2023 fall animes, ranked from my favorite to least favorite (Part 1)

New season, new ranking. Come checkout my ranking for this season's new anime titles.

It's that time of the year again.

After enjoying a nice Christmas for myself, I'm back in the groove ready to talk about my watching habits for the past 3 months.

Rest assured, there's a lot to talk about, as this time around I have 7 entries for this list.

Originally, I had planned on watching 9 shows, but I dropped 2 of them after realizing that I wasn't up to date with them and I had a lot of episodes to catch up on before I could get back to their current latest episodes. One such show was the newest season of The Ancient Magus' Bride which I deeply regret not watching.

There will come a time when I'll get around to watching these shows sooner or later. Alas, that time is not now.

Before I get to the actual entries of this list, though, I wanted to give a special mention to a deeply popular anime that aired this season, called Frieren: Beyond Journey's End which I heard a lot of good things about.

To be honest, I did consider adding that show to my watchlist originally, just because the premise sounded really interesting and the trailer did look enticing enough. However, ultimately, I decided against it, due to the fact that 9 shows was already too much for my tastes. Technically I have a maximum limit of 10 shows to watch concurrently at any time, so it was possible, but I genuinely felt like I was stretching myself a bit too thin already, so I decided to not watch Frieren in the end.

One could argue that, since I then dropped 2 other shows from my list anyway, I did have the capacity to pick Frieren back up if I really wanted to, and watch it anyways, but, alas, that's not how it went.

So yeah, sorry, Frieren is not part of this list. However, the shows that I did end up picking were pretty nice, either way, so I don't regret picking them over Frieren (with two exceptions, which are the last entries in this list).

Let's get started!

1. Girlfriend, girlfriend (season 2)

Shino looking at a whiteboard with pictures of Naoya and his harem

It's probably not a good sign that the top of my ranking is held by a romantic comedy harem anime, is it?

Oh well, c'est la vie.

Truthfully, I hold this show in high regard, since, despite the intentionally sounding mediocre title and the very generic premise that it has, it is executed in a very fun and interesting way, which always made me want to return to it every single week.

I will say though that this season was not as funny nor as memorable as season 1 was, to me at least, but it did still have the flare and quirkiness that the original had, albeit diluted with a bit too much plot.

As before, I do have to admit that I did not cover season 1 of this anime in my blog post, simply because this blog was not started yet when I got to watch it.

As such, I'll try my best to summarize the plot of season 1 here, as well, at least to give you an idea of what this show is about.

Long story short, it's about a high school student named Naoya Mukai who's finally in a relationship with his childhood friend, a red haired girl from the same class as him, named Saki Saki.

Naoya had confessed to Saki for a very long time, until she eventually relented and agreed to be in a relationship with him when they entered high school together.

Now, a top model student with high grades and a diligent but weirdly too honest and with a straightforward personality, Naoya usually ends up embarrassing Saki with his over-the-top antics and his constant public display of affection towards her.

One day, their teen relationship gets abruptly put to the test when, another girl from Naoya's and Saki's class, Nagisa Minase, suddenly confesses her love for Naoya at school, despite knowing that he's already in a relationship with Saki.

Nagisa had always admired Naoya from the shadows for his perseverance and constant honesty and, as such, trying to learn from him and imitate his straightforwardness, she chose to still confess to him even though she knows that he isn't single.

Naoya, at first, doesn't know what to do but, when understanding Nagisa's love for him and taking in her very cute demeanor, he cannot give up on her and outright reject her.

Instead, he comes up with a compromise: rather than reject Nagisa, as one would normally do, he decides to take a different route and ask her to join him in an open two timing relationship with Saki.

Basically, Naoya wants to make a harem. Nagisa, knowing deep down that Naoya could never give up on his current girlfriend, Saki, if she refused to take part in such a relationship, agrees to this, as this is the best compromise that she could hope for.

And so, Naoya then discusses the topic with Saki as well, both him and Nagisa trying to convince her to accept this new arrangement.

Basically, the rest of the show is them trying to come to terms with this setup, trying to figure out how to navigate the highly dubious and morally complex issues that come with being in a harem and Naoya doing his best to make both of his girlfriends happy at the same time.

Despite the generic sounding plot that you probably are eye-rolling at, let me say that the show executes this premise in a very well done way.

Yes, this is a slice of life teen romantic comedy in which Naoya tries to build a harem.

Yes, this show will have the common tropes that most romantic comedies have, like innuendos about sex, discussions about polyamory and how immoral it is, and, of course, copious amounts of nudity and fan service on top.

There is no denying that it's a standard harem anime that's doing what many other shows have done in the past before it as well.

However, with that said, what makes this show have its own identity and its own spin on things is its own self-awareness over these issues, and how it makes fun of itself by having the characters talk about these issues openly with each other.

Is polyamory immoral? The show doesn't answer that, but it does raise issues about it, with at least one character even outright calling it immoral and raising good points about it.

How would sex come into play in such a relationship? How are the logistics of living together come into play? How do they prevent jealousy between the girlfriends?

This stuff gets addressed and discussed openly, which I highly appreciate, since it usually gets disregarded quite quickly in other shows of the same nature that usually say something along the lines of “Don't worry about these details! They're not important”.

And, to give credit where credit is due, I also appreciate that the show tries to make the characters have normal reactions and conversations with each other.

For example, immediately after hearing that Naoya wants to have a romantic relationship between himself and both her and Nagisa, Saki becomes furious. This is completely normal and understandable. If you had a girlfriend and she heard that you wanted to add another woman to your relationship, obviously she would become angry. It's refreshing that this show acknowledges that.

Or how jealousy between the girlfriends would start becoming a part of their regular dynamic, that's also perfectly understandable.

Granted, the show treats all of these issues with a modicum of shallowness, as they are shown only as arcs to be taken care of instantly and never to be addressed again, rather than persistent ongoing issues that one would normally need to constantly be worried about, but it's nice to have the show at least talk about it.

And also, I genuinely respect the protagonist of this show a lot.

Normally, when it comes to harem animes, the male protagonists have a very abnormal tendency of holding back their sexual desires and being absolutely asexual even when the situation becomes highly dubious.

This show also has Naoya be against sexual relationships with his girlfriends but this is out of necessity so that he doesn't introduce more jealousy in his relationships with Saki and Nagisa. Still, he is honest about it and he genuinely tries to sound earnest whenever he wants to make his girlfriends happy.

Also, I respect that once he decided to have two girlfriends, he does his best to refuse the advances of any other women outside of his harem and maintain the minimum number of harem members he can. Basically, he is very adamant of maintaining the harem to only be consisted of Saki and Nagisa, and very valiantly refuses any other woman for their sake (then again, this ends up failing in the future).

Still, gotta give this man credit for at least trying. The show only has 4 women that are attracted to Naoya, though, and it keeps that number consistent, even across the 2 seasons that are already out. It doesn't unnaturally grow the harem as new episodes roll in, which is a nice bit of self restraint.

And, also, the comedy is just gold.

I usually hate whenever the male protagonist gets violently beaten by his girlfriend in other anime for unfair reasons but here, every time Naoya gets punched by Saki, it's almost always warranted (usually because he really is an idiot, and the show itself won't try to defend him).

Every time he speaks up and says his mind, I really love it. Even though you'd think that having an overly honest and earnest protagonist would become a very old and annoying gag, the show manages to keep it fresh with new and funny jokes that I love.

Finally, the reason I love this show is that, despite this being an adaptation of a romance manga, which are infamous for how slow they make their relationships grow, this story does move forward (at a slow pace, mind you, but at least it feels like it's moving).

Relationships do grow over time, and events happen that put existing ones to the test. And, one of my main complaints about romance manga, which is that kissing almost never happens, thankfully doesn't apply to this show too, as kissing does further the stage of the relationships, when it happens.

Yeah, even here, it happens rarely, but when it does happen, it happens very suddenly and out of nowhere, surprising me to a degree that it's quite impressive.

It doesn't go the sexual route, mind you, which I still am disappointed by, but I'll at least take the kissing and commend it for going at least this far.

All in all, I cannot understate how much I loved this show. Every week I would wait for a new episode to see how the plot would develop further, in ways that I haven't done in a long time. My anticipation for a new episode of this show every week was greater than the anticipation that I had for a new episode of Mushoku Tensei, the highest ranking anime of last season; and by a long mile.

Between the two, I would say that Mushoku is arguably the objectively higher quality anime, as its plot and character development are of higher quality than this show could ever have but, at the same time, from a purely subjective pure enjoyment point of view, I enjoyed this show a lot more. Make of that what you will.

Season 2 is more of what season 1 had, except that it focuses more on Shino and Mirika this time around. Honestly I'm glad that these two are getting a fair share of screen time as well, although I personally still prefer the other two heroines more.

Whatever it is, if you like slice of life high school romantic comedies, I humbly suggest you give episode 1 of this show a watch. If you'll enjoy the comedy of it, I guarantee you this will be up your alley.

2. The Apothecary Diaries

Maomao walking as a lowly servant in the Imperial Palace

If harem animes aren't your thing, maybe this will be a bit more interesting for you.

This anime takes place in a fictional country that's heavily inspired by Ming-era China, in which Maomao, the skilled daughter of the apothecary for a red-light district, is kidnapped by bandits while she was on an errand to collect herbs for her father.

The bandits sell her as a laundry woman to the Imperial Palace, where she begins doing her duties as a lowly servant, working for the emperor's concubines, eunuchs and other servants of the Outer Palace.

The bandits take money from her pay as a laundry woman, effectively treating her as a slave.

3 months later, Maomao learns that 2 of the emperor's concubines, Lihua and Gyokuyou, who both recently gave birth to his children, are falling to a curse that's going around the palace, making both them and their babies weak and on the verge of death.

The doctor that takes care of them has no clue what's causing the weakness and how to solve their problems.

Maomao, being highly intelligent and analytical due to having been raised by her talented father, correctly deduces that the likeliest reason for their sudden inexplicable ailment is the facial powder that their makeup is comprised of.

Wanting to keep a low profile but also save the lives of those women and their respective babies, Maomao anonymously leaves written notes on the windowsills of the two concubines at night, warning them that the powder is the poison.

Concubine Lihua disregards the warning and, due to this, her baby boy dies from the weakness soon after. Concubine Gyokuyou, on the other hand, heeds the warning and stops using the powder on herself and the baby, which leads to them recovering and, her baby daughter surviving in the end.

Curious to see who left the mysterious notes on the windowsills, the eunuch in charge of the concubines' wing of the palace, Jinshi, realizes that one of the women working for the palace must have left the notes and, as such, organizes a gathering of all the workers of that wing and cleverly fools Maomao into giving herself away by deducing that she would be the only woman there to know how to read, as all the women working for them are illiterate and, consequently, would not have been capable of writing the warning notes.

After singling out Maomao, Jinshi forces her to reveal to Gyokuyou how she realized that the face powder was the culprit of their weakness. After explaining her reasoning but also how she would hate to be promoted in rank for her contribution, seeing how that would only increase her pay and, consequently, only help the people that kidnapped her who take her money every month anyway, lady Gyokuyou kindly decides to promote her as a lady-in-waiting for herself, which is a higher rank than an ordinary laundry woman, but also to do so without increasing her pay, by making it look like she was indebted to the palace now, so that her captors won't be paid any better.

And so begins Maomao's life as a new lady-in-waiting for concubine Gyokuyou in the Imperial Palace.

She will have to solve many other medical mysteries in the future, for the palace.

That's the synopsis.

OK, so that was a pretty big summary for what is the first episode of this show but, this is so by design.

This show has a lot of story packed in each episode, so there's a lot to take in.

The show likes to play around with little known facts about the human body and medicine and sometimes even chemistry, in general, and it does so in clever ways that will put Maomao's intelligence and impressive intuition to the test.

I don't want to spoil too much about what plot points it will be about, but, suffice it to say, it has a lot of clever tricks baked in.

Topics will include allergy, lack of taste from a psychological condition, and even dive into murder mysteries, too.

To put it mildly, I simply loved it.

It kept me guessing every week along the way, and any show that manages to make me think like this is well received by me, in general.

Maomao's intelligence really is the highlight of the show, and that is commendable. It's not always that I enjoy a protagonist simply because of how smart they are, but this show pulls it off. A similar show this season that tried this same strategy but failed, by comparison, would be I Shall Survive Using Potions!. I'll talk more about that in its own entry in this list soon enough.

The cleverness of its plot is one quality that the show has, but it's not its only one, by any means.

The show has a high production budget, or at least that's my guess. I say this because it looks absolutely gorgeous on an HD screen.

The Chinese-inspired architecture of the buildings, the traditional Chinese dresses that women wear, the vibrant colors that this show constantly likes to play around with, the highly detailed character designs and small touches to their appearance, every single visual aspect of this show is an absolute treat to the eyes.

And when it comes to anime, that's obviously Japanese focused, it's such a nice breath of fresh air to see something as different as Chinese culture being portrayed, for a change.

I admit I know very little about Chinese culture but, the stuff that I've seen in this show did attract me a lot, and it absolutely filled me with curiosity and wanting to know more about their systems, like maybe more about politics, history, culture.

The fact that this Japanese product takes it upon itself to showcase such things, and, not only that but to also do it in an transparently honest and even positive light, is very encouraging.

I really would like to see more animes that focus on Chinese traditional culture, as that would be a welcome change of pace.

Outside of that, the show does talk about a lot of stuff, with a lot of world building.

Palace life is the high point of the show, obviously, but it also discusses darker topics such as suicide, depression, bullying, hatred, difficult baby deliveries. All subjects that the show doesn't shy away from and I've seldom seen in other animes.

And even the protagonist, Maomao, is a character I've grown to love a lot over the course of this series.

Initially I genuinely thought I'd hate her, just because of how detached she is and her overly calm personality that doesn't take anything too seriously and she barely shows any emotion.

This, and since the show also likes to treat her as a sort of know-it-all that pretty much always solves the mystery at the end of the day, I was afraid that they will make her too much of a Mary Sue character that's going to grate on my nerves sooner or later.

There's a good reason why people hate Mary Sue characters in fanfiction and fiction, in general.

And, to an extent, I was right to be worried, because she kind of turned out this way, sadly. Her overly competent analytical brain made her very likeable as well, which only meant that she would become the archetypal “girl that solves everyone else's problems”.

Her mediocre looks were supposed to offset this trait of hers, as a balancing plot point but even that went out the window later on, when it was revealed that she actually is beautiful naturally, but she intentionally self-induces her freckles in an attempt to uglify herself for a particular reason.

So yeah, she is kind of perfect all around.

But, with that said, Maomao is a small part of this show, thankfully. The point of each episode isn't her perfect character type, nor to make her impress anyone at any point. No, the point of the episodes is to solve the mysteries therein, and that's what's good about them.

The fact that Maomao is always the one that deduces the real truth all the time does get a bit old, after a while, but the intelligent and unexpected nature of the plot twist is always enough to offset that and take your mind off of it, which I like.

And, while other shows take their Mary Sue characters and make them become very important, advances them through the ranks, power them up and boost their social status to infinity, this show at least has restraint and keeps things simple and realistic.

Maomao isn't perfect, and this show tries to drive that point home. She's a simple girl that is highly intelligent but, in the end, intelligence and looks can only get you so far in life. She has limits, she needs to respect authority, she can jump straight to conclusions and even make mistakes as well.

These qualities huminify her and make her feel believable and relatable.

And, moreso, the show does make her a tiny bit quirky at least, like how she genuinely derives pleasure from tasting poison, to an unnatural and creepy extent. Given that, later on, she becomes a food taster for poison, that's going to end up as a fun scenario.

But I digress.

If you want to watch a show about some cool medical mysteries with an ancient Chinese-style aesthetic to it, be my guest and give this one a try! I absolutely recommend it.

3. Stardust Telepath

Yū and Umika engaging in foreheadpathy

This is probably the strangest and most surreal entry on this list.

In fact, the word “surreal” is the best word I can use to describe this anime as a whole.

It's difficult to describe this show in concrete terms because of how abstract everything in it feels, although I will do my best to give you a semblance of an understanding of what this feels like.

First, the plot:

A young girl named Umika Konohoshi is preparing for her first day in high school. She is shy and suffers from social anxiety, her having had difficulties in communicating with other people all her life.

She genuinely believes that the only other beings that could understand her are aliens, and that she wishes to one day travel to the stars to meet them.

The night just before her first day in high school, she sees a shooting star outside her window and makes a wish to meet an alien.

The next day, she struggles to interact with her new colleagues at school, doing her best to cope with her social anxiety, until she meets a strange pink haired girl in her class named Yū Akeuchi, who claims that she is a literal alien from outer space.

She looks like a normal girl, talks like a normal girl, and is very energetic and extroverted but nothing about her speaks that she would be from a foreign nation, much less from outer space.

Naturally, everyone else from their class disregards her claims and just think that she's joking, except for Umika who genuinely believes her.

This makes Yū attracted towards Umika, since she's the only one that takes her seriously.

Yū also tells Umika that she has an alien power called foreheadpathy, which is the ability to read someone's mind by touching their forehead with her own.

The next day, Umika and Yū talk together again, and Umika reveals to Yū that she wishes to build a rocket so that she can travel to space to meet aliens.

Yū replies by saying that she is an alien that got stranded on Earth and she is in need for a rocket herself, to return to her home planet, whichever that is.

Since both their goals involve a rocket, Yū suggests that they should work together.

After school, they both travel to a nearby abandoned lighthouse where Yū claims that that's where she woke up recently in, and that she has no memories from her past. Even so, she genuinely believes that she is an alien that somehow got stranded on Earth and this lighthouse is her temporary home for herself until she'll find a means to return home with.

The two girls then engage in foreheadpathy, and this convinces Yū of Umika's true feelings that she genuinely wishes to build a rocket to take them to space. And so, the two girls set out to make one, somehow.

Thus ends episode 1.

OK so, right off the bat, I know that this summary sounds almost nonsensical.

On paper, this might sound borderline insane of a story, but the show executes it in a straightforward and whimsical manner that gives it a feeling of mystery and intrigue.

This feels like the proper direction of adapting such a story, as it confers it an identity shrowded in mystery and abstraction.

It's difficult to talk about this show in a way that makes sense without spoiling it, so I'll try not to touch on the plot too much and simply say what I felt about it.

On many levels, this show has so much of the stuff I genuinely hate about a lot of anime, and that makes it so odd that I don't actually hate it for it.

The idea of abstract concepts being discussed on, the slice of life feel that this show has, the constant events that take place in high school, the talks about menial things in their lives, the genuinely nonsensical plans and strategies that they have that are inconceivable to be executed, such as saying things like “let's build a rocket” even though they are just freshmen high school students. All this I would normally hate, in any other anime.

But the way it's executed here, for some reason, made me be genuinely passionate about it.

I was absolutely intrigued and it made me ask questions like “How would two high school students go about building their own rocket?”, “Is this Yū girl actually an alien from outer space?” and “Will Umika ever get to meet a real alien at some point, like she plans to?”.

Mind you, these are crazy questions to ask, but they were questions that I did end up asking nonetheless.

It's fascinating how a slice of life anime like this had such a surreal and fantastical feel to it, almost like it was a distant dream that was being played in front of my eyes.

And yet, despite this premise making very little sense overall, the show went with it and it took it seriously.

Granted, it doesn't explain what's really going on fully, and it always allows for a sense of doubt to linger in your mind. Like you can look at this plot and take it at face value and then decide for yourself whether you believe in any of what's being said or if you're skeptical and try to find rational explanations for everything that's being portrayed.

Either approach works, and the show does a good job for allowing you to decide what you believe in, rather than spelling it out and ruining the mystery.

This way of storytelling, I genuinely thought that I hated before I watched this show but, once I saw it done here, I changed my mind.

Frankly, I think that this IS the best way to portray this stuff. I don't want concrete answers, I want to believe in what I want to believe in.

Stuff like, “is Yū really an alien?” is left as a mystery. Sure, the show can conclusively show us at one point that she's just a silly girl with amnesia that has a hyperactive imagination and that would be fine. It would fit the story just well enough and it would explain to us what's going on.

But it doesn't do that.

Instead, it's never explained what she is, or what her past really was like. Whether you choose to believe in her claims that she's an alien is up to you.

I find that as a stroke of genius.

In one episode, Umika breaks up with Yū, due to a team project of theirs having failed and her losing faith in her own dream of going to space.

Her depression causes Yū to suddenly and inexplicably vanish and now Umika, feeling very sad about the prospect of never seeing her again despite the last thing she said to her being something disheartening, goes out after her to search for her, only to find most of her stuff gone and the lighthouse out of operation, almost as if everything that had happened up until that point had just been an odd fever dream, Yū's very existence included.

But the moment Umika cries out for Yū, she suddenly appears again and the dream is resumed out of nowhere.

This borders on paranormal or supernatural, and so many questions popped up in my head but the show never went ahead to explore them, leaving you to decide for yourself the meaning behind all of this.

This is absolutely brilliant.

Foreheadpathy is also never explained either. You can believe that it's absolutely real and that it's one of Yū's strange alien powers that she has, but it could also, just as well, simply be Yū simply imagining it and her being very good at reading others' minds (consciously or unconsciously) simply by staring at their faces. Either way you look at it, both are plausible. Whether you go with the supernatural explanation or the rational one is up to you.

Leaving all of this aside, the show has other brilliant qualities, such as very colorful and vibrant art, moments in which it tries to lecture its audience about rocket making (yes, it does go all out on teaching others on how to make rockets for hobbyists and, honestly, it's very endearing and surprisingly educational), it talks about dealing with your own insecurities and how to better yourself as a person, learning how to deal with difficult people....There's a lot of really good stuff that this show gives us.

But, what I personally liked the most and which I absolutely feel is most worth talking about, is this show's down to Earth sense of reality, in how brutal and realistic it is.

While the show has a sense of surrealism and abstractness to it, it does get surprisingly realistic at points, especially when it talks about human relationships.

My favorite moment in this show was when, I won't spoil too much, Umika and her friends set out to win in a science fare-esque competition on rocket making, and despite their best efforts, they lose.

You'd think this would be a terrible moment for their team, and really, it was. It shook the team to the very core, so much so that it single handedly disbanded their team entirely.

This was absolutely brilliant, because the show decided to teach us about failure. And you know what? It did a good job at it.

Because, yes, sometimes, you'll fail in life. Failure is an inevitable part of it, but the only way to deal with it is by learning from your mistakes, acknowledging your weaknesses and moving forward by trying to compensate for them. And this show acknowledges that.

Maybe I'm harping too much on this but, really, how many times did the last isekai anime you watched in the past few years did this lesson get taught in? I don't think I can count on even one hand how many times that happened.

And this one simple lesson gets showed here like a brutal reminder that not everything in life is going to go as smoothly as you want it to.

There will be times when Umika and her friends will fail, many times even. Whenever they will be competing against someone stronger and more experienced than them, they will fail. There is no plot armor to protect them and frankly, I think that that's brutally realistic and a very welcome change of pace. It forces the characters to learn how to deal with failure and learn from it, something which, given their age and the fact that they're still in high school, is very much needed.

And the character interactions between them are so lively and cute, I genuinely was enjoying all the boring conversations they were having with each other, even though I couldn't care less about rocket design and rocket launches.

Foreheadpathy is so nonsensical when you look at it from an objectively realistic point of view, but the show kept finding ways of making it fun and exciting every time it was being done again (as well as funny too).

The show oozes personality and it's so fun to watch, seeing these characters interact with each other, play off each other, learn how to deal with each other and simply, living their lives together.

The very core concept of a friendship anime feels so childish and boring to me, so much so that I've actively been avoiding them for the past years, and yet I stumbled upon this one and found it so excessively endearing and heartwarming on so many levels.

And the friendships forged during this show are organic, they have their ups and downs, they get strained and, at one point, you almost feel like the friendship has ended even. This is how human interactions work, and the fact that this show put them to the test and made me genuinely ask myself “How can they salvage this friendship after all this?” just goes to show how much quality was behind the plot of this.

And the ending, it was perfect. It answered everything I wanted to be answered, while also leaving the questions I didn't want answered to remain unanswered.

The ending was very simple but it was done so exceedingly well that I literally felt shivers run across my spine when I watched it.

The concept was so simple, so childish and yet executed in such a beautiful and straightforward way that I'm not lying when I say that I will remember this show for years to come and still call it a masterpiece.

I cannot sing enough praizes for this show. It is absolutely a wonderful and brilliant piece of art.

It keeps you guessing whenever you should be guessing, it treats things realistically and brutally honest when it needs to, it's vibrant and whimsical when it needs to be and it's cute and endearing every time the plot needs it to be like that.

It's engineered to be memorable and special and, most importantly, it's 100% family friendly. No fanservice, no innuendos, nothing outrageous or questionable, this is a completely wholesome and brilliant piece of family friendly media that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone that has the time for it.

The fact that I'm singing its praises so much even though this is third place in my ranking should also give you an idea of how highly I think of the first two entries on this list.

4. SHY

Shy having saved a young boy from a high fall

Time for a superhero anime.

It's been a while since I've talked about superheroes on this blog. Actually, I think this is the very first time I talk about them.

This is because I usually avoid superhero stuff, like My Hero Academia and One Punch Man because I don't find that stuff that fun or entertaining.

I understand that they have their fans, and I respect that, but it's just not for me.

But, as I was reviewing the list for this season's lineup and deciding what to watch for myself, I went against my judgment and decided to give one of these shows a try, anyway, just for the hell of it.

And this was that show.

So, what's the plot?

In a world where wars were all ended thanks to the sudden emergence of national superheroes, humanity is adapting to this new state of affairs.

A young girl named Shy, Japan's own hero, tries to make a speech in front of a public at an amusement park, but doesn't gather much support due to severe nervousness, as she is bad at interacting with others and is, fitting for her superhero name, quite shy in front of others.

During the event, a roller coaster malfunctions in the park and freezes on its tracks while everyone in it are still held in by their seatbelts, upside down.

Shy, because she can fly to great heights thanks to propellers in her suit, comes to the rescue and begins to save everyone on that roller coaster, one by one, by bringing them safely down on earth.

However, in the process, despite saving almost everyone from that ride, the coaster goes out of control and Shy has to go out of her way to put it to a stop.

She does do that, but in the process, one girl that was still on the ride, named Iko Koishikawa, suffers a blow and becomes severely injured and requiring to be hospitalized.

Some time afterwards, we see people from across Japan blaming Shy for not saving that girl too, which causes the girl to become depressed over her failure.

It is at this point where we are introduced to Shy's real persona, a 14 year old girl named Teru Momijiyama. She becomes a shut-in in her own home due to her depression and begins doubting herself and her capabilities as a hero.

Due to her failure to save Iko, Teru now is incapable of using her rings to transform again, which essentially means that she cannot use her powers anymore.

This is because a hero's powers are tied to their heart and mental state and, if they lose the will to fight, the hero becomes incapable of even transforming to their hero self.

Teru keeps blaming herself for Iko's injury and worries that Japan would be better off without her help.

However, one day, after talking with her friend, Russia's hero, Spirit, and receiving guidance from her and encouraging words, Teru finds herself next to a building in flames.

Hearing that there's a baby inside that needs saving, Teru eventually summons the courage to pull herself back onto the field and transforms again, allowing her to save the baby from the building, effectively resuming her superhero life.

Later on, we see that Iko Koishikawa, the girl that had been injured during the roller coaster accident, thankfully managed to recover from her injuries and decided to transfer schools. In the process of doing so, she just so happened to transfer to Teru's class and the two begin to hit it off as friends. Koishikawa doesn't know that Teru is in fact, Shy.

Yeah, so that's the synopsis for episode 1.

I will be honest, this episode did not, in fact, give me high hopes for this show.

With how it played out, I felt that it was going to be a cheesy superhero TV series that's going to preach about what it truly means to be a hero, how to struggle about becoming more confident in yourself and so on.

Frankly, I was bored by premises such as these and I really didn't want to go through this.

But alas, I did decide to give this show a chance and I continued to watch it faithfully.

And, you know what? That was a good call to make, since I eventually learned to love it.

Make no mistake though, calling this show cheesy is pretty accurate.

It constantly talks about connecting with other people's hearts, fulfilling their dreams, bringing about world happiness and other such stuff. However, it uses those terms in a more abstract sense than we normally think about and, while all this stuff plays important roles, and a hero's heart is the true source of their power, the show does take itself quite seriously and keeps itself grounded in some semblance of reality.

And while I was worried that the entirety of this show will be about Iko and Teru becoming friends while Teru tries to maintain her superhero identity secret from her friend, thankfully it doesn't go that route.

The plot doesn't revolve around Iko, nor around Teru's high school life. Instead, it's about a supernatural villain boy that the show decides to call Stigma using abstract powers to distort other people's hearts and mutate them into ugly monsters by promising to fulfill their wishes and pitting them against heroes.

While this sounds generic and that it would have a monster of the week feel to it, it doesn't devolve into any of that.

The show takes itself seriously and it ends up talking about deep and slightly dark topics, going into the backstories of various characters and deconstructing their personalities and past to more fundamental building blocks that it will play around with.

I won't go into details but I like that this show has a slight edge to it and it does get quite dark and depressing the more episodes you watch.

There is a point in which the show talks about the relationship that one character had with their mother, and I genuinely liked how that was done in a very tasteful but also depressing manner. It talked about poverty, a slowly falling into depression mother, about tragedy and how all these things ended up building a person that got twisted into a monstrous desire for complete control.

This was a very touching scene and I absolutely found it impressive how they handled it.

For a show that talks a lot about having the heart to continue being a hero, it did get quite nihilistic at some points, which was a nice and welcome change of pace.

Certain moments were quite heartwarming as well, which offered a nice contrast to the darker tragic ones.

Also, despite Teru's quite severe social anxiety, I like how she grows as a character and as a hero, as well, as she slowly becomes more confident in herself and her power to help others. That and also her idealistic self felt really fitting for the role of the voice of reason that she will end up fulfilling for a certain character, later one.

All in all, I enjoyed this show.

It wasn't as generic as I was fearing it will be and it treated me with a nice bit of drama and action that were surprisingly very well executed, to the point where I found myself entertained enough to wait in anticipation for the next episode every week (OK, maybe not actually every single week, but most weeks, at least).

Overall, as a family friendly superhero story goes, this one is perfectly passable and a nice bit of entertainment to fill your time with. I recommend it and I will be awaiting a season 2, if and when it will be confirmed.

5. Ron Kamonohashi's Forbidden Deductions

Toto and Ron meeting for the first time

Now we're getting into the territory of shows that, while I don't necessarily consider bad by any means, I stopped looking forward to their next episodes every week.

This show was not really what I expected it would be and, truth be told, it was a bit underwhelming for my expectations. But, even after saying that, I will concede that the show, by itself, was still pretty entertaining and, while it didn't turn out to be what I hoped it would, it still was a good time waster and a fun journey, nonetheless.

The story is about a (rightfully) unappreciated police officer named Isshiki Totomaru who's not very good at solving police cases, due to having limited deduction skills.

For being the worst detective in his department, he is mostly ignored by his immediate superior, Amamiya, and given the least important and most menial work around the office.

Feeling that he's treated without any respect, Isshiki is given a tip by one of his colleagues at the department to seek out the guidance of a former detective that was known to have brilliant deduction skills, named Kamonohashi Ron.

This latter young man, around the same age as Isshiki himself, lives in isolation in his own apartment, with no connections to the outside world.

Isshiki decides to pay him a visit. However, when he manages to arrive at Ron's apartment, Isshiki finds a very eccentric and odd man that's clearly unkempt and living a weird life in seclusion along with his pet cat.

Ron claims he has been visited many times by the police in the past to help them crack difficult cases, and yet he doesn't wish to assist them anymore. He wishes to be left alone and not have to deal with detective work anymore.

Isshiki finds it difficult to believe that this man is indeed the brilliant detective that many have said that he is.

However, as circumstances would have it, the two end up tangled together in a mystery involving a streak of murders that have been going on in the city, recently, and will have to work together to crack them, despite Ron's unwillingness to assist.

Long story short, Ron cracks the case very easily, without so much as breaking a sweat, they confront the culprit but, just as Isshiki is about to arrest him, Ron commands the culprit verbally to jump off the rooftop of the building that they were currently standing on.

That was very weird, and Isshiki is taken aback by it, but not as much as he does when he realizes that the culprit actually attempted to follow Ron's orders and genuinely tried to jump off the building. Thankfully, Isshiki was there to catch him and prevent his death at the last second.

Afterwards, Ron reveals that he suffers from this curse that makes him, whenever he successfully cracks a case and discovers who the real culprit is, he goes into this trance-like state and starts giving out orders against his own will to the culprit in question to take their own lives in an act of suicide, which wouldn't be a problem by itself, except that the culprits themselves become hypnotized by the curse and follow through with Ron's orders.

Because of this weird curse, Ron has been causing culprits to commit suicide after every case that he solves, which led to the police to blaming him for assisting in their deaths and eventually to them revoking his detective license to prevent any further deaths.

Ever since then, Ron has been living in isolation doing his best to not get involved in any more detective work, mainly because he himself resents this curse and wishes to stop killing criminals.

However, seeing how Isshiki was the first detective that he had worked with that managed to break his unlucky streak of killing criminals, since he managed to save the man before he could jump off, this gave Ron the idea that maybe they could work together, after all, and that he will solve police criminal cases and use Isshiki as his assistant to prevent the criminals from killing themselves while he's in his ordering trance.

Basically, Isshiki would act as the counter to Ron's curse by ensuring that the culprits won't follow through with Ron's orders to them.

So that's the plot for episode 1.

I'll be honest, this is arguably the strangest show on this list, by far. And that's saying something considering that Stardust Telepath is also on this list.

This is like crossing Code Geass with Death Note in the weirdest way possible and distilling the plot to solving criminal cases.

So much of this plot made me ask myself “But why?” that I stopped caring, after a certain point.

I would ask myself “But how did Ron get to acquire this curse in the first place?” or “What makes him have such incredible deduction skills?”.

The show doesn't explain much, at least as of season 1, but certain aspects of Ron's backstory do get revealed, a tiny bit.

The show follows a predictable formula of pitting the duo of detectives against murder cases everywhere they go, so much so that it feels almost funny.

Like, I get it that Isshiki would naturally have an affinity to this stuff, given that he works as a police officer and that there are constant unsolved cases that he can draw from, at work.

But the show keeps pushing murder mysteries at them even while they aren't working. Like this one time, when they went to this observatory on an island just to relax, only for them to end up in the middle of another murder mystery there as well.

Or this other time when Isshiki was trying to talk to this news reporter about his work and he invited her out to a coffee shop to drink coffee together, only for, you guessed it, them to become involved in another murder case at the coffee shop as well.

So many murder cases keep taking place around them that it becomes funny how much suspension of disbelief you have to undergo to believe that this is all coincidence.

And, every single time, Ron is there to assist detective Isshiki with the case and help him crack it.

The formula is fine, to an extent, but it gets old after a bit and the episodes become very repetitive.

The novelty of the murder method is supposed to offset this, which I appreciate, but my main gripe with the show was that I hoped that it would allow me, the audience, to follow along with the deductions and help me solve the case alongside Ron.

Like, I was hoping for the show to give me all the clues, and all the relevant information on the case, and then I could maybe figure it out before Ron spells out the exact methodology. That would have been a fun game.

Basically, what I wanted was for this show to be like Detective Conan (or what I assume Detective Conan to be like, since I never actually watched it but only heard about it from others).

Sadly, this isn't the case, and the show really uses very niche and obscure clues and details all the time to assist on the case solving, details that are arguably impossible to pick up on if you're just watching it.

I don't think there is any case here that can be solved by the audience alone, without any help from Ron. This is because a lot of these details aren't even shown on-screen, until Ron begins explains his reasoning and mentions them to us.

Certain clues are even hidden entirely, so there's no way you can deduce anything without Ron's help.

I personally think that that's cheating, but it is what it is.

Still, I don't think the show wanted for you to participate in the deductions. That's not the point. The point is experiencing how novel certain strategies are for murder, sometimes convoluted even, and hearing from Ron (or from Isshiki) trying to explain how they work for the first time.

That, by itself is a bit fun, I admit.

Granted, I find it extremely difficult to believe that Ron could have deduced the convoluted mess that certain murder strategies are, just from the handful of clues that he had, but who knows, maybe I'm just not smart enough to make the connections in my head.

Also, another thing I hate about this show is how they call out the culprit after explaining his murder method, their explanation can only be considered a hypothesis at that point but without any concrete evidence (so there's still the possibillity of deniability) but, when confronted with all of this, the culprit just admits everything and then they spill out their motive out in full admission.

That's not particularly believable, especially given how ridiculously elaborate the murder methods become, according to the explanations, so much so that I feel like it would be very easy for the culprit to just say something like “I didn't do it and you have no proof!” and then just leave it at that.

In certain cases, the show does at least try to provide actual evidence for the murder that links to culprit to the case, but other times it feels like the culprit could realistically just deny everything and it would be just as believable as Ron's hypothesis.

But no, the show takes everything that Ron deduces as the absolute truth. He is never wrong and everything that he says is exactly the way that he says it is. That gets boring very fast.

Another ongoing thing about the show which I dislike a lot is Isshiki's uselessness.

I don't want to rant too much about it but Isshiki really proves to be a very underwhelming and unreliable detective.

I get it that his role in everything is to be Ron's curse counter and his assistant, that's very much an ongoing gag in the show, but it genuinely feels disheartening seeing how reliant Isshiki is on his friend.

I get it that Ron is supposed to be an absolute genius that can figure everything out by himself, but Isshiki, for better or for worse, really does have his own detective license that he worked hard to acquire. Given that, you'd expect at least some level of competency from him.

The only time Isshiki proved to be useful for the plot was when, at one point, Ron will be accused of a murder himself and, not only is there actual evidence against him, he himself doesn't even deny his guilt and starts believing that he had commited the crime.

It's then that Isshiki's involvement becomes noticeable, since he is absolutely certain of Ron's innocence and actually fights for him on his behalf, even though the evidence is stacked against him.

But, even then, that just makes Isshiki appear as a good friend that simply has faith in Ron, not that he is a good detective that saw this hidden clue that proves Ron's innocence. Frankly, that doesn't make Isshiki any better of a detective, in my eyes.

There's also a recurring gag in this show that Ron is extremely eccentric and a goofy oddball that just makes everyone else roll their eyes when looking at him, and that's fine as a source of comedy. But, much like everything else, it gets old after a point, and whenever something is about to happen you just start asking yourself “How is Ron going to act as a goofball this time around?” since you're expecting it.

Granted, certain jokes about Ron looking really disheveled or dressed up like he was going trick-or-treating for Halloween did get a genuine chuckle out of me, and they were very welcome, but the gag can only work so many times before you just start seeing it coming.

I guess what I would have liked more about this show was if it made certain deductions more accessible so that the audience can figure things out by themselves before Ron does and also, very importantly, if the story revealed a bit more about Ron's curse.

A bit of his backstory is indeed talked about in season 1, but not enough is revealed in my opinion. A bit more details would have been more welcome, rather than wasting episodes on more menial and boring crime solving that just padded the entire season so much there's very little else to talk about.

Ron's curse, for example, was something I was looking forward to being discussed and solved, but that arc is not yet entered.

Oh well.

Overall, the show wasn't so bad that I'd say it was a waste of time. And a season 2 was already announced for this show, so I'm planning on watching that too.

I hope season 2 will become more focused on Ron's backstory and more revelations about his weird curse powers, but we'll just have to wait and see about that.

Until then, I consider this show to be mediocre, at best. Not a bad show, but not particularly good either.

6. Arknights: Perish in Frost

Bonding moment

This post is about season 2 of the Arknights anime. For my thoughts on season 1, you can check them out here.

This one will be a bit short, since there's not much to talk about, really.

If you read my review for season 1, you'd know that I wasn't the biggest fan of it, but I liked it enough to be curious for a season 2.

Well, this is that season 2, and I'll just say right off the bat, it didn't deliver on my expectations for it.

This is an anime where the more I watched it, the less interested I became with the story.

I was never a fan of the game that this is based off of, mind you, so that is likely the reason that I'm not getting as invested into this as I probably should be but, at least as someone that never played the game, I really have to say that I simply cannot see the appeal of this.

Season 1, for its part, felt engaging and somewhat of an interesting story, being about a post-apocalyptic world and about xenophobia against people that harbor a specific infectious disease.

That much I could understand and I really liked about it. Couple that with a plot point about a doctor that's been working on a cure for said disease but now suffers from amnesia, and I was hooked on the premise.

But season 2 really didn't continue with the hype that I felt for season 1.

In season 2 I was asking myself “Who are these people again and why should I care?”. The talks about a cure for Oripathy are missing from this season, so the only plot point that I cared about got shelved for whatever reason, for the time being.

The doctor being a main character stopped being a thing too, at least until the very last episode when he was suddenly important again. Up until then his presence was only marginally acknowledged every once in a while.

There's continous talks about military stuff and missions that they have to go on which I couldn't care any less about as I was never into military animes (86 might genuinely be the only exception to that rule).

And this whole show's plot pretty much just began focusing on individual battles to take part in and win. Winning was important for some bullshit military objective that they needed to accomplish, because of a deal that Rhodes Island made with the leader of that city and, honestly, I just tapped out midway through the story.

I just lost interest.

I don't see the appeal anymore. The only things I cared about was the doctor and his promise for a cure for Oripathy, both plot elements that got sidelined for more talks of battles.

Which can be fine if the battles were done in an interesting way, but I couldn't care less because, again much like last season, there is very little tactical planning being done in this show, so all the battles just boil down to “This enemy is dangerous and we must avoid their attacks”, “Find cover” and “We need to find a way to defend ourselves from her Arts”.

Really, that's all it's about. Hell, sometimes certain battles don't even have that much strategizing and it just comes down to “We have more talented soldiers than you do so we're gonna win”.

Needless to say, I didn't like this show.

In the format of a video game, I can see this formula working because you have the gameplay to keep things entertaining and glue all these plot points together in a fixed structure, but in anime, where there's no gameplay whatsoever, the plot is laid bare with nothing to keep our interest to it.

And that's a problem because I stopped caring. The plot progression of this show is just too slow. There's too much screen time dedicated to battles that I couldn't care any less about, and it all feels like it's being done as fanservice for the fans of the game that played through these events.

Technically, I can see why this is done like this, as I'm sure the playerbase for this game were the target audience for the anime as well, but that just means that there's nothing for outsiders that never played the game to get hooked on.

As someone that never played the game I can definitely say, I just don't see the appeal anymore.

But, I can understand why it's done like this and I understand that I wasn't the target audience for this anime. The impactful battles left little impact on me, the emotional moments felt devoid of any influence over me and the overall story felt without any substance that's worthwhile.

Hell, the only thing that I remembered about season 1 that this season still has would be its high production budget that I assume this had, but even then, that was not enough to make me care about this anymore.

All in all, this was a lackluster experience.

I've said last season that I was curious to see where the plot is heading but now, after seeing it with my own eyes, I can safely say that I just don't care anymore.

I don't care where the plot is heading, I don't care about the doctor's backstory anymore, I don't care about Amiya's goals, I don't care about whether they find a cure for Oripathy or not, I just don't care.

And I won't care if there will be another season for this or not.

This is just part 1 of my thoughts. To see the last entry in this list (i.e. part 2), please click here.