Sunday, December 31, 2017

Top 5 Best Anime That I Watched in 2017 + Top 5 Anime Openings I Heard in 2017

Top 5 Best Anime That I Watched in 2017 + Top 5 Anime Openings I Heard in 2017

Warning: The following list may contain spoilers of the shows on this list. If you wish not to know some plot details in the stories, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series that are mentioned, please exit the tab, and come join me once you've watched the first few episodes. But than again, if you don't mind spoilers, feel free to stay put.

Also, the pictures in my special posts are chosen randomly. Let's just appreciate the beauty that is young Kei before he goes full on salt. Doesn't he look precious?

These anime shows and openings are my personal favorites out of 2017, and won't be specifically ranked besides #5 in both (the best of the best). Ratings for my best list are mainly 8 or above, but some 7.5's will sneak in there.

With that said:

Man, 2017 was busy. I'm not the only person who would agree with that. Though slightly better than the previous year, we still had crappy headlines, crappy music, and crappy moods. I also found myself abandoning this blog for a period of time (oops) since this year also provided its own struggles (to the people who warned me that junior year was going to be hard, you were right).

Thankfully, the anime I watched this year provided comfort and escape when I got too overwhelmed. The good news about this was only seeing one new horrid anime (Dynamic Chord) and a few meh ones; the bad news was that I didn't watch as many shows as I would have liked, thus making this list shorter than years previous.

But I should focus on the positives. The shows I watched were all at least good. The bad shows have packed their bags and flown to who knows where, because I don't see them or have watched them out of masochism. These are all finished and wrapped up in bows for a late Christmas. Even with minor problems, these were the ones that brought out the emotions inside me.

Oh, and ample opportunities to add more characters to my favorites because why not, right?

Oh, oops. These are all boys.

Oh, oops, I have more:


ANYWAYS, this fast-moving year and its best list has another component, that being my favorite openings. Since I found the past two years setups to be more efficient this way, I'm keeping the style as it is. You're welcome.

This list wasn't as hard this year, considering I didn't have a plethora of openings or shows to dwindle down, but it was slightly tricky to pick the ones that had the most impact on me. In the end, I think I got a good list, so it's time to show it off.

Let's start with the series first, since that's the first topic I talk about regardless. Going up first is:


Nanbaka's second cour.

Everyone else and Mitsuru: Nanbaka is a comedy anime!


I mean, you can say that, but really, that's not the truth anymore. As stated in my first update post, the real dark s**t happens in this cour of Nanbaka when a long imprisoned sibling strives to have his revenge along with the help from some of his friends. Though we still have those hilarious moments now and then, the tone of this season begins to shift, and aside from the obvious lack of sparkles EVERYWHERE, darker shadows emerge from the bowels of Hell.

Still entertaining with a lovable cast of dorks, still colorful and well animated for the most part (the budget increased despite this streaming online in Japan), and still fun to listen to with its OST and audio (both the English dub and Japanese have their strengths, but the former is where it's at), I loved having this show in my life. Despite having some mild pacing issues toward the end, along with the biggest non-ending since Divine Gate, this was still a nice late Christmas present. What am I going to find next year that's as entertaining as you, Nanbaka?

Score to be revealed eventually.


The Royal Tutor.

This show was pretty much up my alley the moment I heard about it. Though I had some worries, they were stomped down immediately as I started to watch the first episode. With a great story (while starting off as a slice-of-life, the final story arc is not that), lovely characters (SO SOFT), pretty animation, and another example of having a fun time no matter what language you choose (yet I still have four episodes of the dub to watch), this was a whole bundle of fun to end my previous school year and go into the summer.

I do think some of the character development wasn't as strong, as well as the score, but in the end, this was still incredibly satisfying and I couldn't ask for more. I'd like to see what the manga will offer whenever I pick it up in the next year or so, since I don't think a second season is possible, sadly. But you never know.

Score to be revealed eventually.


Classroom of the Elite.

Hey, look. It's another anime that surprised me! I was expecting something completely different, but what I got still satisfied me. Pointless fanservice aside (and I do mean it when I say pointless), the novel-like pace helped move this show along well, offering great development of its world, characters, and some great animation to boot. Dedication came to the forefront here, and I wish to see it more among writers in the LN field.

Oh, and maybe studios could start adapting book series written by women? I haven't seen any novels that have a female author attached to them, but it would be really nice to see.

That point aside, I think this series started well, continued well, and ended with one of the biggest mindf**ks ever. I'd definitely recommend it.



Code:Realize's anime adaptation.

It was tempting to put both Code:Realize: Guardian of Rebirth and Magic-kyun Renaissance on this list, as both gave me a fluttering heart. However, I decided to stick with just the former because HONEY CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS?





Score to be revealed eventually (sooner than the other two with this text, at least. I just need to finish the Broadcast Dub and also wait for that to wrap. It'll be in the next four for sure)

Before going onto my personal favorite anime (so obvious, BTW), here are the Honorable Mentions and the shows that wouldn't have made the cut regardless.

Honorable Mentions

Bungo Stray Dogs' second cour

Clockwork Planet

Hitorijime My Hero

Magic-kyun Renaissance

Place to Place

Not Quite Honorable

Soul Buster

Tenchi in Tokyo

Damn, this is kind of sad. But next year, I promise it won't be like this. I hope.

Are we ready, kids? All right, here we are:


Katsugeki Touken Ranbu.

Everyone else when the love for my show comes out in full force is up above TBH. Sorry, everyone.

Like Haikyuu, this anime leaves me WEAK. I'd go into more detail, but I have a limit of one passionate fanboy session with this post (I also have a review), so just know that this anime means a lot to me, I loved everything once again, I need more, and UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Don't worry, I'll be fine in about a couple paragraphs. Let's move on in the meantime.


One quick segue before I hit the opening list!

Now that I'm back and fulfilled my fanboy destiny, we still had some great anime openings this year! Thought not played on repeat as much, I still had fun singing along. bopping my head with the beats, and appreciating them with all of my heart. Again, all of the openings on this list are from shows I watched this year, but there are still many others out there from shows I haven't seen waiting for their turns.

After Highschool DXD's first opening, Gakusen Toshi Asterisk's first, and Qualidea Code's second, it's time to see what will follow with the help of screenshots and GIF's because easier accessibility, am I right?

I'm going to start off with:


Clockwork Planet by fripSide (from the series of the same name).

This was my second offering of fripSide material. All I knew prior to hearing them was that they did stuff for the Certain Magical Index franchise (more specifically, Scientific Railgun) and that Yoshino Nanjo was the vocalist, known for her work in Love Live and Riddle Story of Devil. I had a few problems with their opening for Seraph of the End's second cour (the production was bad, Nanjo's vocals were incredibly thin to the point where they were washed out), so hearing that this group would return for this made me a little nervous.

Well, I didn't need to be. This opening was incredibly likable from its first listen and catchy enough that it was hard to not hum along. Nanjo's vocals worked better here even though they're still not the best, and the beat of the song reminded me of the time when the radio was full of club jams. It was a good way to start off each episode of Clockwork Planet because of its goddamn charm. I'm curious to see where fripSide will go next.


My Sweet Maiden by Mia REGINA (from Sin: Nanatsu no Taizai).

This screenshot worked for me because it was the icon of the first version of the TV size edit in the anime on YouTube. Again, GIF's and screenshots outside of the fanservice moments of this series are hard to find anywhere I look. But regardless, I figured this opening was going to be a smash once I heard it in the PV.

From a trio I had never even heard of before this year, they were able to get two slots on this list and for good reason. Not only is this song incredibly catchy, the guitar driven melody easily stands out, churning along as the powerful vocals from all three ladies build up to a satisfying crescendo. There was a lot of passion put into this, and considering this was for a fanservice series (where most of the good openings seem to go), I'll gladly take it. Especially since I have the OST CD for this.


Caste Room by ZAQ (from Classroom of the Elite).

The more I've found out about ZAQ, the more I respect her as a performer. She's deeply involved with composing, producing, and writing that it makes me quite happy. Plus, she's a great performer and has put out a few openings that I've enjoyed (for example, the one from Maria the Virgin Witch and Trinity Seven). I was expecting greatness here, and that's what I got.

We have another beat that's easy to jam out to, ZAQ's edgy vocals that come through very well and make you feel that intensity, and from the translations I've read, intricate lyrics that are detailed but not to the point of being pretentious. It's very entertaining and one that I will come back to in the years to come.


Heart Signal by Wataru Hatano (from Hitorijime My Hero).

Wataru Hatano has impressed me more as a singer than a voice actor thus far. My favorite role of his thus far was his character in Yuri in Ice, but overall, his performances as a whole haven't pulled me in to his appeal compared to various other seiyuus. But his vocal contribution to the Yuri on Ice ending (if you glance past the additional effects done to his voice for that bop of a song) was quite good, so I was curious to see how he would pull this off.

Like the last song of his, Hatano is placed against a sugary electronic beat (this time albeit more cutesy) for another love song that manages to work pretty well for this kind of series. Yes, Luke, the tone may not match what you've seen of this series, but it works for what it is with catchy lyrics, a great beat, and hope that in the end, love wins. Despite the morals of your relationship.


kalmia by Mia REGINA (from Code:Realize's anime adaptation).

I'm sure you can image my initial reaction to hearing this opening for the first time:

Yup, that's the one.


Yeah, this opening became my favorite of the year based off of five seconds. The fact that one of the members of the trio wrote this makes my heart even happier. It's epic, builds into the best emotional sentiment I've ever heard, and is just a sad little bop that makes my heart soar and UGH IT'S EVERYTHING I WANTED BUT NEVER KNEW I NEEDED!

So, this was a complete snatch. The appreciation will stay with this one, even as I-



















Yeah, don't worry, everyone. I'll be okay.

And with that, both lists are a wrap! What do you all think of my picks? Did you agree? Disagree? Would you like to mention any other of your favorite shows or openings that I didn't mention here?

2017 is officially coming to a close, and I would like to thank all of you for tuning in when I came back in August. Next year will hopefully not be one where I put this blog into deep freeze for eight months, but one where I actually update this at least once a month. Happy New Year, and see you all in 2018 for more enthusiastic content!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Long Awaited Update to End the Long Awaited Update (Part 2)

The Long Awaited Update to End the Long Awaited Update (Part 2)

Warning: The following post may contain spoilers of various anime series. If you wish not to know some details of the plots, or simply don't wish to find out about whatever happens at all, please exit the tab, and come join me once you've watched the first few episodes of each. But than again, if you want to take that warning with a grain of salt, feel free to stay put.

With that said:

Don't worry, you guys can all release the breath you've been holding for a while. I wasn't planning on leaving my update post alone with the first half of the year; there needed to be another to wrap everything up in a pretty little bow before my year-end list (there's only going to be one this year, since I haven't seen a lot of terrible anime aside from one show).

The second half of this year proved to be better for me. Not only was I able to get a few shows in with school starting. I also did a fun little project to pass the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas (as well as theater tech, because we had a large crew for our play, and to bridge the gap between the one show I watched by myself in November). I'll discuss it later once we get to the Fall section, but it was very fun and will provide more entertainment for other rewatches.

Speaking of rewatches, I should get on those. That backlog's not going anywhere at this point.

And no, Sky Wizards Academy, you aren't on that backlog.

Let's go back to the summer, where I managed to fit one more show in for the currently airing ones and experienced scorching temperatures and the blinding sun (or wait, was that September?):


You all already know I watched this series:

And you all already know I LOVED this series. But the other show I eventually followed after catching up with the broadcast (much like with the series above) was:

Hitorijime My Hero.

Everyone else right about now (or just Luke):

What? Okay, yes, this show had its issues. Standard BL issues, really. The side relationship, which involves Kensuke Ooshiba (the younger brother of Kousuke Ooshiba, who is one of the two in the couple here) and Asaya Hasekura, who have their arc covered in the spin-off manga (which came out in Japan before this one), Hitorijime Boyfriend. The staff of the anime cover both, with the first three episodes primarily focusing on the events of HB. The two were friends when they were young, and Kensuke regrets leaving off the way they did when Hasekura had to move.

The two reunite, and it's an unsettling start on the climb up Romance Hill. Not only is Hasekura immediately possessive (and it doesn't go away. He always liked Kensuke romantically since he was young, but still), he immediately proposes that the latter has two choices: either cut ties if Kensuke doesn't like him back, or sleep with him.

Yeah, no. If I were Kensuke, that'd be an immediate shut-down.

But the guy's still got his FEEEEEELINGS, WHOOOOOOOOAH! And after another icky moment (Hasekura gives himself five minutes to feel up Kensuke, which is GROSS), things turn sweet for them. They are cute, but let's be real here, the relationship would be better if Hasekura toned his sex drive down.

That doesn't mean the main relationship is free of problems either. After all, Kosuke refers to Masahiro Setagawa (who is Kensuke's best friend, and has had a crush on Kosuke, who is now a teacher at the school the two boys go to. So, yeah, some will be turned off by that among other things) as his wife/mistress a few times, because that's better than being called a boyfriend, right?

Thankfully, not all of the writers write that into the episodes. But most of them do. Ah, yaoi. These possessive traits and thinking that if a male partner isn't dominant, he is in a sense a female haven't gotten old whatsoever.

But outside of that, the dramatic angst towards the end, and the at sometimes awkward animation (Setagawa's running in Episode 10 will forever give me life), this was still a cute BL series that had its good moments in its story and character development. Once the series shifts over the to Hitorijime My Hero storyline, we get to see more of Kousuke and Setagawa's dynamic as it evolves and it's SO CUTE! Even though student and teacher relationships aren't morally just, the two have known each other for longer than the roles were established for them. It doesn't make it okay, but it does give them more weight.

The animation, outside of its slip-ups, is also fairly good, coming from Encourage Films, a studio who hasn't worked on any of the series I've watched outside of this one (though with We Love Rice, that should change). And we also have some great OST and voice acting as well, so the good things keep on rolling.

All in all, it wasn't a perfect series by any means, but it was still cute and fluffy and something I will get more cohesive thoughts on when I rewatch it in the future without the additional commentary of Luke. He didn't watch this, yet thinks he knows everything about it from reactions and GIF's. It can get pretty annoying.

The leaves are falling now. It's a sign for that one season we're all indifferent towards:


Whelp, I'm a high school senior now. This is awkward. I've almost spent my entire high school years with this blog to my name. LOOK HOW MUCH I'VE IMPROVED SINCE THEN!


But seriously. It's hard to look at some of my earlier reviews without cringing. But more practice equals improvement, in the end. And that applies to everything.

I didn't breeze through as many shows as I wanted, but eh, some are better than none, as they say. With winter break coming up, let's hope I can get a heavily anticipated series from this season started (even though I know too many spoilers for my liking, but YO, that one character is THICC) before 2017 is said and done.

Here are the anime I managed to see outside of the seasonals. Two of them have reviews, while the last show doesn't.

Classroom of the Elite, which despite a ton of pointless fanservice, managed to be a very interesting show with actual layers and depth. You can read the review here.

Diabolik Lovers' first season. Despite being a trainwreck complete with a few car crashes, it gave me a lot of entertainment to go along with it. You can read the review here.

Place to Place (also known as Acchi Kocchi).

Here's a slice-of-life series I've wanted to get to for a while! Back in junior high, I heard about this show through the magazine Otaku USA, and Luke decided to power through it since all of the episodes (minus the OVA, which is technically the final episode and felt more like one) were conveniently on YouTube, back before copyright laid its iron hand down and we had the knowledge that full anime episodes being on YouTube, unless uploaded by companies, was its own form of anime piracy. Oops.

And after finally watching it thanks to San Japan (Luke got his own copy), I'm glad I did. Compared to some of the other slice-of-life series I've seen, it wasn't as strong, but regardless, it still provided moments of cuteness. I liked Io and Tsumiki's relationship, Mayoi was an absolute gem, I am apparently a sadist if I kept on laughing at people getting hurt in ridiculous ways, and the animation and score were fitting enough for an anime like this one. It's nice to take a break from stories that have more grit to them and come to one where everything is sunshine and rainbows and you think, "Gee, why isn't my high school experience exactly like this? That'd be cool."

The weaker elements in this show come from the writing, which has the tendency to repeat jokes or state the obvious (I don't need three lines next to each other talking about how the sunrise is pretty), and characters that don't add a lot to the story (which is a shame, since it's a slice-of-life show, and that shouldn't be the case), but regardless, this was a heartwarming show that gave me a good amount of joy for the month and a half I spent with it. I give it an 8/10.

Now it's time to move on to the seasonals. One managed to stick with me and gave me a lot of feelings, while the other one gave me my first drop of the year. Let's get the latter out of the way first. You know who you are.

Yup, Dynamic Chord. This is all on you.

How to explain how underwhelming this anime was despite me being excited about it since it was first announced? Well, let me count the ways.

1. The writing is terrible. There's no other way around it. In the four episodes I watched, I couldn't even begin to count how many throwaway dialogue lines there were. It's pathetic how flimsy it all is. And the weird part is that the director has written for other stuff before.

There are two series composition writers credited for this series, one of them being Kyoko Katsuya. This is her first credit, at least according to ANN. She ended up writing Episode 4, which was bad, but she has time to improve if this show didn't completely destroy her cred.

But then we have Shigenori Kageyama. Kageyama's been in the anime business for a while, directing a few shows and obscure OVAs, writing for others, and designing a fair round-up of characters. His writing is also bad, and not just bad in "Ugh, there could be so much more to this," it's bad in, "Ugh, why does the episode feel like a two hour documentary and not like an actual anime episode?"

Which brings me to my next question: How the hell is this coming out of a person who has been in the industry for about THREE DECADES?! The dialogue and "plot" in this show make it seem like it's easily ripped from a horrid YA novel, or a horrid all ages fanfiction. There's no weight to this material at all, and there needs to be. I get that dialogue is supposed to move a story along, but if it has no meaning, then why have it at all?

I've seen plenty of shows that have had their share of sucky writing, but this is probably the worst of them all. Yes, plenty of other not good reverse harem shows/seasons. Dynamic Chord took your trophy for being the worst written show targeted to the otome audience. Take a bow.

2. The story is a joke. Or "story," I should say. Really, it's a wet piece of cardboard. Even this falls apart before we reach the halfway mark of the first episode. The first three episodes of the show focus on two of the four groups, rêve parfait and KYOSHO. The lead singer of KYOSHO, Yorito, goes MIA. Now, this is an intriguing storyline, but the anime never really bothers to explain why he went missing. There are pieces, like a fan who was in the hospital who might have died shortly after seeing a secret tape of a concert thanks to a man from the paparazzi (who the shows loves to focus on for some reason, instead of, I don't know, THE OTHER BOYS?!), and him getting into a slump, but there is never anything established that's concrete.

Reon (otherwise known by his band name, King), is asked by the other members of KYOSHO to practice with them until Yorito returns. After a juicy tabloid article proclaims Yorito may up and quit, Reon enlists the help of his bandmates and their manager to go find him. That plot leads nowhere, of course, as they abandon their pursuit entirely for no reason. It's never explained why they do, which is, again, annoying as all hell.

Then that leads to Episode 3, where Yorito is found by both Reon (who decides to go look for him again, because why not?) and the paparazzi guy, who somehow gets Yorito to rejoin his bandmates, get this, OFF SCREEN!

The frustration's growing, inch by inch, row by row.

Then we have a songwriting retreat for rêve parfait, and Reon's starting to feel down. Worried that he's going through his own slump, his bandmates leave him alone, but when Yorito and Tokiharu come by, it turns out it's just the humidity that's causing the leader from the former group to be tired. Okay, not sure why we wasted an entire episode on this, but let's see how it ends-

Wait, Liar-S has now gone AWOL? Dynamic Chord is just completely reusing a plotline that they had written in earlier? We're just not going to acknowledge that this story and writing is complete s**t at this point?

So it's safe to say that me and Dynamic Chord didn't work out after that happened. And upon going back to the website, I noticed that I missed a hot springs scene in Episode 8. Because of course I miss all the good material when I drop a series.


3. All of the characters aren't interesting. Don't get me wrong, it happens all of the time with adaptations like these. Some characters have background elements that don't get developed, and as such, they aren't as compelling compared to other characters. However, even with cameos made by other bands, more specifically, members before their groups are focused on in show, I have no idea what their personalities are like. Reading up on them grants me far more information that I thought possible, and it's dark and gritty.

Look, I'm not saying that all these boys have to have layers upon layers of development. Just give each their time to shine and maybe sprinkle bits and pieces of their personalities. It's bad when I can easily mash all of these characters together because I haven't seen enough of them, or that Bishop (real name Tsumugi) is the most interesting character because he's funny and makes cat puns. Music video introductions and sudden appearances don't pay the bills. 

4. If you're going to have Yasuomi Umetsu design the characters, make sure the animation is pretty to look at. When I found out about that piece of information, I was ecstatic. Finally, my dream of Umetsu designing bishie characters was coming true, and as I was rewatching Wizard Barristers when the announcement was made, it coincided by chance. By bands, the character designs were unveiled, and I was pleased ascetically. The signature traits were all there, and all of them looked hella fine.

Then the episodes aired, and my enthusiasm wilted like a trash bag left out in the rain. While the designs retain their Umetsu flair, the actual animation is kind of ugly. Aside from characters going off-model every few minutes and nothing being particularly engaging (outside of Umetsu's character designs and Yorito in the shower towards the end of Episode 1), the performance/rehearsal scenes are lazy as hell. For some reason, it looks like the animators decided to play with flash animation, because these performances sure look like that. 

It's like the Bitch Flash segment during Panty & Stocking in Sanitarybox, but even worse, because they appear every episode, and the animators use the same sequences during each one. They'll branch out occasionally, giving us ones that we didn't see in the PVs or in the opening, but that's rare. They even go so far as to zoom in on ones they've already breezed by. It's awkward and lazy, really. Not to mention during Episode 2 once Reon and the rest of KYOSHO finish their rehearsal, they immediately distort from far away. The only thing I hope for those still sticking with this show is that there are a good chunk of improvements coming for the DVD' and Blu-Ray box sets.

So in the end, yeah, this series is the worst one I've seen this year, and probably the weakest link since I started regularly watching anime as a hobby. It's a damn shame, because there was SO MUCH potential here that was completely wasted. In better hands, I think this would have been a smash, but nope. We can't all have nice things, or adaptations in this case. 

3/10 with no recommendation is the score I'm giving this. I'd rather watch the Dance with Devils movie with all its different endings then this again, and you all know the second half of Dance with Devils soured on me fast.

Now onto a better series, which is actually marketed to the same audience:

Code:Realize: Guardian of Rebirth (but I like to shorten it sometimes to just Code:Realize).

Well, kids, can you guess what this adaptation is? If you said otome game, you are correct! The good news was that I had some knowledge of this franchise before getting into the anime, so I wasn't completely lost. Our story takes place in an alternate 19th century London, where the aesthetic is steampunk AF and the love interests are based off of fictional characters (though one was based off of a real person as well). I knew that Cardia had poison in her body that caused anything she touched to rot away (if not made from special material for her), a la Shatter Me, though Juliette I believe had something with electricity.

After Dynamic Chord flopped hard like a rotten fish, I needed something else to fill the hole in my heart that was caused by my severe disappointment. And since I hadn't started this series yet (even though I severely wanted to get to it immediately), I decided to jump in one random Sunday when nothing was going on.

Safe to say, I think I found another winner this year. Much like with Katsugeki Touken Ranbu, I was completely sucked into this world. And by sucked in, I do mean sucked in. It took me about 5 minutes before I was like:

You know those shows that sneak up on you and become favorites you will cherish with all your heart and soul forever and ever? Yeah, this is one of them.

Despite minor problems that come with these adaptations, I love everything. The story is fascinating, the characters are amazing, the animation is GORGEOUS (especially coming from a studio I don't know much about), and need I say that the score and voice acting in both languages is solid?

At this time of this writing, there's only one episode to go, and after the evil cliffhanger that Episode 11 gave me, I'm praying for a satisfying ending. I know I'll get that, BUT GURL THAT POST CREDITS SCENE HAD ME SHOOK!

Much like with my Katsugeki Touken Ranbu review, expect a lot of fanboying and capital letters. Everywhere. That's just what happens when I'm PUMPED. UP!

Time to talk about that project I mentioned at the beginning of this post! As my birthday came around the bend last month (I'm 18 now. God, that feels weird to think about, despite the fact I got used to being an "adult" fairly quickly), I decided to rewatch Qualidea Code for one specific purpose: catching the OST track by track. I was in it for the enjoyment as well, but the OST for this anime has meant so much to me that I couldn't let it go from my grasp. And thanks to not really doing anything backstage for my school's play, I was able to finish it in a little over a week after planning it since October.

I tracked my progress in a Black Butler journal a friend got for me at the local con I love going to last summer. As a whole, my opinion on the show didn't change much from my initial watch. My score will be affected a bit when it hits the states on DVD (whenever that will be), because I know the animation will hopefully be better.

Because c'mon, the animation becomes such shear trash in the second half that it's laughable.

I am thinking about doing a special post for the score of the anime in the near future because it's easily one of the best ones I've heard and it helped me understand how a score can be just as important to anything I watch (even though I had heard plenty of good OST's in the past). Also, more rewatches need to be done like this. It's actually kind of fun to go back into a series with one purpose and remembering just how much you liked certain bits.

Finally, I think it'll be good for you all if I give a preview of what shows are to come for my viewing pleasure. You know, just in case I disappear again. But also because I care.

Up Next

One of the next reviews I'm doing will be one that's on my backlog, and that anime is Taboo Tattoo. Now I know you're probably thinking, "But Dazz, shouldn't you actually watch new material and not waste your time with all of these rewatches?" And yeah, you probably have a point. But the dub for this series is just fresh off the press, and I'd like to dig into it because not only does it sound good from what I've seen thus far, it also has a lot of promise despite the series being pretty shoddy.

With Luke, I plan on getting Diabolik Lovers: More Blood started just before we all have to say goodbye to 2017 (some of us won't miss it, like 2016). After thoroughly enjoying its first season, it's safe to say that we will be back for funny lines, "tantalizing" bite scenes, unintentionally hilarious writing,, two, three...more blood!

Too much?

Finally, I'm also hoping to get into more simulcasts that I didn't follow during specific seasons this year (aside from the winter, because there was, again, nothing that caught my eye). More specifically, from this current season, I would like to watch Juuni Taisen (which I indirectly referenced earlier on), BLEND-S, and Sengoku Night Blood ASAP. The first because of Usagi and to get some hardcore action, the second because comedy always is welcome in my life, and the third because it's a reverse harem and I know it sounds bad, but I'll give it a chance anyway.

That should do it for me. Keep your eyes out for my year-end list of the best animes and openings, along with my next set of reviews. Until then, I hope you all enjoy the end of the year!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Classroom of the Elite Review

Classroom of the Elite Review

Warning: The following review may/will contain spoilers of the series Classroom of the Elite. If you wish to stay clear of what happens in the show's story, please exit the tab, and join me once you've watched said show. Or, you know, you can take that warning with a grain of salt, and still read on anyway. Whatever floats your boat.

Anyways, with that said, thank you, and onto the review:

I've mentioned this fact somewhere in my reviews (probably back when I first started), but aside from being a fan of anime, I'm also a fan of reading and books. It started with comics, graphic novels, and the shortest of chapter books when I was young, but I never really appreciated the hobby as a whole until I started reading young adult chapter books in my free time and not just for school. Divergent is what started it all, but has since expanded to a TON of novels.

I'm more interested in contemporary books nowadays (the ones that exist in our world and are more realistic), but my heart always has a soft spot for futuristic stories. Even though some of them are cookie-cutter and don't go beyond the checklist on how to make this kind of narrative, there are some good ones out there, whether in anime or books. That's where this show fits in.

Before starting Classroom of the Elite, I thought it was going to be the snarkiest thing I had ever watched. With the premise and the two leads' personalities in mind, the idea for a Wataru Watari and Mari Okada crossover did come to mind. After all, these two are prolific in making unlikable characters who bad-mouth literally everyone who walks into their lives.

Either way, I was interested to see where this show would lead. With many leaving with mixed reactions, I was hoping to land on the positive side of things. After all, I try to be optimistic in a form of media unless it's promised to be absolute trash. So, what'd I get?

Well, I didn't get what I was expecting in terms of tone. Classroom of the Elite wasn't a sheer snark-fest. Rather, it investigated its school and students with a keen eye, moving like a novel (which is ironic, considering the source material for this show is light novels), building up interest, developing most of its core cast (also strange), having great animation, a dope OST, good voice acting, and being an enjoyable series to binge in a little over a week. Yes, four day weekends did prove to be useful again. Thanks, school district!

I still wished that one element didn't intrude into the series as much (pointless fanservice), because that way, this would have been perfect. Alas, we don't always get what we want. This is a LN adaptation after all. We're used to this kind of stuff. Other than that, though, this was surprisingly great.

Let's talk about the story:


In a not so distant future, the Japanese government has developed the Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing School. The school is dedicated to training the future leaders of Japan with high education and ample job opportunities. However, what they don't tell you on the tin is that the school is divided into four classes, all letter-ranked, from A to D. A has the best performing and behaved teens, and D has the students who behave badly and perform lower than average. If a student also has a weakness in their personality, yeah, no A for you.

At the start of a new school year, students fill the Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing School's halls, one being Kiyotaka Ayanokoji, an emotionless soul who doesn't seem to react to a whole lot. He is put into Class D, along with Suzune Horikita, an ice queen, Kikyo Kushida, a happy soul who could be hiding dark desires. and other students who range from a shy photographer, an aspiring pro basketball player, and slackers.

At the beginning of April, their homeroom teacher, Mrs. Chabashira, allots them 100,000 points to use at local stores, where they can get extra essentials for their stay as long as they use them wisely. They are promised a new set of 100,000 per month, but when May rolls around and those aren't distributed, it's revealed that the students were being watched all along. With high cell phone usage in class, slacking off, low test scores, and breezing through their points on average, Class D proved their name all right.

But it's not all bad news. As long as Class D improves on their exams, they will be able to outplace Class C, and could eventually go on to hit Class A. But there's a catch: anyone who fails the next test will be expelled. With that warning in mind, they're left to deal with this shocking news.

Believing she has been placed in Class D by mistake, Suzune decides to recruit Kiyotaka to help her raise Class D so that she can worm her way up to Class A. As one student from Class D is almost expelled twice, we as viewers get a more expansive look at the school's hierarchy, and as some students are shown not to be dangerous, others are. When a "fun vacation" on a cruise ship turns out to plop everyone on a island for an annual Survive in the Wilderness test, it's anyone's game. Will Class D manage to rise from the ashes and show that they are not completely useless? Or will plotting get in the way?

This show's plot really surprised me. It flowed seamlessly like reading a book, each episode feeling like a chapter in a big story. Again, it's ironic, considering the source material, but even though I've watched other LN-based adaptations (plus read a few of them from series I've watched in the past, courtesy of Yen Press), this is the one where it feels like a novel the most. Everything fits together very well, the pace is perfect, the content is engaging enough that I don't see a lot of people becoming bored with it (outside of the pool episode), and I just enjoyed watching it. It's clear the original writer (Shougo Kinugasa) put a lot of thought into this world, and the adapters put a lot of effort into creating it for the screen. It's a win-win scenario.

We get a glimpse into each class of the school, and they're all equally fascinating. From Class A's head imbalance, to Class B's steadiness, to Class C's mafia-like run, and to Class D's seemingly normal structure, we get to see the students interacting outside of their classrooms and I liked it a lot. No one's a hero, but there are very few villains; it's clear that the main adversary is the head of Class C, Ryuuen, but seeing how the students have their own secrets is pretty cool and I like how they're not just limited to Class D.

Granted, I could have done without all of the pointless fanservice, because there was a lot of it, such as a plot to peep into the girl's locker room when the classes all go to the pool (because of course), and someone stealing a pair of panties from a girl's bag during the survival test (because of course, though we never find out who did that in the chaos of everything else), but I shouldn't have expected that to go away. It's a light novel series published towards men, after all; there has to be some action to reel them in outside of the story, which is far more interesting.

The cherry on top of the milkshake is Ayanokoji himself. When the series starts, he appears to be secretive and emotionless, but more questions are raised as the series goes on. Why does he not like the spotlight? Why does he seem to get the same results on his tests? Why does he work with Suzune with no objections? And more importantly, what happened to him in the past that made him this way?

So many questions, and this show does an amazing job at slipping details in that leave you wanting more. It's not a full circle like some will want, but it's satisfying enough that you'll get some answers/make some assumptions about why Ayanokoji acts the way he does. You may even find out his motivation!

Enough hints? All right, time to go on to:


In the recent reviews I've done (unless it's a harem), I've done a good job at keeping my character limit consistent, which is six. Considering that I want to touch upon the three leads, along with characters that managed to get a good chuck of focus placed on them, it seems that lucky number will come back again.

Boy, are there a lot of good ones. While some will be developed thoroughly later down the line, we got to see various characters that other series wouldn't even bother touching. Yes, they even go beyond specific tropes. WHAT IS THIS SHOW? Not like most, that's what.

Let's first talk about our leading man, Ayanokoji:

Unmotivated to do anything and typically blank-faced, Ayanokoji doesn't communicate well with others. He's also a pretty mediocre student, hence why he was placed in Class D to begin with. You may just write him off now, but I wouldn't do that. There's more to this guy than meets the eye.

For starters, despite being a blah student, there's a pattern to these scores: the number 50. As in, he seems to get 50 out of 100 every time he does a test. Now you may think that's strange, or brush it off as a coincidence, but then it gets stranger.

Ayanokoji also seems to be an excellent mastermind, coming up with plans that are pitch-perfect in their thought process and execution,. allowing others (mainly Suzune) to help with them, and slinking back into the shadows so they can take the credit. "I don't want the attention," he claims. "It's too unnerving."

But how can Ayanokoji bend the school rules so well, why is his body defined more if he claims he didn't do sports as a kid (aside from just going through puberty), why is Mrs. Chabashira asking Suzune to be on guard around him, and what's with the flashbacks? Who exactly is Ayanokoji, and how he is so damn perfect at being a mastermind?

One characters comes to mind when other viewers have talked about Ayanokoji, that being Hachiman from My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, which I reviewed three years ago (at least the first season). Both of them are pretty deadpan and don't take anything seriously, yet while I like both, I personally find Ayanokoji more interesting. After all, this show was more entertaining as a whole, plus was futuristic. Guilty pleasures incoming!

But back to the man of the hour, this is probably the most developed main character I've seen this year in anime. Heine had his backstory, but Ayanokoji is like a matryoshka doll. HE'S GOT LAYERS UPON LAYERS OF DEPTH! KINUGASA PLAYED NO GAMES! It's incredibly fascinating to see Ayanokoji interact with others as the show goes on, and getting little sneak peaks on his upbringing was a real treat. It's made clear that he's in Class D for a reason, despite having the power to be in Class A if only he allowed himself to. I wonder why?

I don't want to spoil too much, but let's just say that a inner monologue said in the final episode made me giddy with glee.


Can we have more MC's like this, please? You know, the ones who aren't bland or perverts or both and actually have common sense rather than being as satisfying as paste? Because Ayanokoji is a total boss, and these are the LN boys I LIKE TO SEE!

Moving on to Suzune:

Suzune is Class D's local ice queen, unfriendly and aloof. While she does bond with Ayanokoji (they have similar dispositions), she would rather meet him alone if trying to discuss something. This is the reason why she ended up in Class D, despite being a very smart student.

Her older brother, Manabu, the student council president, distances himself from her because he is ashamed that his sister's personality got her in Class D in the first place. Wanting to prove her brother wrong and thinking she was placed in the class by mistake, Suzune wishes to advance to Class A, and perhaps she can find an ally in Ayanokoji.

Ah, Suzune was a fun character. She does have an attitude, but she grows to trust Ayanokoji in a sense where she can let that go, despite knowing there's more to him and being thrown into the wild for some of his schemes. While she also admits that she isn't better then her classmates when faced with a serious problem, her guard drops more as the series goes on. 

It's not all the way gone, but I doubt the same girl who figured out she was set up immediately when Ayanokoji was asked by Kushida to try to let the other girl open up (not the best third impression), outright said no when Ayanokoji was able to get The Three Fools in a study group thanks to Kushida, and when noticing shoes on Ayanokoji's dorm room floor when trying to think up ways to battle Ken's second expulsion, said she was leaving. Don't forget the time when she stabbed Ayanokoji with a compass!

But in all seriousness, would the same girl admit that she's grown to Ayanokoji (not romantically) and sees him as an ally by the end of the series? Not a chance. Poor girl needs to realize that she's being used, though. Other than that, Suzune's initial disposition was funny yet frozen solid, but her growth was the real upside.

Now time for Kushida:

Kushida is very well-liked in her class, as everyone is charmed by her looks and personality. Her goal is to become friends with everyone in Class D and beyond! Underneath this exterior, however, is a girl who is violent and ill-tempered. In this personality, she reveals that she envies Suzune to the point of wanting to kill her. This is strange, considering her philosophy outside of that, but all right.

Ayanokoji becomes acquainted with the alternate personality following a party to celebrate the two being able to not get Ken expelled for the first time when Kushida leaves her phone behind. As Ayanokoji goes to give it back to her, he notices her not walking back to the female dorms. He then continues to follow her until she gets to a railing, where she reveals how much she hates Suzune. When Kushida notices Ayanokoji there, she tells him to not tell anyone about her secret, unless he wants to be accused of sexually assaulting her. Her evidence if Ayanokoji spills the tea? Fingerprints on her uniform where her left boob is. Since he's a good secret keeper, it's safe with him. 

Well, until it's revealed later on to everyone else. This is a light novel series after all; it's bound to happen.

Kushida was another character trope that was flipped on its nose in terms of these adaptations. One female character in a main ensemble tends to have the Happy Go Lucky archetype, and it didn't surprise me to see Kushida having that. To see she had additional characteristics beyond that (around the time Episode 3 aired) was stunning. It also isn't conveniently dropped, as that dark personality comes back in Episode 8 and slightly in 12. Again, characters like these are hard to come by, so seeing them makes me excited for what future adaptations of LN's will hold. We're far past the formulaic stage, and thank god for that.

Let's move on to the side characters that managed to impress me the most, starting with another member of Class D, Sakura:

Sakura was placed into Class D due to not communicating well with her fellow classmates, but for different reasons then Suzune. While Suzune is just ice cold, Sakura is very shy. She is nervous in large group settings, and prefers to be alone with her camera. She becomes the only witness to the incident regarding Ken's second attempt at getting expelled, as she was taking pictures of herself in the same building when the incident happened. However, it takes convincing to get her to offer up testimony, and while it doesn't give Class D the clear advantage, it does bring the case to a stalemate.

The reason as to why Sakura takes pictures of herself is because she is a gravure idol, a female model who poses for men's magazines, photo-books, or DVDs, with poses that range on the sensual side but not going past coy (an interesting fact is that Sakura's seiyuu, M.A.O., has done a few gravure idol DVD's). Her development revolves around an electronics store worker who has been stalking her, such as watching her with cameras when she came into the shop he worked at to get her camera fixed (after Sakura accidentally dropped it when Kushida asked if the former could provide evidence for Ken's case), and harassing her with love letters and texts to the point where she is on edge. 

During Episode 6, while the sun is setting in the sky, he jumps her in an alley and tries to force himself on her, declaring his undying love for her idol self (named Shizuku). Before she is attacked, she calls Ayanokoji, who then enlists the help of Ichinose to find her, using the tracking device in his phone after exchanging contact information with the former girl, along with the security cameras near the scene of the attack (he also takes a picture of the guy trying to strip Sakura on his phone as additional evidence). Due to saving her, Sakura feels indebted to Ayanokoji and starts to develop romantic feelings for him.

Yeah, I guess we have 3 love interests now, but does anyone care about the ship wars here? Because I don't.

Regardless, I liked Sakura. Her story arc was very compelling, and she was able to break out of her shell around Ayanokoji. She's still shy in big group conversations, but when she's around Ayanokoji, she's more comfortable to the point where Ayanokoji could consider her a friend if he wanted to. I'm not the most informed on Japanese idol culture (despite going to a panel at my local anime convention last year and watching some idol anime), but seeing a character working as a secret gravure idol was fascinating (even though they didn't directly state it in the show outside of just idol). I remember seeing one seiyuu from the ICONIC OVA Eiken worked as one, but having a character in a series be one is another thing entirely. I'm interested to see if the same thing exists for women audiences in Japan, or if it's more raw sexuality.

Time to move on to Ichinose:

Ichinose is in Class B. Despite her high class-standing, she is very sweet and down-to-earth with lower-ranked classmates, even though it's common policy to be looked down upon. She bonds with Ayanokoji when she asks him to help her with a love confession from one of her female classmates. The latter than talks with Class B to help put out messages regarding anyone potentially knowing information about an attack that has been referenced several times throughout this review. When doing so, Ayanokoji discovers that Ichinose's point balance is far too high, having obtained a good bit of private points. How did she get all of them? And what is her motivation in using them?

Well, you can find that out if you look on Wikipedia, but the anime doesn't go that far. Regardless, it's a pretty interesting reason I think could shock a lot of you.

Anyways, Ichinose is another great character. Getting to see glimpses of her personality was pretty nice, as she may be good-matured and innocent, but she does have secrets. I liked how she doesn't simply view others in lower classes as inferior, like most people would do, and is similar to Kushida in the fact she wants to be friends with most of the people she meets. It's really sweet and makes her not as corrupt as some of the other notorious students from the school.

Now time for the unexpected favorite out of the side characters (in both likability and focus), Ken:

Not a screenshot I wanted, but meh. It works anyways.

Wait, I think a brief intermission is starting. Please stand by:

Me at Episode 6 of the anime: Hey, Classroom of the Elite, I'm surprised that you're managing to develop this character that I just dismissed as pure fodder in the beginning.

Classroom of the Elite: Yeah, but you love it.

Me: Right, that is true.

I was not expecting to grow to Ken (full name Ken Sudo) as much as I did throughout this show's run. Ayanokoji is my favorite (probably like many others), but I couldn't help but grow to Ken as well. Starting off as a member of Class D's Three Fools, Ken is short-tempered and not intelligent, preferring to play basketball rather than study. These two traits cause him to get into trouble while at school, almost being expelled twice. Once is for scoring below the minimum score on the exams where classmates could get expelled, and another is for fighting Class C students where he was claimed to start the brawl. Ayanokoji and Suzune do offer their assistance both times, which causes him to not get expelled, and as such, his demeanor has softened to where his explosions aren't as bad.

He and Suzune also got off on bad terms, as she insulted his dream to become a pro basketball player (she thought it was foolish). However, she does clear the air, and Ken gets a crush on her following him not getting kicked out. This is noted when The Three Fools are talking about the girls they like and when Ken asks Ayanokoji what Suzune's given name is (as he's only called her by her last name, Horikawa). It's pretty funny and adorable, especially when one of them, Ike, leads his confession to Kushida to where he can refer to her as Kikyo.

Also, he's voiced by Brandon McInnis in the dub, and I'm starting to really grow on Brandon McInnis. Samon Goku will do that to you. 

Ah, the monkey boys are so nice.

So, yeah, Ken was good. Out of all of the side characters in Class D, he was the one who got the most focus, and I didn't mind. I liked seeing more to him outside of "Self introductions are for babies" and his sass talk. His friends are lovable goofballs, and I do like how he grew to trust our two leads because, hey, in a sense, they do care about him and saved his ass on two occasions. Apparently his bond with Ayanokoji runs deeper in the LN (not romantically, mind you), and if we get more of this anime (which I seriously doubt), hopefully we'll see more of that, because this guy is quite precious.

Other characters include Yosuke Hirata, Kei Karuizawa, Rokusuke Kouenji, Kanji Ike, and Haruki Yamauchi, fellow classmates of Class D. Yosuke is good-natured and intelligent, Kei is the former's girlfriend (though the LN will later indicate that their relationship is apparently a ruse), Rokusuke is a narcissist from a rich family, and Ike and Haruki are a part of The Three Fools, both liking video games and girls, though the former's experience with camping is appreciated during the survival test. 

Then we have Class C, whose prominent members are Kakeru Ryuuen and Mio Ibuki. Ryuuen is the ruthless leader of Class C, while Ibuki is one of his latchkeys, despite not liking how the former runs things. For Class B, there's Ryuuji Kanzaki, who is Ichinose's right-hand man. And finally, for Class A, Alice Sakayanagi and Kouhei Katsuragi are our prominent members. Alice is typically seen walking with a cane and Kouhei has the bald head. Both are pretty smart and are good leader types, hence why there's some tension between them.

We then have Manabu and Akane of the student council, plus Mrs. Chabashira and Mrs. Hoshinomiya, who are the teachers of Class D and B respectively.


The animation for this series was produced by Lerche, who are also known for their work on shows such as Monster Musume, Scum's Wish, and Unbreakable Machine Doll.

Overall, I thought the animation for this series was quite good. At some points, it did falter a bit, but it stayed mostly consistent and popped from the screen thanks to its lush coloring. All of the characters looked really good design-wise, and I especially liked the detail to lighting when the time of day changed. It also gave a focus on a dead butterfly being picked apart by bugs during a scene in Episode 4 during a discussion between Ayanokoji and Kushida, regarding how in most murders between two suspects, most people believe that a well-behaving member of society would be less innocent compared to someone who has committed crimes before.

Still not sure whether I should applaud Lerche for being clever or applaud them for unsettling me. Whichever works.

But one thing that I wasn't a big fan of was the fanservice. Again, this is a LN adaptation, which means that it's going to be present regardless, but at most times, it felt so unnecessarily jarring. You have a good story here, Classroom of the Elite, and being remembered for a lot of TNA isn't going to work in the long run. I don't want to see Class B's teacher massaged on the cruise ship topless, nor do I want to see her or Ichinose's crotches, please and thank you.

Although, seeing the guys in swimsuits did counteract that a bit. I especially liked seeing Ken's defined abs.


Sorry, I just had to appreciate that for a second. Again, it's not every day where you get to see boys in swimsuits and the animators show you more than just no shirts, no shoes, and I still get service.

Wrapping this up, though, I liked the show's animation even with its faults. Lerche has typically been a consistent studio, and I'm glad they're keeping up the good work. Still want to get to Danganronpa, as that looks to be their best, but that'll be another day.


The score for this series was composed by Ryo Takahashi, who is also known for his contributions to ACCA, the currently airing (at the time of this review) Code:Realize: Guardian of Rebirth, and Regalia: The Three Sacred Stars.

I don't know what's going on currently, but I keep on finding bomb AF anime OST's. Classroom of the Elite is easily one of them, especially for this being the first time I've heard Takahashi's work on a score he's led. This one reminded me of Qualidea Code's, what with its electronic flair, mystery, intrigue, and occasional hype. Granted, there isn't any epic battle music, but there was one piece that only played in two episodes (2 and 6) that I became deeply attached to. As of the time of this writing, the soundtrack release coincides with the last DVD/Blu-Ray release, which is in January of next year. Thankfully, my memory's a strong one, so knowing me when I sit down to listen to it, I'll be able to recall pieces as they pop up.


JK I loved it.

The voice acting is also pretty good. I remember being pretty happy to see that Akari Kito was on the cast list, since she played Aryabhata in Taboo Tattoo and I loved her there (then again, I love the character, too). Her tone as Suzune is very similar to her "breakout" role, but it's definitely more composed. Regardless, she plays her character very well.

Same goes with Shoya Chiba, whose Ayanokoji is incredibly deadpan and nonchalant and gives me life. But then again, I don't have a lot to complain about here, with Yurika Kubo's vocal switch as Kushida being marginally different, Rina Sato tapping for a more mature side to play Mrs. Chabashira, and Masaki Mizunaka giving his best Daisuke Ono crossed with Ryota Takeuchi impression to create an intimidating Ryuuen. It's a nice package all around.

I've seen bits of the dub, but I am planning on watching it eventually. It sounds good so far, and I'm interested to see what the cast will bring under promising direction from Apphia Yu.

Highlights from the original Japanese are Shoya Chiba, Akari Kito, Yurika Kubo, M.A.O, Ayana Taketatsu, Ryota Osaka, Toshiki Iwasawa, Eiji Takeuchi, Daiki Abe, Masaaki Mizunaka, Mikako Komatsu, Nao Toyama, Rina Hidaka, Satoshi Hino, Yuichiro Umehara, and Rina Sato.


This show turned out to be more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Granted, there was a bunch of fanservice that didn't belong, but everything else held my attention and hidden strength. The story and characters took a few turns I didn't expect, and hopefully with more LN adaptations come stronger characters and great plot lines. Well, unless the "little sister" trend starts to take off. Then we're all f**ked.

For viewers I'd recommend this show to, I'd say those who like high-stakes drama in a school setting, people who love to expect the unexpected, want to see something that's very akin to reading a book, or those who want to see a main character that's like Ayanokoji. Because there isn't one I know who's quite like him.

Score: 9/10


Engaging story.

Pace is very reminiscent of a book; won't leave you bored.


Characters are better developed than they have any right to be.

Nice animation.

Moderate manservice I needed in my life.

Awesome OST.

Good voice acting.

The last scene.


Too much fanservice.