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Power Rank – January 1st – 21st February 11, 2015

Posted by navycherub in Anime, Power Rank.

death parade 1 https://i2.wp.com/www.deathparade.jp/images/top/floor-main_tit_01.png
blackpack kid Everybody! Put your hands up!  For anyone that watched Madhouse’s Death Billiards from 2013’s Anime Mirai, that short getting an entire series was news that was equal parts excitement and horror.  I wasn’t sure if it would be able to keep the same level of interest and uniqueness for an entire show, but I’m not so worried about that now.  The first two episodes blew me out of the water, I have to say.  The world they create surrounding the now deceased couple feels engaging and as the game progresses we’re taken for a real ride with all sorts of twists and turns, but what really knocks it out of the park is how they react to their returning memories.  The art direction is spectacular in that you almost don’t have to know what they are saying, because their facial expressions say it all.  The second episode gives a great look at the cast that will soon be joining these weekly games, while at the same time allowing us to question the ending of each game and the decisions made by the arbiter and that keeps discussion alive.  For a show like this, that’s a good thing.  The twist in the wife’s words really sold the last episode of this PR as we’re heavily introduced into the idea that the very words of any character could be wholly unreliable.  I can’t wait for the upcoming episodes and hope to see the show holding a top spot for some time to come.
culley711 One of the most anticipated shows of the season! The original short from Anime Mirai 2013 was one of the more spectacular in terms of story and execution. What an opportunity for a new director to have the option of fully fleshing out his original story. With the talent of Madhouse put into this series, it’s been a wonderful beginning for Death Parade. Episode one really draws us into the human struggles of the dead and then episode two pulls us out of our human mindset to see how Decim must make his assessment. While a slow paced anime, the animation is not skimped on and sudden motions have the appropriate impact.
hamdog92 Judging Death Parade by its first two episodes was a very stressful moment in judging this Power Rank. On one hand, its first episode is a marvel of genius while its second episode feels something like we’re being showed off to by the insanely talented Yuzuru Tachikawa. I don’t particularly mind this because of just how amazing the first episode is, but there is some doubt in the back of my mind for the series’ future. It is a near surreal experience watching this anime. When Death Billiards had originally premiered at Anime Mirai 2013, I had proclaimed quite enthusiastically that this OVA would be absolutely amazing if it could be expanded into an anthology like series in the same vein as The Twilight Zone. Lo and behold here I am reviewing it for PR. This anime is a dream team between Madhouse’s beyond incredible animation and the writing and directing of Tachikawa who acted as backup director to Watanabe in Zankyou no Terror and was responsible for some of the best episodes. I’m really looking forward to dissecting this show in future reviews.
navycherub I have basically already written a long-form piece on the first episode of this show, and the second episode was essentially a rehash with some world building thrown in. It should be a huge indication of how much I like the show so far, then, that I ranked it so high even though the second episode didn’t have quite the emotional resonance of the first. I watched Death Billiards a few too many times for my own good probably, but this still put me on a rollercoaster, threw me for a loop, and sent me off to happy town. There seems to be a large cast based on the opening animation, but I hope they can be introduced a bit more gracefully than what the second episode tried to do.
shirobako 2 Logo_Shirobako (1)
blackpack kid As their new anime starts in the show, it feels like the show got a new lease on life. Promotions, departures and some very new pressures.  Shirobako never gets stale.  While the show previously dealt with the director creating his own show and the team having a lot more freedom, now they’ve taken on an adaptation and the stresses that come with it are immediately palpable.  The talk with the artist for clouds was a great performance as it was a clash between those who are truly into a certain area of art and others who just think it “looks pretty” or lack of a better description.  His interest and drive towards putting his all into the clouds says a lot for artists in the industry.  Later we get a huge shift in the series form during the meeting they thought would be with the author.  Previously they used the dark villain music for a few characters in the first half, but the song really takes on a shape of its own once the manager of Aerial Girls Squad, Chazawa, shows up you can really get the feeling that it was made for him.  Maybe the show was testing the waters with that song previously but they hit the nail on the head here.  The scene feels pushy, slimy, and rushed.  You hardly have a chance to get your bearings before he immediately leaves and it leaves the staff, and the viewers, in such a haze that it hardly feels like it actually happened.  Also they take in one of my anime-production guilty pleasures: location spotting.  I’ve watched countless behinds-the-scenes where the staff travels to where they have decided to have their movie set and it really shows in the final product and lets you get the feel they had a great time there as well.  Seeing it more in-depth in the show feels satisfying as hell.  You really get a sense that a lot happens in just that one episode.  A total contrast from the next episode which is almost entirely centered around the different staff members picking the VAs.  This is where I really believe the show knows how to prove just how powerful it can be in an enclosed space.  Each character at the table has their own reasoning for their choices in VAs and what can be funny is that the ridiculous nature of some characters may make sense to different viewers.  Song-enthusiasts may be rooting for an actress with a great singing voice and can relate.  Some may relate to having a sexy model play the part because of how you can have her cosplay everything and gain popularity there too.  It’s a clash of ideas and the chaos is something to be admired.  Either way, by the end, you get an extremely good feel for how some in the industry see the industry as a whole and I can’t help but love every second of it.  Imai joining the team will also be something to look forward to in future episodes as I’d love some more settings-based episodes.  Also, it was a real treat seeing our favorite little baker at the end of the episode.  Here’s to another great couple of episodes.
culley711 Animation for days! Now that Aoi is left in charge while many higher staff have moved on or are dealing with family matters, she takes on more vital roles for the company. I like how well Aoi is growing into her new role, and I’m excited to learn more about the new staff members under Aoi. Additionally I really enjoy how side characters such as her high school friends and underclassmen are getting brought into the story. While some get jobs, others get rejected and it’s all a part of life. It’s promising to see others moving up to new challenges.
hamdog92 This anime somehow opened up its second cour in a superior way than it ended its previous cour. I’ve been very impressed with the smooth transition that’s only made more impressive with the addition of even more characters. The scene that dominates my mind in ranking Shriobako has to be the audition meeting. It condenses all of Shriobako’s themes into a single tense scene that our ‘main’ characters are completely helpless to take part in. The Director character has always been a favorite of mine throughout the show but he is especially great here. This anime is really doing wonderful things.
navycherub There is a lot going on in Shirobako, and it is all very exciting, which is great because that means Shirobako is one of the only (if not the only) continuing anime not at all plagued by the middle-of-the-show doldrums. Adapting a piece instead of making a new one presents a whole set of new challenges, so that alone was a perfect narrative choice to keep things interesting. However, another aspect that is different from last time is that we are starting at the beginning, giving us a whole new world of issues and technical aspects to look at and agonize our beloved cast with. The scene where they are picking the voice actress, in particular, stood out to me for being a perfect combination of hilarity and sadness that only Shirobako can bring so seamlessly.
yurikuma 3
blackpack kid What’s the invisible storm?  Why does she keep falling off roofs?  Why do those bears keep going to court?  As is the norm for shows written by Kunihiko Ikuhara (Revolutionary Girl Utena and Mawaru Penguindrum), I have a lot of questions and I’ll spend the rest of the series scratching my head to try to figure them out.  In the meantime, there’s so much kuma shock and intrigue to keep you powering through.  Each character leaves you with a sense of wanting to know more, and while I would think that is a bad thing normally, the show has already been taking time to go over some of the smaller nuances of the characters and even characters that have passed on, so the characters not being fleshed out actually works as a positive in this series since the show will most likely go back at some point to them.  The visuals are as bright and viscerally in your face as the bears are.  The show portrays light extremely well.  How it moves or shines really feels natural at times.  The compactness of the show really gets to me as well.  Through scenes of traveling up and down stairs, you are given this massive look at a world in ruin.  Then you see how trapped they are.  Kureha and Sumika sitting on a small couch with what can almost be seen as prison rails keeping them trapped like rats in front of such an intensely vast world around them.  Or maybe a camera pan over the city, quickly followed by Kureha in her claustrophobically tiny hallway shooting bears.  The show can go from one extreme to the other at the snap of a finger.  Those were just settings.  Kureha being surrounded in light, emotionally contained, and helpless, to in the dark, firing off shots, and screaming out her emotions for all to hear.  Even as I watched these episodes again you’ll notice how some parts really make a bit more sense once you have the context.  I hate to say this but Yurikuma is a great show with so many clues thrown in before you’re even fully introduced to them yet, that when it comes to the episodes you have already seen, they…….bear repeating.
culley711 SHOCK! This show was good then less good and I don’t know what the future holds. It’s very strong visually and the symbolism is everywhere. One thing to note is how crispy the animation is. Really I can’t help but draw mental comparison between this and Rolling Girls (RG). RG seems to be made of water colors and explosions while Yuri Kuma is geometrical and symmetrical to the extreme. I feel inadequate to say a lot about this show because David gives daily lessons on the symbolism and cultural comments being made by the show. One day he’ll write a book.
hamdog92 SHOCK!!! BEAR SHOCK!  I have only recently seen the director’s previous work of Pegeuindrum before watching this anime so every little aspect of this anime felt fairly natural to me while watching it. This anime has a lot of great art direction and music that is just sexy to listen to. Above anything else though, this is an anime that has a lot to say whether that is on an absurd surface level commentary or deeply layered into the undertones and its use of repetition. It’s an enjoyable show that walks a fine line between surrealist comedy and wide appealing Yuri that acts like its art-house. This is the kind of anime where I unfortunately don’t want to really talk about it until a have a thesis greater than: Being a lesbian in Japan is going to get you eaten in more ways than one. I’m very glad this anime is in the top 5, it really deserves it. Shabadoo.
navycherub Yuri Kuma Arashi is a really nice experiment. Anyone who has seen an Ikuhara show pretty much knew what they were getting into going into this show, but thus far it is actually a bit different – that is, the pace is brisk, much moreso than ever before. Concepts are introduced, provocative imagery is used as frequently as is allowed to keep the plot moving forward, and the general sense of purpose is established pretty much right away. This isn’t a negative thing, for the most part; unlike previous works, I understood what Yurikuma was trying to frame quickly (this may also come as a result of years of watching and thinking about his other shows as well, though). The problem comes in the characters, who seem more like devices for the most part, and the general sense of familiarity that makes me want to care about it all. However, I have confidence that the show will find those things with time, even if it has less time than it probably deserves.
blackpack kid I know I’ve spoken of Shinichi’s changes throughout the series thus far, but it’s the parasytes that really steal the show during these episodes.  The first episode deals with a bit more of what we are used to with those around him noting how he’s changed, but with a few stellar scenes, such as Migi trying to kill the inspector while Shinichi fights as hard as he can to stop the killing, or the following discussion with Satomi which felt exceptionally tragic when we see him gripping his arm as it’s transformed into a killing machine.  It was the following episodes that really start diverting from what has been the norm for the show.  Migi standing up for Shinichi shows Migi giving off a compassionate vibe and giving a speech that isn’t fully based in logic and reason, but emotion and empathy as well.  Kiseijuu is exceptional at staying fresh and giving these monsters a new monster of their own, called humanity, to deal with just feels right.  As Reiko slowly starts to illicit new emotions but still struggles with the fact that she is a parasyte, especially during the rooftop scene where she threatens to use her baby as a defense, it gives off a level of confusion that even she is trying to comprehend.  It’s this tornado of human and monster characteristics that make her such a strong character for the series.  The following scene garners some of my praise as well, as Shinichi pushes people to the side, racing through the street yelling at the “humans”, distancing himself further and further from humanity.  The next episode was great in terms of how well the show can not only be a gripping drama, but a great shonen action show as well.  They can balance the fights and the story to keep anyone interested.  The rest of the episode builds up some new challenges for Shinichi and the others and I for one cannot wait to see how this will affect not only Shinichi but the evolving parasytes around him.
culley711 Yes! Things are happening! I love how Shinichi is developing and trying to balance out his humanity and his darkness. I like how the real world treat to him and to those he knows is constantly looming. I can’t describe it well but I feel like the plot is Jenga and every time I swear this is it and it’s gonna all come crashing down and explode and it will be the most satisfying thing in anime in years, but then the piece pops out and gets added to the top of the tower. Every episode this is happening and now I don’t know whether I want it to build forever or crash down at the beginning of the next episode.
hamdog92 Parasyte has pretty consistent in its quality thus far in this second cour which is why I’m a little sad to see it lower than it usually is. Nonetheless, recent events involving the P.I. and the baby have been building the tension very well. Endgame seems to be coming a lot sooner than I had anticipated but I’m looking forward to what’s to come.
https://wideface.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/10.png?w=54&h=19navycheruKiseijuu is stalling for me. It seems to have piled the ideas for Shinichi and Migi’s development out of its Idea Barrel too fast, and now it is trying to make up for that by introducing way too much at the same time. This is probably because the narrative wants to save the best for last; the unfortunate result of that, though, is that there are now too many balls of plot being juggled at the same time for the show’s own good, and they are all only tangentially related to Shinichi, who is easily the most interesting part of the Kiseijuu formula. Perhaps this will all lead down an interesting path in the future, but for now I am only looking forward to whatever conclusion is being set up rather than the act of setting it up.
yowapeda 5 granderoad_logo
blackpack kid We’ve seen many fall by this point but nothing could have prepared us for what happens from here on out.  The dread feels all too real as Imaizumi says, “Prepare yourself.  Eventually Sohoku will fall apart, too”.  This isn’t him being a pessimist or anything other than someone who knows exactly what is about to become a horrific reality.  If the scenes of Tadokoro recounting his time with the team and how far they’ve come don’t get to you, Kinjou thanking Tadokoro and everything he has done to get them to where they are now is sure to beat a lump into the back of your throat.  Everyone’s reactions really sell this moment and the short flash of white with Naruko just sobbing uncontrollably gives you a feel that they are team of best friends.  Watching him disappear into the distance is heart-wrenching but the despair doesn’t stop there.  Almost immediately, Kinjou is on the chopping block.  His determination to fight through and not give up is awe-inspring.  Hakone racing off as tribute was a touching moment where the spotlight was on them for a bit again.  It’s also a nice touch that no advice goes unused or passed by.  Onoda is there for Kinjou since it was an important instruction that Kinjou said to never forget, and it’s great to see them take everything to heart.  Even as his legs are breaking down and he’s almost out he’s still able to fire up his team as he sees them off to the mountain.  Watching him get off his bike might be one of the harshest scenes we’ve seen yet and it was difficult to watch someone who’s fought so bravely be completely taken down.  I’ve said that the show excels in character send-offs and these were no different.  There’s a lot of power behind everyone’s reasons and determination for being in this race and wanting to win it.  You can see it in the way they ride, not only by themselves, but in their groups.  Naruko is pulling and I still don’t know if I’ll be ready for what’s coming up.  Side Note: the after-credits scenes are amazing on their own and never cease to crack me up.  Fukutomi and the girls was entirely too much and help end on a calmer note than being on the edge of your seat for an entire week.  Almost to the finish line.  Stay strong, Yowamushi!
culley711 Sports. Anime. We’re in the new group and finally we’re getting senior deaths. It’s hard to bear sometimes but I kinda get over it somehow. I really want to see how Onoda and his freshmen peers can help influence the outcome of the race, and it’s hard to realize in the middle of this race, but at the end everyone will cross the finish line and go get hot pots or something ridiculous. I can’t wait. Special shout out to the after credits creators! I am dying nine times out of ten. I always look forward to it and I can’t wait for the Hime Hime Cast Sing-a-Long OST to come out.
hamdog92 The drama in Yowapeda is higher than ever! Yet it’s the lowest it’s ever been ranked. Kinjou’s ‘senior death’ was very predictable but I can definitely say it was tragic. It’s almost surreal how long I’ve been watching this anime and yet the ending seems to be barreling ever towards us. I’m looking forward to the conclusion of the race, but I can’t help but with for the journey to go on just a bit longer.
navycherub If this were a couple weeks ago, Yowamushi Pedal would have ranked higher for me. It had to deal with some tough, exciting new competition, and skipped a week for some reason, but it was still strong. Kinjou finally dropping off was strong, but also a long time coming, so it didn’t resonate with me strongly. It also doesn’t help that Kinjou wasn’t exactly the most complex or interesting character in Yowapeda, so killing him off after the much more likable Arakita has me wanting more, but I know that there will be plenty of senior deaths to come.
blackpack kid I can’t help but feel that these episodes delved into something I would describe as repetitive.  While still excellent episodes it starts to become too much focus on the mom and not Kousei’s own journey without her watching over, especially considering we already had episodes where he played and she disappeared.  To go back and give her more backstory feels disingenuous to the rest of the show.  They spend a great deal showing she isn’t the monster we believed her to be and force him to play yet another concert where he has feelings about his mother he must once again conquer.  He wanted to give her an actual heartfelt goodbye this time instead of seeing her as the demon over his shoulder, and when he looks up and doesn’t see her, and is almost upset by this fact, it hits an emotional home-run.  His subsequent breakdown in front of Hiroko feels genuine and something that was a long time coming.  It was moving and Shigatsu is great when it comes to powerhouse emotional trips like this through music.  I do have to say I was really hoping for more violin-piano performances with Kousei and Kaori, and her sickness is something I hope they don’t stretch out to be the only thing her character is there for.  I want to believe she has her own dreams and drive and story, and is not there just for Kousei to get another chance to continue playing through loss, as they hint at in the end of the episode.  Here’s to crossing my fingers for next time.
culley711 Such a strong time for Kimi Uso. I love the way things are developing and I’m having a really difficult time writing this because I have watched past the episodes I’m reviewing! I like the show and the characters but drama keeps popping up for Arima. I feel so bad for him but this is not uncommon turmoil. Many graduating middle schoolers need to make important decisions regarding their future and Arima doesn’t have any adults in his life to support him. The struggles of his friends Watari and Sawabe are interesting to focus on too because it’s a kind of lull in the show right now. The end of this episode set was a big jump. Just as Arima has discovered his true self and growing feelings after his mother’s death, will more heartbreak be on his horizon?
hamdog92 KimiUso seems to be trapped in this transitional period that has perhaps gone on a bit too long. It’s read for me to even write that because Kousei is going through so much right now without the support of Kaori. Everything about this anime is as great as ever but I more than anything I want to say how happy I am at seeing flashbacks of Kousei’s mom when she wasn’t abusive. On a personal level, I live my life on basis that everyone is inherently good so Kousei’s mom had been grating on me because of the lack of context. I still think KimiUso can finish strong in this cour it just has a lot of excellent competition.
navycherub There is only so much more KimiUso could have done with Kousei’s past, so going into this round I was afraid the repetition would completely kill the forward momentum of the show. However, it actually managed to pull ahead, bringing the final pieces of his emotional journey of escaping his past together; removing Kaori and introducing his mother’s friend forces Kousei to come to terms with all of his feelings, including a final look at his mother. KimiUso has a mature, understanding, and still properly judgmental view of child abuse that is so incredibly rare in anime that I have to love it if only for that – “Love’s Sorrow” is the perfect piece for summarizing and externalizing the relationship between Kousei and his mother. Now it’s time for Kousei, and the show’s narrative, to progress further toward a conclusion.
yatterman 7 https://i1.wp.com/s.mxtv.jp/yatterman_yoru/images/p_logo_top.png
blackpack kid This show really knows how to hold onto this idea of family even if it’s not blood-related and it makes for some really moving scenes.  Yatterman really gives you the feeling that the characters love and care for each other, so when the girl’s mother is sick from her, the two men want to do anything to keep her daughter happy and keep any dreams she may have alive.  They’re just as much along for the ride as we are.  The animation feels fluid and gorgeous during fast-paced scenes and each scene dealing with an oncoming dread seems vast and hopeless to fight against.  Their drive to continue to fight, following with the death of her mom will really hit viewers emotionally because it does feel like something you can invest in.  You want to root for these underdogs and watching them don the outfits and begin their fight is just a thrill to watch.  The show also knows how to be comedic without shoving it in my face which is something that always feels like a 0-100 for anime.  Either too in your face or no comedy at all.  They can balance and it works wonders.  The lightly colored scenes with her mom are also a nice touch.  Wacky and touching is what I’m watching this anime for and I couldn’t be happier.
culley711 I love the trope of this anime! Ever since I saw the anime saving Fractale I realized how passionate I am about the young evil girl with the two older male henchmen. I couldn’t get enough of it. Additionally I like the backstory of this anime. Yatterman was a 70’s anime about 2 heroes of justice with their hero crew fighting the evil trio but now Yatterman Night is pushed into the future where the evil trio descendants are exiled and the Yatterman heroes hard won kingdom is now seemingly evil. I really like this set up. The first episodes were initially enjoyable but I fell out of blind devotion and I want more from the story. I don’t expect it to pick up from more than villain of the week but maybe we’ll get more development in the end. I’m sure some of the dialect jokes are lost in translation but it seems like there’s a lot of effort being placed into this show. I hope all goes well but I can’t say how I’ll feel about future episodes.
hamdog92 I think NavyCherub is jumping the gun a bit on this anime but I’m more than comfortable with Yatterman Night getting top ten this round. This is anime that’s presence gives it a larger than life feeling that I haven’t really felt in recent memory. There’s a real beauty to this anime: from the sheer enthusiasm of its trio of main characters, to its vibrant colors and wonderful animation, and to the implication of the cyclical nature of the Hero’s Journey. That beauty has a melancholy hanging above it though, that the battle against the Yatterman will ultimately be hopeless and the cycle will simply repeat itself. This is the real surprise of the season.
navycherub Yatterman Night hits me in a way I hardly ever get out of any media ever; its contrasting feelings of pure joy and intense sorrow both framed from the point of view of a child losing her innocence makes my chest swell with emotion. Its cast is small, but entirely endearing; the exact same can be said of the simple yet earnest story and presentation. Leopard’s feelings upon the loss of her mother are almost tangible, and I started tearing up when they put on their costumes and she used her bubble pipe in an entirely new context. Similarly, the setting is powerful without being complex. The Yatter Kingdom’s totalitarian rule being questioned by a hurt child is strong and poignant; the more she discovers of their atrocities, the more I hurt inside. Similarly, the usage of what used to be seen as heroic tropes and imagery as toxic propaganda is beautiful and terrifying in ways hard to even describe. The comfy feeling the cast gives contrast the difficult to swallow world they inhabit so well that I want to give someone a forehead flick, too.
rolling girls 8 File:The Rolling Girls logo.png
blackpack kid Everything looks stunning in Rolling Girls.  The setting is the first part that blows me away as they show this society of warring gangs and fighters of justice, and just the world around them.  An extensive amount of detail seems to go into every scene.  The character designs as well really pop out at you, making even side gang member characters look interesting and a blast to look at.  The amount of work that goes into the fight scenes and the characters flying across the screen whether they be the Best or the Rest is just impressive to watch.  These battles will probably some of the best choreographed of the season as I’m not sure what can compete with battles of this magnitude.  Every move has a reaction and each one feels unique.  The show is already boasting a large cast and I hope everyone gets their time in the spotlight.  It’s also a good sign when the studio can animate any scene and make it look intense or action-packed, even if it’s just eating ramen.  The coloring for each new setting they are in seems expertly crafted to where they are and helps with the overall flow of scene to scene.  The adventures of the Rest of the roller coaster kept me pleased as it stayed within the confines of the realism of the show.  Jumping off the roller coaster because they go flying all the time just made sense and it’s nice to see a show aware of itself like this.  The idea of the hero never revealing who they are was great for the scenes devoted to revealing her identity and when it happens it has a real punch behind it that warms up anyone who’s watching.  What Rolling Girls does really well is give characters a reason for why they fight and watching Shigyo’s memories return plays off great.  If the upcoming episodes are anything like this, and animated just as amazingly then I’m ecstatic to keep watching/
culley711 THIS SHOW IS AMAZING AND EVERYONE ELSE HERE IS INSANE! The world has changed into an odd group, with vigilante groups fighting for local governments and various prefectures becoming unique to the extreme. I love the explosion of color and movement that Rolling Girls has, and the various architecture and home decorations fit a certain niche that I’ve been a fan of for a long time. I feel like the story is something so pure that many people will label it simple or straight forward, but I think the story has been straight forward because that’s the only way these young women are able to communicate such strong emotions while still remaining pure. As anyone who watches action anime will know, talking villains are the most evil and those heroes who only punch are the most noble. I expect these girls will roll their way into all our hearts by the end of the season.
hamdog92 I really don’t know what I can say about Rolling Girls. I like the opening. I like the MC on an aesthetic level. I like how its animation reminds me of FLCL more than anything that Gainax and Trigger have done since FLCL. I like how I can grasp at ridiculous personal theories about the show without actually having any real evidence to support in this review. It’s an ok anime, but I don’t think it deserves to be in the top 10.
navycherub This show could be better. It is certainly pretty – the background art can’t be matched by just about anything else this season has to offer – and it moves with such a sense of urgency and fluidity that almost every action a character makes automatically becomes exciting. However, there isn’t anything there in the narrative that makes me excited in the same way. Perhaps this is just setup; the main character only finds her role in the story at the end of episode 2, after all. For now though, I am hoping Rolling Girls uses its strange world and bubbly visuals for a purpose other than for them to simply exist.
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blackpack kid I feel bad about this because Garo is by no means a bad show, it just got caught up in the middle of the show as we transition the two main characters to their new lives.  There are some legitimately interesting parts that deal with Alfonso as he takes on his new role as protector of the city in secret as he also rules as prince.  He takes on a lot of responsibility but what keeps him ahead of Leon in my mind is how he doesn’t try to question his place in all of this or if he is good enough.  He knows what the right thing to do is and reacts post-haste.  His team-up with Roberto also is quite a watch as Roberto realizes that Alfonso may be misinterpreting his actions and that Roberto isn’t always the responsible and mature adult he’s mistaken to be.  The side story of the horrors in the castle was interesting but felt like it didn’t have too much of a larger effect on the show, which is fine considering the show often lends itself to episodic adventures, but they can be hit or miss quite often and it just felt like this one was a little off-mark, and when coupled with Leon’s storyline which I found to be utterly boring, I couldn’t in good faith give a good number to Garo this PR.  I hope next time it steps it up because I have a lot of faith in Alfonso and would love to see more of him and Roberto fighting the evils of this world.  
https://wideface.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/10.png?w=54&h=19culley711 Prince Alfonso has brought peace to the city and it seems the collapse of Mendoza’s shadow kingdom has subdues many of the horrors for the time being. The driving force of these next episodes is the despair of Leon. He’s lost his right to the golden armor and has abandoned his role as a Makai knight out of shame. The strength of character development is what has carried Garo past the unexpectedly quick final battle but what new difficulties await? I do enjoy this show but this season is strong and Garo may not hold up well in my numbers.
hamdog92 Garo is an anime that appears to be only getting better and better for me as the series progresses. Leon’s experience living with the peasant family is something I had not anticipated nor expected to enjoy as much as I did. I’ve read, played, and watched enough fantasy to know that it’s all too common for fantasy stories these days to show the daily despair and horror faced by the peasantry. Garo however does this without really being edgy and overbearing with it. There is admittedly some romanticism mixed within but that is there for healing Leon as a character rather than promoting regressive life styles. Alfonso and German get all the action in the second episode and it’s fairly enjoyable to watch the two heroes team up. I also like that the Horrors are willing to fight each other, which is a nice little addition. While not as good this action episode does add a nice counterbalance to Leon’s much needed development.
navycherub Watching poor Leon lose his place in the world was hard last time, but I didn’t expect to go on a slice of life-esque journey with him to redeem and heal him. It certainly makes sense, of course – going to the countryside for healing isn’t anything new in anime. For Garo, though, that means it has to slow down and look away from the grander action for a while, which is a risk but it certainly paid off. Alfonso and German also have new shoes to fill, which is cool and also being explored properly, while giving them some cute uncle-nephew time and a break from Leon’s fall from grace. Narratively, Garo consistently manages to take old ideas and work them into its own story in an interesting way, which I completely appreciate.
cinderella girls 10
blackpack kid While it may not be unique, a different approach to the dream of being part of an idol group definitely is a factor that has changed quite a bit.  The new producer, in part, is what really separates this from a number of other shows.  While he may be a bit bumbling like others in previous idol shows, his large and seemingly menacing demeanor add a spin on the comedic factor of the producer in shows like this.  You really can’t trust what he’s saying or how much he really has planned out and he’s a man of few words, so it’s really interesting watching the girls bumble around trying to get a direct answer out of him about questions they might have about the group.  His interactions with the girls are great to watch, and his determination to build this group are awkwardly inspiring at times.  For all of his awkwardness getting the girls together to talk and bounce off of each other is a lot of what makes a show like this so watching them speak of their dreams and hopes really sells the show.  As the full cast shows up you get a real feel just how different these girls are from the original iDOL@STER series for anyone worried.  It really feels like every part is different and after that first photo shoot I’m pretty excited to see their journey from the bottom to the top and where they can go from here.  Bouncing the ball was just a cute scene to watch and I’m quite excited for more of the same.  Give Wake Up, Girls  a run for its money!
culley711 I am unsure but hopeful. I enjoyed the original iDOLM@STER series and I don’t know if I am ready to meet brand new girls. So far I like the crew and I think the way of introducing characters slowly is better because we can see where they shine. I also was really uncertain of meeting a new producer, and initially I disliked him a lot, but his passion is becoming visible through his action and dedication, despite his unfortunate resting bitch face. I can’t wait to meet the larger ensemble.
hamdog92 The only idol anime I have ever seen are Wake Up Girls and Locodol which are, as far as I am aware, two rare realistic takes on the usual idol show. This makes reviewing such a massive franchise like iDOLM@STER kind of awkward. This is an anime that has incredible shots that left me pretty damn impressed. All the notions this show goes through already seem familiar to me yet I can’t help but enjoy the characters. The girls are so far all really wonderful and I like the stone faced nature of the Producer. I’m really looking forward to meeting the other girls.
navycherub Cinderella Girls might have surprised me the most this season, as far as opening episodes go. Completely unlike the original iDOLM@STER anime, and very fitting given its title, Cinderella Girls positions its visuals as dreary and atmospheric, giving the whole show a sense of reality that is brightened by the smiles and dreams of the up-and-coming idols. Shots are composed with the environment in mind, placing the characters in the corner or middle of the screen while they are surrounded by gray skies, tall trees, towering buildings, and so on, providing somewhat oppressive imagery to contrast the idols. The new producer character matches that feeling, being stoic but kind and helping to push out perhaps hesitant or uncertain trio of girls toward their true potential. The rest of the cast seems pretty one-note, but as long as the main characters continue getting proper development, I don’t see that being a big issue.
Aldnoah.Zero 11 11 2 12 14
Akatsuki no Yona 11(-1) 11 13 15 11 6
Ansatsu Kyoushitsu 13 9 8 17 13
Junketsu no Maria 14 7 14 10 16
Log Horizon 2nd Season 8(-7) 7 17 16 13 11
Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE! 16 14 17 15 15
Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata 17 16 13 16 17


1. nubbit - February 12, 2015

You guys make me really want to watch Kimi Uso. Death parade is a given :P

2. blackpackkid - February 18, 2015

Kimi Uso is absolutely a must-watch. As we’ve been going through the PRs with it, I’m definitely planning a re-watch at some point because there’s just so much going on I definitely think I miss some of the smaller nuances of the show.

Also Death Parade is entirely too good. Its dub actually comes out today on Funimation’s website. I’ll wait for the BDs to come out hopefully soon

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