2023 fall animes, ranked from my favorite to least favorite (Part 2)

This is a continuation of my thoughts from Part 1. If you haven't read part 1 yet, you can check it out here.

7. I Shall Survive Using Potions!

Kaoru is talking to the God of Earth

OK so, I want to start off this entry's rant by saying that I don't particularly like bashing on anime, nor do I do it to gather fame or infamy from it.

The reason I make these blog posts is to talk about the anime which I find to be particularly entertaining and fun to watch and give them exposure so that I can increase their audience a tiny little bit, as well as warn people to avoid watching particular shows that, I feel, are a waste of time.

As such, the reason I'm about to talk about this show isn't because I hate it or that I care much about it, but simply because I feel like it is a waste of time and I'm trying to be helpful towards others by telling them to avoid it.

With that said, let's get on with the episode 1 synopsis.

Kaoru Nagase is a young white collar office worker that's trying to live a peaceful life in Japan when, suddenly, one day, she dies from a rift between worlds that just so happens to spawn in her city.

In the process of doing so, her mind and soul are salvaged by the God of the Earth, a being who's responsible for all the people on Earth and who also is responsible for closing the rifts that randomly appear on Earth to make sure that they don't destabilize the fabric of space and time.

This God apologizes to Kaoru for not being able to close the rift in time to save her, and he is incapable of turning back time to bring her back to life in her world.

However, what he does do is that he sends her soul to Celestine, another God that overlooks the world of Reverie to reincarnate her into her world, instead.

Kaoru agrees with this arrangement but has certain conditions for Celestine now that she's about to be reincarnated in her world. One of the conditions is that she should be able to create drinkable potions with the effect that she desires (whichever that is at the time), she should be able to make that potion appear in any container of any shape or size of her choice wherever she wants it to appear, she should be able understand any language, spoken or written in the world, and that she should also have access to a mystical extra-dimensional storage room of infinite capacity where she can teleport anything into and out of, at her will.

The goddess Celestine uses her goddess powers to make all these wishes come true, until Kaoru makes one final request before her reincarnation begins, and that is for Celestine to become her friend for life.

And so, with all of these conditions fulfilled, Kaoru gets teleported into the fantastical world of Reverie, a medieval world of swords and armor, where everyone worships the goddess Celestine as their one true god.

She is incarnated into this world into the body of a young girl, where she learns that she is capable of understanding even the languages of animals, due to her condition being fulfilled of being able to understand any language.

And so, with the power to create infinite potions of any effects she desires at her disposal, Kaoru sets off to start a brand new quiet and peaceful life for herself.

There's a bit more to the plot of episode 1 but I'll stop here since this is the only thing of the episode that truly matters: the setup.

Now, let's get down to business. In theory, on paper, this sounds like a good plot, definitely not ground breaking or grandiose but a fairly standard isekai plot to get the story moving forward.

When I first watched episode 1, I was intrigued, even though I've been historically very critical of isekai anime in general, so this was already starting out with pretty low bars set for it, from my point of view at least.

But as time went on and I watched episode after episode, even by the low standards I set for this show, I was becoming more and more annoyed.

And no, I don't mean just disappointed, I mean genuinely annoyed by how generic and unimaginative this story felt to me.

By halfway through the plot I was ready to just give up on this and drop the show entirely. In fact, had I not hosted this blog, I absolutely believe that I would have sincerely stopped watching this show halfway into it.

But I didn't, and the reason for that is because, foolishly enough, the show annoyed me so much by that point that I absolutely wanted to write a negative review of it on this blog, to let people know how terrible it was.

And since I hold the belief that you shouldn't review a TV show until you've watched all the episodes of its current season, up to the end, I had to stick with it until the very last episode.

And boy, was it a rough ride.

All I can say after finishing season 1 of this show is that I have not felt as angry and disappointed by an anime in the past couple of years, as much as I had with this show, with the only exception being Shikimori's Not Just a Cutie. And yes, that's including all the other isekai animes I've watched too.

To call this show mediocre would be a disservice to the word “mediocre”. This goes beyond that.

Hell, this show is absolutely bad, in the truest sense of the word. Not bad because it teaches bad morals or that it encourages violence or unhealthy behavior, but bad in the sense that it's extremely ungodly superficial on all levels, to an extent that I find insulting to me, as the audience for it.

This show lacks depth, is my complaint about it. It's as shallow as a puddle made up of only a single layer of water molecules.

Why am I saying this?

Well, let's start with the very beginning: Kaoru herself.

She's the protagonist of this story. She is a strong willed young woman, cunning and intelligent, resourceful and reliable in pretty much all situations, with a sharp tongue but a good heart, always young and with a cheerful disposition that's always willing to make new friends but who, deep down, also wishes to establish a quiet and peaceful life for herself in this new world.

If that's not the perfect description of a Mary Sue character, then I don't know what is.

If the thesaurus had pictures in it, the picture for the Mary Sue expression should be of Kaoru's very face.

The show treats Kaoru as the perfect problem solver, the helper of all humans in this world, the one that can solve any problem of any person, regardless of difficulty, without making absolutely any mistakes in the process.

That's who Kaoru is.

If this sounds like a boring character that has no room for character development in it, then you know why this show feels so horribly boring for me.

Kaoru never needs to learn anything, because she's already perfect. The only thing the show tries to counterbalance her perfection with is by saying that she has a very sharp and scary glare, that intimidates others. That's it.

And her glare is moreso used for comedic effect in this show than anything else. It barely plays any role.

Basically she's the perfect main character. That's all there is to her.

You think she's wrong? Well, too bad, because the show knows that she's right! And it will always side with her, no matter what.

I don't want to be the one to say that a show's depth goes only as far as its main character's depth, since I don't believe that to be the case, but boy does this show really try to make me think otherwise.

Kaoru also has this very critical tongue of nobility or of any people with a lot of influence, in that world. Whenever she sees anyone using their authority for bad purposes, she expresses her disapproval very publicly and calls them out for it.

Hell, even if nobody did anything wrong, she will still call out nobility and criticize it harshly merely for even considering the prospect of herself adopting a life into it, just because she thinks that life as a noble woman would be very stressful and full of restrictions which she doesn't like.

Don't get me wrong, I agree with a lot of the things that she says, in theory at least. The problem is that there's no nuance to it whatsoever, she just speaks whatever comes to her mind and blurts it out in the open, without suffering any consequences for it.

Oh yeah, that's the other thing I absolutely detest about this anime. There are no consequences for the things being said in it.

Just because Kaoru has a very sharp tongue and all but downright insults nobility and the royal family in this universe, she doesn't get to be punished for her words at all because she's right about everything that she says and so she can get away scot-free with anything.

Yeah, if you're anywhere over the age of 18, you know that that's not how the world works.

You shouldn't need me to tell you this but, as it goes, insulting authority does have real life consequences, usually pretty grim ones, mind you.

Granted, there are scenes in which she runs away immediately after making her scathing remarks over nobility, implying that she did fear for her life, but she still somehow gets to escape the castle and run out of the city without so much as a scratch on her. How did the guards let her out? Who knows.

I have a suspicion and my suspicion is “plot armor”.

Or how about another scene, in which she's in front of clergy, talking about the goddess Celestine, about how she's seen as a miracle bringing angel, of all things, and yet she denies these allegations and saying that she isn't an angel of any kind and that Celestine is just her friend and they are just best buddies together. Oh and also she insults the goddess Celestine which, may I remind you, is the goddess of their entire planet, by saying stuff like she's not as well-endowed as the statues that they sculpt of her, along with other blasphemous comments that I'm sure, had this world had any semblance of grounding into reality, would have meant that Kaoru would be burned at the stake for heresy.

Or how she wouldn't need to listen to nobility or the king of the land due to her promise to goddess Celestine that she wouldn't misuse her potions, and that promise cannot be broken because “religion is absolute”.

Lady, I'm pretty sure your head would be on the ground if you even dared to say “No” to a real king, especially because of a flimsy excuse like “I made a promise to Celestine and I don't want to break it since we're BFFs”.

This is in contrast with a good show like The Apothecary Diaries where the protagonist, Maomao, is fully aware of the consequences of her words, and because of that, she's smart enough to know when to speak up and when to hold her tongue.

There was even a scene in that show in which Maomao had a monologue that said something along the lines of “If I speak my mind here, the emperor would have me killed”, which is absolutely true. That gave that show a semblance of grounding into reality, because speaking up against authority, even when you know you're right, will mean your death.

This show, on the other hand, either doesn't understand how authority works, or it just blatantly ignores it for the purposes of the plot.

Yes, speaking up against authority is important in life, that's a good lesson to teach, but there's always a proper time and place to do it. Doing it recklessly, like the way Kaoru does it in this show, especially in a medieval fantasy world like that where power is very much abused in various ways, would normally lead to her public execution. The plot just chooses to pretend that that's not the case and that she's right to speak her mind because “that's just the right thing to do”. Blow me!

Kaoru's perfection extends pretty much to everything she does, but honestly, it all boils down to one of two things: either Kaoru is doing something amazing with her powers like making a potion that's going to bring people on the verge of death to a healthy life again and impresses everyone around her, or she insults nobility or some kind of authority, calls them out, leaving everyone in shock at her and being like “How can she say that?! That's so unorthodox!”. That's it. It's one of these two scenarios playing out, one way or another.

Rinse and repeat that for 12 episodes and you've got a show.

Oh yeah, her potions are pretty much miracle givers in this world. It doesn't matter if you're on the verge of death, like if you've had your heart pierced by a sword, a single potion of Kaoru's will cure you and bring you back to life.

Really, these potions work by video game logic, in which it doesn't matter what debuff effect or disease you're afflicted with, just take one sip from that flask and you're as good as new.

The fact that anything in this world can be cured with Kaoru's potions makes even the smallest semblance of repercussions and life threatening conditions like disease in it, feel like just minor inconveniences that can be handled with just one sip.

Really, there are no consequences for anything in this world. As long as Kaoru's on your side, you can beat anything.

I've complained that other isekai anime have RPG-like mechanics which make their world feel shallow and video game-like, because of that. But this show doesn't even have that, as there are no skills to have, no leveling up, no experience grinding, no stats to worry about.

There's nothing of the sorts. It's just all about “Do you need a potion? Well I've got the perfect potion just for you!”. Rinse and repeat.

There's no world building, no fleshing out of the culture, no anything. There's no history or explanation over why the people of that world worship Celestine, there's barely any mention about geography (although conflicts between nations does come into play at one point), there's no magic or spells to talk about, no demon lords or dragons to fight, no magical items or treasure, no nothing.

Or maybe there is, I don't know, the plot is just too busy talking about Kaoru and how perfect she is.

It just keeps trying to find new ways to conflate her importance more and more before her ego would reach the size of the planet that she's inhabiting.

Like, there was a prince in this world that was trying to find a consort for himself. There are all these women that wished to be his brides, but once the prince heard Kaoru talk and her intelligent brain, she's the one he had to marry.

It doesn't matter that she is a peasant, the fact that she doesn't look that impressive and has the body of a child in that world, or that she has an ugly glare, she just has to be the one, even when Kaoru absolutely says that she doesn't wish to marry him because he's not her type.

And despite all of this, he cannot find a different woman to court because “she has to be the one”, up to the point where he has to obsess over her and become almost like a stalker. I couldn't believe it.

The prince of a nation is incapable of finding a better woman than Kaoru. He needs to become a lowly stalker just to even find her. That's just....I'm out of words.

Or, if that's not enough to boost her ego, what if I told you that Kaoru stopped an entire army that was invading from a foreign nation all by herself, by using exploding potions that destroyed all their supplies and left them with no water to drink in the hot summer?

Yes, you heard that right, she stopped an entire army just with that strategy.

If I had to suspend my disbelief any further for this show's sake, my disbelief would be in a fucking coma.

Oh and, about the exploding potions that were used as weapons, if that sounds like a bit of cheating considering that all her powers were supposed to do was to create potions out of nothing, you're in for a treat! Because this show is not above using cheating to make ends meet.

Kaoru can pretty much conjure any physical object out of nothing, as long as it can be used either as a potion, or a “potion container”.

What this means is that she can pretty much bring forth any object that she needs, whenever she needs it. Don't believe me?

How about a time when she created an amazing sword out of nothing, for the soldiers to use in the war. It's funny, because the sword isn't really a sword, it's actually a potion container, according to her, even though it's not made out of glass, it's not breakable, it pretty much looks and functions like a full fledged sword.

Or how about when she incapacitated an entire platoon of enemy combatants all by herself, by merely spawning poisonous potion liquid inside their very bodies, that made them fall to the ground in pain. Yes, she can apparently do that. She doesn't need to actually have the people drink her potions for them to take effect, she can basically just create the potion liquid inside their bodies from the very beginning, against their will.

Convenient, am I right?

Oh but don't worry, the soldiers didn't die! They were just incapacitated. We wouldn't want to have something as dark as death in our anime, even though it's a fucking invasion of a country onto another. Blow me!

Or how about when she generated a horse carriage to transport her with, by using the same reasoning as before, that the “carriage is merely a fancy looking potion container”. Blow me!

Or how about she can create a configurable sci fi-esque gold detector out of thin air, because, you guessed it, “it's just a potion container, obviously”.

The amount of cheating this plot does to further the story and make Kaoru solve other people's issues is so mind blowing, I felt dirty watching it.

There's thinking outside the box and using what you have to your advantage, and then there's outright cheating. This is cheating.

The author just didn't know how to give Kaoru more ways of being useful so they twisted her potion-making powers into something entirely and utterly unrelated to it.

I'm sure, if Kaoru wanted to, she could spawn a fucking gun too, from thin air, just because “it's a potion container”. At this point it wouldn't surprise me, nor would it be any bigger of a stretch than what she already did in the anime.

Oh and about that death thing? Yeah, this show likes to do fake outs too, as if it didn't stoop low enough already.

There are points in which Kaoru's allies would normally die for her sake, but thankfully she's just there to stop them in their tracks. “This character was stabbed to death? Potion!”

“This character is about to die from a high fall? Teleport them from the fall into my item box (her extra-dimensional storage room)! No biggies.”

Blow me!

And even when big events are supposed to happen, they are treated with the most modicum of importance they deserve. “Oh, this foreign nation is about to invade us? I'll destroy their army!”

“Oh, I just died from a supernatural event and I need to be reincarnated into another world? Oh well, shit happens. Doesn't matter that I won't get to see my family or friends ever again. I'll just start my life in another world anew!”

Yeah, in the first episode, after she died, the god that preserved her soul gave her the chance to visit her family and friends in their dreams one last time to say her farewells before she will be reincarnated in another world, and they all treat it as if she was simply going to move out to another city.

I get it that they now know that she's fine and that she'll have to move on to a better life but, at the same time, even her parents were fine to seeing their daughter tell them that that will be the last time they'll see her. That's not realistic at all.

The fact that death, in this anime, is treated like stubbing your toe is infuriating to me. There's no gravity to actions or dramatic impact with regards to anything.

Imagine if I stabbed you to death and, in your last moments, you told me “I forgive you, because now I'll move onto a better life”. Even as your murderer, I would feel like that was cheap.

This show was too scared to have any drama whatsoever in it, much less death.

I get it that you want this show to be about Kaoru being amazing and you're leaving out anything unpleasant like negative feelings and pain, but that just confers your show a feeling of even more shallowness than it already has.

Even if you'll point out to me that shows like The Apothecary Diaries also have a Mary Sue protagonist in them, and they also replay the same “She's amazing for solving everyone else's problems” type of formula in them, I'll still argue that it's a night and day difference between that show and this one. Why?

Because yeah, Maomao is a Mary Sue, that's true. She is highly intelligent, skilled and reliable at every turn, that's a fact. However, the difference is that in that show, the focus isn't on Maomao. She is the protagonist of the show, that's true, but the focus is on her actions and deductions, on the mystery solving and the ripple effects that they have on the political climate of their environment. Maomao is just a small cog in the larger than life machine that is the Imperial Palace, and that scale shows (not to mention that that show also had actual death moments and heavy debates about the importance of life and one's own limits, which this show is too scared to have).

Here, everything is about Kaoru. It's not even about her actions, it's all about Kaoru as a character, how amazing she is, how good and kind hearted she is but, most importantly, how critical she is to everything else around her.

She isn't just one cog in a larger machine, she is the entire factory that manufactures all the machines. Everything happens within her sphere and she is the god of the story.

Because she doesn't need to plead for her life when insulting the prince of a nation, she doesn't need to ask for forginess when she talks shit about the goddess of that world to the clergy, hell, she feels like she's entitled to bargaining for powers when she's in front of an almighty deity that controls an entire universe in her hand. Because yeah, she doesn't fear authority nor consequences, she just feels entitled to do whatever the hell she wants, without a thought for consequences.

That's just stupid.

Oh yeah, and the one thing that Kaoru can do well in this world, besides making miracle bringing potions, is impart smart business knowledge. That's her thing, that's what impresses everyone around her, how business savvy she is.

It doesn't matter that she's talking to people whose entire jobs is handling national economies and who probably studied and trained years of their lives to doing their jobs, she just imparts one piece of advice like “Lower taxes, so that people can have more money to afford buying things to boost the local economy” and that is enough to change the fate of the entire nation, amazing them with her incredible wisdom. Blow me!

I think the premise of this show is that medieval people are dumb as hell and they would have their minds blown away if they ever met any Average Joe from our time that traveled to them, because supposedly we're more intelligent than them, but that sounds and feels like an incredibly insulting take.

There were incredibly intellingent and highly skilled people in medieval times as well, people who, despite not having some of the knowledge we have, would surely be better at their jobs than a random outsider that used to work as a white collar worker trying to impress them with her “modern” knowledge.

I can't anymore, my hands are tired of typing. This is the longest rant I've had in a long time, and I cannot believe how much steam I needed to let out.

This show pissed me off, not just because of how mundane and shallow it is, but because of how much of a waste of time it proved on being.

Don't get me wrong, any anime is technically a waste of time as well.

Whenever you watch a TV show, you're wasting time out of your life, time that you can use in productive ways to improve it instead. That's simply a fact.

But the point of a show is to entertain you, and to mask away the fact that you're wasting your time on it, or at least to make it worth it. It's supposed to impart knowledge to you, make you have an emotional reaction to something, make you gasp at a specific plot twist or, at the very least, make you feel like you've spent your time on doing something worthwhile.

This is the first show that didn't do that for me.

I was painfully aware of my life slipping away from me, as I was wasting time watching its episodes, and I was becoming depressed. This is not what's supposed to happen.

In all the other entries on this list, I've felt at least some semblance of quality to their entries.

I actually felt shocked when I saw a specific kiss happen in Girlfriend, girlfriend, feeling amazed that the plot progressed the way it did. I felt genuinely heartbroken when a certain character died in SHY, which genuinely brought me close to tears. And I actually did feel shivers run down my spine at the ending of Stardust Telepath. Despite being pure works of fiction, all these shows managed to pull those feats off, and I appreciated that. They touched me in ways I could never otherwise describe and I felt that my time spent on them was worth it.

This show did not do that. It's the first show I felt that I absolutely wasted time on, as it had no impact on me whatsoever. The illusion that I'm doing something worthwhile while watching it ran out and I could see it for what it was: a time waster.

New episodes of this show would come out on Saturdays in my country, alongside new episodes of The Apothecary Diaries and that contrast in quality was so jarring I genuinely found it funny.

Every Saturday, I would go out of my way to watch these two shows back to back and ask myself “What did I Shall Survive Using Potions! do wrong this time that The Apothecary Diaries did right instead?“. And, truth be told, when comparing and contrasting these two shows, you can learn a lot from their differences.

The only thing that this show did better than The Apothecary Diaries at, is the fact that this is a family friendly show, almost to a fault.

The Apothecary Diaries, despite its overwhelming superior quality, is not particularly kid friendly, especially considering the topics of certain episodes about death, suicide, murder and politics.

Granted, I don't think children would necessarily be scarred if they were to watch an episode of The Apothecary Diaries, simply because the show is very restrained in how graphic it becomes, but I do believe that it would bore them out, because it's methodical, slow, dialogue heavy, and it revolves around politics and medical mysteries, topics that usually don't attract attention from kids.

In contrast, this show is colorful, simple and very upbeat and happy-go-lucky, a quality that, to its merit, it exceeds at. As such, I can definitely see kids under the age of 18 and especially under the age of 14, absolutely enjoying this and loving it for its mindless pandering to popularity.

With that said, I don't believe this show would be popular with adults. The moment you become old enough to understand how the world works, you'll look at this show and realize that it's just superficial fluff that tries to teach morals about how one should be and act in the face of injustices, but which also has no real depth or forethought of any kind. It's just preaching and using cliches for the sake of preaching and using cliches.

Watching it for growth and personal development as an adult is no more pointless than a malnourished man, on the verge of death, that suddently eats the frosting of a cake for sustenance (just the frosting, with no cake inside). You'll like the taste and look of it, but in the end you'll be no better off after eating it than how you were before it.

You'd have just had wasted time.