anime_reviewsTo counter the notion that recent anime sucks, here are shows where characters act mature, that have interesting plots, and with themes that will leave you better off for the watching.

Great

Anime

Description

The Good and Bad

Kill la Kill

(watch)
9.5/10

2013-2014

Action, Science Fiction, Thriller

A girl with a giant scissor blade seeks to find and take revenge on her father’s killer. She is aided by a suit of sentient clothing that gives her magical power, and does battle against a seemingly insane school, other suits of clothing, and anything else that crosses her path.

Good: Crazy, over-the top action, pacing that crams a season’s worth of escalation into each episode, an actual satisfying plot at the core of it all, likable characters, skimpy outfits on both genders.

Bad: A plot that plateaus around the final conflict, which is a little disappointing given the break-neck escalations that preceded it. An amount of fan-service that far surpasses mere parody.

Another

(watch)
9/10

2012

Supernatural Horror, Psycho Thriller

another_small

A boy moves to a school where students are ignoring a girl who is apparently a ghost. The boy’s classmates start dying, and he is blamed for triggering a deadly curse. He and the girl must figure out how to stop the curse to save themselves and their friends.

Good: Atmospheric and compelling, with gruesome (and frequent) deaths, a satisfying mystery at its core, and themes of trying to overcome fate. A quiet friendship between the two main characters against the backdrop of chaos.

Bad: Most of the secondary characters are uninteresting, and pacing is intermittently languid.

Eden of the East

(watch)
9/10

2009

Mystery, Thriller, Romance

eden_small

A boy with no memory and a phone that grants him incredible resources sets out to reedem a failing Japan. This is intertwined with a charming romance. Set in a near-future where most of Japan’s youth has no prospects for a useful life.

Good: Charming male and female leads, interesting plot, and themes of figuring out how to make use of a failing population.

Bad: Ending doesn’t quite live up to the rest of the series. I haven’t seen them, but am told the movies ruin the series.

Spice and Wolf

(watch)
9/10

2008

Romance, Medieval, Supernatural

spice&wolf_small

Endearing story of a partnership between a trader and a wolf goddess, set in medieval times with a minimum of magic.

Good: Understated wit, deep yet subtle love, a unique setting and details of medieval economy. Will leave you warm inside.

Bad: Conflict is generally on the subtle side. Second season doesn’t appreciably add to the first.

The Eccentric Family

(watch)
9/10

2013

Comedy, Supernatural

eccentric_tall

Amusing story of a tanooki and his family, trying to live with (and avoid being eaten by) humans, a capricious psychic and demigods.

Good: The devil-may-care approach to life of the main character, subtle and occasionally allegorical interpersonal relationships, surprisingly emotional plot.

Bad: Not terribly serious.

Psycho-Pass

(watch)
9/10

2012-2013

Sci-Fi, Psycho Thriller

-psycho-pass-32819228-500-437

A criminal-turned-detective looks for the killer of his old partner. Set in a future Japan, where an AI decides most aspects of people’s lives, and judges people’s criminal nature through remote scanning.

Good: Smart characters, an interesting combination of utopia and dystopia, a charismatic villain, and deliberation on the advantages and disadvantages of free will. Also, the name Sibyl.

Bad: Premise is a little difficult to swallow, ending is disappointing. Second season taken over by different writers; do not watch.

Deadman Wonderland

(watch)
8/10

2011

Sci-Fi, Arena

deadman_small

A boy is accused of murder and trapped in a funhouse-style deathmatch arena, forced to do battle using magic that requires the sacrifice of blood. Set in a future Japan after an apocalypse related to the blood magic.

Good: A grim and fantastical setting, interesting female lead, stoic and varied secondary characters, and a quickly-deepening plot.

Bad: Overtones of “but I’m just an ordinary boy!” from the main character in the first few episodes, and general passiveness on his at first.

Good

Anime

Description

The Good and Bad

Parasyte -the maxim-

(watch)
7/10

2014

Science Fiction, Aliens, Psychological

Alien parasites start taking over human bodies and killing other humans. A high school boy is infected by one, but it fails to take over his brain. The two end up in an uneasy alliance, trying to stay hidden and alive, and battling other parasites.

Good: Interesting idea, carried well through most of the season. A charming and likable parasite that nevertheless stays true to its alien motivations and nature. Creative and unusual battles and tactics.

Bad: Story shifts to heavy-handed and shallow moralizing for the last third of the season. Climax is weak. Main character’s likability is erratic, and his love interest is whiny.

House of Five Leaves

(watch)
7/10

2010

five_leaves

A timid but good-hearted ronin is drawn into a gang of kidnappers by its charismatic leader. The group proves to be complicated, and though a friendship develops between the ronin and the criminals, he is uncomfortable in the role.

Good: Mature, complicated characters, subtle friendship and an unusual animation style. A low-key and believable sketch of the life of criminals in Edo.

Bad: Pacing is slow, and action is minimal, which suits the mood of the series but undercuts the enjoyment of watching it. The payoff at the end is as subtle as the rest of the series.

[C]: Control – The Money of Soul and Possibility

(watch)
7/10

2011

c

A man is drawn into interaction with an alternate reality, where he puts his future up as collateral and does strange financial battles alongside his avatar. The results of such battles have a profound impact on the fabric of reality of Japan and the world.

Good: A cool alternate reality setting and unusual battles, an interesting take on the realities of debt and capital, and crazy symbolism.

Bad: The overall sense of the series is muddled, suggesting that the creators themselves weren’t sure what point they were trying to make.

Soul Eater

(on netflix)
7/10

2008-2009

soul_eater

In Death’s academy, students compete to battle evil humans and witches in tandem with their weapon partners. Soon, however, even the school is threatened, as an incredibly powerful demon spreads madness through the world. The students must join forces with their teachers and the leader of the school to defeat the demon.

Good: Amusing characters, interesting battles, and generally a fun series to watch. The effects of madness on various characters, both good and bad, is interesting to watch.

Bad: Not much depth, so it’s fun to watch but ultimately forgettable.

Blast of Tempest

(watch)
6/10

2012-2013

blast_of_tempest

A pair of resourceful high school friends battle world-overpowering magic and each other, one for revenge, the other for a lost love. Set in modern day, with magic powered by giant trees.

Good: Smart, highly-motivated characters, themes of overcoming destiny, a fast-paced start, awesome (albeit dead) love interest.

Bad: Erratic pacing, poorly directed action, disappointing second half, anime tropes.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

(watch)
6/10

2011

madoka

A magical creature offers to grant any wish to two schoolgirls in exchange for their becoming magical girls that battle witches. However, a newcomer to the school, also a magical girl, tries to stand in their way.

Good: Homura is a profoundly sympathetic character, animation style is interesting, and the plot, once revealed, is pretty cool.

Bad: The main character is frustratingly naive, and the series has a weak beginning and unconvincing finale.

Blue Exorcist

(watch)
6/10

2011

blue_exorcist

The son of Satan, a half-demon, joins a school for supernatural students, where his twin brother is one of the instructors. Determined to vanquish Satan in revenge for the death of his adopted father, the half-demon struggles at the school.

Good: This is a cute series, and I enjoyed watching it. It is basically exactly what you expect it to be.

Bad: Fun, but forgettable. The characters are simplistic, and you won’t get much out of this series other than a pleasant time watching.

From the New World

(watch)
6/10

2012

new_world

In a small agricultural town in the far future, a group of students are learning how to use and control their telekinetic abilities. As they grow, they discover that the nature of the world and its history is darker than it seems.

Good: An interesting core idea and a gradually-deepening plot.

Bad: Slow pacing and undifferentiated characters make it difficult to get into.

Poor

Anime

Description

The Good and Bad

Magi – The Labyrinth of Magic

(watch)
5/10

2012-2013

magi

In an unusual interpretation of mid-east mythology, Ali Baba, a teenager and Aladdin, a child with magical powers and a genie, travel the world, encountering other mythological characters.

Good: The main characters are fun, as are the various reinterpretations of mid-eastern mythology.

Bad: The bad guys are universally caricatures (down to and including being drawn deformed), and conflict is black-and white (e.g. slaves vs slavers), so it gets boring quickly.

Sword Art Online

(watch)
3/10

2012

soa

Thousands of users become trapped in an online role playing game where dying kills them in reality. The show follows a teenager with unbelievable skills as he tries to win the game.

Good: Good animation, and a popular (though well-trod) concept. The first few episodes highlight characters other than the protagonist and their struggle with the virtual world.

Bod: After the first few episodes, the characters, themes and main love story become two-dimensional, battles are won near-universally by the protagonist, and the pacing is painfully erratic.

Under evaluation

Anime

Description

The Good and Bad

Didn’t keep my interest long enough to review

Suggestions are welcomed.

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(Last updated March 2013.)

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