2022 Fall animes ranked from my favorite to least favorite (Part 2)

Continuation of part 1, which can be read here.

4. Arknights: PRELUDE TO DAWN

Amiya looking straight into the camera It's now time to talk about the show which is, arguably, the most popular one on this ranking. This show is an anime adaptation to the very popular tactical RPG/tower defense video game available on Android and iOS called Arknights. The game is very popular among the gacha game community, as it adorned a pretty big fanbase. Its recent rise in popularity over the past couple of years meant that an anime adaptation was inevitable.

And, well, we finally got one.

Now, for starters, let me just say that I am not a fan of the game. I don't play gacha games.

So this review is coming from someone that's completely new to the series and has no idea whether this TV show is a faithful adaptation of the game's story or not.

With that said, I will say that I liked this show quite a bit.

For one, it's the show in this ranking that looks to have had the highest production budget behind it. I cannot say this for sure, as I didn't research this, nor do I believe that the exact monetary budget figures behind these anime are even publicly available, but at the very least, it definitely looks like the most well funded TV series out of all of them. From the very fluid animation, exotic camera angles and panoramic shots, the very nicely drawn backgrounds and the exquisite sound design, all the way to the stellar ending and opening sequences.

Everything in this show felt premium when looking at it.

I don't know if the development company behind the game itself, Hypergryph, financed this project or not, but this show seems to have burned a lot of money.

The show was a treat for my eyes and ears. After the bad taste left behind by Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer and its infrequent horrible and choppy animation, this felt like such a breath of fresh air. I know that many would find it cheap for a reviewer to praise a show over something as technical as its budget but, after seeing these two shows back to back in the same season, I simply cannot in good faith not talk about such things. At the end of the day, the quality of the animation and the sound design does make a difference, and that simply has to be acknowledged.

And the quality of production was consistent too. From episode one to the last episode, you could tell that every minute had a lot of hard work and artistry baked into it. There was never a time when I can say that “This scene could have looked better, or this scene felt rushed and didn't get the screen time that it deserved”.

Another great thing about this show is that it had a slow pacing, with most of the screen time dedicated to world building and character development.

So, let's get into the meat of the plot now!

On the futuristic post-apocalyptic dystopian planet of Terra, which is filled with many people, some of which with various animal characteristics on their bodies like rabbit ears, the people are preparing for another cataclysmic event that happens from time to time, which usually destabilizes society. In the city of Chernobog from within the Ursus Empire, though, a rogue militant group called the Reunion is trying to take over the city and its population. In this city, the protagonist, a male doctor, is awakened abruptly by the leader of Rhodes Island, Amiya. Rhodes Island is a large moving city owned and operated by Amiya's pharmaceutical company.

Amiya had traveled all the way from Rhodes Island to Chernobog along with a team of military personnel, to retrieve the doctor just in time, as the city is falling apart due to Reunion's assault over it.

Reunion is a terrorist organization comprised entirely of people infected with Oripathy, a disease caused by the highly precious mineral known as Originium. People with Oripathy face severe discrimination in that world, as the disease is believed to be contagious (although scientific evidence disputes this), and are treated as second class citizens by many of the governments of the planet.

Reunion was formed to overturn these governments and try to violently take control of the world by means of military force, such that the infected can finally fight back against their discrimination. And Reunion is willing to achieve these goals at any cost.

By using the upcoming cataclysm as an opportunity, Reunion took advantage of this and managed to invade and destroy most of Chernobog.

Thankfully, Amiya and her team managed to find the doctor in time, as the doctor was already a member of Rhodes Island and a specialist in medicine, and extract him successfully from his underground facility.

Rhodes Island is also primarily composed of infected, Amiya being one of them too, but it strives to deal with the discrimination against the infected peacefully, without trying to overturn governments or cause societal uprising, in the way that Reunion is doing. Instead, Rhodes Island's primary goal is to finally find a cure for Oripathy, which was always believed to be uncurable, and end the disease once and for all. The doctor that they saved from Chernobog, was their primary researcher for this cure and the reason why he was so valuable to Rhodes Island and why they made it their mission to save him from the Reunion's assault on the city.

Now, they must escape from Chernobog, defeat any Reunion forces that might put their lives in danger on the way, and return safely to Rhodes Island, with the doctor safe and in one piece.

There is one issue though: the doctor has amnesia for some unknown reason, and is incapable of recalling any of the research he had already done on the cure.

OK so that's a bare-bones synopsis for you.

I will admit, I like the setting for this show. The plot seemed very unique and engaging and I liked the post-apocalyptic touch to that world.

Couple that with the military tactical feel of the show and how it feels like it tries to delve into the nitty gritty details of each battle (keyword being feels, although it's actually superficial; I'll get to that in a moment), and I will say, I was hooked.

Not only that but the idea of the infected having almost magical abilities that they can use in battle (called Arts) which reduces their lifespans the more that they use them, was also a very nice concept, albeit a bit underused in this story.

Honestly, with the production quality that this show has, I can very easily see many fans of the game falling in love with this adaptation. Hell, I'm not a fan of the game and even I almost fell in love with it.

Still, there are a bunch of issues that I have with this show.

For one, the first season is only eight episodes long, which is a very odd number to end a season on. I heard that this makes sense for the story of the game, as they couldn't realistically stretch the plot to twelve episodes without adding in unnecessary filler, but I disagree. Even if there was not enough material to stretch it to twelve episodes by itself, I do think that adding filler to it wouldn't have hurt anyone. Adding extra episodes in which the characters just bond with each other or interact naturally, would have been nice. That would have also given us more time to know the world that they live in too. Given the high budget that this show seems to have had, I think they had enough resources to pull that off, if they wanted to.

Second, the plot of this show and the story really makes it obvious that this was from a tactical mobile game. The show makes the doctor look like a tactical genius, as he's the one coordinating the movements of all the troops from Rhodes Island, despite him starting off as simply an extraction target. The problem with this is, the show really doesn't have enough tactics or strategy in it. While the battles are given time and explored quite nicely, they are never dissected enough to actually explore tactics or possible strategic options.

Yes, this is a natural limitation of the medium of animation. Unlike a game, where the player can actually control the movement of each individual unit in a squad, in anime everything has to be linear and set in stone. And this is understandable.

But I was hoping for something along the lines of Code Geass where Lelouch's input and strategy leads to outcomes which are impactful and change the flow of the narrative in obvious ways. There, Lelouch deciding how to position the units and move them almost like they were pieces on a chess board, was explored far more and made him feel like a very intelligent and gifted tactician.

In this show, while the Doctor is said to be a brilliant tactician and the reason why Rhodes Island is capable of successfully finishing missions, this is never actually shown on screen. All of his commands, his strategies, his plans on the battlefield, are kept off screen and we don't know what he actually does to make the mission end successfully, it just does. And I find this very boring.

Had the show been more tactics focused and tried to implement strategizing on screen, I would have liked it way more. As it stands, though, most of the battles end up looking very boring and menial.

Finally, my last complaint which I have for this show is simply the amount of characters that it has. Almost every episode, it feels like a new character is introduced to us and, I'll be honest, I don't see the point. Most of these new characters may have some tactical role in the game, I'm sure, but in the anime, they just feel shoehorned in. None of them play any major role in the story and I wouldn't be surprised if some only appeared for just one episode, almost like it was a cameo. Maybe this was to please the players of the game, I don't know. I just found it pointless and, by the time the last episode rolled in, I couldn't even remember most of their names.

But hey, at the end of the day, I will say, it was a fine watch. While it's easy for me to say that the show could have been better had it done thing A or thing B, at the end, I did already enjoy it enough to be willing to view a season 2 of it. And a season 2 was already announced, so now I will say I'm looking forward to that, when it will come out.

Could the show have been better? Sure. But is it fine already as it is? Personally, as someone who isn't a fan of the game, I can say, I do believe that it's a fine experience as it is. It didn't convince me to play the game, mind you, but it did get me sufficiently invested in this story to seek out a season 2. And honestly, what more can a show like this even strive for?

5. Reincarnated as a Sword

Fran glaring menacingly And, finally, we arrive at our last entry on my ranking. This was my least favorite show of this season. And trust me, I was really getting bored with this show.

Let's start off with a synopsis, shall we?

Our story starts out with an unnamed human that ended up dying in a car accident. Immediately afterwards, he awakens back to life in the form of a large sword on a platform in the middle of the forest.

This man doesn't remember the name he once had from his previous life, but does remember that he had used to be human before reincarnating. He realizes that he isn't on planet Earth anymore just by looking at the sky and seeing the mystical fantasy creatures roaming around him, and very quickly accepts the fact that he is now just a nameless sentient sword in the middle of the forest in a fantasy world.

Despite being a simple sword and having no voice or any human characteristics whatsoever, he can access his personal menu, almost like he is in a video game, and check his RPG stats and the list of skills that he has.

There, among his skills, he finds telekinesis. So not only is he a large and cool looking sword, he also has his own skills as well, despite having no wielder yet.

Using his telekinesis skill on his own, he is able to make himself fly through the air without any difficulty and starts killing goblins and other fantasy monsters in that forest by simply smashing into them and piercing their bodies.

By doing this, he discovers that all living creatures in that world contain small crystals hidden in their bodies and, when he breaks those crystals, he ends up absorbing that creature's skills into himself, becoming capable of using it as his own skill afterwards.

When realizing this, he starts killing many monsters from that forest, one after another, slowly but surely increasing his skill count over the period of many days.

He does this so that he can become a powerful sword that will please his future wielder, when the day will come that he will meet such a person.

However, after defeating more and more difficult monsters as time passes on, and absorbing all of their skills, the sword realizes that it had cleared the area around its position in that forest, there's no more creatures worth fighting there anymore, and decides to venture outward to other parts of the forest to gain more power for himself.

When he flies out by himself, though, after a certain distance from his original location, he loses his ability to fly though, and becomes stuck in the ground, unable to move anymore.

Why he cannot fly anymore isn't explained by the show, it's just to limit him from going off on his own adventure I guess.

Now, incapable of flying by himself anymore, he is stuck on the ground, all alone and sad, desperate for someone to come pick him up.

After a couple of months pass, a carriage just so happens to pass nearby through the forest and this carriage just so happens to get attacked by a giant bear monster.

The carriage was transporting valuable materials owned by a rich person and, when seeing the bear attack them, the rich person orders the slaves who were accompanying him to block the monster and try to stop him.

Among these slaves is a young Black Cat girl named Fran who, due to her contract as a slave, is magically forced against her will to fight the monster by her owner, even if she would otherwise be powerless.

Seeing her fellow slaves be slaughtered by said monster in front of her eyes, realizing that she stands no chance of defeating the bear by herself, Fran then hears the voice of the aforementioned sword in her head, as the sword is speaking to her using his telepathy skill.

The sword was nearby and it asks Fran to grab it and use it to save herself.

She obliges and, just as the bear monster is about to kill her as well, the sword transfers some of his skills into Fran and gives her the magical boosts and skills necessary for her to easily defeat the giant bear and save everyone there.

Happy that his own life had been saved, the slave owner that controlled Fran congratulates her for her deed, before asking her to give him that sword so that he can take it for himself.

Realizing that Fran is just a slave and is magically bound to that man, meaning that she cannot act through her free will, the sword kills him and burns his contract with Fran, effectively nullifying the magic keeping her bound and allowing her to become a free person finally.

Fran, happy that she can walk as a free girl now, adopts the sword and names him “Teacher” because the sword teaches her what she should do.

She tells him that it's always been her dream to evolve, something which many other adventurers in that world achieve, but no Black Cat has ever done before, and so she embarks on a journey with him to do just that.

The Teacher, for his part, accepts her as his wielder and decides to dedicate the rest of his life to protecting this girl and aiding her in her quest to evolve.

OK, so that's a fairly short description of what this show is all about.

Yes, this is an isekai anime, and yes, it displays all of the cliches that normal isekais have.

I said once that I was sick of watching isekai anime, particularly the kind that have overpowered protagonists that always overpower all threats that come their way.

When I watched the preview for this TV series, the reason I decided to pick it up was because it really looked like the show was going to be about the main character, Fran, struggling and having difficulties in fighting against her opponents, and that gave me hope that maybe she wasn't going to be overpowered like so many other isekai anime.

Especially since she looked young (maybe around 11 years old or so?) I really wanted to believe that this was going to be a story about growing up and struggling against life's difficulties as she tries to carve her way as an adventurer. I wanted the story to be about facing hardships and suffering, this is what I hoped I would get.

And while this is kind of what we get here, a lot of the hardships she encounters are very quickly overcome by the simple presence of the Teacher character who's always there to help her out.

Yes, that's right. I hate his character. To me, the Teacher is the sole reason why I dislike this show as much as I do. Well, OK, maybe not the sole reason, but he's a good chunk of the reason why I hate this show so much.

He acts like an all knowing father figure to Fran, always guiding her, always lending her his overpowered skills and always telling her what she should do and how she should react.

He always holds her hand throughout the entire journey (figuratively speaking, as he obviously has no hands) and that frustrates me to no end.

I really like to feel like this is Fran's story, as the show sets up the fact that she has a very couragious and rebel personality, she's a fighter, she doesn't want to conform to the rules and be ruled over by others. She wants to be the first Black Cat to evolve in history.

These are all great traits to have in a main character, and I like all of this.

But the story doesn't feel like it's hers, it feels like it's the sword's story instead.

While, ultimately, she is the wielder of the sword and she technically calls all the shots of what they should do and where they should go next, it's actually the Teacher that informs her of what she should level up next, what dungeons she should crawl through, what her next skills should be and where to get them from.

Fran really feels like she would be powerless without the Teacher's help. And that annoys me.

Someone that's a fighter like her, a rebel, shouldn't need to be guided all the time by the sword. She shouldn't need to rely on Teacher to do absolutely everything in her life.

Every time they fight in a battle, the story tries to trick you into thinking that they're at an impasse, that they might not make it out of there alive, that they might die.

But, soon enough, the sword always finds that one skill that he had in his vast repertoire that he didn't think to use before but now realizes is very important, transfers that skill to Fran or tells her exactly what to do, and then boom! The day is saved and the bad guy is defeated. Hooray for teamwork, I guess.

Yeah, Fran almost never has any input whatsoever. She just does or uses whatever the Teacher tells her to do or use in the heat of battle.

She doesn't realize an enemy's weakness by herself, she doesn't figure out a brilliant strategy to save the day, she doesn't acquire her own sets of skills to use in battle. Everything she does or has is from the Teacher, and she 100% relies on him.

Only once, was there an episode where Fran was separated from the Teacher and she had to fend for herself and protect other fellow adventurers from danger.

And I really liked that episode. It looked like she was in actual danger and I wanted to see how she was going to get out of that situation.

And, to her credit, she does last a significant amount of time surviving on her own. The problem?

In the end, it's the teacher that still finds her and saves her at the last second!

She only needed to survive for long enough for the Teacher to be able to locate her and save her. I really hated that.

Had he not arrived there in time, it's heavily implied that Fran would have died.

Hell, at any battle in this show, it's implied that Fran would die had Teacher not been there to help her. She has no backbone for herself.

I get the idea that she's just a little girl and would otherwise be powerless without Teacher being there for her, but this is taken to such an extreme degree that I genuinely feel like the prejudice against Black Cats being worth only as slaves is actually kind of accurate, in that world.

She actually is powerless. She doesn't prove to be adventurer material and she failed to convince me that she deserves to evolve.

Maybe it's my cynical nature, but it looks, to me, that even if she ends up evolving (which, for the record, doesn't happen yet by the time season 1 ends), it'll only be from the hard work that the Teacher had put into it, not her own.

It's not that a Black Cat managed to surpass all odds and managed to finally evolve, it's that it just so happens that a legendary brilliant intelligent sword picked a wielder for itself, and that wielder was a Black Cat. The sword is so overpowered and brilliant that whoever would have been its wielder would have evolved in the end, regardless of who it was. So Fran isn't anything special.

Fran just is treated like a child in this show, not a hero. And that's my main gripe with it.

Watching a child listen to a real adventurer tell her what to do might seem fun to some people, and if it does sound fun to you, go ahead! Watch it! This show is absolutely for you!

But it didn't for me. I wanted to see an adventurer's journey, to see how they start from scratch with nothing on them, build up their strength on their own merits and gain power and reputation through hard work and determination.

From my perspective, Fran didn't earn anything. She just received all the merit and power from her Teacher and that's why she's so powerful now.

Yes, nobody from their world knows that the reason she's so powerful and resourceful is due to her sword, they keep this a secret from almost everyone. But we, the audience, know. And that's ruining it for me.

And, just for a second, let's talk about the Teacher too.

While Fran has, at least, the personality traits and determination to be a hero (she just doesn't do anything with them), the Teacher has none of that.

The Teacher is just a boring man that is a blank slate of a protagonist. He has no personality outside of wanting to be a cool sword and wanting to help Fran out, he doesn't seem to care that he comes from our world and that he had a past life at all. No knowledge from his past life seems to come into play here. Hell, the fact that this is an isekai is actually pointless.

The Teacher could have started off as just a powerful sword with Telekinesis in this story, without any memories from a prior life or any mention of reincarnation whatsoever, and this wouldn't have impacted this story at all.

Why even mention that he came from our world at all? That never played any relevance to the plot at all!

He doesn't seem to want to return to our world, he doesn't care that he reincarnated, he never tells Fran that he came from our world (nor does she seem to care, for that matter).

It's all just pointless.

Some might argue that the point of the show is to enjoy the bonding between the Teacher and Fran, how they look like they have a father-daughter relationship in this story.

And, sure, I guess. They do act like there is some pseudo-parental relationship between the two.

But I mean, if I really wanted to watch an anime about the relationship between a man and his daughter, I would watch other better stuff like Usagi Drop or even Clannad. Those shows are far superior in what they do and they even have great drama in them, something which this show is too lighthearted to even attempt.

And this might sound very cold-hearted, but I really don't care much for father daughter relationships. In shows that focus on drama, sure, maybe they can work if the plot and story supports it and it's only about the family.

But this show isn't about family, it's about adventuring. The father-daughter stuff is just background fodder that's meant to be used for comedic effect, not a pivotal plot point at all in this.

And the Teacher's relationship to Fran, while it does feel paternal in some sense, is just plain boring and uninteresting to watch.

They never fight, he always assumes the role of reason and responsibility, she always does what he tells her to do and is subservient to him, she never questions his reasoning, it's all just boring.

For someone that used to hate being treated as a slave, she seems pretty fine with letting others tell her what to do all the time.

And maybe I could have overlooked all of this stuff, had the show at least been original and avoided all the isekai cliches in the book. Sadly, it doesn't do that either though.

Cliche after cliche, I thought I was going through the rundown of all the stuff that I personally hate in isekai: the underdog story, how there are always people that question Fran's power, how they always don't believe that she deserves being promoted in ranks the way that she is, how she gets the fame that she does, how everyone constantly underestimates her because she's a child or a Black Cat.

And how she always has to prove them wrong, to humiliate them, to make them be remorseful for doubting her power, all of that stuff.

I am so sick of these cliches and by the time the final episodes rolled in, I just wanted for the show to end. I couldn't stand it anymore.

But, for all the woes that I said about this show, I will admit, it does have some stuff I liked about it.

The cliffhangers that each episode ended on kept my interest piqued enough to make me want to watch the next episode, every week.

The world building is decently handled, enough to make me curious about the video game mechanics of this world and how people live in it. There's constant talk about magic, the difference between skills and spells and stuff, how people unlock new abilities, how they summon familiars. This show introduces quite a few handful of concepts and ideas which I really liked and I would personally like to be explored a bit more.

And for as much crap as I gave the Teacher for being overpowered and always having a skill that ends up saving the day at the end, I will say that there were quite a few times when I was genuinely feeling like they are actually in danger and they could die.

It was a trick to make me invested, honestly, but the fact that this show still tricked me is impressive on its own.

That's more than I can say for other isekai shows like How not to summon a Demon Lord where I never once believed anyone could realistically put Diablo's life in danger.

And, for what it's worth, I did eventually like some of the characters in the show.

I would have wished that Fran would have ended up at least growing as a character by the end, how she learned a lesson and became wiser on her own without Teacher needing to be there to tell her that, but she never did.

Fran remained as stagnant as a character throughout most of the show.

But alas, I digress.

Honestly, if you're sick of the common tropes that isekai anime usually do and want something new or original, I'd say, avoid this at all costs.

There's nothing new or innovative that this show does that's that groundbreaking.

Everything done here has been done way better elsewhere and it's just boring to watch if you've already seen any isekai before.

And, when compared to actually good isekai TV anime like Mushoku Tensei or Re:Zero, this doesn't even hold a candle to them. If you want to watch a good isekai and already have seen many others, I suggest you skip this one.

However, if you've never watched an isekai before and this is your first one, I'd honestly say, this is a good introduction to the cliches.

Granted, it's not an amazing show but it will keep you invested through most of it and you'll probably find the underdog trope used in this more believable since the main character, Fran, is both a child and a Black Cat, so it's at least justified that many characters in this story would have prejudices against her, compared to other shows where that's completely unexplained and out of nowhere.

And the world building was good enough and the video game mechanics were so interesting that I genuinely feel like I wouldn't necessarily skip over a season 2 of this, if one were to be announced.

I won't say I definitely will watch a season 2 of this if it were announced, but I won't say “no” to that possibility either. It will depend on the mood I'll be in when deciding and whether the season 2 preview will be interesting enough to convince me to give this story another shot.

And say what you will, but this is a better outcome than the last entries for my rankings of previous seasons (i.e. Vermeil in Gold and Shikimori's not just a cutie) where I actually decided that I definitely won't be watching a season 2 of those, even if they will be produced. So there's that!