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So I am working on reviews from last season, but it’s very on-off, not helped by varying distractions (Dark Souls 3 DLC, card games, Persona 5 soon enough, etc.). It was a good season though! Rakugo S2, Gabriel DropOut, Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, the end of 3-gatsu no Lion (S2 hype!), and the starts of Little Witch Academia and KiraKira Precure A La Mode!

This season has actually already started, so I’m a bit late to the party on this (it snuck on me – technically speaking, the winter season hasn’t finished yet!), but aside from the first episodes of arguably the 2 biggest shows of the season there’s nothing much to talk about. Something tells me that this will be a season with few real surprises, mostly because the most anticipated shows are sequels and thus represent a somewhat known quantity.

And on that note, here’s what I’m picking up:

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Chart courtesy of anichart.net

  • Alice to Zouroku
  • My Hero Academia 2
  • Clockwork Planet
  • Fukumenkei Noise
  • Hinako Note
  • Natsume Yuujinchou Roku
  • Sagrada Reset
  • Sakura Quest
  • Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul
  • Attack on Titan 2
  • Tsuki ga Kirei
  • Twin Angel Break
  • Eccentric Family 2
  • Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho

And a few thoughts:

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Urara Meirochou

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I’ve mentioned before in other reviews, but for a cute-girls-doing-cute-things anime to stand out in this day and age it needs to do one of two things: be absolutely excellent, or have some kind of novel hook. Urara Meirochou goes surprisingly hard on the latter, giving up the cliché school setting for something far more fantastical and whimsical.

In the gigantic and confusing Labyrinth Town, fortune tellers drive the economy and culture. No matter what style of divination you seek, you will be able to find it and more. These fortune tellers – called urara, and all women – borrow the powers of the town’s gods to help their clients, but if they break their ultimate taboo and attempt to divine the nature of those same gods then they will lose their powers.

Four fifteen year old girls receive letters of invitation to start training as urara at the Natsume-ya teashop, one of whom – Chiya – sees in this an opportunity to finally find her mother.

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Thank fuck it’s finally 2017. Jeez, 2016 just couldn’t end soon enough. Thankfully, there was some good anime and if I’m honest it’s looking like there’s some good anime again!

Between Yuri!!! on Ice, Flip Flappers and Hibike! Euphonium 2 the autumn 2016 season is a tough act to follow. All three of those series ended up amongst my absolute favourites of the year, there were more series that were also great, and to be honest I’m only optimistic about two upcoming series. Most everything I’m picking up is ‘fluff’ – series I’m not expecting to be great but might be fun and surprise me, assuming they’re good enough to warrant continuing beyond an episode or two. That doesn’t bode well, but hey – the two series I’m optimistic for look set to be great!

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Chart courtesy of anichart.net, although I had to stitch it together from screenshots as their image server has been down forever?

So here’s what I’m picking up:

  • ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka
  • Chaos;Child
  • Fuuka
  • Gabriel DropOut
  • Kirakira☆Precure A La Mode
  • Kobayashi-san Chi no Maidragon
  • Kuzu no Honkai
  • Little Witch Academia
  • Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-Bu
  • Onihei
  • Rewrite S2
  • Seiren
  • Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen
  • Urara Meirochou
  • Youjo Senki
  • Yowamushi Pedal: NEW GENERATION

And, as always, my preliminary thoughts:

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My Top 10 Anime of 2016

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Hahahahaha, 2016, oh wow. It sure has been a year! While it’s been crappy to exist in, it’s been pretty alright for escapist media! And from my perspective, there’s been a lot of good anime – enough that cutting down to 10 was actually difficult.

As always, I’m counting ‘2016 anime’ as series that ended in a 2016 season and films that I first had the opportunity to watch in 2016. So if it started in the autumn season of 2015 but finished at the end of the winter 2016 season, that would count; if it started in the autumn season of 2016 but won’t finish until the end of the 2017 winter season, it won’t. For split cours, I just go with my gut. In short, unless I’ve been able to put a score on it I won’t be considering it – prematurely enshrining how great something is when it isn’t even half over is a bad idea!

So with that out of the way, onto my top 10 anime of 2016! Ah, but first, a few series that didn’t quite make the cut…

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Flip Flappers

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A lot of hopes were pinned on Flip Flappers before it aired. Based on early art and trailers, it looked to have the same vibrant, intelligent and novel appeal of Kyousou Giga, a series that charmed the pants off many fans and is something of an under-appreciated gem. There simply aren’t enough shows out there that dare to be as daring, so anything even hinting in that direction is welcomed with open arms. This doesn’t always work out – Rolling Girls had a similar reception only reinforced by its earliest episodes, but ultimately disappointed in a major way. ‘Cautious optimism’ summarises most attitudes going into Flip Flappers; hopeful for its promise but aware of the potential for failure.

The first episode delivered in a big way. It was supremely energetic and sweet, fiercely imaginative and creative, and stunningly animated and presented – but so was Rolling Girls. Unlike Rolling Girls, Flip Flappers sustained this. It never ran out of ideas, never started dragging its heels, and never compromised on anything that made it stand out. Not content with that, it also displayed a great deal of depth and intelligence, and while that only emerged a few episodes in it quickly became apparent that it was hidden in plain sight from the beginning.

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Hibike! Euphonium 2

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Hibike! Euphonium 2 is more Hibike! Euphonium. And I mean this in the truest sense of the word – it is a direct continuation of the first season, and if you liked that I’m hard pressed to find reasons why you’ll dislike this.

Specifically, it’s more of the incredible second half of the first season – that is, loaded with intimacy, emotion and feeling. Much of the first season was devoted to Kumiko and Reina, with the two only connecting in the second half. This second season has the two as close friends throughout (as if they’re only friends…), so we get so many of those wonderful, quiet, close moments the two shared. And with that relationship thoroughly established, the show takes the opportunity to really dive into the supporting cast – Taki, Asuka and Reina are explored and fleshed out into much more depth, and with Kumiko being involved in everything we get a lot of growth and development out of her too. It’s a take on the Hibike! Euphonium cast only afforded by the familiarity already garnered, and the emotional payout we get from it is tremendous.

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Gi(a)rlish Number

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Shirobako’s insider look at the animation industry, specifically the inner working of the animation studios, earned it widespread acclaim. It was a rare look at something most know little about, and combined with its delightful characters was an absolute joy to watch. Sure, it wasn’t shy about showing the difficulties you have to go through to complete a series, but it was still ultimately a love letter to the medium rooted in optimism and idealism.

In stomps Gi(a)rlish Number and laughs from the bottom of its cold, jaded, heart. It casts a cynical eye on the industry from the seiyuu’s perspective and does nothing to hide its sardonic attitude. Mockery of trashy, generic light novels, troubled production, garbage producers, the bullshit voice actresses are put through in the name of promotion, and more besides are commonplace and from no angle is the industry framed in a positive light.

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