Happy Birthday To Me

Yay. Can’t help but feel people are focused on something else today, though. Eh, whatever. It can’t be that important anyway.

Oh yeah, turns out the monthly posts thing also fell through. Who’d imagine that I’d have no motivation to write here anymore? If it doesn’t produce some kind of profit, then why am I even doing it?

I hate thinking like that, but it’s true. I’ve moved on to bigger things, and but this little blog was the start of it all, pretty much. I feel bad just leaving it here, and I also feel bad about the two or so folks that actually read it.

I might come back, if it strikes my fancy. If in the future writing without a paycheck in mind brings me peace again. If anything, thanks to those who stuck around. If you do so, you might get something eventually. It’s just not a guarantee anymore.

Later, guys.

Avengers: Infinity War REVIEW


WARNING: This review will deal with slight spoilers for the film, so make sure you have either watched it, or you understand the nature of the plot and how it ends.


Well, well, well.

I have to say, I’m quite impressed. What under incompetent directors and writers could’ve been an absolute disaster, Avengers: Infinity War manages to be one hell of a solid and exciting finale, especially after eight years of buildup. That is, if you care at all about the characters involved and aren’t really looking that closely at the dialogue, craft, or consistency.

Now, I say this completely understanding the themes and overarching narrative of the film, and how well they tie into each other. It’s all about sacrifice; multiple characters sacrifice something they love in order to reach their desired goal. Some succeed from this, but others do not, and for the first time in one of these mass-produced and safe superhero films, consequences are much more dire, impactful, and direct. The heroes fail, utterly so, and this failure is not approached with subtlety either. That by itself should be able to impress enough to warrant many to rate the film highly, almost entirely flipping the traditional ending for these films in a way I haven’t seen being done in a while (even though it’s not a subversion). In fact, the bodycount is so high, I’m concerned for Marvel Film’s commercial future in terms of specific characters.

I kid (somewhat), but for real, the thematic undercurrent of the movie between the heroes and villain is done really well, as both sides experience the same psychological struggles as the other. Aside from the obvious protagonist dilemmas, Thanos himself is highly relatable (which is not necessarily always a good thing), has deeply seeded motivations and easily one of the more debatably “good” goals out of any villain in the entire MCU. They managed to pull it off without his ideals sounding overly pure, either, making the moral flaws in his plans still negative enough so that people root for the heroes, but understandable enough that the audience can feel a semblance of empathy for him.

On another positive note, the film packs an insane amount of content into a relatively short amount of time for a film carrying such payoffs. It’s pretty well paced all around, as scenes transition between the large cast with proper timing, feeling appropriate and almost rhythmic. During the climax, these perspective switches are done more frequently, matching the frantic stakes of the final fight and leaving the audience hungry for what happens after each scene’s specific cutoff. All in all, the speed of the film is one of its strengths, as during its runtime there was seldom a particularly bad downbeat or boring moment.

Finally, the spectacle of the movie can’t really be denied. Massive battles, tons of new and familiar locations, and with a borderline aggressive amount of action and effects, this movie is a true late 2010s popcorn experience. The CG can be intrusive at times, but that’s a personal preference aspect rather than something that severely sinks the overall film.

Well, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the negatives, since there are a few things that lower the overall film for me, personally.

First of all, the dialogue is mostly hit or miss, ever-so-slightly inching toward miss. It’s very clear that every single line of dialogue was crafted painstakingly, but so much so that many of the conversations feel forced and unnatural. Often times serious conversations will trickle their way into the realm of annoyingly “witty” dialogue, only for the characters to interrupt this exchange in order to return to the serious topic. Not only does this break the flow of the conversations, but many times these jokes and quips are jam-packed into these exposition scenes forcefully, purely to keep the tone of the film somewhat “funny” or lighthearted. This can pull away from many of the more poignant and dramatic moments of the film, especially during its first half. This isn’t the case for most of the conversations, as some are very much a fun battle of referential humor, mocking jabs, and clever reincorporation, but these are only a handful. The best conversations are those when the stakes aren’t apparent, as the lightheartedness of the characters can surface and it doesn’t contrast so abrasively with the more specific heavy moments of the film. I will also say that sometimes the dialogue will verbally explain a joke or mood when the actors are perfectly capable of portraying such emotions through their performance, which is mighty frustrating. It’s almost as if the movie doesn’t trust its audience to understand subtle humor or be able to distinguish a change in attitude without blatantly explaining it. I am willing to give the mainstream audience of this film a little more credit than that.

On another note, many could complain that the decisions made by the characters during the film are idiotic and blind-sighted, but I’d also argue that that was the whole point of the movie and that they suffer appropriate consequences for it, so I’ll give them a pass. Sometimes these decisions did feel out of character, though, especially for the cunning and usually intelligent Loki, as well as for the many other people who tried to strike Thanos head-on. C’mon, guys. You should be smarter than to run up to the most powerful being on the universe with just a dagger.

And yes, those death scenes were pretty sudden and harsh, even if I personally didn’t feel anything for these characters myself, but I’m a dick anyway so it doesn’t really affect the movie’s quality.

Overall, Infinity War is a pretty dang solid movie. It didn’t drag (for the most part) for its relatively lengthy runtime, and it delivered an ending that will definitely strike deep into the hearts of any emotive Marvel fan. For me personally, though, the craftsmanship and execution of certain scenes and the often-times distracting dialogue was just not up to par with some of the better Marvel films of the past. Still, I cannot deny this is a strong finish for such a monolithic franchise, and one that will most definitely be insurmountably successful and critically beloved by anyone who actually wants to have fun watching movies.

Good job, guys.


Update and A Slight Change of Presentation


I have been gone for a bit, but I’m still (technically) keeping up with my “once a month” policy I established at the beginning of the year.

The thing is, I’ve become kind of, sort of, an actual anime writer now? So what I’ll be doing is, if I don’t have anything planned or prepared to post on this blog by itself, I’ll simply be linking to my articles and reviews on the other sites I now write for. This is also a way to shill my reviews. I have no shame.

I will be writing stuff exclusively for this blog in the future, but being as busy as I am now with all this stuff, it won’t be as frequent.

Currently, I’m working on a Simulcast Review of Cutie Honey Universe, so here are the three parts that are already out. I’ll be posting more every week when they do come out.

Ep1 Review / Ep2 Review / Ep3 Review

Thanks again for sticking by (those few of you who are) and I hope you enjoy this fresh batch of content.


Call Me By Your Name REVIEW


Oh god, Call Me By Your Name is so boring.

What the hell actually happens in this movie? Where’s the drama? Where’s the conflict? What are the characters? Where are they?

This movie is so empty. It’s just two flaccid people jostling around in some Italian countryside with no reason behind their romance, it feels like one of those ads for a European Vacation.

The tame-as-hell conflicts get revolved just as quickly as they’re brought up, and everyone is perfect. No characters have any real flaws at all.

But I bet people are praising this movie just because it’s about a gay couple. And, hell, I don’t even wanna go there, but like, even straight love stories can be as vapid as this one. It just comes down to execution. And I’ve seen so many better executed gay love stories.

This just feels… and I hate to say this: Pretentious.

The way it casually throws poetic, schmaltzy dialogue and phrases around, how it mentions classical musicians so nonchalantly, how it wallows in tear-doused emotions. It’s like, “Oh, we’re just hopeless romantics, we’re so in love with each other and everything around us, isn’t life awesome?”

Great, I’m so happy for you, but why should I care? There’s nothing for me to cling onto, nothing for me to worry about. No stakes, or climaxes, or hurdles at all.

You can say films don’t have to have conflict, but in that case, they’re arthouse movies. And even then, the best arthouse movies at least have a narrative thread to follow, some sense of drama surrounding the characters. But this? It’s such a lull, so bloated and stretched out. Like a piece of chewed bubblegum pulled from both ends. 45 minutes of this film could’ve been removed and nothing would’ve changed. Sure, you miss out on some potentially touching moments, and maybe have to take out some side characters and B-plots, but the result would be a much stronger and impactful presence.

What was even the point of Marzia’s character? She was paraded around, even appeared nude, just to be dumped unceremoniously? If the film was about how a young, impressionable man falls madly in love with a dashing foreigner, why was she even in the movie? For a full frontal? Pretty pointless if you ask me.

It’s not so much concept, but more so the construction and structure that really pisses me off. This isn’t a tight, carefully crafted artistic masterpiece. It’s a long, masturbatory (literally) dredge that goes on far too long for its own good. It’s not insultingly bad, like Phantom Thread, but it’s just so incredibly underwhelming and boring.

And I guess Sufjan Stevens did a fine job with the score. Didn’t stop them from pulling songs straight out of The Age of Adz, though.


Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri QUICK REVIEW


This is a very conflictive movie.

On one hand, you have this balls-to-the-wall plot that devolves into beautifully meticulous chaos, as people spiral downwards into madness, paranoia and violence. The story is very followable, with characters that show both sides of the moral coin and put front and center the sheer grayness of situations like these. Every character has a good side and a bad side, just like normal humans, and that’s worthy of praise. Not many films have the gall to explore the darkest ethical depths of their protagonists and make them so bluntly apparent. Also, the plot is incredibly interconnected, with devices that are set up and then paid off satisfactorily, as it moves along quickly enough to be wholly entertaining, but also never leaving the viewer behind.

At the same time, the film feels very unfocused and scattered, with characters coming in left and right that provide no actual advancement to the plot and only feel like add-ons, placed in the middle of this maelstrom purely for some cheap jab at a real-life social issue. No, it’s not about black people, or about women (like some folks are spouting), the problems with the plot mostly stem out of the ambition of the storytellers to try to make this feel as organic as possible. To show the onion-like layers of impact that a circumstance like the one in the film can have on a small community full of differing ideas.

In the end, if the film was tightened and they trimmed the fat off the script, focused on the cathartic essentials, and put a little more thought into the rational consistency of the characters, it could’ve been great.

As it stands, though, the movie isn’t abhorrent, as the plot makes sense, and it feels like a bloody chapter in the much longer life-book of its characters. ‘

It’s just a little skewed, that’s all.


The Ritual REVIEW


The Ritual is David Bruckner’s (of V/H/S fame) take on a Blair Witch-esque concept, and I’m happy to say that this one knocks it straight out of the park. At a breakneck 94 minutes, this deep dive into the blackness of despair is 2018’s best horror experience so far.

The film immediately instills a sense of creeping dread with the first scene. After some snappy character introductions, the unapologetic brutalism displayed is enhanced by the grounded dialogue and sheer sudden impact of the tragedy in the introduction. This is a fantastic start to the feature, one that begins pumping sizzling blood that carries the viewer through the subsequent tense establishing scenes of the group hiking through the breathtaking valleys of the Swedish Wilderness six months later.

After the gang builds a small shrine to their deceased friend (a shrine which pops us briefly in the foreground as they’re scampering to pack in the rain), they end up having to take a quicker but rougher route to the lodge due to an accident.

Paranoia seeps into our main character immediately, as things begin to take a turn for the gorey and bizarre as nordic runes carved on trees, gutted, hanged beasts and a piercing, inscrutable glare hang over the troop. They lose their way into a rotting house and decide to spend the night, and what follows can only be described as the utter meltdown of logic and trust. As the world around them begins to hideously morph into a plane of nightmares, will they keep their heads firm on their shoulders, or will their minds be swept away by the breeze between the trees?

The story does evolve as it goes, but it never drops the tension, as the mysteries get cleared up and we learn more about what exactly is happening to these unfortunate souls. The first and second acts are definitely the highlight of the film, though, as the questions surrounding the grotesque occurrences are left in the air the story can revel in the delicious madness that consumes the characters. The climax and subsequent ending can be mixed, as the ultimate secret is revealed and can be underwhelming if one’s expectations are too high.

I will warn that jumpscares are placed throughout, but they never consume the screen and only annoy in the audio department with sharp, ear-slicing blasts, almost as though they were added afterwards in post as a way to streamline the film. Other than that, the film relies heavily on drawn out, ever-so-slightly crawling shots and intense yet followable shaky-cam scenes that cement the voyeuristic and deranged tone of the film. It’s no It Follows in terms of flawless unease, but it definitely rattles the bones in terms of pure visual style.

One thing that might potentially break the experience for you is if you butt heads with thick Cockney accents, as they take over the dialogue and make up the essence of the cast’s interactions. Hidden in the wording, though, is well-crafted scene progression and characters that, for the most part, act pretty standard to what you’d expect of anyone in the situations presented in the film. They’re not incredibly complex or layered characters for the most part, but they never break consistency and would act as rationally (or irrationally) as most. This makes for simple but straightforward characters that don’t obstruct the tone and can actually be pretty relatable. Snazzy quips and friendly jabs are littered here and there, but they’re never bloated or forced, it all feels like a flowing conversation.

Speaking of the characters, the performances are top-notch, across the board. Rafe Spall, Rob James-Collier, Sam Troughton, and Arsher Ali truly display raw fear in their actions, as animalistic flailings, shocked jitters, and guttural voices dominate the darkest moments of this film. Very impressive.

Without going into spoilers, the main character does go through an effective character arc, one that ties into his motivations and ultimately pays off satisfyingly in the ending. The first scene and all the problems that arise later because of it tie into his development and fuel the spark that changes the character. It’s pretty straightforward, but it makes for a compelling narrative and a character worth rooting for.

Overall, The Ritual makes no mistakes in delivering a whiplash of heart-pumping terror, and it’s a good bet that you’ll be shaking as much as the characters in it.


Albums of 2018 – January

January is over, but let’s not forget it just yet. Over the course of the month, dozens of albums have been released, but which ones are the best? Music taste is, of course, subjective, but here are five records that, in my opinion, stood out amongst the droves of generic pop rock and trap rap albums that came out in January (I’m looking at you, Culture II).

Shame – Songs of Praise [Post-Punk, Indie Rock]

After exploding in popularity in their London base, Shame have kicked open the doors to 2018 with what is quite possibly one of the most instrumentally consistent rock albums since Protomartyr’s Relatives in Descent all the way back in September of last year. This is their debut record, and even if they wear their influences on their sleeves (mainly their fellow Englishmen, The Fall), they still manage to strike hard with a diverse, creative album that does Post-Punk right.

The main selling point of the album is its constant speed and punchy lyrics, never sparing on the energy and impact of Punk, but keeping the riffs compact and accurate. From the heavy and explosive Dust on Trial, to the hilariously written bassline-thumper The Lick, to the loud and proud neck-strainer that is Lampoon, Shame managed to craft a tight, hard-hitting album that, while lyrically dull a couple of times, manages to be true to itself, the band, and the spirit of rock music. There’s some real biting commentary on this thing sometimes too, and it displays the woes of contemporary youth without pandering or blowing it out of proportion too much. The vocal performances are raw and strained, and while to some that might be blaring, the sheer energy of Charlie Steen’s voice sell the rebellious and fist-clenching tone of Songs of Praise.

Ultimately, the little details and hangups don’t make much of a dent on this heart-pumping album, filled with the spirit of youth in every sense of the word.

Favorite Tracks: Dust on Trial, Concrete, On Rizla, The Lick, Gold Hole, Friction, Lampoon, Angie.

Least Favorite: Tasteless, Donk.

JPEGMAFIA – Veteran [Glitch Hop, Industrial Hip Hop]

Peggy (JPEGMAFIA himself) is back with his sophomore LP, and it’s this year’s most colorful, layered, and downright intoxicating hip hop record so far. If you could even call most of this album ‘hip hop’ in the first place.

Listening to Veteran without any idea of who Peggy is or what his production is like will be an interesting experience for sure. Even the opening track, 1539 N. Calvert, is filled with abstract sound collages, irregular time signatures, moments of jarring silence, minimalist driving beats and an electrifying vocal performance, all of which carry consistently throughout the album. It’s a constant struggle to keep up with what the record is doing, from the textured and crackly electronic noise-scapes to the head-bobbing bangers constructed entirely out of a half-second loop of some voice recording from who-knows-where. Multiple listens are almost a requirement, as one can get lost in the lo-fi, onion-like organicity of the instrumentation.

Veteran is definitely not for casual listening, though. Not only is it glitchy and dissonant, but it has many obscure references to internet culture and hot-button topics that might be glossed over if one isn’t attentive. I won’t spoil them, though, those treats are for you to discover.

This thing isn’t skimping on excellent bars either, as irony, sarcasm, self-awareness and most importantly, clever wordplay drip out of every orifice on this album. With titles and subjects like Libtard Anthem and I Cannot Fucking Wait Until Morrissey Dies, Peggy clearly wants to stick his fingers deep in those wounds, and he has the chops to do so as well. He’s engaging on a verbal and musical battle with everyone he encounters on this project. Baby I’m Bleeding and Rock N Roll is Dead will probably have some of the stickiest, gnarliest and most memorable lines in hip hop this year.

Overall, Veteran delivers an uppercut of stimulation in terms of energy, diversity, lyricism and musical evolution. Peggy has definitely outdone himself and gifted us a record with a fascinating identity. Do not skimp on this one, it’s a total trip.

Favorite Tracks: Thug Tears, Baby I’m Bleeding, My Thoughts on Neogaf Dying, Rock N Roll is Dead, Libtard Anthem, Macaulay Culkin, I Cannot Fucking Wait Until Morrissey Dies, Curb Stomp.

Least Favorite: Panic Emoji.

Weedpecker – III [Psychedelic Rock, Space Rock]

Weedpecker? With a name like that, you can pretty much expect only one thing from this Polish 4-man outfit: Crazy, mind-bending Stoner Rock.

III is the third studio LP by Weedpecker, and they have a consistent quality throughout their discography that many other bands struggle to maintain. With this fresh project, it is more of the same, but even bolder, wilder and more engulfing.

There are only five songs on this 42-minute record, but don’t let that scare you. Each of these sturdy songs has a beginning, middle, and end, building up and exploding in satisfying laser-like riffs and punchy finishers, yet still feeling like parts to a greater whole, much like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s neverending Nonagon Infinity. The group have gifted us with the finisher to a consistently solid trilogy of Stoner Rock records, from their self-titled, to II, and now with III, each delivering a sonically cohesive sound that still manages to melt the ears with thick, soupy psych leads.

If you want a record that might not necessarily blow the mind, but groove the soul for a while, this one’s on the more hectic and stimulating side.

Favorite Tracks: Embrace, Liquid Sky, From Mars to Mercury.

Least Favorite: Molecule.

First Aid Kit – Ruins [Indie Folk, Folk Pop]

Swedish Folk duo Klara and Johanna Soderberg bring us their fifth studio album, and it’s a warm, enveloping and comforting escape to old school Americana.

While Ruins might not be the most adventurous or poignant album this side of the genre spectrum, there’s no denying that the musicality is powerful, uplifting, and widely anthemic. From the vivid and succoring layer of sound over tracks like Rebel Heart and Fireworks, to the more Country-esque twang prominent in cuts like Postcard, the pace throughout the record is steady, at a lock-tight 10 tracks, just 39 minutes long.

First Aid Kit is definitely taking inspiration from many female Folk acts in the past, from Joni Mitchell’s emotional singer/songwriter influence to Laura Marling’s chubbier Pop. They definitely don’t reach the level of engagement to, say, a record like Blue, but still manage to draw from their own experiences and portray them solidly in the album. You might even get some impressive musical/lyrical juxtaposition, like in the excellent It’s a Shame, where the rich, lush instrumentation is placed over pained and lonely choruses and verses perfectly.

Ruins is a rock solid Folk Pop record that comes from the heart, and what better way to write music, right? Thankfully, this group does have the talent and skill to pull it off in the end.

Favorite Tracks: Rebel Heart, It’s a Shame, Fireworks, Postcard, Ruins, Nothing Has to Be True.

Least Favorite: To Live a Life, Hem of Her Dress.

Ty Segall – Freedom’s Goblin [Glam Rock, Garage Rock, Art Rock]

Ty Segall continues with his prolific discography, but this time he’s taking some pretty big risks. I’m happy to say that they’ve paid off, and massively so.

This is surprising, coming from a guy who started making rough Garage Punk in the late 2000s. The spirit of raw ardor is still alive in Freedom’s Goblin, but it’s been glazed over with some of the most crisp and driving instrumentation in rock music this past year, and I mean including 2017.

This is Ty Segall at his most lively, splashy, and hued, playing around with a wide palette of instruments, tempos, and concepts. Freedom’s Goblin is a sonic parade, with every passing exhibition providing a different experience, yet with everything feeling connected.

There’s elements of crushing Noise Rock (When Mommy Kills You and Meaning), hazy Psychedelic Pop (Cry Cry Cry), vivid Folk Rock (You Say All the Nice Things and I’m Free) and even frenzied Jazz-Rock (Talkin 3 and The Main Pretender). This whole project is filled with catchy, stunning instrumentation that constantly evolves and warps, making for an engaging and surprising journey throughout. It’s also structured beautifully, with loud, riff-heavy beasts flowing flexibly into the calmer, easier cuts. This makes the whole album feel like a roller coaster, twisting and changing speed, never stopping until you’re shocked silly. Finally, there’s the 12-minute Prog Rock monster And, Goodnight, which is basically a guitar duel set in space. About as perfect of a closing track as you could imagine.

The actual sounds of this album could potentially be considered old fashioned, but they way Ty and crew craft a whole new experience with the same sounds as the acidic 60s is classic bliss.

In short, Freedom’s Goblin is an exhilarating, meteoric record that nudges shoulders with tons of wildly different genres, but manages to cook up something not only impressive, but potentially unforgettable.

Favorite Tracks: Fanny Dog, Rain, Every 1’s a Winner, Despoiler of Cadaver, When Mommy Kills You, My Lady’s on Fire, Alta, Meaning, Cry Cry Cry, Shoot You Up, You Say All the Nice Things, She, Prison, Talkin 3, The Main Pretender, I’m Free, 5 Ft. Tall, And Goodnight.

Least Favorite: The Last Waltz.

Monthly Trash

Sadly, as much as there is great music every month, there is also music that not only fails on an artistic level, but on the conceptual as well. Sorry, guys, but some things need to be said. Don’t worry, though, there will only be one bad album a month, as even I can’t subject myself to so much torture.

Fall Out Boy – Mania

Fall Out Boy has been the butt of many-a-joke, especially coming from the underground rock community which I explore the most. Granted, their earlier, rawer, and more energetic Pop Punk and Emo Pop albums haven’t aged particularly well, but they gained a strong enough following to last them throughout their 15 year long career. But as soon as the 2010s made their wretched appearance, FOB has been tilting slightly. Very slowly, they’ve been incorporating elements of Electropop into their music, shifting the entire tone and presentation of their outfit to fit in with the electronic craze of the 2010s. This has granted them a notable amount of consistent popularity throughout the decade, and much more than any Emo band from the early 2000s has any right to. Despite this, they’ve not made their old fans follow through with their mutation, and critics haven’t been subdued either.

It all coalesces into the overwhelming and ear-piercingly noisy Mania, which is a perfect title for this record. From the very first single and opening track, Young and Menace, to the closer, there is a hardcore emphasis on EDM influence and a deafening amount of instrumentation. Noise and walls of sound are not the problem, though, as many old and new classics embrace it. My Chemical Romance’s Loveless, with its impenetrable and glitzy shoegaze; Death Grips embracing industrial noise and happily punishing their audience with droning beats; Sonic Youth’s passion for rebellious, anxious Noise Rock in legendary records like Daydream Nation and Sister, etc.

What FOB fails to see here is that making your Pop Rock and Electropop album noisy and abrasive is like making a soup with sugar and spice dumped in carelessly. Copying some of the blandest and most repetitive tropes in EDM, adding an ugly shimmering gloss over it and then hastily strapping on guitars is going to make the music sound like garbage. They missed the mark completely and released a blunder of unfollowable cacophony.

Favorite Tracks: The Last of the Real Ones.

Least Favorite: Every other track.

Thanks for reading this quick recommendation retrospective on January of 2018. We’ll be here with February as well, so stick around!

Top 10 Anime of 2017

Happy New Year! We finally made it! My first year watching anime and I think I’m ready to group up and unpack my favorites of the year. As someone who watches seasonal anime so adamantly as myself, this year has brought a lot of fresh, fascinating surprises, as well as some truly mind-bending moments. With over 50 shows watched (that’s finished, not counting the 50+ shows I dropped), I have gathered my picks for Top 10, and here they are:

10. Little Witch Academia


Studio Trigger have gained somewhat of a blip on their otherwise spotless repertoire of shows, never quite rising to the breadth, impact and raw power that 2014’s Kill la Kill garnered. With 2015 bringing us the fantastic, but otherwise short burst Space Patrol Luluco, and also the highly controversial and breathtakingly animated Kiznaiver, Trigger have taken back the reigns of their creativity this year and delivered on a full, 25 episode, long-promised series with years of buildup to capitalize on. Their 2013 and 2015 LWA projects pulled in lots of attention to the studio, and they took the gamble and created one of 2017’s most visually striking shows, taking the talent of lots of young animators, the look of an early-90s OVA and the lightheartedness and sincereness of a family friendly, Saturday Morning Cartoon show. While the movie and OVA that inspired the series hold up quite well, feeling tighter paced, the show definitely doesn’t wane in quality, featuring a friendly, early Harry Potter-esque tone and with unyielding charisma and vivid character movement. Even if there are some moments of meandering politics and confusing narrative decisions, expect episodes consisting of blood-pumping buildup, heartwarming friendship, inventive situations and unmitigated catharsis. If Trigger strike gold on something, it’s definitely that last bit.

Final Score: 7.5/10

9. Girls’ Last Tour (Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryouko)


Continuing with the curious trend of “potato-faced” girls in recent anime, Girls’ Last Tour strikes a pretty damn solid balance between contemplative, bleak, and relaxing. Studio White Fox can definitely craft sturdy-looking shows, from the detailed and chaotic piping and jagged architecture of the post-apocalyptic world, to the blob-y and bouncy hijinks of Fall’s SoL sweethearts, Yuu and Chi-chan. Episodes are pretty calm and tip-toed, but there’s a constant tingle in the back of the spine, cautious as to what survival-related problem these cute girls could run into at any moment. The musical score is eerie and very broad, borrowing from drone music to electronic and even orchestral. Lots of the dialogue also subtly deconstructs modern lifestyles and priorities, commenting on the fleeting importance of property, religion, animal ethics and more. An informed, calculated show that doesn’t show its colors casually. There’s no Made in Abyss-esque horror, though, so viewers don’t need a pillow in the vicinity to shield against possible cute girl gore.

Final Score: 7.8/10



What’s this? You don’t remember this hidden gem? You probably dropped it one episode in, you sucker. But I stayed the whole way. And it’s fantastic.

With rough, Masaaki Yuasa-esque background art, a blindingly sweet pastel art palette, off-kilter and difficult dialogue, and rattling themes of artistic expression and integrity, URAHARA is Amika Kubo’s directorial debut, one filled to the brim with creative ideas, clever symbolism and tons of style experimentation. It’s definitely not for everyone, as the character artwork (barring the awesome designs) is rather flabby, and the pacing can be very strenuous, but the moments of thematic realization that come with this show are very satisfying and blend masterfully with the setting and aesthetic. The way it integrates elements of fantasy and sci-fi into its contemporary setting is very interesting and done with care, as it flawlessly matches the events happening with the overarching theme of artistic purity. It even bends and melts its own tone to enhance certain emotional scenes. During the midpoint it manages to twist its tone so drastically as to be disturbing, all while retaining its bubbly and colorful look. It truly has vision and can display it confidently on screen. It’s one of those shows where every scene has purpose, and where the themes permeate the show and infect every single aspect of it. When a show can pull something like that off, you know its doing something right. If I had a complaint, it would be that sometimes it very blatantly states it’s themes and that the animation is not quite up to the quality standards of say, a Madhouse or even like Lerche or White Fox; the character can look very wonky at times as pans/tilts and shortcuts are often used, but coming from a newbie staff with a totally fresh director, this project is still very impressive. I’m highly excited to see what comes from these guys in the future.

Final Score: 8/10

7. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Descending Stories


2016’s paced and old-school Rakugo Shinjuu caused quite a bit of a stir in the anime community when it came out. A slow, patient drama about rakugo, love, death, and the people around it, it managed to tell a compelling and gripping tale of admiration, purpose, and regret. With Descending Stories, Studio Deen continues the stories of the characters we met in the first and subsequently last episode of the first season, the new, younger rakugo performers, but with much more scope. It covers possibly entire decades, and it extends its reach to the next generation. It’s a story that travels throughout the breadth of the 20th century, yet feels constantly private and familial. With dreamlike, striking sequences and some intense philosophical deconstruction, Descending Stories feels heavier, deadlier and bleaker than its predecessor, dancing with the blackness of the void like never before.

Final Score: 8/10

6. Tsuki ga Kirei (as the moon, so beautiful)


Our first surprise on the list, Tsuki ga Kirei suddenly landed one day on the Spring charts and made almost no splash. In a season dominated by fat, action-heavy shounen giants like Attack on Titan and Boku no Hero Academia, how could a quaint, original show about middle school romance by a tiny studio (Studio feel.) ever rise up the ranks and become something? It did so by displaying genuine effort and painful relatability. It painted a picture of young, nervous, uncontrollable love perfectly, bringing back memories even for people like me, who remember doing the things these character did a mere three years ago. The amateurish but detailed character animation and subtle expressions added to the hyperrealistic feel of the setting and story, and the non-melodramatic tone it adopts turns what could’ve been a painfully bloated tear-jerker into a trip filled with nostalgic and whimsical bliss. If you’re a sucker for anime romance, this 12 episode trip is like hot cocoa in a Winter morning.

Final Score: 8.1/10

5. Princess Principal


Studio 3Hz already made one hell of an impression with 2016’s arthouse journey Flip Flappers, a show dripping with visual style and torrential creativity. So when the first episode of Princess Principal dropped in Summer, it already promised a slightly different experience than with everything else on the charts. Classy, sleek designs on the backdrop of a steampunk-ed London. Mystery and action expected. Writer Ichiro Okouchi (of Code Geass, Valvrave and Planetes fame) was helming the script. The interest was rising, to say the least. And I’m happy to report that it is one of the years best crafted action experiences. Taking influence from lots of badass spy thrillers, mixed with a cast of beautiful, diverse girls, spine-tingling costume and world design, episodic plots filled with intrigue, punchy and engaging actions scenes, and a cool tone that rivals that of Lupin III. If you’re looking for pure hardcore fun, this is the show to check out.

Final Score: 8.2/10

4. Miss Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon (Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon)


This year didn’t see many ambitious, grandiose shows by any of the big, recognizable studios. Madhouse, Sunrise, Production I.G., none of them truly packing the big guns and delivering us a beefy, complete show (unless for some reason you count the lame, unimpressive and rather sexist Welcome to the Ballroom). Kyoto Animation is one of those studios, but this year it struck it big with a show that was very subtle about its greatness. Miss Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon sounds like a cheap, fanservice driven romp through and through, but manages to both be that style of gut-busting comedy, and also pull out some moments of legitimate sentimentality and development. Kobayashi and Tooru’s quirky, skewed relationship, the parallels between dragon culture and our own, and some truly heart-wrenching loneliness and introspection litter this poppy, bright and colorful meme-fest. It’s definitely a little racy, but do not skimp on this excellently animated, slice of life encounter.

Final Score: 8.3/10

3. Houseki no Kuni (Land of the Lustrous)


Yeah, it’s actually that good. No exaggeration, no hyperbole, no bullshit. Studio Orange‘s fully 3D delve into existentialism, body horror and pathos is quite possibly this years most successful experiment in anime. Completely stealing the hearts off its fans and causing a total ruckus in the sphere, this smartly framed and beautifully written character drama defied all odds and will probably be remembered well into the future. With tons of unique personalities, a main character that feels real and human (despite being a gem), and a soaring, breathtaking musical score. There’s already a fully fledged fanbase around it. It has this timeless, contemplative nature that balances between lighthearted and terrifying with ease, not to mention its twisting, agile action scenes. The 3D techniques have turned lots of people over from 3D skeptics to apologists, as the show uses the advantages of the style and look of anime to make the 3D look striking and bold instead of wobbly and cheap. Congrats on that. But fuck you for teasing me like that at the end of the season. Can’t wait for the second one.

Final Score: 8.4/10

2. Mahoujin Guru Guru (Magical Circle Guru Guru)


The experience of watching Mahoujin Guru Guru is akin to that of boxing. The throttling, non-stop barrage of gut-busters and jaw-droppers is already too much to handle, but when the occasional inspiring, genuinely emotional moment comes in, only to be interrupted by another stupidly punchy joke timed perfectly, has got to be one of the most entertaining rides of the entire year. Genius, frantic comedy that strikes gold every single time, with constant dips into absurdism, parody, and subversion. Adorable and memorable aesthetic, godly OPs and EDs, and an unbreakable vibe of fun and adventure. Almost flawless, only rarely bent by taste-based disagreements. Reminded me a lot of watching Cardcaptor Sakura for the first time, so if you like that show, this is a total winner.

Kukuri LOTY 2017.


Final Score: 9.4/10

1. Sangatsu no Lion (March comes in like a Lion)


Man, this show is in my Top 10 favorites list. Of all time.

This first half of the first season aired in 2016, but the entire second half as well as the first half of the second season all aired in 2017, so I’m counting it here.

When its not causing my eyes to water from pure pleasantness, its crushing my soul with black sadness. It’s able to balance between tragic and endearing so perfectly that it feels like real life, that I’m watching real, fully fledged people and not cartoons on my screen. The way its stories happen around each other, how the structure is organic and free-flowing, how it can deliver all the emotional punch of a moment with a single, perfectly written line. How it can both warp and melt the world and screen to show you pain and despair, but also how it can blow all your worries and doubts away with bright splashes of comfy and warm orange; the show carries itself visually with no struggle. A show that exemplifies everything I love about storytelling, and how all of the different aspects of a show can blend together to enhance the narrative. If you want emotion done well in anime, this is the pinnacle.

Final Score: 9.6/10

Overall, 2017 was a fantastic year to be introduced into anime. I see many people complaining and discussing the prominence of isekai-style shows, or the continual bastardization of light novel adaptations, or the decades-old perpetration of bad business decisions causing ripples that extend into relevancy, but frankly, this is a rock solid list of shows. Lots of table-turning surprises, underground rises and tons of creative experimentation. 2018 is already looking like a powerhouse of a year, but this one put up a fighting chance too.