Maybe it was the overall corona situation. Or maybe I just had a bunch of time on my hands. Perhaps the acute lack of series to watch played a part. Whatever the reason, I ended up watching quite a bit of anime during the summer. A partial inspiration might have been my work colleague who a while ago recommended Your name., praising it as one his favourite films. I also happened to come across Kaguya-sama: Love is War, which I was kind of interested in watching. My previous experiences with anime weren’t very recent, having watched Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin (or, Silver Fang) in my youth and its followup series Ginga Legend Weed years later, so I didn’t really know what to expect.

So, as the whole pandemic thing shows no signs of stopping, I’m sharing here what I’ve been watching recently. You can take these as recommendations if you’re looking for something new to watch. View with either the English titles, original titles1 or both.

It turned out Kaguya-sama: Love is War, a romantic comedy, was hilarious. The premise is a bit outrageous but getting past that there’s an endless amount of humorous situations, as well as truly heartfelt moments, that come out of it. Ishigami best girl ❤️

I had a faint idea what Your name. was about but it still surprised me in a few ways. Often I’d expect the story to go into one direction or the characters to behave in a certain way, only to find the movie taking a different direction. Beautifully drawn and animated, with a wonderful soundtrack, I really liked this one.

Erased is my favourite anime series so far. As a time travel - mystery - thriller - drama it does not nicely fit into any one specific category of anime, as many other series tend to do. The time travel aspect is implemented in an interesting manner, and I’m always a sucker for a good time travel story. The anime goes into some darker places which was somewhat unexpected. 13 episodes is sufficient for wrapping everything up. Tip: Never skip the intro.

Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day is another drama with some mystery elements. It was interesting to follow where the story was going and how it would eventually resolve. With just eleven episodes this was nicely bingeable. Quite melodramatic though, especially towards the end.

It appears that many anime series fall into strictly defined genres, one of which is called isekai. In this genre the main character, usually from our reality, is transported into another (often fantasy) world. These series, or at least the ones I’ve seen, also seem to be more open-ended and despite seasons having an overall story arc the main story usually finds a way to continue into another season. While these series can feel a little bit formulaic and similar, they are excellent escapism. The series I’ve enjoyed the most have been Sword Art Online, Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, How Not to Summon a Demon Lord, Angel Beats! and The Rising of the Shield Hero. Fight scenes appear to be another aspect in common with the shows of this genre. I’m not too enthusiastic about this and I’ve tried to focus on series where fight scenes serve the plot and the characters and where they aren’t the focal point.

Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor was surprisingly funny. There’s only one season and while the story does leave an opening for another one, main plot points do get resolved. Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? is similarly fantasy - themed and quite humorous.

Another common genre is slice of life and it’s the most fitting for describing Rent-A-Girlfriend and My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU which otherwise aren’t very similar. The former being a more straightforward romantic comedy with various mishaps and the latter having more complicated characters and focusing on their growth. Hachiman Hikigaya is the best.

I’m not really sure how to categorise Charlotte, Classroom of the Elite and The Fruit of Grisaia. These were all entertaining with some mystery to them which kept me interested throughout.

Violet Evergarden tells the story of a girl slowly recovering from her experiences during a war and from being an orphan before that. Somehow there were so many odd elements to this story that it took me a while to really understand it. Overall this anime is quite sad, but there’s a lot of light-hearted moments as well, often arising from the main character’s social awkwardness.

There were a couple of highly recommended series which I could recommend only with some reservation. Death Note was quite brilliant, but the story takes a turn at a certain point. The show didn’t really recover from the change and ultimately the remainder of it could not live up to the earlier parts. Toradora!, a romantic comedy, was another generally praised anime, but I had issues with almost all of the main characters. One should be able to tell based on the first episode or two whether this is their cup of tea.

  1. Well, not really the original (usually) Japanese titles, but rather the romanised versions. ↩︎