Anime Corner: Top 10 Favourite Anime (Redux)

Blog Top 10 Anime Redux Title

And your challenge, should you choose to accept it, 1) Name all the characters featured above 2) Before reading the rest of this post, guess which one of these characters isn’t going to appear in the list. Have fun.

I love anime. Considering the amount of it I’ve reviewed over the past five years that probably comes as a surprise to no one, but with this being the start of a new year, and a new decade, it got me thinking. Back in the early days of this little blog o’mine I posted up a ‘Top 10 Favourite Anime’ list (you can check it out HERE if you want and compare it to the list I’m about to go through). Obviously I’ve watched a heck of a lot more anime since then, the majority of which I have adored and gushed over on this very blog, so me thinks it’s time for an update.

The same rules apply as last time, this list will only contain anime that I have seen (obviously) and only anime that have finished airing. I’ll admit this list was tough to put together, but I think I’m finally happy with the order it’s in, if you want to drop your own list down in the comments then feel free and with that, let’s get this show on the road!

  1. Cardcaptor Sakura

Upon finding a mysterious book in her basement, Sakura accidentally released the Clow Cards. Created by one of the most powerful sorcerers in history, Clow Reed, the cards each have their own unique personality and abilities. Now it’s Sakura’s job to capture them before their powers get out of hand and end up hurting someone, but with the help of guardian beast Kero and her best friend Tomoyo, Sakura is sure everything will be alright.

This is the series that carved out a place for the magical girl genre in my heart for all eternity. I remember watching it as a kid and falling in love with Sakura who was just so sweet and charming and endlessly optimistic that I couldn’t do anything but admire her, and that was before she started roller-skating on to the back of giant birds and trying to outrun sentient water. Whether it’s the beautiful designs of both the characters and the cards, the fun characters themselves or even just the mad antics of capturing the card of the week, I adore this series. It’s innocence personified and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  1. Digimon Tamers

Takato loves Digimon, whether it’s the TV show or playing the card game with his friends. He spends his days dreaming about what his perfect partner would be like and one day, when he finds a mysterious blue card, his wishes come true and the Digimon he designed, Guilmon, comes to life! However owning a real life Digimon isn’t as easy as Takato thought and soon he finds himself dealing not only with the differing views of his fellow Tamers, but invading Digimon causing havoc and a secret government organisation out to delete all Digimon from the real world!

This is my favourite Digimon series of all time and one that I recommend for everyone to watch. For a show primarily created to sell toys to kids it has a remarkably mature story (which makes sense when you realise this was written by the same guy that did Serial Experiments Lain). We get some great character arcs across the series, especially in Impmon who runs the full gambit from troublemaker to villain to hero seeking redemption. The series also isn’t afraid to throw in a few more complex themes and a bit of moral and ethical questioning for its characters to deal with. It may start off a little slow but it all builds into something truly dark and epic like no other Digimon series has ever done before or since.

  1. Shirobako

When they were at school, Aoi, Ema, Shizuka, Misa and Midori all played a part in making their very own anime short. Now, having graduated, the girls are all either looking for or holding down jobs in their favourite industry, the anime industry! Unfortunately it turns out that getting their dream job may actually be a bit of a nightmare, between crushing production schedules, dithering directors and really unhelpful middle men, turns out working in anime can be really rough. Do the girls have what it takes to pull things together and someday, somehow, get to all work on a project together like they did at school?

Anime is tough guys. If you ever doubted that then just watch this anime (though I realise it is also a romanticised version of the anime industry so I have no doubt the real thing is even more hellish than this series depicts). I first watched this anime when I was in a bit of a slump, my adolescent idealism had crashed headfirst into the cliffs of adult reality and I was feeling pretty dejected, pretty much in the same way the characters are at points in this series and it gave me hope to know that maybe, just maybe, the struggle would be worth it in the end (the moment where all the girls get to work together at the end really is a thing of beauty). Rewatching the series now though, it speaks to me on even more levels, from the arduous path of the creative process to what it’s like to work in an office (though the office I work in is nowhere near as pressurised as the one in this show). Add on all the little in jokes and references and all anime fans should watch this at some point.

  1. A Place Further Than the Universe

Tamaki Mari, AKA Kimari, always wanted to have a grand adventure before she finishes high school, but she’s always been afraid to take that first step. All that changes when she meets Shirase, a girl determined above anything else to go to Antarctica, despite how impossible that sounds. Now, with a newfound passion and determination, Kimari sets out with Shirase and her other new friends to make the impossible possible and shout ‘I told you I’d make it!’ to all those who said they couldn’t. Their youth is finally in motion!

Heartfelt, that’s the best word I can come up with to describe this series. Everything in this show, from the gorgeous animation to the sweet and charming characters, even the emotional stories of each girl, all of it just hits me right in the feels. I cried at every single episode when I first watched this series and I cried a good chunk of the time when I re-watched it. I love this show. Not only is the message a really important and powerful one, that you can’t let fear and doubt hold you back, if there’s something you want to do, go and do it. It’ll take some hard work and a bit of luck, but if all you ever do is back down then you’ll never get anywhere. Also I love these characters and the chemistry between them, they feel like the best of friends and it’s just a joy to be around them.

  1. Mob Psycho 100

Mob wants nothing more than to be an ordinary kid, and maybe the ability to talk to his childhood sweetheart in complete sentences. However, between his tremendous psychic powers, repressed emotions and his con man boss, there’s not much chance of that. Whether it’s exorcising evil spirits or taking on deranged psychics, Mob’s real battle is with himself, learning to control and, eventually, accept his emotions to the point were he becomes a better, more rounded person.

It’s the second season of this show that gets it on to this list. However much I enjoyed the first season, the second feels like something special. It takes everything that the first season had, the lightning fast comedy, the visually diverse and stunning animation and fun characters and adds so much emotion on top of that. Watching Mob’s journey from an awkward, emotionally repressed teen to such a kind, open and emotionally healthy person is by far one of my favourite character arcs in all of anime. I also think this series has some really beautiful messages about forming bonds, how people can change and how its not good to let your own ego blind you to the world around you, all of which feel really relevant to the world today.

  1. Sound Euphonium

When Kumiko begins her first year of high school she’s determined to have a fresh start, yet somehow finds herself joining the school’s concert band and playing the euphonium (an instrument she’s been stuck playing for the past seven years). It doesn’t help that an old school friend of Kumiko’s is also in the club, a friend that Kumiko feels incredibly awkward around. Things begin to change though when the band’s new advisor starts pushing the students to improve and tensions rise. Will Kumiko rediscover her love for music and the euphonium? Or will this put her off for life?

Every part of this series is beautiful, from the jaw-dropping animation to the blissful music and the clever and life-like writing. More than that though I love each and every one of these characters. Kumiko’s arc from detached and indecisive to someone who is driven by her passions is great and I have to admit resonates a fair amount with me. This is not a show that I would typically watch, but I’m so glad I did. Even if you’ve never been in a band, or have the least bit of interest in one (like me), make sure to check this series out as it has so much more to offer you than your standard high school drama. You’re missing out if you don’t see this one.

  1. Psycho-Pass

In the future you’d better watch what you think because thanks to the Sibyl System a person can now be judged on how likely they are to commit a crime. Anyone who’s deemed as a potential danger to society will have the Enforcers sent after them, either to bring them in for emergency therapy or, if they’re beyond help, to blow their heads clean off. But what if the system couldn’t read a certain type of person? What if there was a master criminal out their inciting others to commit crimes and providing them with all they need to go on their own crime sprees? For rookie Inspector Akane Tsunemori these are going to be important questions, but the biggest of all may be just what exactly is the Sibyl System?

I love so much about this series I really don’t know where to start or how to summarise it, but here goes. For starters the world of Psycho-Pass is one of my favourite, so rich and detailed, from all the fun tech it employs to the moral questions it raises. Add on top of that some fantastic characters and you have a great anime. Akane is one of my favourite female protagonists of all time, her journey from naïve rookie to badass detective is another of my favourite character arcs. Then we’ve got Makishima who’s one of my favourite anime antagonists and there’s Kogami and I could really go on all day like this. Every time I watch this series I come away loving it that little bit more.

  1. Fate/Zero

The 4th Holy Grail War is upon us. Once again Seven Masters will summon seven Servants, Heroic Spirits of legend such as King Arthur or Alexander the Great brought to life again in the modern day. Together they’ll battle it out for the Holy Grail and the chance to have their dearest wish made a reality. For Kiritsugu Emiya, that wish is for the world to find peace, but for a man who has spent his life killing mages, can they ever really be any peace? The answer has already been decided and no matter what anyone does, fate marches on to its inevitable tragic end.

If you’ve checked out my previous favourite anime list then you may have noticed that my top three anime hasn’t really changed, and I doubt they ever will. Fate/Zero is not perfect, but I adore it with all my soul. I love these characters, I love seeing them interact with one another, so many clashing philosophies and goals this is what makes a great story for me. Whether it’s Saber’s idealism clashing with Kiritsugu’s pragmatism or Iskandar, King of Conquerors, giving Waver lessons on what it means to be a true king, I could watch this forever and not get bored. Add on the great music and animation, some epic fights and you have an anime for the ages.

  1. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Madoka wants nothing more to help others and make a difference with her life, a chance she seemingly gets when a strange creature named Kyubey offers her a deal. In exchange for any wish she desires, she can become a magical girl and protect the innocent people of the city from evil witches. Sounds like a win-win right? Well it turns out that the life of a magical girl isn’t quite so magical and between the dangers of the job and battles with rivals, Madoka’s about to learn what happens when a wish turns into a curse.

If there were only one anime I could watch again for the very first time, I’d pick this one. When I first watched this series I binged it all in one night and it destroyed me emotionally. I’ve never quite had a reaction like it before or since, though not for lack of trying. This show is as close to perfection as it gets for me. The plot is so tightly written and paced, knowing just when to let you catch your breathe before plunging you into an even deeper well of despair. Everything is connected and so many little details turn out to be really important later, I get so much fun out of every time I rewatch this series. Add on to that the music and, I don’t even know how to describe the animation, it has such a unique artistic quality to it that I just love it.

  1. Fullmetal Alchemist (2003)

The law of Equivalent Exchange is the core principle of alchemy, something the brothers Alphonse and Edward Elric learn the hard way when they try to resurrect their dead mother. They lose much in the exchange; Edward has his arm and leg taken away from him, while Alphonse loses his entire body. They’re only hope to put themselves back together is to get a hold of a philosopher’s stone, something that will let them perform alchemy without obeying equivalent exchange. They aren’t the only ones searching for a stone though and when the boys learn just what it takes to make one, will they be willing to pay the cost?

The original, and my personal favourite. Madoka Magica may be close to perfection for me, but this series has everything I could ever ask for from an anime, great characters, compelling story and drama, even stunning animation, it’s all here. The bond between the two brothers is really something special, their willingness to sacrifice themselves for one another is truly beautiful and that moment at the end of the series where they demonstrate just how far they’ll go for one another is one of my all time favourite moments in anime. Then again this series is packed with great moments that I love, from the boys confronting their mother to certain deaths, which I won’t spoil here, but this show is a real roller coaster. The story never once falters, perfectly paced and engaging, I don’t even skip over the filler I like it so much, though I think it’s greatest strength is that it never loses sight of its core. Edward and Alphonse are the centrepiece of this story and they are such great characters. If you’ve not seen this anime, or only ever watched Brotherhood, then do yourself a favour and check this one out.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.  

Anime Corner: Mob Psycho 100 (Season 2) Review

Mob Psycho 100 2 Blog Title

Educating Mob.

What’s the Story?

We’re back with Mob and the gang and ever since the defeat of the local Claw faction things have been pretty normal for the world’s most powerful psychic and his con-man master (you know if you count dealing with urban legends and exorcising vindictive spirits as normal). Then again, daily life is often a struggle for our favourite socially awkward psychic, but that may be about to change. Mob has some tough lessons to learn, but he is learning them and just in time as the head of Claw has arrived in town. Can someone say ‘Boss Fight’?

The Review

Back when I watched the first season of Mob Psycho 100 I adored it (check out my review HERE), from the stunning animation (that is still a master class in mixing styles, artistic express and frenetic action that anyone even remotely interested in animation should check out), to the on point comedy and the host of eclectic and loveable characters. I wasn’t alone in that assessment either and while I labeled the series as an unmissable anime I feel like I need a whole new category for this second season. It takes the groundwork laid out by the first season and builds atop it a shining monument that has had me crying, gasping and cheering week after week for this past season. In my own personal head list, Mob Psycho 100 was on my top 20 favourite anime, but season 2 skyrockets straight into my top 10 (and that should in no way be a hint that I’m going to be revisiting my old top 10 list at some point). Get ready for some gushing people.

Where Mob Psycho sells me the most is with its character arcs. If you’ve read my review of the first season you’ll know that Ritsu was the character I connected with most in that season, but this time it’s Mob himself that I’ve forged a bond with. Comparing Mob back in season one to the Mob we get at the end of this season is like night and day. He’s learning bit by bit from his experiences, even if some of those experiences are incredibly traumatic. You’ll notice we see a lot less of Mob’s emotional counter this time around because he isn’t so bent on repressing his feelings anymore. Instead he lets himself experience them, even when that’s incredibly hard for him to do and in the end Mob comes out the other side not only with a better understanding of himself, but those around him. Mob becomes a more assured, confident and emotionally healthy person, but more than that he’s still kind, heck he may be even kinder than ever before. The scene where the girl who’s been bullying him breaks down in tears had me balling my own eyes out (it’s a scene that, for me, only gets topped by the bridge scene with Reigen). Mob has gone from a character I like to one I admire. If I can be one tenth as empathetic and emotionally mature as he is by the season’s end, then I reckon I’ve done good in life.

Mob isn’t the only character to go up in my estimation though, let’s talk about Reigen. Now I loved Reigen before, but the little arc he gets in the middle of this season is precisely what he needed. For those that haven’t seen the series yet (and, seriously, what are you doing? Go watch it!) Reigen basically gets brought low, his con-man antics finally catch up with him and I can’t argue that he’s not a little deserving of it. He does manipulate and trick people, but the point is he often tricks people into doing stuff that’s good for them. Yes he’s lying, but he’s hardly ever malicious with it. Yes he pushes Mob too far, but after some self-reflection he recognises that and makes amends. This season, Reigen is less of the Master and more of a human, flawed and fallible as the rest of us, but like the majority of characters in this series, Mob has had a profound affect on him. Mob’s kindness has changed him and continues to make him better.

If season one was mostly about how being special, being unique, doesn’t make you better than anybody else, then season two is about bonds and empathy. Mob changes through his interactions with different people and people change because they interact with Mob. We see former villains fighting alongside one another to help save the city that at one point they were planning on taking over and Mob defeats the majority of his opponents, not by overpowering them, but by talking to them. Yeah, sometimes it’s a hard sell to get through to them, but he keeps trying and trying until his kindness gets through. Winning by kindness, I need that on a t-shirt.

You take that depth of character and story and lay it on top of what Mob Psycho was already extremely good at, i.e. jaw-dropping animation, fast-paced comedy and pulse-pounding action and you have a series that everyone should at least try. There are a plethora of important and heartfelt messages in this show that need to be spread. You are the protagonist of your own story, but people need people and, though it’s hard, we have to find the balance for that as Mob is doing, but most important of all, remember, be kind.

The Verdict

Mob Psyho 100 was brilliant; season 2 is a masterpiece. I realise I may be overhyping this, but I feel this story is important, from its message to its characters I want as many people as possible to see this series if they haven’t already. It’s got everything that the first season did so well and has improved upon on by ramping everything up from the action to the emotions to the character journeys. Mob has become one of my favourite characters in all of anime and one that I greatly admire. Do yourself a favour and check this out.

fish stamp unmissible

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.  

First Impressions Winter 2019 part 1

New year, new anime. There’s plenty of shows and films that I’m looking forward to this year, but there’s also a whole stack of shows that I don’t have a clue about so let’s crack on and see what gems we’ve got waiting for us this season.

Boogiepop and Others

Takeda Keiji was hoping to have a pleasant date with his girlfriend Miyashita Touka, but she never showed up. Finally giving up and deciding to go home he spots a clearly distressed man wandering through the crowd and, like the rest of the crowd, decides to ignore the man. Then a mysterious girl in a cape and funny hat approaches and chastises the crowd for not showing even basic compassion, but that’s not what gets Keiji’s attention. No, it’s the fact that this mysterious stranger has the face of his girlfriend. What follows is a story of murder, mysterious powers and split personalities, just not necessarily in the right order.

I get the feeling this is going to be one of those shows where if I don’t give it my full attention I’m going to get lost easily. This is a non-linear story, which is always a hard sell, but the anime doesn’t help itself by jumping between timelines and perspectives with no indication as to where you are in the story (seriously is a ‘the day before…’ along the bottom so hard to type out?). The sell gets even harder when you realise that there isn’t a main character to this series, you think it’s following one person and then it’ll jump to another and then another and then another until you’re at the point where you’re wondering who you should invest in (not to mention that there are several characters with the same sort of hair and faces so it becomes a hard to tell who is who at first glance). Now I’ve been ragging on this series so far, but I have been enjoying it (for the first three episodes at least). I like stories that mess with narrative and while I don’t know if it’s the whole series that is going to be like this or just the first story arc, but I’m definitely interested. Having said that I’m probably going to keep this one for an end of season binge watch, mostly because I can get into twisted narratives so much easier when I’m watching them episode after episode (if I watch it week to week I’m likely to forget something important between episodes).

The Price of Smiles

Princess Yuki wants her whole kingdom to smile. Though she’s only twelve years old, she is the head of the monarchy (which should make her a queen, especially with both her parents being dead, but princess is cuter I guess) and takes lessons in politics and other important subjects to one day be a great leader. However some things are being kept from Yuki, like the fact that the world is already at war, a war that will have many causalities, some of which will be close to home for the princess. On the other side of the conflict is a skilled and obedient soldier, one who is always smiling.

There’s a reason I follow the three episode rule and this show is a prime example of it. Each and every episode has improved upon the last. The first episode wasn’t bad, but it had a definite feel of ‘been here before, got the t-shirt’. A world at war with mechs and an innocent and naïve young protagonist who is soon to learn the horrible truth of war. Then we get episode two, which is more of the same until we get to the end. I’ll give the series this, I was not expecting the ending (at least not this early) and I can’t wait to see how it impacts the characters going forward. Episode three however has been my favourite, mostly because it introduces Stella and her squad and they’re the most likeable characters so far. Again it’s very much, ‘been there, done that’, but I’m enjoying the series more than I was expecting to. I want to see where these character’s stories are going and I’m really hopeful for this series.

Mob Psycho 100 2

Everyone’s favourite overpowered yet socially awkward esper is back! Mob just wants an ordinary life and maybe the chance to talk to his childhood sweetheart, but between his overflowing psychic powers and his con man boss there’s not much chance of that. Whether it’s facing down urban legends or his first potential girlfriend, Mob has got a lot of troubles waiting for him and I’m literally counting down the moments until he explodes again, does that make me a bad person?

Let’s keep this short. Mob Psycho 100 is back. It’s awesome. Make sure to watch it. ‘Nough said. Okay, to expand on that a little bit, I love the first series of this show, I even ranked it as Unmissable in my review way back when, and I’m so glad the series is back. The animation is as great as ever, the characters are as fun as ever and I love the strange, and hilarious, situations Mob finds himself in. If I had one complaint it’s that after three episodes there isn’t much of a direction to the plot, we haven’t even seen much of Mob’s counter. Having said that there seems to be much more of a horror vibe this time around. Either way I’m just happy to spend time in this world again.

The Rising of the Shield Hero

Naofumi is living a fairly ordinary life, until he picks up a fantasy book in the library and is transported to another world. Along with three other arrivals, he is declared one of the Four Cardinal Heroes and is even given his own magic weapon, except while his fellow heroes get a sword, spear and bow, he’s stuck with a shield. Still Naofumi is determined to enjoy his other word adventure, but then things start to go wrong. Falsely accused of a terrible crime, Naofumi finds himself without money, without friends and a terrible reputation. Yet the young hero can’t go back home until the disasters that threaten this world are stopped and he’s going to have to find a way to survive in a world that hates and fears him.

This is probably my second favourite anime of the season so far. I have mentioned before that I’ve been having problems with the isekai shows of past seasons, for a while I was completely burnt out on them, but that seems to be changing of late. Between this, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime and my Digimon marathon I’m enjoying the genre again and for different reasons in each case. As far as this series goes I like the general flip on the power fantasy elements of a lot of isekai. Yes you’ve been sent to a fantastical world full of magic and heroes, but that doesn’t mean everything is going to go your way. I like both Naofumi and Raphtalia and the shield has some really unique and interesting powers and I can’t wait to see what else it gets down the line. My only real problem I have with this show is the pacing. Most of the time it’s perfectly fine, but Naofumi’s turn from optimistic noob to closed off and cynical was just a bit too quick in my opinion. For me it needed another minute or so of him processing how screwed he was before deciding that he’d never trust anyone ever again. It kind of just went straight from “But I’m innocent!” to “Right, screw you all!” in seconds flat. The character transition just needed a moment to properly sink it, but it didn’t get that. Looking forward to the rest of this series regardless.

My Roommate is a Cat

Mikazuki Subaru is a novelist who doesn’t do well with other people. Actually scratch that, he doesn’t do well with the outside world at all. He’s struggling for a new story idea until he comes across a cat with a look that could kill. Taking the cat home for more inspiration a bond begins to form between the two, much to Subaru’s alarm. This is the story of a man, his cat and their daily struggles to understand one another.

I’m not crying, you’re crying! Damn, episode 3 got me right in the feels. I was going to have this as my chillout anime for the season, but if it’s going to go for the emotional jugular like that again I may have to recategorise it. This is a really sweet and heart-warming series, with the occasional need for tissues. I love the fact that as well as giving us the emotional journey of one character as he deals with his grief and opens up to the world, we also get the beginners guide to what your cat really thinks. The series so perfectly captures the thought processes of a cat, or at least as best as we humans could ever understand them, giving really well thought out reasons and exploration as to why cats do the things they do. I’m sticking with this series, though I may have to guard my heart a little more carefully by the end of it.

Next time! We go back in time to an adventurers’ school! We meet a magical girl dealing with PTSD and we meet some delicious orphans! Wait…what?

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.  

Anime Corner: Mob Psycho 100 Review

blog-mob-review-title

It’s the final countdown!

What’s the Story?

Mob is just an ordinary kid, well, he wants to be ordinary; unfortunately he happens to be one of the most powerful espers on the planet. He may look like a quiet, meek little kid, but should the emotions he bottles up reach boiling point then it’s a case of duck and cover as no one’s going to be able to stop him. Under the guiding hand of his con-man master, Mob tries to live a good and ordinary life, while facing off against evil spirits, a secret organisation of espers and his own brother’s suppressed feelings. This can only end well.

The Review

Damn it! He’s done it again. The creator behind One-Punch Man has led to the birth of another anime that I really, really like, actually I think I may like Mob Psycho 100 more than One-Punch Man. It has the zany sense of humour and action so over the top it’s in the stratosphere that One-Punch Man had, as well as a main character who is extremely overpowered yet I still care and root for, but Mob Psycho has a little dash of something else, human drama. I mean One-Punch Man was great, I did care for the struggles of Saitama and the other heroes, but I care about Mob more. He’s a more relatable character, yes he’s super strong, but he’s also socially awkward and nervous about talking to the girl he’s crushing on. Yes he’s a bit too good-hearted and naïve to be a believable teenager, but that just makes me want to put my arms around the kid and shield him from the world. He just wants to be normal and yet never will be.

However much I like Mob though, the more interesting character for me is his younger brother, Ritsu. His psychological state could have a series all its own, I mean he’s everything Mob wants to be, he’s exceedingly normal, he does well at school, he’s good at sports and popular too, he even looks like the older brother and looks out for Mob. Yet despite all of that he yearns for psychic powers like his older brother has and you can see how much it’s eating him up inside not being able to do anything. Then the series reveals another little wrinkle, he’s actually scared of Mob. Seeing what Mob can do when he loses control, I’d be scared too and the reason he looks after Mob so much is one part brotherly kindness, one part preventative caution to try and stop his brother from blowing his top again. All of these emotions are swishing around inside him and conflicting against his admiration for his older brother and if Mob teaches us anything it’s not healthy to bottle up your emotions until you explode, especially when you have psychic powers.

Ritsu’s journey to the dark side is probably my favourite story arc in the series. There’s a palpable sense of tension as you watch Ritsu go further and further down the rabbit hole and the hints at a confrontation with his brother. It’s a different kind of drama to what we had in One-Punch Man and for me I prefer it. There is a bit less mind-blowing action that in One-Punch Man, it takes us until episode 3 before Mob really shows us what he’s holding back and it is so worth the wait. Due to the set up of the series with the percentage popping up to show us Mob’s emotional state, it can sometimes take a while for him to hit boiling point, plus the fact that his master drilled into him not to use his powers against other people. This works for the series though, it makes it so that when Mob does break out the psychic powers it’s a lot more satisfying.

I do have to talk about the animation with this series because it’s another major plus in this series’ favour. It’s done by Bones so you know it’s going to be good from the start and it is. It’s bright and colourful though in some cases when the psychic powers come out I think the best way to describe it would be psychedelic. The action, when it comes, is fluid and fast and it has this continual sense of motion to it, the best way I can describe is that it feels likes you’re on a roller coaster that is going full speed. It’s constantly moving forward faster and faster, but you never get lost with it, you know what’s happening and it is awesome, over the top, but awesome. What I like most about the animation though is the artistic style it goes for. The character models and the motion all have this loose, scratchy outline to them, it looks like the characters just pulled themselves off of a manga page and started walking around. Yet not once do I stop believing in these characters and this world, it suits this show perfectly.

The only real shame about this series is how criminally short it is. Only twelve episodes? Come on! We need more Mob! There is a plot there just begging for a second season, who doesn’t want to see Mob and the gang back to take on the boss of Claw (the evil esper organisation). Also, I haven’t read the source material so I don’t know if this happens, but I would think it’d be nice to have some development of Mob’s crush, I know she’s mostly there for Mob to admire from a far, but I’d like to know a little more about her and get some resolution to that plot thread.

The Verdict

Mob Psycho 100 is one of my favourite anime of this past season. It’s got some really loveable and interesting characters, some heartfelt drama, some funny jokes and some blistering action sequences. If you liked One-Punch Man I think you’re going to like this and if for some reason you didn’t like that show still give this one a try, you never know you might like it. The animation alone is worth the price of admission; it is nothing less than exceptional.

fish stamp unmissible

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday. 

 

Anime Corner: First Impressions Summer 2016 part 2

And we’re back. Let’s carry on with my first impressions of the shows of Summer 2016.

Mob Psycho 100

Mob is a middle school student who has trouble expressing his emotions, so much so that he often comes across as bored or emotionless. The emotions are slowly building though and when they reach bursting point you’d better watch out, because you see Mob is actually an insanely powerful psychic. All he wants to do is be a normal kid and maybe get to talk to his dream girl, but in a world full of phoney psychics, evil spirits and mysterious groups there isn’t much chance of that. The bad guys had better watch out, when Mob hits one hundred then the butt-kicking is going to start.

From the creator that brought us One Punch Man, we now have Mob Psycho 100, and it’s animated by Bones (I’m sorry, I didn’t realise it was Christmas already, but thank you for the present). I’m really enjoying this series so far, it’s funny, it has some great action and it is really really really really really really well animated. I love the style Bones have gone for. It’s this scratchy style that looks like the drawings have just gotten up off of the page, but it’s really fast and fluid, I love it. I can only admire the sheer amount of skill and time put into this animation. There isn’t much of a story so far outside of just getting to know the crazy cast, but then I like the weirdoes that have assembled for this series. I really like Mob, he’s a sweet and innocent kid and I like trying to guess what’s going to add to his countup to one hundred. Also he’s a badass when he uses his powers.

Taboo Tattoo

Justice Akatsuka (stop laughing there are worse names in this anime, the main girl is called Bluesy Fluesy so I think Justice here got off lightly). Anyway, Justice saves a weird guy from some street thugs and as a reward is given a mysterious tattoo that gives him superpowers, said superpower being able to create a void that will swallow anything, even Justice himself (gotta say, not much of a reward when you think about it). Now Justice finds himself caught in the middle of a conflict between the U.S. army who developed the tattoos and the kingdom where the tattoos originate from. Let the superpowered teen battles commence! And fanservice, lots and lots of fanservice (can someone please use the void power on either me or this show; I don’t mind which at this point.)

Ugh. Three episodes in and I’ve already reached the point of ‘ugh’, not a good sign. The fanservice gets worse each episode, it’s like the series is purposefully pushing me. Oh, you can take this much fanservice? Then how about this much? Or this much? All building up to the point where I punch the screen to make it stop. It’s ruining what could be a decent show, not a great one, but decent. The story is pretty average; we’ve got the teen protagonist given an obscenely overpowered ability, joining up with a secretive group to battle super-powered bad guys. The animation is pretty good, there are a couple of interesting powers and triggers among all the generic ones and I like how the military and political stuff adds a little bit of a different flavour, it’s needs more expanding upon, but it’s ok. If they just got rid of the fanservice then this would be ok to waste a half hour on each week.

Alderamin on the Sky

Ikta Solork is lazy, a womaniser and a little bit of a jackass (scratch that he can be a pretty big jackass), thankfully he also happens to be a tactical genius, though he certainly doesn’t see that as plus. Ikta dreams of a cushy desk job where he can just laze around and let life pass him by, but fate has other plans. When the ship he’s on ends up stranding him, his friends and a princess behind enemy lines, it’s Ikta’s quick-thinking and clever plans that save them. Unfortunately this rather impresses the princess who gets Ikta enrolled in the military school, just as war looks set to spread through the kingdom.

I like this series. Ikta has the potential to be annoying, but so far has skirted around it. He’s unmotivated and real know-it-all, not characteristics that are easy to root for, but beneath it you can tell that he cares about this friends and comrades and will do everything in his power to help them, characteristics that can be rooted for. I like that he’s not really that good on the physical side of things, so instead uses tactics and methodical thinking to get around problems, and we’ve had some pretty fun schemes from him so far. The rest of the characters are all enjoyable, if needing some further development, but there’s plenty of time for that. Yatori has to be my favour, and not just because she’s a badass with a blade, but she’s also really cool, level-headed and fun. The one thing I’m hoping for is someone that can match Ikta in the brains department. So far no one’s showing that they can present a challenge to Ikta and I think this series will get boring if Ikta has the answer all the time. So far though, this is an enjoyable series.

Hitorinoshita – The Outcast

I’d sum up the story at this point, but we don’t really have much of one at the moment. We’ve got a main character called Soran who was raised to master a super secret martial arts technique that he’s not allowed to use on anyone except other outsiders (other people with powers). There’s a scary girl who likes knives and killing things. Are villains are a creepy and annoying little kid and his overly sexualised big sister. We have no idea what they want or what their big plan is, just that they want something from Soran’s grandfather. They couldn’t get it from the grandfather’s corpse so now they want to dig into Soran’s memories to find it. That’s about it really.

This series does have some potential, I don’t know much about Chinese mythology, but it’s a nice change and I’m willing to learn. I just wish this anime would pick up the pace a little. I’ve seen three episodes so far what I describe above is pretty much all that has happened. I don’t need all the answers to what’s going on, but give me a general idea. What are the villains’ goals? How does this threaten our heroes? Who are our heroes? Where is this all headed? Why should I care about these people and whatever’s going to happen? I’m not invested in anything about this show outside of the mythology stuff (and there’s not been much of that). Our leads aren’t that interesting either, not the badass weird girl or the martial arts master, who used his powers once, lost and has spent the rest of his time whining and moaning. Way to make me care anime, way to make me care.

Qualidea Code

When mysterious creatures suddenly attacked the world and pushed humanity to the brink of extinction (it must be Tuesday), the children of the world were shipped off to a cold sleep facility. Now decades later they’ve awoken to defend what remains of their world, each of them having developed strange powers called ‘World’, they are the last hope humanity has of surviving.

Well, one episode can certainly change an opinion on a series. I mean I thought of Qualidea Code as a show that just about made it to average. I mean it had an interesting idea with the kids waking up in a world that they have to get back from the mysterious monsters, the Unknown, but never really even hints at using that part of the story in anyway. No instead we get the typical teenagers with superpowers fighting to save the world, with a really unlikeable main character. I get what they were trying to do with him, he’s so obsessed with protecting the people he cares about and he thinks it has to be him and him alone that does the fighting, but does the guy have to be so arrogant about it? The animation’s not that good and the rest of the characters are kind of one note. I was probably going to drop this series; then episode 4 came along. Episode 4 is bad. I mean really bad, it’s so stupidly, insanely bad that it is a joy to watch. I have never seen something so ridiculous and over the top (well not this week anyway), and all of it comes right the hell out of nowhere. They even knock the wind out of the main character so he’s no longer so arrogant. Just go watch this one episode; no description can do it justice.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.