Trends are emerging…

What was looking like a dogfight is starting to resemble a rout, as the same series (with increasing margins) has now led the polls for four straight weeks. But this season is a long way from over and I suspect the current runner-up has yet to play its most impressive cards. And the third show in the pecking order seems to be solidifying it’s hold on that spot.

This week’s “Ask the Writers” focuses on the positive, with an interesting mix of anime that can turn our team’s frowns upside-down. And Takaii weighs in with this week’s Dark Horse, which I’ll leave to him to describe…

Here are this week’s God (of manga)-like results:


Weekly Staff Poll

Dororo (2018) – 24 points, 4 first place votes
Mob Psycho 100 II – 13 (1)
Boogiepop wa Warawanai – 12
Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai – 7
Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue. – 6


Takaii’s Dark Horse

  • Takaii’s Dark Horse Series: BanG Dream! 2nd Season
  • As someone who was deep into idol culture and managed to pull out before the point of no return, I was looking for something to fill the void that Love Live and other similar IPs left behind. Around this time a little game called BANDORI or BANG DREAM Girls Band Party! appeared and I found myself sucked into playing another rhythm game that drew me in with the lure of anime-covers and kept me playing because of the unique dynamic that each band had. Months later the first season of BANDORI the anime comes out and I’m stoked — who wouldn’t want to see their favorite characters finally appear in anime form? Unfortunately (or fortunately for me) the first season took a more traditional approach of focusing on one band and how they came to be. While not a bad decision, it definitely left me hungry for more since the show runners were literally only using a quarter of the available content. Then comes the announcement of BANDORI S2 with the promise that the other bands would be featured — it would have been an understatement to say that I was excited for it. With that brief introduction out of the way, let’s actually talk about the show. BANDORI S2 is literally everything you could ask for from a show that’s based off of a mobile rhythm game. Besides giving every band more than enough time, there’s just something amazing about watching them perform all their trademark songs without also needing to tap a screen. For the non-BANDORI fan though, the show does a good job at explaining the characters through unique performances rather than word vomiting exposition. Now, I’m sure you’re reading this and going, “What really makes this worth watching Takaii?” And my answer to you is have you ever wondered what it’d be like for a show to say fuck it and just embrace its story and characters wholeheartedly? If you want to find out what that’s like, give this one a watch 🙂
  • Here’s an awesome, unexplained clip of why I love this show. (Please watch it in its entirety)
    Show Spoiler ▼


    Ask The Writers

    You’re having the worst week of your life. You’re totally bummed. You get to marathon one anime (series or movie) to lift your spirits. Which do you choose – and why?

  • Enzo: “Duck-U!” It would be hard for me to pick any other series besides Tsuritama for this purpose. One of the most criminally underrated series of the 2010’s, it stood out even in an ultra-strong year like 2012 (I ranked it as my #1 series). I can’t sum up my feelings about it any better than I did in my series review post: “If you distilled pure happiness into 22 weekly minutes of sight and sound, you’d have something a lot like Tsuritama.” Writer Oono Toshiya said that he wrote it as a kind of letter of encouragement to his teenage self, who was unhappy most of the time, and that really shows through. So does the tremendous love the staff and cast felt towards the series, which they gave everything they had. For me it’s director Nakamura Kenji’s best series and by far his most emotionally compelling. Great work is put in by the cast, include a knockout debut performance by Ohsaka Ryouta as main character Yuki, and Miyu Irino giving his take on a modern-day “Little Prince”. Also not to be overlooked is the impossibly winning soundtrack by Kuricorder Quintet, which fits the material like a glove. 2012 was really a golden age for anime, and Spring was its pinnacle. Paired with Sakamichi no Apollon, Tsuritama was part of probably NoitaminA’s best season (yes, it used to be an hour). Everything about this series was a win, and if I had to pick one anime to elevate my mood, I don’t think there’s any question this would be the one. Eno-shima DON!
  • Choya: I would choose Azumanga Daioh. I’ve got the manga omnibus so I’d probably read through that, but I also got the anime pack back when I was a young lad, and it really helped me deal with all that standard high school teen angst. I remember buying the series on a whim and absolutely loving it from start to finish. Sometimes I’d jump to the middle where Kagura starts showing up more often and watch/read it all the way through from there, but Sakaki and Yomi really help the first half come together too and make a full marathon entirely worth it. You also can’t go wrong with any of the episodes that focus on culture festivals, summer vacations, or holiday festivities. But there have been so many times it’s perked me up throughout the years that it’s been my go-to when I need to sit back, relax, and laugh a little.
  • Zaiden: Let me tell you about Aqua, the planet of water, and how it serves as the iconic setting for Aria. I could be having the most terrible of weeks. Yet I’m certain my spirits would be lifted in ways that no other series could achieve. On Aqua, there exists a city called Neo-Venezia, saturated by a myriad of interconnected waterways. After enjoying a delicious lunch under the shade of a clocktower, I am taken on an excursion down one of the canals, by a carefree girl emanating serenity and wisdom far beyond her years. She is an Undine, a tour guide specialist who dedicates her life to mastering her aquatic craft. The gondola glides, gracefully guided by the precise strokes of an oar. I glance upwards and downwards. The skies and the waters both exhibit a shimmering azure that cleanses your soul, while the lull of streaming waves instils inner harmony, as you can barely hear the faint sound of hustle and bustle from the nearby town. The cherry blossoms whirling around the gondola creates a lovely sensation. Basking in the sun’s warmth while a gentle breeze caresses my face, I am able to truly appreciate this wonderful spring. The four seasons each come with their own set of sights, and I particularly recommend autumn. The fall sky of Neo-Venezia glows like an amber haze of burnished leaves, and you can occasionally see meteor showers flying past the atmosphere, leaving behind trails of sparkling stardust. So that the fantastic view can remain unimpeded throughout the city, there is a law that forbids the construction of buildings above a certain height. When sitting on a rooftop, you can be guaranteed one of the most delightful spectacles. What’s more, once darkness falls over the floating islands, you can enjoy sceneries of the moon dancing across rippling waters. And that is what I love about this city and by extension, what I love about the Aria franchise. An indescribable beauty can be found in even the most mundane of things, provided you choose to seek it out. Please, do visit Neo-Venezia when you have the time. You will be most welcome here, in a city born from wishes. A city that people wanted to build on a world without water or air. A city filled with wonderful miracles.
  • Stilts-han: I’d go one of two ways: Acchi Kocchi, because it’s funny, romantic, fluffy, and oh so sweet, or: a tie between Carnival Phantasm and Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan, for the same reason: there’s something supremely relaxing about seeing characters I know were so tortured in the original timeline, just relaxing and goofing off in the alternate ones. It’s healing, albeit of wounds its predecessors inflicted. Hm.
  • Passerby: This is not a hypothetical for me. I do actually hold a strategic anime reserve. When I’ve been having a particularly bad week I, like any an eccentric bachelor, retreat to my study. There, on the back wall, hangs a 12 x 15 Rembrandt. If you tap van Ruytenburch’s hat thrice the painting will slide aside to reveal a secret passageway. After navigating its myriad booby traps (don’t step on the dark tiles) I’ll come to a private chamber that houses a shelf stocked with a full collection of Studio Ghibli films. Ah, but that’s just a decoy; glued between two pages of the artbook that came with the 10th anniversary edition of Porco Rosso is a small silver key. With that key and a combination known only to myself (great-aunt’s birthday + number of dead pets – cube root of the most recent leap year of the Hebrew calendar) I open a hidden safe in which lies nothing but three seasons of ARIA. I won’t bore you with my love for ARIA — I wrote a three part treatise on the subject. It’s catharsis without tragedy, which is the best kind. Suffice it to say if ARIA can inspire optimism and goodwill even in grouches like me there must be some magic in it somewhere.
  • Takkun: I watch Clannad ~After Story~ episode 18 to make myself cry even more.


  1. Hmmmm…
    If Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio Ars Nova (episodes 1-6) doesn’t help,
    there’s a bunch of single and double episodes that gives me an uplift
    (I keep a bunch of them chambered on my TV’s USB stick). Or re-watch
    a currently airing episode of one of the favorites of that season.

    Usually what does it for me is something that has a strong transition in
    its story — stories that are already there don’t seem to help as much.

    This week’s Staff article is a great read!

  2. The top 2 are pretty clear
    with Dororo you know what you will get ( which is fantastic honestly ) but with MP100 ( which is also fantastic ) you never know what they’ll hit you with considering how it is deviating from the normal action comedy genre, the 2 characters are absolutely amazing which is why I prefer it over Dororo

  3. ARIA. I can’t start talking about ARIA because then I’ll never stop talking about ARIA, so I’ll just say my top two things: 1) I’ve never encountered a series that did personal growth, life, and emotional conflict so well while wrapping it in the fluffiest blanket on two planets. 2) Before ARIA I never really got what my teachers were talking about with slowing down and getting to know everything about your story, no matter how long it takes. I thought I did, but that was just youthful ignorance. I mean, you can’t let a shopping trip be an entire chapter unless something big happens, right? Well, the characters are the ones the define what’s “big”, so if Alice wants to spend the whole episode on lava-shadows or left hands while Athena inches ever closer, she will and you’ll love her for it, damnit!

    I’ve criminally forgotten how I even first stumbled across it, but I strongly recommend it to everyone who can stand even a second of Slice-of-Life.

  4. Some insane love toward Aria here. I approve!

    My “distract me from reality” series is Hidamari Sketch. High school me purchased all three seasons (at the time) and had days where I practically asked myself “Which season should I put on today?”

  5. “looks at Zaiden’s and Passerby’s MAL accounts and ARIA ain’t one their favorites”

    So much for all that praise…. (=_=;

    It’s also a shame that neither Omni or Divine picked it up back when it was airing more than a decade ago.

    Yuru Camp I think was able to capture ambiance of ARIA with all the scenery and all the background music. Yuru Camp didn’t have all the relevant life lessons, or the masterful character development that ARIA has though. (also surprised that Yuru Camp isn’t mentioned in the “Ask The Writers” section consider for what it is)

    Ara, Ara…

    1. I did enjoy posting on Yuru Camp because it was a great breather.

      On my end, I didn’t mention it this time because I just really love Azumanga Daioh and I’ve been trying to push myself to not make Top 5’s in my Ask the Writers answers.

      But Yuru Camp is one of the few shows I kept the episodes for because I anticipate giving it a rewatch when I want to relax. ARIA is also amazing and I’ve got the first and third season for comfy times. Athena and Alicia are the best.

      This actually reflects alot of the shows I haven’t deleted the videos for like Emiya’s Menu, Asobi Asobase, Aho Girl, and Zombieland Saga where I could see myself giving them a viewing to relax or laugh. I also kept onto Persona 5 too on the off-chance I get the itch to dub abridged series-esque skits with them.

      1. Only the first and third seasons of ARIA? But the second season is as long as both of them put together, and has some great stuff in it! More, by putting all three seasons together, you can really see Akari’s growth as an undine. Go get yourself ARIA The Natural immediately! 😛

  6. I must thank Passerby, Zaiden, and everyone in the comment section who mentioned Aria. It is my favourite and most beloved anime. However, I’ve never rewatched it since 2008.

    I avoided Avvenire since I thought it would ruin the complete and satisfying conclusion of the franchise but I was wrong. Seeing Passerby’s posts about it made me give it a chance and before I knew it, I’ve put all my currently airing anime on hold and dedicated my watching time to rewatching the series. I haven’t watched anything else for two weeks.

    Interestingly enough, I love the series even more now compared to what I remember. Probably because I was a young teen when I last watched it and now I have soo much more life experience that the messages of the original creator Amano Kuzue really hits close to the heart.

    This insert song has been stuck in my head since I watched episode 18 of the second season yesterday.
    (I least liked Aika of the three back then. Now she’s favorite because she’s the most relateble to me.)



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