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Boku dake ga Inai Machi

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Satoru Fujinuma’s life hasn’t gone exactly as planned. At 29 he’s delivering pizzas while failing to make it as a mangaka and living alone with a social life that extends as far as polite chatter with his coworkers. However, he has a special (if inconvenient) secret: on occasion, he’ll experience what he calls “revival”. It causes him to reawaken few minutes back in time, just before someone’s about to die, giving him a chance to save their life.

When Satoru was a child, three children were kidnapped and murdered in his town – a classmate, a child from a neighbouring school, and one of his friends. An older friend of his – Jun Shirtatori – was indicted and convicted, despite Satoru’s insistence that he was innocent. Satoru and his mother – visiting him for a few days, much to his annoyance – end up talking about it after a news broadcast about a missing child. She, a journalist, reflects on it after seeing someone suspicious out shopping, thinking back on the evidence, circumstances and suspicions from back then.

That night, she’s murdered before Satoru gets home from work, before she can tell him who the real killer must have been.

Satoru experiences another revival after finding her body – but this time he reawakens in 1988. A few weeks before Kayo Hinazuki went missing. He has a chance to save her, the others, and his mother.

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Spring Anime Season 2016

Now this is what I call timely! Putting up my plans when the season has already started (and I have already started watching things) is… not the best. But frankly, who cares, it doesn’t even matter.

Last time I said the winter season was looking excellent and, in retrospect, it wasn’t bad. I did pick up a lot, but did also end up dropping a fair bit, and the things I continued were mostly pretty unexceptional. The only stand outs from the season ended up being Boku dake ga Inai Machi, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu and Mahoutsukai Precure! (which is absolutely darling and you should go watch it) – still better than the last autumn season!

This season, well, I don’t know if it’s looking good but it’s certainly looking packed. There are a ton of series that I could justify checking out, to the point that I’m actually being picky! Which is very unusual!

Either way, here’s what I’m picking up:

spring2016chart

Courtesy of anichart.net

  • Big Order
  • Boku no Hero Academia
  • Bungou Stray Dogs
  • Endride
  • flying witch
  • Hai Furi
  • JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable
  • Joker Game
  • Kiznaiver
  • Koutetsujou no Kabaneri
  • Kumo Miko
  • Mayoiga
  • Sakamoto desu ga?
  • Sansha Sanyou
  • Sousei no Onmyouji
  • Space Patrol Luluco
  • Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge
  • Unhappy♪

And as always, wot I think about them:

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Who remembers Utawarerumono? It was a series that came out in 2006 (adapting an earlier visual novel) that was kinda dull and best remembered for getting real freaking weird out of nowhere at the end and being called “Underater Ray Romano” because nobody knew how to pronounce the name. Well, fast forward nearly a decade and this rather forgettable series got a sequel!

Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen (TL: The False Faces), or at least the anime I’m reviewing here, doesn’t make any explicit reference to events from the first series so you don’t have to have watched it to follow this, but it does assume some knowledge about the world. Nothing vitally important, but there are things that will seriously come out of left field if you’re coming in blind (don’t worry; they’re as inexplicable in the first series too).

Much like the first season, Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen is about a man (‘Haku’) who wakes up with amnesia and finds himself in a mysterious and hostile world where the people have animal ears and tails, before befriending and essentially being taken in by the woman who found him. The story beats are much the same – Haku gains an ever-expanding group of friends before the story turns towards war – but the direction it takes is wildly different.

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Luck & Logic

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You may not know this about me, but I play Bushiroad’s Cardfight!! Vanguard (Bermuda Triangle and Neo Nectar 4 lyf). That’s pretty much the only reason I picked up Luck & Logic; it’s based on Bushiroad’s new TCG of the same name. I was interested in maybe checking the game out (especially now that it’s confirmed to be coming out in English too) and figured that watching the anime might help me get an idea for what it’d be like. Turns out that Luck & Logic is based on the background and ‘story’ of the game, such as it exists, so no card battles for me!

Still, I kept at it, despite it not being the type of anime I’d normally watch. In terms of premise and execution Luck & Logic most closely resembles a lot of modern light novels. Yoshichika is an exceptionally gifted ‘Logician’, he ends up being pulled into ALCA – an organisation on Septpia, ‘Earth’ in this setting, dedicated to defeating and/or capturing invading alien beings from other dimensions – where he fights alongside a bunch of beautiful female Logicians, and also they’re all teenagers. Strong sense of déjà vu, right?

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Sports series aimed primarily at women have seen a major surge in popularity over the past few years, with the likes of Kuroko no Basuke, Free! and Haikyuu!! becoming veritable phenomena. I’ve only seen Free! and Yowamushi Pedal (along with endless thirst on my Twitter timeline), but even though I am decidedly not in their target demographics I still found myself swept up by the excitement of competition, the satisfaction of hard work paying off and, of course, the cute anime boys.

But what do these sports series offer? With Free!, it’s all about the characterisation; their growth as people, the development of their relationships as friends and teammates, and the drama of rivalries and inadequacy, all framed within a competitive environment. It’s not about the sport per se, but rather it’s used to explore the athletes involved. Yowamushi Pedal is practically the opposite – the sport is a huge focus, with the building of their strength as a team and the thrill and tension of racing taking centre stage.

Prince of Stride: Alternative delivers neither, nor does it offer up a compelling third option.

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Thank fuck that autumn season is over. I ended up keeping with a grand total of 5 shows, and only 3 of them could be considered particularly great. I think that’s the lowest number I’ve been watching since my very first season. Admittedly, Owarimonogatari and of course One Punch Man meant it wasn’t a season without notability, but there really wasn’t anything else worth mentioning.

Custom chart courtesy of anichart.net

Custom chart courtesy of anichart.net

The upcoming winter season is looking to be VERY different. I’m picking up a large number of shows again and it feels pretty good I have to say. Of course they don’t all look amazing, but by setting low enough expectations at least a handful should be pleasantly surprising! And there aren’t even that many sequels, which is always fun to see.

Here’s what I’ll be picking up:

  • Ajin
  • Boku Dake ga Inai Machi
  • Bubuki Buranki
  • Dagashi Kashi
  • Dimension W
  • Durarara!!x2 Ketsu
  • Haruchika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru
  • Luck & Logic
  • Mahou Tsukai Precure!
  • Musaigen no Phantom World
  • Prince of Stride: Alternative
  • Reikenzan: Hoshikuzu-tachi no Utage
  • Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

And as always, some thoughts.

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My Top 10 Anime of 2015

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Did you have a good year? I hope so. My 2015 was alright. Pretty unremarkable, a couple of new experiences, but mostly just been working. But for anime though, it’s been interesting I guess. I wouldn’t call 2015 a bad year for anime by any stretch, but thinking back on what I watched while writing this top 10 I was struck by how few series really left a major impact in the fandom, and more importantly how few left much of an impression on me. I think I’d overall characterise it as a solid, if unassuming, year for anime. Still, there’ve been at least a few that I’ll be remembering for a while, and enough that I wasn’t struggling for things to include!

Now, the definition I’m working with for ‘2015 anime’ is pretty broad, but a lot of other people are using it too so it’s nothing too radical or unexpected. It’s what I’ve been using for previous years: a series counts if it finished in 2015, and a film counts if it was first available for me to watch this year. I feel this is pretty sensible – you can’t exactly consider a show “best of the year” if it hasn’t even finished yet, shows that started last year wouldn’t get a chance otherwise, and expecting me to consider a film that I could’ve only watched in a cinema in Japan is just silly.

Before we get to the top 10, I want to talk about some anime that didn’t quite make the cut, but definitely deserve a shoutout.

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