Okay, folks – it’s here. It’s week seven, and all shows have at this point finally hit the middle of their cour, which can only mean one thing. It’s time for a mid-season ranking post!
I want to treat this post a little differently than the ones I’ve put together so far – I’m going to be giving a look at each show that I’m still watching this season and rank them according to…criteria. Magic stuff. You know. We’ll start from the bottom and progressively work our way to the top of my list for this season. I hope you’re ready, because, uh, I’m not.
Putting together a ranking for the shows I’m still watching has proved to be a genuinely grueling task. While I initially felt that it would be a simple task, once I got past the bottom two, the reality of the situation set in pretty hard when I found my list constantly switching shows around to hugely different positions. I think, however, that I’ve finally hit a spot I’m comfortable with, so join me, won’t you?
#9 The Misfit of Demon King Academy
So, here’s the deal – I’ve gotten to a point with Misfit where I am still watching it because it’s still pretty goofy, and I don’t hate it.I usually have one or two of these kinds of shows knocking around each season, and they all impress me to varying degrees. Even though Misfit is pretty uncontestedly at the bottom of my watching list for this season, though, it’s not as though I don’t think it still has any merits. It’s still very much a power fantasy show that manages to be unintentionally hilarious with the sheer absurdity of it all (I have long since given up on my previous idea that the show is actually acutely self-aware and tries to capitalize on that to be hilarious – I think that’s giving the show too much credit). The absurdity is still good, to be sure, but the joke is losing its appeal just a little bit with each episode that continues to go by.
That all being said, what has surprised me the most about Misfit is how it manages to really make its cast so dang endearing. I still can’t really explain it myself, but I love the cast of this show a lot. Will I forget about them once the next season rolls around? Most likely. Is Misfit a must watch for this season? Absolutely not. But, I’ve made it this far with it, and I’m still having fun, so what’s the harm in finishing it out?
#8 Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out
I’m gonna be real here, the only reason I continue to watch this show is the continued hope that each episode might be another one where Uzaki gets her shit metaphorically kicked in. I identify a lot with Sakurai’s energy-conservative lifestyle, and watching literally everyone around him try to “un-loner” him is excruciating at every turn. Despite that, I still love the cast, as they’re all the absolute worst, and they deserve each other. It’s a fun little goof each week, and it seems to be accomplishing its goal more than Misfit is currently doing. I know it’s not really a high bar, but hey.
Okay, so here’s where things start to get genuinely difficult in my rating scale. From #7 on, I can genuinely say that I love each and every one of these shows for different reasons, and I would watch as much of each that could possibly be thrown at me. What this comes down to, though, is the sheer amount of how much I enjoy each entry, and why.
I think I’ve stated this almost verbatim in a previous post, but Appare-Ranman! is a shitload of fun pretty much every week. They really took their time introducing the cast and building up to the race itself, and doing so has made it so that now that we’re in the real meat of the show, we have all of the context we need for everything to feel just right. The cast is varied and fun to watch, the show has a lot to say about the treatment of minority groups and their treatment in early 1900s North America, and the actual portions that we get of the race are a blast. I can say for certain that I’m definitely invested in the show and its cast, but in terms of plot, Appare-Ranman! just doesn’t grip me like some of this season’s other contenders. It feels weird to place a show that I have this much fun with this far down the list, but that’s simply a testament to how astonishingly good everything else is this season.
#6 The Millionaire Detective Balance:Unlimited
Initially, I came into Balance:Unlimited because of the ridiculous premise of the show – millionaire (well beyond millionaire, really, but let’s keep with the show’s title) playboy Kambe Daisuke joins the Modern Crime Prevention team in order to, allegedly, have some fun. And for a good five episodes, I watched because Daisuke is a doof, Haru is a good boy superior that I vibe a lot with, and the whole feel of the show is fun, wild, and unpredictable. But around episode six, the show started to shift a little bit and start unveiling the larger, overarching story in small doses. As of the time of writing this, having watched the most recent episode, things have gotten, honestly, more serious than I thought this show was going to go for, and I have to say that that surprised and impressed me. It’s a fascinating turn for the series and its characters, as they have to grow and adapt to a sinister situation that is changing quickly in front of their eyes. With half a season left, I’m thrilled to see where it goes.
Despite all that gushing, yes, there are still five titles ahead of Balance:Unlimited.
One of these titles is Rent-a-Girlfriend, and wow, is this show an unmitigated disaster in the best possible ways. I’ve talked a bit about this show before – freshly-dumped college student Kazuya rents a popular rental girlfriend, Chizuru, from a girlfriend rental app called Diamond, ends up getting both of their families involved by accident, and they both have to keep up the charade that they’re dating so as not to reveal Chizuru’s job to her family, and to not disappoints Kazuya’s family (specifically his grandmother). It’s a great premise, rife with possibilities for it to be a disaster, and good god, it only gets worse as you get deeper into it. Over time, Kazuya and Chizuru end up having to keep the charade up for an ever-increasing number of people, despite the fact that they are both (initially) gunning to dissolve the faux relationship.
I think this is maybe one of my favorite aspects of the show – the drama does not come from a “will they, won’t they?” dynamic. At least, not initially. Both Kazuya and Chizuru want out of the lie they’ve continued to spin, and they continue to get pulled back into it, despite the amount of times they’ve both talked together and decided to end it. Here is a brief list of things that have pulled the two back in for “one final job”:
- Kazuya’s friends and ex-girlfriend want them to come to a dinner shindig
- Chizuru falls off a ferry and Kazuya jumps in and saves her, which would make for a socially weird time for them to break up
- Both of their grandmothers ambush them by getting them an overnight room together at a spa house
Things just continue to get worse, however, as the most recent episode has another rental girlfriend, Ruka, essentially blackmailing Kazuya to date her since she knows that Chizuru is also a rental girlfriend, and Chizuru tells Kazuya to date her on a provisional basis to, if nothing else, get her to keep her mouth shut. And this is even after Kazuya and Chizuru have both begun to feel like they’re definitely developing feelings for one another, though they haven’t told each other yet. THIS SHOW IS A NIGHTMARE, Y’ALL. I’m always excited for Friday to roll around so I can see just how much deeper this duo have dug themselves, and I’m always left wanting more. It’s spectacular, but we still have more shows to give the rundown to.
#4 The God of High School
I’m going to be honest here – I don’t have a ton to say about GOH. It’s a really fun, highly stylized shonen action battle anime with a huge, diverse cast, crazy powers, beautifully choreographed fights, and a world and lore that is continually unfolding, adding more and more layers of complexity, mystery, and sheer delight to the show. Pretty much every episode gets my pulse pounding, but it also consistently warms my heart, especially with the core trio of the show. It’s just plain fun, and whenever I get home from work on Mondays, just about the first thing I do is toss up the new episode to watch.
There’s a lot of shonen action battle shows that get by on style over substance, and that’s not necessarily always a bad thing, but GOH runs a bit deeper than that (I’m not going to say the show is deep by any means, but there’s a lot going on), and I really appreciate that about the show. I like a show where I can both watch people beat the tar out of each other, ponder what a weird, shady organization is plotting with some huge-ass magic swords and shit, and also become deeply emotionally invested in the cast. GOH is just a delight to watch at all turns, and I’m really glad to have it this season.
#3 Re:Zero Season 2
I’ve heard a lot of folks whining about this season of Re:Zero being really slow, or just bad, or other things like that. The most notable comment I’ve seen was that someone commented “Fucking finally. Five episodes in and the story is just now getting started” accompanied with a picture of…Subaru dying. You know, as if the show can only have a story if it’s about Subaru just dying over and over at a breakneck pace? What a hilariously tone-deaf thing to say. Yes, I know that the conceit of the show is that Subaru can die and come back to a fixed save point that alters every time he makes any significant progress. Yes, I know that Subaru hasn’t died and returned anywhere near as much as he did in the first season. But acting as if the show’s story only has merit and value when Subaru is getting offed is really giving the show the short end of the stick, especially when there is so much going on so early in this season!
We get a good episode and a half of Subaru’s past and his family, giving us insight into how he became the person he is, how bad his shut-in status was, and how he is able to gain some closure and relief from his guilt of both relying on and leaving his parents. We have a lot of interesting twists and turns about the land of Sanctuary, the treatment of the half-bloods that live within, and the ramifications of why Emilia will need to finish the trial of Sanctuary, even though Subaru is also qualified to do it. The season itself starts with the bombshell that because of one of the Sin Archbishops, everyone but Subaru has entirely forgotten who Rem is. Yeah, episode five ends with Subaru getting his gut split open by the intestines pervert, but that is by no means where the story begins for this season. It’s a great continuation from season one, and while it might not be the gorefest that parts of the previous season was, it still has a genuinely interesting, compelling story to tell. I hate that it’s only a one-cour, because god, I would watch as much of this as I could get my hands on.
Speaking of shows that people have bitched about this season, here’s a hot take: Deca-Dence is the best non-sequel show of the season. Fight me.
Deca-Dence came out of the gate with one of the best debut episodes I’ve seen in recent memory. Humanity is almost extinct, but clings to survival aboard the mobile fortress Deca-Dence, fighting back against the mysterious creatures, the Gadoll, that almost wiped them out. Using gear not unlike the 3D maneuver gear from Attack on Titan, the warriors of Deca-Dence (two factions with the same goal – the Gears and the Power) swing around in the zero-gravity fields that the Gadoll produce and use tube spears to kill them and extract their blood, which is used to continue fueling Deca-Dence. It’s a crazy, fascinating concept! Then episode two hit, and a good third of the people watching it collectively lost their shit and dropped the show.
Episode two revealed that Deca-Dence, the Gadoll, and everything else on Earth has been turned into a game for cyborgs. As humanity faced extinction, large corporations began to create cyborg bodies that could live off-planet in relative safety, and as these corporations grew alongside an ever-expanding cyborg population, one company, Solid Quake, bought the rights to manage the last remaining bits of humanity, put them in Deca-Dence for their survival, and turned their struggle for life into a feature in a game made for cyborgs. Also, the cyborgs look cartoony. I’m pretty sure that this is the largest factor that turned folks off of the show.
Here’s the thing, though. We have see so many shows about humanity clinging on for dear life before, and doing the same thing here would kind of be tired. I don’t want to watch Attack on Titan meets Howl’s Moving Castle. I don’t want to see another bleak show about humanity fighting and struggling against their own extinction in a wasteland. We have so many of those shows already! That’s why I think Deca-Dence’s twist is brilliant – seeing the struggle of humanity become literally a future in a game for, at this point, and entirely different species of being, all while humanity is completely unaware of it, makes for a much more complex, interesting story that brings up a lot of discussions about how those in lower positions of power – socioeconomic, caste, etc – can be exploited for fun or on a whim by those at the top.
The characters are also fascinating to see unfold in this wild show, and I could gush on and on about this show, but I think that the best thing I can do is to say that this show is 100% worth watching past the second episode. Anime is filled with series that have wild, goofy artstyles, and people hail some of them as masterpieces, so why should Deca-Dence, when it only utilizes that about half the time, not be given the chance that these other shows are afforded? If you give it an honest, unbiased try, I really think folks will love this show.
#1 Oregairu/Yahari Climax
I might be a little biased here. I might have been part of the “Yahari season 3 never” crowd who waited in what we thought was in vain for years for a conclusive season to this show. I might be unbelievably invested in what happens to our core trio of Hachiman, Yui, and Yuki, and how and when and why their hearts will inevitably break (and hopefully be rebuilt).
I started watching this series because I thought the banter and group dynamics were fun from the start, but it really pulled me in as it began to show cracks in the facades of essentially every major character in the series. It was so interesting to see a school romantic comedy that hit so close to home, and was so real about its characters, how they interact with each other, and how they so desperately try to avoid hurting themselves and others in the process. Now, three seasons in, and halfway through that third season, things have hit a tipping point that we cannot possibly recover from. The rest of this show is just going to be messy, and painful, and I am not ready for it. I am genuinely scared of what will happen in the show at this point. But the beautiful thing about the show is that even though I hurt when the cast hurts in this show, I can still see rays of hope shining through the cracks. The show manages to be hilarious, heartfelt, and very sweet when it’s not making me want to throw myself out of a window when I have to watch Yui break down for like the tenth time this season.
In a show about people that desperately want to have something genuine, the show itself manages to portray a very genuine picture of people who fail to effectively communicate and bond, for one reason or another, and it is beyond words. I cannot express how much I love this show, how much I am going to miss it once it has finished, and, honestly, how relieved I will be once it’s all over. If you have somehow not watched Oregairu/Yahari by this point, I would recommend that you drop everything you’re doing and start watching from the first season, because god, it’s good.