What a shocking surprise, I yet again set a deadline for myself, and yet again I ended up passing it. Seems to be a running theme this year. Anyways, no excuse for it this time, I plain and simply ended up running a few weeks behind on some of the shows I was watching and ended up putting this article off to instead catch up on those shows first. Speaking of said shows, this season has saw me fall back from the nowadays pretty high for me 17 shows I saw as simulcasts in the Spring to 14 simulcasts instead, tying the amount I saw in the Winter season.

As always, this amount isn’t necessarily reflective of the amount of shows I’ll be considering in the end of the season article, what with there being a few titles I’d like to check out that I’ll likely have to binge at the end of the season instead. Not to mention the stupid amount of shows Netflix is dropping on us this month. With this season’s progress report being so far into the season, it means the shows ending this season only have a small handful of episodes to change their fate, so unlike previous seasons it is more likely the medal tiers they are currently placed in will be where they end the season in as well. So with that out of the way, let’s start with my bronze medal shows, as I currently do not have any shows progressing towards a dreaded black medal.

Chio’s School Road

Talk about a show that is unfortunately very hit or miss. I want to like this show more than I do, but I just never know if an episode is going to range from hilarious segments involving Andou, the former biker gang member with a heart of gold who has a crush on Chio, or if it is going to involve Madoka, the captain of the school’s kabaddi club, whom the series absolutely loves focusing a bunch of “jokes” about sexually assaulting high school girls around. Even the most recurring type of segment, where Chio’s “gamer vision” takes over all her mental functions, can either be hilarious or a chore, and I just never know which I am going to get.

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When Chio’s School Road hits its jokes, it is absolutely hilarious, but when it misses, dear god does it miss and fall on its ass. Which is kind of a damn shame, because many of the voice actors, in particular Chiaki Omigawa, who plays Chio’s friend Manana, are putting in some serious work to try and make the material work, and they unfortunately just can’t sometimes.

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Attack on Titan Season 3

I must admit, they did it. Those glorious bastards have actually did it. This was around the time that the Attack on Titan manga started turning south for me, for a wide range of reasons with the biggest ones being I wasn’t particularly a fan of where things were heading, combined with the pace the manga was going at, due to its nature of being a monthly release, and some rather messy action choreography.

However, the crew behind the anime adaptation has made me actually rather enjoy what they’ve adapted so far. Things like pacing have been fixed thanks to the plot details coming out in a quicker fashion and them shaving off some fat plot wise by either cutting scenes wholesale or saving them for a later time where they would flow better. In addition, to say the jump to animation has improved the action scenes is a gross understatement.

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I dare anyone to watch the thrilling chase sequence from the second episode of this season and not be impressed at the pure sense of speed the characters were zipping around the town at. I still don’t like this as much as I did the Female Titan Arc in the first season or the first half of the second season, but, yeah, this is has been a stellar adaptation job of one of the most divisive parts of the franchise by everyone involved. Keep up the good work.

Encouragement of Climb Season 3

So the wonderfully chill and adorable show about cute girls climbing mountains has taken a bit of a different turn this season. While the girls are still climbing some mountains every now and then, this season seems to mainly be focused on how the girls interact with their non-climbing friends during Mt. Fuji’s climbing offseason. Aoi is slowly trying to build up strength and endurance so she can finally complete the climb to Mt. Fuji’s summit next climbing season, but while she is doing this, she starts to become friends with several of the girls in her class.

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This at times seems to cause some anxieties and stress between Aoi and her lifelong friend Hinata, even though Hinata was the one to introduce her to most of these new friends. The show may be taking a bit of a detour from its central hook for the most part this season, but I think it is working wonderfully, as it allows the girls to further grow as characters, and I can’t wait to see what is in store for this lovely short.

Harukana Receive

So Harukana Receive is not a bad show whatsoever. It’s actually quite enjoyable and an extremely easy watch. One of the easiest watches of the season if I am being quite honest. It has some genuine pathos to it, but it doesn’t go over the top with it, making for a surprisingly chill sports show. Frankly at this point the show is more slice of life than it is a typical sports show, as the sport is kind of inconsequential, as shown by how easily the show can just montage its way through a tournament without a care in the world.

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There is a bit of some, in the grand scheme of things rather lighthearted, fanservice, but I’ll be honest, I would have been completely shocked if a show about cute girls playing beach volleyball didn’t venture into this territory at least a bit. Ultimately, this is something I enjoy watching, but I feel it never stretches out of its comfort zone, and as a result is merely a very consistent show, and it seems rather content to be that, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Ninja Girl & Samurai Master 3rd

The ever reliable edutainment short continues chugging along, and the somewhat bittersweet tone the show has had this season has kicked into a fever pitch during the Summer season, with even more prominent members of the cast starting to die of in sad, yet badass, fights. The show is expertly navigating one of the rockiest parts of Oda Nobunaga’s quest to unify Japan, and I can’t wait for any potential future seasons of what is quickly becoming one of the best anime shorts in history.

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Steins;Gate 0

Oh man, what a disappointment Steins;Gate 0 has become to me. I don’t hate this show, but in the grand scheme of things, I feel like I could also do without it. I’m enjoying this enough still to see it out through to the end, but I think this is going to be a one and done viewing for me. Part of the problem is Steins;Gate 0 is ridiculously slow. Like people like to bag on how slow the first Steins;Gate anime is, for most people not picking up until halfway through. Now I personally enjoyed the first Steins;Gate from the very first episode, but even then I have to call it like I see it, and the truth is, for me, Steins;Gate 0 just takes way too damn long for the other shoe to drop.

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Not to mention that once it does drop, the show goes in some rather silly, anime-esque directions. I saw someone else put it in quite a succulent way, as Okabe becomes more “normal”, the world around him becomes more like an over the top anime, complete with a maniacal villain bent on world domination.

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Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion

I will always be a sucker for historical shows. History was my favorite subject throughout school, and is still an incredibly strong passion of mine. So a show that is basically the Japanese version of 300 about Japan’s most famous repelling of a massive invading empire is right up my alley. This show is admittedly a tiny bit shallow in that it is mostly a popcorn show, but it does have some great themes, specifically around fighting to protect people you have no direct need to fight for, in addition to some surprisingly thoughtful inspection into what it means to betray others.

It also plays a little loose with history, combining aspects from both of the Mongol invasions of the island of Tsushima, mix and matching various aspects such as the date of the invasion, the size of the Mongol fleet, and the size of the defending forces on Tsushima, but honestly I can kind of excuse that because a show based solely on the first invasion of Tsushima would be a ridiculously short one.

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In addition, while the show is playing loose with history in that respect, I absolutely must commend the show for its depiction of the Mongol army. I love how they go to great lengths to show that this is not one solitary horde, but rather a mass comprised of a ruling people and the people they’ve subjected and thus conscripted into their army. The Mongols, as in the actual Mongolians, have the armor and more impressively the hairstyles signature to the Mongolians. Then you have the Goryeo troops, who have their respective time period armor and general look. They even include, briefly, Chinese and Jurchen troops. They included freaking Jurchen troops! That may seem like a small little detail, but for history buffs like me, that was a moment to greatly enjoy.

Oh, and the action scenes are pretty badass too, I suppose.

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Banana Fish

Ring ring ring, banana pho...wait, that’s something completely different. So, yeah, Banana Fish, holy shit. This is simply a stellar crime drama. If you didn’t know this was adapted from a manga that ran in the 80's and 90's, it would be hard to tell. They have done a wonderful job adapting this series to modern times, and it is easy to see why this was such a seminal series back in the day. Most of the time I don’t bother with series meant for the yaoi audience unless it is really freaking good. Like something in the ballpark of Yuri!!! on ICE, more or less. Well, it probably goes without saying, but Banana Fish is one such show.

It is just a deeply enthralling show about tragedy and revenge, and kind of feels like a Shakespearean play with its twists and turns, deaths and betrayals. Despite the show being marketed equally around the duo of Ash Lynx and Eiji Okumura, so far it has been Ash’s story more than anything else, as he is overall the main focal point, and the character who is on the main path of revenge for the wrongs done to him and his brother. In a way, Banana Fish feels like the excellent show 91 Days, only set in the modern era, without the animation issues, and just overall better. I have some high hopes for this series, and I hope it can stick its landing down the road.

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Cells at Work!

What a pleasant surprise! We have another edutainment show this season, but unlike Ninja Girl & Samurai Master, this one is about the human body. This has led to it often being compared to the Osmosis Jones property, and it is rather easy to see why, but honestly both series are only similar in premise. They greatly differ when it comes to execution, with Cells at Work! genuinely going out of its way to try and teach about microbiology.

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Sure it does this through a very effective combination of comedy and badass balls to the walls action(courtesy of the masters of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, David Production), but it accomplishes its goal nevertheless. They also give some great, if simple, personalities to the various cell groups, and it can lead to some funny moments. Such as the lethally effective macrophage cells appearing like sweat, loving maids. This is just an absolutely enjoyable show all around, and one of the biggest surprises of the season. I think a lot of people expected to enjoy the show, but not to this degree.

HANEBADO!

This show is kind of a weird beast. I am absolutely enjoying the hell out of the show, but every now and then I can’t quite tell why I like it as much as I do. I know it is an expertly made show, with stellar visuals, and effectively dramatic writing, even if it does sometimes get a little too overdramatic. If I had to guess any real particular reason, it probably has to be the creature that is Ayano Hanesaki. She is just so fascinating to watch to me. Outside of badminton matches, she’s for the most part a rather seemingly normal Japanese high school girl. But when she steps on the court, oh man.

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It is like a switch is flipped in her head and she enters a Terminator mode, where she has absolutely no chill and will crush all those who oppose her with ruthless aggression and efficiency. Probably the most interesting thing is, she didn’t even want to get back into badminton despite her very obvious skill at it. She wanted to join different clubs and just live her life like a regular teenager, but she was basically dragged kicking and screaming back into the world of a sport she despises despite her gift at it.

So she basically responds with actions that more or less says, “Hey, you wanted me to play badminton, this is on your hands.” She’s simultaneously a sympathetic character because of her backstory involving her mother, and a detestable character because of how she carries herself while playing and takes her aggression and frustrations out on everyone.

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My Hero Academia Season 3

It has finally happened, it took the better part of three seasons, but I can now openly say, I love My Hero Academia. In previous seasons I enjoyed the show, but not as much as everyone else seemed to be loving it. This season changed that, first by having the strongest start to a season in the franchise yet, which then blossomed into my two favorite arcs in the series yet, the forest training camp arc and its immediate followup, the hideout raid arc. Things started getting real this season, and it all came to a head with one of the most memorable moments of the year so far.

However even with all of that, it didn’t actually dawn upon me that I “loved” the series until about halfway into this current anime season, where for a few weeks, thanks to work and other obligations, I fell woefully behind on my anime viewing and was only actively watching just 4 shows, with My Hero Academia being among that group. I realized that, if I didn’t love the show, then why was it part of my priority viewing during such a pared down part of the season for me? So here we are. It took the show’s strongest season to date, but it finally broke me.

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Asobi Asobase - workshop of fun -

This show is just flat out hilarious to me. In a year that has already been particularly strong when it came to absurdist humor, it has managed to somehow trump itself yet again. I love the cast in this show, even with all but a few of the characters being absolute shitheels. This show just runs on taking jokes as far as it can, and then pushing even further beyond the boundaries, often times just hurdling past the line of good taste to results that usually left me breathless from how much I was laughing.

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The star of this show is far and away Hanako, who just makes everything better, either because of her pure petty dumbassery or the multitude of reaction faces that constantly kill me. This show doesn’t rely on just one type of joke, either, peppering in several different kinds of gags to great effect. Sure it has repeated gags, but it has such a wide roster of recurring gags they can always keep things fresh, unlike Chio’s School Road which feels like it keeps repeating certain gags to the point where some of them seem like crutches for the show to lean on.

Another aspect of Asobi Asobase’s jokes that I like is there is a ridiculous amount of continuity with them. The show doesn’t merely bring back jokes for another laugh, it builds upon not only the previous times they used these jokes, but also incorporate other jokes they use. All of this means that this is quite possibly my favorite comedy series of the year so far, and it will be hard for anything to topple this from that top spot.

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Lupin the 3rd Part 5

Somehow this show just kept getting better and better. There isn’t a single episode in this season of Lupin the 3rd that I’ve hated. Sure there have been some weaker episodes in between the main mini-arcs in this season, but those are only weaker when compared to these stellar episodes, they are still really good episodes that trump the best episodes of other shows.

Not only has Lupin and friends been having to face an increasingly difficult world to move around in the shadows of thanks to the vast improvements in technology, this show has had some deliciously biting commentary about the current state of the world. Lupin has gone from taking on dark web Silk Road wannabes, to foiling the CIA’s attempt to overthrow yet another country to fulfill the desires of the American government, to now taking on some serious Jeff Bezos/Elon Musk type people, all the while sending a rather potent message about technology and how we interact with it nowadays.

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This is one of the most smartly written shows of the year, while also remaining one of its most fun. For all the deep themes and messages it has, it still is a Lupin the 3rd series after all. Top to bottom, this is currently one of the best overall anime packages of the year, and it would be a standout in any given year. I implore you, if you haven’t seen this show yet, please give it a shot.

Planet With

Speaking of shows that have great writing while also being stupidly fun, we have arguably the biggest surprise of the season. Planet With takes character and mecha designs plucked right from the halcyon days of 2000's anime, which was just flooded with series that had character designs similar to this, along with several of the tropes from the era, and just flips it all on its head.

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The show has one of the most memorable hook episodes of the year, just assaulting you with pure, raw, “what the hell?!” material left and right, and tosses you in the deep end, before smartly and methodically explaining the situation to you as the episodes go by. Eventually what we end up with is probably the closest thing to being the spiritual successor to Gurren Lagann that so many people have been craving for all these years.

On top of the highly effective writing, the action scenes are thrilling and carry an impressive sense of both scale and weight. Everything is brightly colored and goofy looking, but when the show gets serious, it shows just how much all of that is a facade. In a year that already has a phenomenal track record of action shows with great character drama and deep pathos, while also feeling like blasts from the past, this is looking to be one of the strongest members of the bunch.

And that should just about do it for now. Stay tune for what ends up being my actual favorites, including the shows that I didn’t see as simulcasts, in my end of the season favorites article, coming...whenever I actually get it done. Sorry, don’t want to jinx myself yet again by declaring any kind of future date, even a vague one. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on the shows airing this season in the comments down below. Until next time!