Welcome back, everyone, to my marathon of what is “almost” too much anime for me to handle. I watch anime differently from most people. I don’t prefer to just follow one series at a time and then move on to another. Instead, I like to pick 10 anime at a time and watch them all equally one episode at a time. It’s a process that has several benefits such as never getting bored of one particular anime when it hits a bland arc, as well as keeping my attention to a maximum thanks to the pure diversity of what I’m watching. Last time I wrote about my experience 7 episodes in, which I felt was a decent time for my first impressions and you can find that blog here.
The 13th episode of an anime tends to be one of three things. Either it’s the finale of a short season that hopefully delivers great closure, the conclusion of an arc in a continuing series leaving a cliffhanger to come back for more, or it’s a pointless, completely off the beaten path beach episode. Why must there always a beach episode?! Because of this, it’s the perfect time to stop and reflect on each of these anime and if they have won me over at this point or not.
1. Fairy Tail
Fairy Tail has been great so far, hasn’t it? It has a massive world with plenty of colorful characters and an exciting magical battle in pretty much every episode. All of that excitement should make this anime brilliant, but it just doesn’t feel that way. There’s nothing particularly bad about it, but there’s nothing that really engrosses me into the world. My interest, in anything from the fights to the characters, ranges from mild to moderate. Natsu has proven to have a deep side, but he’s one of the typical characters who’s a little “too” aloof and uncaring. The fight scenes have all felt rather simple. The tactics the characters used have all been rudimentary at best. Overall, the anime leans a bit too close to the comedy side, which makes it enjoyable nonetheless, but saps away any amount of depth or complexity I originally expected from the show.
Normally, I would drop it at this point. No anime goes past 13 episodes for me unless I have some solid reason to press on, but I’m making a large exception for Fairy Tail. I always hear how good it is, and I’m being optimistic to think that the show will only get better. I want to be excited for the return of Fairy Tail this Spring so I will keep going as long as I can to hopefully find the same spark in Fairy Tail that everyone else has.
Now this is an anime that knows how to keep things fresh. It’s not one to lay focus on the drama. The weight of the scenes don’t feel superficially heavy with intense orchestra music or overly exaggerated acting. The story is complex, serious, dark, and dramatic all on it’s own. The tone of the anime instead, goes for a quasi-charming and upbeat mood that contrasts well with the overall serious story. Plot twists ran aplenty in these recent episodes. One of the main characters turning out to be much more influential than he originally seemed threw me for a wild loop. Character revelations kept up the interest in pretty much everyone which is an incredible feat in writing.
Durarara has excellent pacing. It never misses a beat and has several amazing characters that it constantly shifts and cycles between. Each episode still feels enjoyably different while still progressing all the stories forward at a solid rate. It’s credit to the shows amazing flexibility in story telling that it can have so many character arcs to follow that range from little love stories to fantastic mythological tales. A new OP has also taken over at this point, but all it did was make me crave the original OP song again.
First off, I have to say goodbye to my favorite OP song of the ten anime I am watching. If you haven’t heard it, you should definitely check it out. Now it was replaced with “Engrish” which didn’t sit well with me. Luckily that’s the only bad development this anime has had. Psycho-Pass has developed into one of the best “investigation” anime I’ve ever seen. The introduction of the mastermind villain was done gradually until he was fully revealed as a masterfully manipulative psychological genius. I will say it again: I am a huge fan of anything dark and psychological so this anime breathes the atmosphere that I enjoy most. Gen Urobuchi, the writer of this anime, is far and away my favorite person to attach to an anime at this point. He has crafted an amazing dystopia that shows just how “impartial” upholding the law can get.
My biggest concern was that the main character, Akane, wasn’t going to have a well portrayed character strength. Fortunately, the last episode I watched fixed that completely. Akane has an inspiring ability to not let the atrocities of a grim and dark world ruin her mental well being. In a world where even the best cops start to lose their psychotic edge and are eventually considered criminals by the Psycho-Pass system, Akane is a woman who has the optimism and hope to survive this mental torture. A torture that she undergoes quite literally in this last episode. This show hasn’t made a misstep yet and is easily among the better half of this set of anime.
4. Cowboy Bebop
Now I see why everyone raves about this show. I have to admit from last time I wrote about this anime, that despite one episode, nothing really exciting was happening. Sure the adventures with Spike and the gang were fun, but I didn’t get what made this show a classic. The episodes I’m watching now have been much more personal and serious affairs that develop the characters beautifully. These latest episodes exemplify a beautiful maturity to it’s characters and story. Instead of a random adventure each episode, Cowboy Bebop has turned into an emotional tale that has consistently delivered some truly timeless heartaches of a story as well as a surprisingly creepy episode that showed just how flexible this anime can get.
The 13th episode ended the two part Jupiter Jazz arc which was simply enthralling. It was the first episode that made me feel compassion for Spike, and it made me realize that there is a ton of back story that this anime is just itching to roll out in the coming episodes. Since I last wrote about it, the one thing this anime has gained is emotional weight. The episodes are meaningful now and pack as much heart in a single episode as most anime convey in an entire arc. Aesthetically, the anime is still just a tad lacking. It’s easy to appreciate what it did for anime, but now it’s a little tough to be wowed by the art style. Luckily the story is making up for it in spades. Monster, which is in my top 5 anime, is solely in that spot for it’s story. In the end, that is always what is most important to me.
5. Hajime No Ippo: Season 2
This is probably the other anime alongside Fairy Tail that I’m starting to get just a little tiresome of, but I do enjoy it more than Fairy Tail overall. The midseason ended with the conclusion to Ippo’s fight with his former student. (Technically it was a beach episode, but we’re just going to mosey on past that.) So far the fights have been incredibly exciting and they are animated in such an aggressive art style that it really makes the fights sublime to watch. However, I’m starting to get a little wary of each fight. On one hand, each fight has felt different in the fact that the consequences and story behind each fight were all different. For example, one was Ippo watching another character fight and seeing his idol fall from grace, while the other is Ippo fighting the urge to go easy on his student and risks losing his title over it. On the other hand, when the fight does get going, it boils down to the same thing. It doesn’t matter what unique techniques or strategies are used, it eventually turns into both fighters in the ring running out of gas and collapsing, but then jumping back up in a jolt of energy constantly surprising the other. Then that repeats, and repeats.
This isn’t much of a detriment, and on a whole, the fights are still much more entertaining than the fights in Fairy Tail, but when each fight is about 3 episodes, they do start to blend together into a bunch of getting knocked down and getting back up. The show is called Fighting Spirit and maybe that’s what they are trying to portray. I’m not seriously faulting it, but I do hope that the following fights either pick up the pace or introduce some new types of suspense in the ring.
6. A Certain Scientific Railgun
Last time I wrote this, I could almost confidently say that this was better than A Certain Magical Index, but I wasn’t completely sure. Well now, after an amazing conclusion to the first arc, I can easily say this is much better than Magical Index. The final fight was exactly what I wanted to see out of this anime. A fight that was equally spectacular and heartfelt. The whole point of a villain, and conquering said villain, is for the hero to learn something, not just proving you’re stronger. This was brilliantly portrayed as Mikasa slowly took down the boss while quietly muttering everything she learned about the rights and wrongs of both the villain and the heroes. It shows a character than can morally debate as well as fight. It was a bittersweet end in which Mikasa argued whether the bad guys were truly at fault, and that simple layer of complexity can go a long way.
Now let me gush on about Mikasa because she’s an adorable bad ass. We finally got to see the full extent of her power which was one of the highlights of my entire marathon thus far. She’s easily one of the most enjoyable characters out of all ten of these anime because she has this adorable trait to be embarrassingly interested in childish things while also being one of the most powerful espers in the city. It’s nice to see a super powered main character with such a relatable and humanizing quality. And you know what? I actually liked the beach episode in this anime and I don’t care what anyone says about that!
7. Ano Hana
This is the only anime on this list that reached it’s end thanks to it’s 12 episode length, and what a wonderful anime this was. I’ll spare you the full review for a separate post, but this anime was a beautiful tear-jerker with whimsical charm. The ending was beautiful, sad, and just a little weird. Characters chanting like maniacs while crying and laughing in the space of mere seconds definitely sounded odd, but what really mattered was the conclusion of this sad tale of a ghost trying to grant it’s dying wish and finally having that wish fulfilled. It was hard to hold back in the final episode and anyone looking for short anime full of childlike wonder and heart should definitely give this one a shot.
Moreover, the art style was perfect. Colorful and vibrant, the charming city and forest setting provided a simple yet effective locale for all the events to take place. Many episodes were just beautiful to look at, particularly the firework episode. The atmosphere and tone very rarely took a turn towards anything dark, but serious things do happen that step up the emotional weight of what these characters are dealing with. Ultimately, this is an anime about friendship, and the same feeling that true friendship gives, can also be felt by simply watching this work of art.
Bakuman has been, from episode 1 all the way through episode 13, a mesmerizing anime full of inspiration and romance. I credit Bakuman for getting me off my butt and actually starting this blog. Bakuman is easy to describe. It’s an anime about two students who decide to abandon the structured society of careers and decide to become manga creators. What follows is what really makes the show incredible. For one, you have one of the most storybook romances I’ve seen in an anime where two lovers agree to marry, but only converse through emails until they both achieve their dreams. On top of that, you have the endearing friendship of the main duo constantly bringing a smile to your face. Bakuman should be able to cheer anyone up thanks to how constantly inspired and happy the two main characters are.
That’s not to say the show doesn’t also get intense. You literally bate your breath whenever their latest project is being judged or criticized. You want them to succeed because there is this ever-increasing suspense of the promised marriage falling apart whenever they fail in any aspect of creating their manga. And since the other main character threw away a successful career to pursue this dream, you don’t want to see his life go to waste. I had mild concern that the anime would lose it’s credibility as a progressing story after a few episodes. I thought it would devolve into simply watching them try and fail until they succeed, but that is simply not the case. The writing goes a long way to make each episode feel new and they have actually made much more progress with this Mangaka dream than I ever thought I’d see this early in. Bakuman is a delight. A perfect pick-me-up anime that eschews inspiration and freedom to just do whatever the hell you want with your life. I have no doubt that I’ll be following this till the end.
9. Kuroko’s Basketball
I see why this is considered the best sports anime. I have no doubt about that thought anymore. I think the only show I’ve seen that’s more intense than this is Attack on Titan, and I really mean it. This isn’t even basketball anymore. It’s a hectic warzone on a basketball court filled with athletes that seem more like frightening monsters and psychological masterminds. Why does this music sound like it belongs in God of War? Why did that pass from Kuroko look cooler than half of the magic superpowers I see in other anime? It’s because this truly is an anime about characters with fantastic powers, and basketball just happens to be the vessel that it all transpires in.
The pacing is incredible. I’ve never felt so worked up over a measly basketball game. There are anime where the entire world is at stake, but even that doesn’t convey the same suffocating pressure that Kuroko’s Basketball does. I can’t pinpoint what makes it so good, because so many things just work well together. Describing a single aspect such as it’s amazing use of powers can’t represent what’s really going on in this anime. Just know that you don’t even half to like basketball to enjoy this anime. It’s that good.
10. Hunter X Hunter
Of course I saved the best for last. And man oh man, what has Hunter X Hunter become?! The last three episodes have been some of the most absolutely phenomenal works of art I’ve seen in a long time. Let me reiterate from my last post, I fell in love with Hunter X Hunter so much that I made an exception and caught up to the current episode. While all the other anime on this list are at 13, I am technically past 100 episodes here. Hunter x Hunter was already so amazing that I confidently ranked it in my top ten, but it just keeps getting better. How is that even possible for an anime that has already eclipsed over 100 episodes?
It’s rather symbolic that the anime has also kept the same OP song since Episode 1, because I feel like it’s a boast of confidence. It’s like the creators are saying we know exactly what we’re doing, and we know we’re never going to have to change it. The last three episodes I watched are masterpieces, and are among the most masterfully executed fights I’ve ever seen. It’s weird to say that across the last 3 episodes, only about 20 seconds have passed, but it’s not because the pace is slow. It’s because there is that much quality writing going into every ounce of the massive amount of characters in this scene. So much, that it takes a full episode to explain just what is going through each of their heads. I’ve never felt more connected to a character in a fight scene than what Hunter X Hunter has been giving me these last few weeks. And let me just say, Gon is about to have his biggest fight ever, and I’m literally shaking in anticipation for it.
Thank you again for keeping up with my obsessive amounts of anime watching. In case I didn’t get the point across that I watch a lot of anime, I’m doing a write up right after publishing this one about even more anime I’m watching from the current season! If any of you have seen any of these anime or are wanting to, feel free to comment or ask questions below!! I’d love to talk about all of these at more length. I’ll be back at lap 20 with another update! ^.^