErideD__Tokigoe_no_Derrida):

TLDR: Terminator the animation

Derrida, our titular hero, must travel back and forth through time to stop the rise of Skynet, I mean DZ’s, and save the future by rewriting the past. The twists are easily predictable, the concepts might as well be stolen from any big budget sci-fi movie, it takes far, far too long to get the time travel mechanic up and going, and it all honestly feels like every other mediocre sci-fi anime in existence; which is a shame considering it employed the talents of Takuya Satou and Yoshitoshi ABe who have worked on far better shows in this genre. It’s not terrible but it’s not really good either so it feels like a waste of time and effort all around. If you’re in the mood to see what Terminator would look like as an anime though this is pretty close.

You can watch RErideD Wednesdays at 10:00 am on Crunchyroll.

Alternatives: Steins; Gate for a very similar sci-fi themed show that’s much better.

Samurai High School (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37657/Gakuen_Basara):

TLDR: Highly Niche hot anime samurai boys in high school

Sengoku Basara is a series of popular video games based very, very loosely on the Sengoku period of Japanese history, as is the case with almost any popular game series in Japan, there are also a number of anime adaptations of SB. Like Bakumatsu this series exists less to showcase the particular period of history upon which it’s based and more to showcase a variety of hot anime samurai boys beating each other senseless in ridiculous ways while also sometimes being shirtless. GB is no different, having transposed said hot anime samurai boys (or HASB’s) into a high school setting, unfortunately it’s clear this anime was made more for fans of the Basara-verse and less for fans of HASB’s because almost every single joke or character or plot point is in some way a reference to the larger series and therefore completely inaccessible by outsiders. Obviously this is an incredibly insular show but if you’re a fan of Basara, HASB’s, and high school shenanigans then you’ll like this.

You can watch Gakuen Basara on HIDIVE, Thursdays at 12:28 pm.

Alternatives: This show requires a background of other Basara shows so maybe watch those first.

Senran Kagura: Season 2 (https://myanimelist.net/anime/36037/Senran_Kagura_Shinovi_Master__Tokyo_Youma-hen):

TLDR: Jiggle Physics Simulator 

Look, Senran Kagura might as well be hentai and everyone knows it. Sure there’s a bare bones “good ninjas vs evil ninjas” plot but the show couldn’t even begin to care less about the “plot” such as it is. This is a game and anime series designed to showcase unreasonably busty anime girls bounce around on screen as they lose more and more clothing, get into one erotic scenario after another, and just generally show off their breast physics which is a thing the game series likes to tout every time a new one comes out. I’ve never really understood the mass appeal of ecchi anime that goes right up to line of being pornography without ever crossing it when it’s a widely known fact that actual anime pornography (read hentai) already exists and is basically free on most parts on the internet but I guess some people need at least a flimsy narrative excuse for their “entertainment” purposes or whatever. Certainly anime like this must have an audience somewhere though since they keep getting made.

You can watch Senran Kagura: Season 2 Fridays at 11:00 am on Crunchyroll.

Alternatives: Kill la Kill for weaponized fanservice tied to an actually good show.

Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san (https://myanimelist.net/anime/36317/Gaikotsu_Shotenin_Honda-san):

TLDR: The life of a Bookstore Salesman, who’s also a skeleton

Another 11 minute comedy series with a twist, Honda stars our titular hero, a literal skeleton like the kind you’d see in a science classroom, as an employee at a bookstore which mostly deals in manga. The character designs are absurdist and the animation style is very simplistic but as with all of these shows watching the first episode will tell you whether the humor of this series is going to land for you or not.

So go watch Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san on Crunchyroll and then continue to watch it Sundays at 1:00 pm if you’re interested.

Alternatives: Denki-gai no Honya-san for more bookstore antics.

Space Battleship Tiramisu Zwei (https://myanimelist.net/anime/36267/Uchuu_Senkan_Tiramis%C3%B9):

TLDR: Sci-fi/Mecha bite-sized sketch comedy 

Space Battleship Tiramisu is a 7 minute comedy series parodying the likes of Space Battleship Yamato, Gundam, and every other space opera with giant robots anime. Tiramisu is basically a sketch comedy series featuring more or less unconnected gags which comprise the entirety of each episode’s 7 minute run, sometimes the barest hints of a overarching plot come along but they vanish just as quickly. Zwei (Season 2) has more gags, more cast, and more Mecha but it’s pretty much the same show. I would actually recommend everyone to just give the first episode of this show a try because it’s pretty short and you’ll know if this series is for you or not afterwards because the premiere is entirely representative of the rest of the show.

You can watch Space Battleship Tiramisu Zwei Mondays at 1:00 pm on Crunchyroll.

Alternatives: Gintama for more sci-fi/anime parody

Sword Art Online: Alicization (https://myanimelist.net/anime/36474/Sword_Art_Online__Alicization):

TLDR: How to be a Lumberjack in Fantasy Land

Sword Art Online is yet another show in a long line of inexplicably popular anime not at all deserving of the attention they get. Essentially a teenage guy along with a whole bunch of other people get trapped in a video game where “if you die in the game you die in real life!”.  This encompasses all of the first 14 episodes of SAO and is marginally successful after which it quickly falls off the rails and abandons it’s original premise to become a show about nonsense. There are a myriad of essays and videos explaining the why’s and how’s of SAO’s fall from grace and I would suggest you look into them if you want an in-depth review. Suffice it to say SAO is a series of (mostly) downs and (few) ups with numerous spin-offs and side stories.

Alicization functions as the third season of vanilla SAO and features everyone’s favorite nothing protagonist Kirito as he joins yet another virtual reality game with sinister intention because he never learns, also it’s 50 episodes long now I guess. What this means in theory is that it gives SAO the time to properly give it’s characters the rich character interactions and story depth that they so desperately need. What it means in actuality is that we spend much of the first 3 episodes with Kirito and his new best friend Eugeo (or Blond Kirito) cutting down a really big tree for some reason instead of searching for new addition to the harem Alice (or Blond Asuna). In some ways I suppose this is an improvement over previous seasons as it means SAO no longer delves to the depths of being offensively terrible, however it has seemingly transformed from an aggressively mediocre anime into an aggressively dull anime which is almost worse. If for some reason this review has inspired you to catch up on SAO I would strongly recommend stopping after episode 14 and pretending that SAO ended at the same time the actual in-universe game did, if you decide not to heed my advice or if you just want to watch the adventures of the most bland male protagonist in anime and his color swapped clone then enjoy 50 more episodes of this nonsense.

You can watch Sword Art Online: Alicization simulcast on Crunchyroll at 12:30 pm on Saturdays.

Alternatives: Log Horizon for a much better version of SAO.

The [email protected] SideM: Wake Atte Mini! (https://myanimelist.net/anime/34915/The_iDOLMSTER_SideM):

TLDR: Chibi Mass Produced Hot Anime Boys

The Idolmaster series is like tamagotchi but for Japanese idols in which you, the producer, must help your prospective idols on their path to super-stardom by essentially managing them like an actual producer but with more mini-games than real life. There are almost as many anime adaptations and spin-offs as there are games and SideM is one such spin-off. SideM, as the name might imply, focuses on the male idol scene as a new twist on the typically female-centric Idolmaster series and is more or less about as interesting as every other average male idol anime. Wake Atte Mini! is a 3 minute chibi comedy spin-off of a spin-off of an anime adaptation of a game series so we’re really diluting the original premise at this point. Considering this focuses solely on the SideM characters I can’t even recommend this for general Idolmaster fans, this is only specifically for fans of The Idolmaster SideM who thought “this is good but I could really use a much shorter chibi-fied version” which I guess must encompass some obscure part of anime fandom.

You can watch The [email protected] SideM: Wake Atte Mini! on Crunchyroll, Tuesdays at 9:15 am.

Alternatives: You should probably have seen the original SideM before watching this but if you just want another male idol show try Uta no Prince-sama.

The Sexiest Man of the Year is Harassing Me (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37597/Dakaretai_Otoko_1-i_ni_Odosarete_Imasu):

TLDR: Boys-love anime, but the rapey kind

Takato, the number one sexiest man in all Japan has recently be usurped by rising star Junta, and must now work with his rival on a tv show, however it also turns out that Junta is deeply infatuated with Takato. Yes that’s right this show is gay, unfortunately it’s also bad because the idea of two rival male models begrudgingly falling in love with each other sounds endlessly fascinating and entertaining but like UzaMaid! earlier in this list, DAKAICHI takes a great premise and ruins it with an unfortunate twist. In this case that twist happens to be sexual assault as Junta is perhaps a little too infatuated with Takato to take no for an answer sometimes and some scenes get a little too rapey for comfort. I know that gay anime isn’t exactly a dime a dozen so maybe sometimes you have to take what you can get but being gay doesn’t excuse bad story elements. If the twist hasn’t ruined this show for you, or if you’ve simply watched every other gay anime in existence (not exactly a difficult accomplishment) and you want one more then this also exists I guess.

You can watch DAKAICHI Fridays at 12:30 pm on Crunchyroll.

Alternatives: Banana Fish or No. 6 for more gays.

Tokyo Ghoul :Re Season 2 (https://myanimelist.net/anime/36511/Tokyo_Ghoul_re):

TLDR: Random scenes of horror/action strung together in a feeble effort to resemble a narrative.

TG stars college student Ken Kaneki as he is forced into the conflicts between the normal world and that of the “ghouls”, superhumans with blood altering abilities who can only sustain themselves by eating human flesh, :Re (Essentially Season 3), picks up the story with an amnesiac Kaneki now working as a member of an anti-ghoul unit. TG the anime is a troubled series, although Season 1 was a fairly straight adaptation of the manga, Season 2 was such a complete departure from the story (and generally considered to be a such a failure) that :Re all but ignored it’s existence which was probably a good decision but one which will likely leave a lot of anime-only watchers very confused. Unfortunately :Re doesn’t really succeed as a good adaptation either, it forces itself to rush through plot points at such a pace that one can never really get a grasp on what’s happening or develop any sort of attachment to the characters. :Re, and the TG anime franchise as a whole, is such a complete failure as both an adaptation and anime on it’s own that I simply cannot imagine who this show is for or how it’s still popular enough to warrant a second season of this nonsense. If you want to watch a train wreck in action though you won’t need to catch up to enjoy because this show will make about as much sense with and without context so go ahead and jump in on this season.

You can watch Tokyo Ghoul :Re on Tuesdays at 10:00 am on AnimeLab, Hulu, and Funimation’s very own streaming site.

Alternative: Normally I don’t like to say “just go read the manga” but actually you should in this case, or watch Attack on Titan for more mature horror/action that’s a much better adaptation.

Tsurune (https://myanimelist.net/anime/36653/Tsurune__Kazemai_Koukou_Kyuudoubu):

TLDR: Free! but for archery

A new year means a new KyoAni production and Tsurune has all the classic hallmarks: A high school club (this time archery), conventionally attractive anime boy/girls (this time boys), high quality animation, and entirely slice of life. Tsurune stars a group of highly attractive anime boys who angst and bond with each other over their shared love of archery and that’s pretty much it, just a bunch of boys doing archery stuff. Like all KyoAni stuff if you’re here for some archery boys slice of life then this is about as good as it gets, and if you’re here for literally anything else then don’t even bother; it’s a very well put together show about a very specific type of sport. Personally I think slice of life’s are underappreciated in the fast paced frenetic world of anime and KyoAni is quite possibly the masters of slice of life although if archery boys aren’t your thing they have plenty of other shows that might catch your fancy instead.

If this does sound like your kind of thing then you can watch Tsurune Sundays at 1:45 pm on Crunchyroll.

Alternatives: I mean any other KyoAni show really, Free, K-On!, Hibike Euphoneum, etc.

Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc and the Alchemy Knight (https://myanimelist.net/anime/36510/Ulysses__Jehanne_Darc_to_Renkin_no_Kishi):

TLDR: Somehow more slimy and disgusting than the actual anime about a slime

Someone once had a thought “What if we took the Hundred Years War and the story of Joan of Arc, added some magic, and made it into a harem battle anime with tons of shots of anime boob ladies and also some lolicon action?” Apparently no one else was around to inform said person that they were an idiot because somehow that concept got produced into this anime and it’s terrible. Our heroine Jeanne is a 12 year old girl who gains her superpowers by excessively making out with our much older male protagonist who drools a magic elixir into her mouth… don’t worry it’s actually much grosser than you’re imagining it is right now. The usual features of historical anime adaptations are all present here like the pointless fanservice, and the little to no historical accuracy to help compliment the objectification of our underage heroine.

Ulysses: Jeanne d’Arc and the Alchemist Knight airs on Crunchyroll, Sundays at 10:30 am and you should only watch it as an example of the dregs on anime and even then no more than a single episode.

Alternatives: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood for a show about alchemy that’s actually great.

Voice of Fox (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37106/Kitsune_no_Koe):

TLDR: Hot anime boy who’s good at singing should just accept the fact that he’s hot

A 13 minute Chinese drama starring a boy with song writing talent but no looks (objectively false) and a boy with looks but no talent (more accurate) who team up to become a popular idol. This show feels like every other Japanese male idol anime but half the length and Chinese instead of Japanese, otherwise if you’ve seen an idol anime before you know exactly what to expect and if you haven’t there are better idol shows this season anyways. Also you can’t even stream Voice of Fox from anywhere anyways.

Alternatives: Most other idol/music shows.

Welcome, Chitose-chan (https://myanimelist.net/anime/38089/Okoshiyasu_Chitose-chan):

TLDR: Adorable Penguin Propaganda/Kyoto Tourism Advertisement 

Chitose-chan stars an adorable little penguin, named Chitose-chan, and her 3 minute adventures in Kyoto, and that’s pretty much it. I tried to think of literally anything else I could say about this but by the time you finish reading this review you could have already watched an entire episode so really why bother. I suppose there are worse ways to spend three minutes than watching a cute penguin in Kyoto so if you want to give Okoshiyasu Chitose-Chan you can find it on YouTube currently because there’s no way to actually stream this show as far as I can tell.

Alternatives: Polar Bear Cafe for another really chill show about animals.

Xuan Yuan Sword: Luminary (https://myanimelist.net/anime/38083/Ken_En_Ken__Aoki_Kagayaki):

TLDR: Sword of terrible CGI! Give me sight to find a better anime!

A girl wielding a magic sword with the help of a magic robot girl who can also transform into a magic robot dog and her sister who has magnetic (read magic) robot prosthetic arms must defeat a tyrannical empire wielding CGI machines of death and destruction in what stylistically looks like ancient China. This show has an enormous cast and it introduces them all in the first episode in what is maybe the most bewildering premiere (of a show that’s actually trying to be good) that I’ve seen all season. Beyond that the action is all rendered in frankly terrible 3D including the human characters who shouldn’t even need the 3D rendering in the first place. It seems like they want to go somewhere complex and deep with this show but the first few episodes are so poorly paced it’s hard to imagine that the potential payoff of the next few episodes will be worth the slog it takes to get through the setup.

If anime Game of Thrones but worse sounds interesting to you then you can check out Xuan Yuan Sword: Luminary on Crunchyroll, Mondays at 3:00 pm.

Alternatives: Quanzhi Gaoshou a good Chinese anime.

RUNNERS-UP:

Anime that didn’t quite make my top ten but which I found entertaining nonetheless and have added to my regular viewing schedule.

Anima Yell! (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37206/Anima_Yell):

TLDR: Cute anime girls have fun in chair, I mean cheer club

Kohane, our requisite cute girl protagonist, attempts to create a cheer-leading club at her high school with the help of her fellow cute anime high school girls. A mostly straightforward comedy/slice of life show featuring cute anime girls being whimsical together with some yuri undertones, AY occasionally throws in some surprising depth like an actual honest-to-god coming out scene in episode 3 in the midst of all it’s humor and fun times. Although I’m still highly doubtful any romance will blossom between any of our 5 leads the inclusion of an actual lesbian character in anime, even if she’s a side character, is refreshing and enough of the jokes land on me that it kind of works. If you want a fairly accurate representation of cheerleading, or if you just want to watch cute anime girls having fun and making some japes then this is an easy recommendation, also sometimes you’ll get something surprising out of it that makes you think “huh, well how about that”.

You can watch Anima Yell! Sundays at 12:00 pm on Crunchyroll.

Golden Kamuy: Season 2 (https://myanimelist.net/anime/36028/Golden_Kamuy):

TLDR: NatGeo meets Battle Royale

GK is an interesting blend of military action, slice of life shenanigans, historical period drama, and survival horror which also frequently showcases the Ainu peoples of Japan, an oft underrepresented minority group in media. The series deals with mature topics like the horrors of war, the mistreatment and oppression of a minority by the government, the abandonment of veterans post wartime, the harsh realities of living off the land circa 1900’s Japan, the war between simpler cultural identities and more modern industrial innovations, and various depths and facets of human greed and depravity all without feeling brutally oppressive in tone. The central plot revolves Sugimoto, a veteran of the Russo-Japanese war and his partner Asirpa, a teenage Ainu girl, as they hunt for prisoners who have been tattooed with a special code which when deciphered will lead to a veritable hidden treasure trove of gold stolen from the Ainu. Along they way they befriend and clash with a variety of characters, most of whom end up being more villain of the week types with over the top, and sometimes problematic, personality quirks, but the action manages to be both surprisingly real and brutal while also balancing a level of whimsy and humor, even if the occasional CGI Bear looks a little goofy.

GK season 2 is basically more of the same but with some new faces and new reveals thrown into the mix, which in this case is fine because the original product works fairly well so there’s no real impetus to change all that much. If you’re in the mood for a slightly more mature action/comedy series you could do much worse than GK Season 2 and since Season 1 is only 12 episodes it’s much easier to catch up on this show than the other action/comedies with dozens or more episodes under their belts, in fact in a slower season I’d probably have this in my top ten, also you just might learn some history so it’s both entertaining and educational.

You can watch Golden Kamuy on Crunchyroll, Mondays at 12:30 pm.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37450/Seishun_Buta_Yarou_wa_Bunny_Girl_Senpai_no_Yume_wo_Minai):

TLDR: RomDrama with magic teenager syndrome

A high school boy must navigate the whims of teenage romance while also dealing with things like invisibility, malicious internet ghosts, and time travel; it’s somehow not as fantastical as you think it is. The main love interest, Mai, the titular Bunny Girl Senpai, and our hero Sakuta have one of the better romance arcs this season which should theoretically culminate in episode 3 but doesn’t because this show is 13 episodes long so instead the next few arcs involve a new girl with a new magic teenager syndrome that they will inevitably overcome with the help of both our hero and some unconventional therapy. As is typical with a show like this, the female lead, as well as each new supporting girl, lead much more interesting lives than our male protagonist who at least manages to make the typical disaffected, anti-social, smartest guy in the room male protagonist archetype bearable for once. The random fantastical elements are intriguing but are never focused upon for longer than the arcs in which they’re relevant so they feel more like plot devices to force Sakuta to interact with whichever girl is currently important to the narrative. Honestly I’d probably rate this one much higher if it was a more straightforward romance story with more of a focus on Mai and her struggles in the acting world instead of introducing all these other randos but it is atmospheric, what romance they do engage in is pretty good, and the opening theme is great so I’ll probably keep up with this show even if it’s not top ten worthy.

You can watch Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Wednesdays at 2:50 pm on Crunchyroll or Funimation.

TOP TEN:

1. Double Decker! Doug & Kirill (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37496/Double_Decker_Doug___Kirill):

TLDR: CSI but a million times better

Rookie cop Kirill and veteran Doug along with the forces of “Seven-O” ,a specialized criminal investigative unit, must stop the spread of “Anthem” a dangerous drug which can either kill it’s users or give them body-horror esque super powers. This show, made by the same team which created Tiger & Bunny, is essentially your stereotypical cop procedural told at an exquisitely high level, the character dynamics are fantastic, the banter and humor are completely on point, the body-horror is Resident Evil level crazy, and to top it all off this is one of the most quietly progressive shows all season. Doug, the stereotypical veteran partner, is fighting to end poverty and class division, the supporting cast is mostly female (two of whom appear to be very plainly in a relationship with each other) and highly diverse, there’s potentially a trans character, and there’s even a pro-union episode. This show is already a great comedy what with the snarky narrator and the various misunderstandings that naive but well-intentioned Kirill gets into while also being a good character drama that nails the buddy cop dynamic very well, and the fact that it still attempts to swing for the fences on it’s various themes is almost as impressive as the fact that it’s also managed to hit on every attempt thus far. Finally, the ending theme for this show is lit and maybe my favorite of the season. If action/comedy is what you’re looking for this season you’d be hard pressed to find a better option than this show

Double Decker! Doug & Kirill airs on both Crunchyroll and Funimation, Sundays at 10:00 am.

2. The Girl in Twilight (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37561/Akanesasu_Shoujo):

TLDR: Persona meets Steins; Gate but much more whimsical

A group of five high school girls take part in a daily radio ritual in an attempt to travel to another world, one day it actually works and the girls encounter strange creatures, fantastic locations, and several doppelgangers. This show takes a common sci-fi trope like parallel worlds and takes it to it’s silliest extreme; in five episodes we’ve had yellow crystal battle world, marriage police world, and cowboy future world and we’re not even half-way done yet. The various scenarios in which our heroes encounter and interact with their alternate reality versions is always entertaining and each mini arc in which a new world is introduced also gives the show an opportunity to focus on and develop each of the five leads in interesting ways. The video-gamey, CGI animated fight scenes somehow only elevate this series, and in what other show can you watch one of the main characters power up via magic walkman to turn into a magical girl in a wedding dress and fire a flower bouquet cannon at her fiance-turned-creepy-monster-man? This show is highly entertaining with just enough substance character-wise to hook you in for all the various alternate reality shenanigans it pulls.

You can watch The Girl in Twilight on HIDIVE, Mondays at 6:30 am

3. Release the Spyce (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37221/Release_the_Spyce):

TLDR: Totally Spies the anime

A team of high school girls/spies/ninjas must work together to keep their city safe and stop an evil organization with the help of magic spice that gives them superhuman abilities and also just tons of yuri (lesbian) subtext. This show is just really ridiculous and really fun. Here’s an actual quote from one of the episodes, “Did you know the word Spy was originally derived from the word Spice?” That’s maybe the dumbest sentence I’ve heard all season and I love it. The soundtrack, including both the opening and ending themes, is rocking, there are ridiculously silly gadgets, overly complicated parkour stunts, the main character can tell when people are lying just by licking them, and episode 4 has the heaviest yuri subtext I’ve seen all season outside of the actual yuri show. This show has all the best aspects of how truly absurd and entertaining anime as a medium can be, but of course it also has some of the worst aspects on how stereotypical and shallow anime can be. While the cast of villains features a diverse cast of personalities and body types our heroes are very samey, their uniforms are clearly designed with fanservice in mind, the themes and narrative of this show are very simplistic, and for all the subtext involved no one is actually gay as of yet, a common trope in anime but when a random show this season about a cheer club managed to include an actual lesbian it feels just a little too queer batey sometimes. Social awareness issues aside though this show is tons of fun and if you’re not looking at with too much critical awareness you’re sure to be highly entertained. Also I have to mention again that the soundtrack for this show is highly memorable and lively, even just the background music is really good.

You can watch Release the Spyce on HIDIVE, Saturdays at 1:38 pm.

4. Zombieland Saga (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37976/Zombieland_Saga):

TLDR: The best idol show parody that’s sometimes a decent idol show

Sakura’s life takes an unexpected turn when she suddenly dies and gets resurrected as a zombie along with 6 other girls by a crazy man/producer/necromancer(?) who tells them that they must save Saga Prefecture by becoming the best undead idols to ever not live. The first episode of ZLS is maybe the strongest premiere outing of any show this season and episode two just ramps things up even further; there’s body horror, horror comedy, death metal, rap battles, The LEGENDARY Tae, and all the undead biker/courtesan/child actor/dog/idols you can shake a stick at. This production has a very talented cast of notable VA’s and they’re all enjoying the heck out of their roles in this show, especially Mamoru Miyano who is using every ounce of his considerable talent to act like a complete and total lunatic, playing the previously mentioned Producer, one of the most memorable side characters all season. Unfortunately, while the strength of the first two outings would normally propel this to first place in an instant, the next two episodes are more typical of your average idol show and kind of let down with this show’s pedigree, although episode 5 seems to pull back on track in terms on entertainment value. ZLS is a show that’s at it’s best when it’s attempting to parody all other idol shows and feels free to be as ridiculous about it’s central concept as possible. When it’s simply attempting to be like every other idol anime it’s not bad but it’s also not fully utilizing it’s concept and there are better pure idol shows out there. Hopefully the majority of ZLS will fall into it’s parody groove and stick with it but if not this is still a show that’s worth checking out for it’s stellar premiere and the performances of the VA’s alone.

You can watch Zombieland Saga on Crunchyroll, Thursdays at 11:30 am.

5. Bloom Into You (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37786/Yagate_Kimi_ni_Naru):

TLDR: Actual lesbians the anime, and it’s not offensively terrible?!

Highschooler Yuu has never really fallen love, one day she meets a girl named Touko who seemingly shares Yuu’s feelings on the concept of love, until she falls head over heels for Yuu that is. Bloom is essentially your classic melodramatic high school romance story but 100% gayer and not overtly problematic like a like some of the shows which focus on queer relationships can be. Suffice it to say this one has a lot riding on it for yuri fans and fortunately it delivers, mostly. It’s hard to tell sometimes if Yuu is supposed to read as asexual, aromantic, both, or gay but very repressed emotionally. The manga seems to lean one way (probably asexual and maybe aromantic) and the anime seems to lean the opposite (probably gay but very repressed emotionally) which makes things easier for the show as far as pairing up Yuu and Touko goes but also makes it inherently less interesting.  Another issue is that while the romance drama between the two leads is great, every other story-line and character is… not as great and it’s hard to get quite as invested in say, the student council election, or the romantic troubles of Yuu’s straight friend, when I really just want to see more of Yuu and Touko. Also while I personally think the stylistic choices work well for this show it does have a lot of minimalist animation choices and doesn’t exactly pop like some other shows this season. Still, shows which focus on actual queer relationships are strikingly rare in anime, and good ones are even more rare. Not only does Bloom succeed in that aspect, it’s honestly better than most of the straight romance shows this year, let alone this season. Plus it’s really hard sometimes to find an anime without some element of that typical anime nonsense which can really turn people off, so when I get one like this that I can so unambiguously recommend it’s like a breath of fresh air.

You can watch Bloom Into You Fridays at 8:30 am on HIDIVE.

6. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37991/JoJo_no_Kimyou_na_Bouken__Ougon_no_Kaze):

TLDR: The smartest dumb action show is back and more fabulous, and Italian, than ever.

Giorno Giovanna has a dream! A dream not just to be an Italian gangster, but to be an Italian GangStar! In order to accomplish this dream he and his fellow team of teenagers who look like fully grown men will utilize the power of their figurative manly fighting spirit, along with the power of their actual manly fighting spirits, to take the Italian underworld by storm… did I mention it’s set in Italy now? JJBA is basically like every other shonen action series in which, mostly male, characters beat each other senseless with magic powers, except that JJBA has 1000% more style than all of them and GW is no exception. The men are manly, the women infrequent, the posing glorious, the magic powers overly specific and yet used in highly inventive ways, and the production, handled by David Production as always, is better than ever. Normally I don’t recommend people watch the newest season of a show they’ve never watched before but every new season of JoJo features almost entirely new characters and a completely new plot so you can actually start with Golden Wind and be just fine. If cool anime fights with great animation and ridiculous powers used in ridiculous ways are what you’re looking for this season you’d be hard pressed to find a show that excels at that better than JoJo. Also it has maybe the best opening theme of the entire season.

You can watch JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind Fridays at 1:05 pm on Crunchyroll.

7. Run with the Wind (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37965/Kaze_ga_Tsuyoku_Fuiteiru):

TLDR: Cool dudes hang out together and also run marathons

Sporty college guy with a troubled past, Haiji recruits fellow SCGWATP Kakeru along with 8 other less troubled college guys into running in the Hakone Ekiden marathon, and by recruit I mean tricks, schemes, and plots because on top of being a good runner Haiji is also devious. This is another sports anime which means a mostly male cast of hot anime boys doing some kind of physical activity and while that is certainly the case with some of the characters, overall they’re quite a diverse bunch. Unlike most sports anime, while Run does focus heavily on the, well, running, it also focuses a lot on the character interactions and development of the cast and they all come off as being real, independent people instead of just various cogs in the team. Unlike a lot of sports anime which tend to come off as shonen battle anime but with sports, there’s not drive to “be the best” or increasingly difficult rival teams to defeat tournament style, so it doesn’t feel as repetitive as these types of show usually feel. Also it’s animated gorgeously; this is one of the best looking shows of the season hands down. This is really just the best sport themed show all season by virtue of being a good show that happens to also feature a sport focus.

You can watch Run with the Wind on Crunchyroll, Tuesdays at 2:30 pm.

8. SSSS.Gridman (https://myanimelist.net/anime/35847/SSSSGridman):

TLDR: Slice of life meets Power Rangers

Rising star Studio Trigger is back to save boring old anime once again with it’s newest work in Gridman. This time Trigger has decided to take on old school Tokusatsu with their unique flair. Gridman stars a high school boy suffering from amnesia who possesses the ability to fuse with a digital avatar named Gridman to become a giant robot with the power to fight kaiju, with the help of his friends and a growing cast of enigmatic characters who can transform into various armaments for Gridman to wield, they must defend their hometown from danger. This show has an intriguing mix of slow paced, atmospheric, almost character driven narratives for most of the run time of an episode which invariably ends with an over the top, visually striking fight scene between Gridman and the latest kaiju of the week. Whether Trigger can keep up this remarkably refreshing take on the genre throughout the run, or whether it fall apart in the last act like some of their other works (looking at you Darling in the Franxx) remains to be seen but whether you’re a fan of Tokusatsu classics like Ultraman, Kamen Rider, or even the original Gridman then you’ll absolutely love this one, or if you’re just in the mood for a good character drama that also happens to feature giant robots and kaijus then you’ll also probably like it.

You can watch Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad GRIDMAN Saturdays at 1:40 pm on Crunchyroll.

9. Ms. Vampire Who Lives in My Neighborhood (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37579/Tonari_no_Kyuuketsuki-san):

TLDR: Saccharine sweet comedy/slice of life with lots of yuri subtext 

One night, teenager Akari goes out into the woods to find a rumored creepy doll mansion, because unlike most people Akari actually really likes creepy dolls, and instead encounters doll-like adolescent Vampire named Sophie whom she immediately transfers her love of dolls onto. This show is adorable, teeth-meltingly sweet, yuri subtext goodness with nary a hint of plot to be seen and I love it. The only source of drama in this show is thinly veiled romance drama between our various female characters who are all engaged in some kind of love quadrangle of sorts. If you’re here to watch an adorable show about pre-teens engaging in some heavy yuri subtext with some comedy thrown into the mix then this show is absolutely for you, if not then travel on dear reader because this show will never be more than what it sets up in it’s premiere and I find that perfectly acceptable.

You can watch Ms. Vampire Who Lives in My Neighborhood on Crunchyroll, Fridays at 9:00 am.

10. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (https://myanimelist.net/anime/37430/Tensei_shitara_Slime_Datta_Ken):

TLDR: Isekai returned to it’s more entertaining roots

A new season means a new round of Isekai series in which a regular old person gets somehow transported to a fantasy/video game world, in this case our protagonist dies and is reincarnated as a stereotypical slime monster. Unlike most other Isekai shows this season, Slime actually runs with it’s central concept in intriguing ways. Our hero is reborn as lowly slime instead of some uber powerful hero, he befriends a variety of monsters, including a tsundere dragon, instead of just the usual assortment of fantasy humans, and despite all the fantasy gore the show maintains a surprisingly fun and wholesome atmosphere throughout. In a season filled with the grim but mediocre Goblin Slayer, an extra long season of the factory produced SAO, and the complete moral and logical failure that is Conception, Slime manages to stand out above the crowd as the best Isekai of the season. It’s probably not going revolutionize the scene or make waves in the larger anime community but if you’re just looking for a fun and interesting take on the genre, or if you just want to watch a bunch of fantasy monsters interact with each other and be super wholesome together, with the occasional action scene, then this is the show for you.

You can watch That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime on Crunchyroll and Funimation, Mondays at 11:30 am.

 

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