Notes on 13 random anime

I've been watching a bunch of anime recently, so I thought I'd collect together some brief impressions on what I've seen. This baker's dozen is very much a mixed bag, so your mileage may vary. At the very least, Steins;Gate and Parasyte are highly recommended. A lot of these series are available to stream online from Crunchyroll or Netflix and are worth checking out.

Mob Psycho 100 (Mobu Saiko Hyaku) Bones, Summer 2016
I haven't watched One Punch Man, but I've certainly heard all of the hype. This series is currently airing (summer anime season) and I've very much enjoyed what I've seen so far. I find Japanese ghosts and yōkai fascinating, so this show is right up my alley.

Owarimonogatari Shaft, Fall 2015
The Monogatari series is very much an acquired taste, but it is catnip to otaku. I think Owari* is the best so far, but it references a great deal of events from previous seasons. The first season, Bakemonogatari (2009). is also pretty good, so that would be the best to start with. Be prepared for many, many diaglogue-heavy scenes and extremely stylistic animation. You really need patience and concentration to watch this one!

Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon? (Danjon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darō ka) J. C. Staff, Spring 2015
DanMachi, as it is known, is the other series that I followed last year. It rivals Saekano for the silliest and/or most misleading title on this list. In spite of its reputation, this show is actually pretty good. I almost gave up on it after the 3rd episode, but in the end I was glad I stuck with it. Looking forward to the Sword Oratoria OAV.

Saekano: "how to raise a boring girlfriend" (Saenai Hiroin no Sodatekata) A-1 Pictures, Winter 2015
Not to be confused with Saikano, this is an ecchi harem anime about a group of doujinshi who decide to produce their own computer game (visual novel). I'm looking forward to the second season.

Space☆Dandy (Supēsu Dandi) Bones, Winter 2014
Like the demented offspring of Cowboy Bebop and Space Adventure Cobra, this comedy SciFi series is great fun and has a lot of interesting and experimental ideas.

Parasyte: the maxim (Kiseijū) Madhouse, Fall 2014
Easily my favourite anime of 2014. I signed up to Crunchyroll to watch the episodes as they were released. This is a great show with some body horror mixed with lighter comedic moments. The relationship between Shinichi and Migi is emotionally satisfying, with disturbing undertones. I was also lucky enough to see the live action movies on the big screen, although the second film was a bit too sentimental and skipped some of the most enjoyable plot lines from the show.

Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) Production I.G., Spring 2013
I found the dub on Netflix impossible to watch, due to the insufferable voice acting of young Eren Yeager in the first two episodes. The sub was more tolerable and the show really picks up after that. When Mikasa punched Eren in the face, I decided that I could grow to like this show. However, the ending is also a bit disappointing since nothing is really resolved. Hopefully the second season will live up to the hype, but somehow I have mixed feelings about that.

Strike the Blood (Sutoraiku za Buraddo) Silver Link, Fall 2013
Vampires are an overdone trope in general, but this anime has an interesting premise that reminds me somewhat of Night Watch. Various supernatural factions vie for power on an artificial island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Akatsuki Kojou, a high school kid who also happens to be one of the world's 4 most powerful vampires, is reluctantly caught in the middle. With 24 episodes plus an OVA, there is plenty to enjoy, with a second OVA due out soon. The series is broken up into 4 episode blocks, so each DVD/BD is like a self-contained story within a larger arc.

Psycho-Pass (Saiko Pasu) Production I.G., Fall 2012
Ghost in the Shell: StandAlone Complex is one of my favourite anime series, so I was a bit apprehensive how this superficially similar show would stand up to the comparison. Psycho-Pass almost veers into horror with some of the gruesome murders, coupled with a thought provoking examination of a dystopian society from the perspective of its police force. Echoes of Bladerunner and Minority Report, though perhaps it doesn't quite reach the pinnacle of GitS:SAC. I've heard disappointing feedback about the second season, but I will probably watch it at some point.

Steins;Gate (Shutainzu Gēto) White Fox, Spring 2011
This show about a mobile phone that can send SMS messages through time is one of my absolute favourites. It is a very faithful adaptation of the visual novel that combines comedy, great characters and a terrific plot. This is another series that is best watched with subtitles, since I found the dub on Netflix to be below par.

A Bridge to the Starry Skies (Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi) Doga Kobo, 2011
This is one of those kimagure or "whimsical" anime, a romantic love story set in the Japanese countryside. Like many other anime on this list, Hoshikaka is based on a visual novel. Unremarkable but quite enjoyable nevertheless.

We, Without Wings, under the innocent sky (Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai) Nomad, 2011
I was completely lost with the plot of this series until about halfway through, but I kept coming back. I won't spoil the big reveal of what connects the male protagonists, but this show is almost impossible to follow. It might actually be one case where spoiling yourself might improve your enjoyment, since you'll have some chance to know what is going on.

Demon King Daimao (Ichiban Ushiro no Dai Maō) Artland, 2010
A 12 episode anime that ended a bit abruptly, but I enjoyed it while it lasted. Given that the light novel series ran for 13 volumes, the story was heavily abridged for the adaptation to screen. This series gets a lot of hate from other reviewers, but it has a good mix of action and comedy for an ecchi harem style of show. A warning that the TV censorship on Crunchyroll makes this series almost unwatchable, so you might want to track down the BluRay.


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