It was an extremely close call for the top of the rankings this week. I wish I could give all of my top three shows the number one spot. But alas, there can only be one.
1. White Album 2
White album continues to impress with its ability to draw me into the building character drama despite the actual events of the show being relatively mundane on the surface. Even as nothing particularly special happens on screen I find myself more and more invested in the love triangle developing between Haruki, Setsuna and Kazusa. There’s an understated quality to White Album that I really appreciate. It isn’t very in your face and the characters don’t have particularly over the top personalities like the characters in some anime this season, but it all works in a way I haven’t seen a romance anime work in a very long time. I’m glad White Album 2 exists to show what a romance anime should be like.
2. Nagi no Asukara
By Contrast, Nagi no Asukara’s characters all seem to be in possession of very strongly defined personalities. It’s not necessarily a bad thing as these personalities help to elegantly demonstrate the point that nothing is ever as simple as one would like. People have a habit of trying to attribute every action taken by somebody else that they don’t like to malice without putting any effort into understanding why that person would think that way. People may take actions we don’t agree with but things are always more complicated than they seem and those people actually have a reason for doing what they do. I appreciate the message and I’m glad to see that Nagi is delivering it so well thus far.
3. Little Busters Refrain
We’re on to the main event in refrain and I’m finding myself getting as caught up in it as I had once hoped I would be back over a year ago when the Little Busters anime first began. This episode did an excellent job of recreated the first high school romance experience. The nervous excitement, the uncertainty about how to act around each other and around your close friends, and just the general confusion one feels when going through something like this for the first time. It doesn’t help Riki that Rin is somebody he’s known for so long. JC Staff is also clearly wasting no time in showing us that not everything is as it seems in a way that was much more blatant than what the VN offered its readers. It’s different but it works for a TV adaptation and I am glad to see JC Staff getting the little adaptation decisions they have to make correct.
4. Golden Time
Speaking of JC staff getting romance right Golden Time really stepped things up this week. The web of relationships is starting to take shape and I really like what I see. People will reach for the obvious Toradora comp with Golden Time given who the author of the original LN is. However, I am starting to see a bit of Honey and Clover in Golden Time. The relationship map in Golden Time is far more complex than the same in Toradora much like the one in Honey and Clover. Add in the fact that Honey and Clover also took place in college and it’s clearly the better point of reference in my mind. As Honey and Clover is one of my all-time favorites I’m finding myself more and more excited about Golden Time. The overall style will be different since Honey and Clover is a josei manga whereas Golden Time is a LN but the resemblance is unmistakable and I hope the end product will prove to be of similar quality.
5. Non Non Biyori
It isn’t in Junichi Satou territory but Non Non Biyori is shaping up to be a nice little iyashikei offering. This week’s story about the sisters was quite sweet. You can tell that the original manga wasn’t a 4koma as each story has much better flow to it than the typical 4koma cute girls doing cute things anime. Non Non is never going to be any kind of transcendent anime that people will remember for years but what it does it does well and I’m quite enjoying it.
6. Kyoukai no Kanata
I mentioned previously that it feels like Kyoukai no Kanata is taking place in two distinct worlds whose connection is tenuous at best. This week’s episode took place squarely in the ugly, angsty youmu fighting world and I have to say I wasn’t very impressed. The Hollow Shadow was very reminiscent of the Walpurgis Night from Madoka but I just don’t see the people at Kyoto Animation as being able to pull off a dark atmosphere like that. The dark action sequences seem to be inevitably broken up by a poorly placed bout of silliness that the people at KyoAni seem to be unable to avoid. All that said, I like the silly moments more than the dark moments. They feel more genuine whereas the angsty parts feel quite forced and are often frustrating to watch. All told Kyoukai no Kanata is a difficult show to know what to make of.
7. Galilei Donna
Galilei Donna is starting to grow on me as a show. The mystery is pulling me in in kind of a DaVinci Code kind of way. Comparing an anime about the treasure of a renaissance thinker to a book about the same might seem like a lazy comp similar to comparing Golden Time to Toradora but I don’t have nearly the frame of reference in mystery thriller that I have with romance anime. The animation felt a bit off this week compared with the previous episodes but the way the plot is moving more than made up for that.
Meganebu is beginning to remind me a bit of the better parts of last year’s Daily Lives of High School Boys. The main cast is similarly crude and hatches equally dumb plans (clocks that only go to 11? Really?) but there’s a quality to their idiocy that makes Meganebu enjoyable. The ghost-related plot of the second half was sufficiently touching without coming off as too maudlin for a show so clearly deficient in seriousness as Meganebu.
9. IS: Infinite Stratos 2
I’d never thought I’d say this but thank god for an action-centric episode. The increasingly shameless harem antics combined with Ichika’s density threatening to consume the entire show in its gravitational field my patience with IS was starting to wear thin. This episode seemed to get things back on track with the non-harem plot once again taking center stage. God help me but Tatenashi is starting to grow on me.
10. Yozakura Quartet
I’m honestly not exactly sure what I’m supposed to be getting out of Yozakura Quartet right now. The show is agreeable enough but nothing about it jumps out at me as terribly interesting. It hasn’t made me mad or caused me to roll my eyes in disgust yet so it’s got that going for it, which is nice.
11. Walkure Romanze
Unlike IS, Walkure needs to stay away from action. Far, far away. What happened to all the fun skirt eating, lance flailing nonsense from the first two episodes? Plot is truly the cancer killing anime.
12. Yowamushi Pedal
I said last week that how I feel about Yowamushi going forward would hinge on how they handle the end of the race up the hill. Somehow they managed to exceed even my wildest nightmares of how badly they could mess things up. If nothing else this can serve as a reminder of why I don’t like sports fiction. Even in the best of cases they take liberties with the sport for the sake of drama that I have absolutely no patience for. Dropped.
13. KILL la KILL
Every week I think KLK can’t get dumber, more shameless or more violent. Each week I’ve been proved wrong. So grats to Trigger, I guess?