There was a lot of great anime last season, but there was also a lot of anime that fell short. We’re going to rank them and see what worked and what didn’t.
Please note that I am not ranking every single anime that aired this season, both because I couldn’t possibly watch every one and because if I included every single one this article would be ridiculously long. Instead, this is a ranking of a broad sample of last season’s anime that looks at what worked and what didn’t. I'll note if an anime's still airing, how many episodes have aired and if it's a sequel to a previous season.
Let’s take a look at the best of the best and the worst of the worst!
Clockwork Planet (12 episodes, complete)
Clockwork Planet is overall a dull mess of clichés, bad storytelling and grossness. The premise of the anime is that earth was somehow completely rebuilt as a clockwork planet 100% made out of gears (even the characters can’t explain to you how this works). A boy named Naota has a hot, busty robot girl fall into his lap and his convenient superhearing allows him to fix her, after which she sexily sucks on his fingers and commits to being his servant for life.
That gives a pretty good idea of what type of show this is and it does not ever get better. The plot is muddled and directionless, the characters are paper thin one-note annoyances, the antagonists have inexplicable motivations and there's a ton of “accidentally” fondling girls and gratuitious nudity. Though the gear-filled backgrounds can look lovely, the animation involving people is downright terrible.
If you’re a guy who dreams of having a sexy robot girl kneel at your feet and follow your every whim, know that 1) I never want you to get within ten yards of me and 2) this series is very blatant wish fulfillment for you. Otherwise, this anime has very little to offer anyone.
Sagrada Reset (12 out of 24 episodes, ongoing)
Sagrada Reset has what could have been a great premise. In a community where everyone has superpowers, a girl has the ability to send everyone back in time three days, essentially “resetting” the world and a boy has the ability to retain his memories of the past through each “reset”. They work together to solve people’s problems using their complementary powers.
I love time-loop stories, so this should have been an easy sell for me. Unfortunately, the characters in Sagrada Reset don’t act like human beings with emotions. Instead they are like lifeless mannequins who produce boring exposition and rambling philosophical nonsence. The show moves at a glacial pace- even the art is glacial, with characters barely blinking.
The male lead, Kei, is intolerable in how he is so smart that he can predict what every other character will do as if he’s already read the script of the show. He can also flawlessly save any damsel he comes across (all the girls are, of course, obsessed with him). The self-insert nature of the character couldn’t be more obvious.
KADO: The Right Answer (12 episodes, complete)
KADO: The Right Answer is another anime with an interesting premise that it ultimately fails to live up to. An alien arrives on earth with gifts far beyond human imagination. A government official offers to be a negotiator between the alien and humanity, who wants to help humanity advance. The question is: why?
KADO was supposedly a mature show that took the novel approach to showing how conflicts could be solved with negotiation rather than force. However, it inexplicably ditches this premise by the end and problems are solved with force and overly convenient deus ex machinas, character development is tossed to the wayside and everything becomes nonsense. The show gets points for trying something different, but in the end it was a promising series that bombed spectacularly. Turns out we never get the right answer.
Granblue Fantasy The Animation (13 episodes, complete)
Granblue Fantasy The Animation is an adaptation of a video game. The premise is: an “ordinary” boy finds a girl with special mysterious powers on the run from an evil government organization, then they go off to find the boy’s long-lost father.
Yeah, odds are you’ve probably heard this story before. A lot. The anime is supposedly pretty faithful to the game, which tells me the game is fairly generic and typical. However, this is not a bad anime. The animation is nice enough, the plot is passable even if it’s familiar and the characters aren’t memorable but they’re not terrible (though arguably, the little mascot character is kind of annoying). If you feel like watching a familiar story, this isn’t a bad choice.
Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul (Sequel to Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, 12 out of 24 episodes, ongoing)
In a follow-up to 2014’s Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, this season explores a world of gods, demons and humans. Gods are being hunted down and demons are being enslaved by a king who believes both races are holding back humanity. Nina, a (supposed) bounty hunter who can turn into a dragon, gets involved with the demon rebellion against the king by happenstance.
Like the season before, this show has gorgeous animation, though it over-relies on CGI a lot more this time around. This isn’t the show to go to for deep and involved story and characterization- the plot is shallow and often nonsensical, as are the characters. However, if you’re willing to turn your brain off, it’s a fun enough watch with nice action scenes and all that. I do wish the main character Nina would get more development, though.
Re: Creators (12 out of 22 episodes, ongoing)
Yet another great premise that is wasting its potential, though since this anime is ongoing there’s still some room to turn things around. The premise of Re: Creators is that a bunch of popular anime, video game and light novel characters have suddenly appeared in the real world and are being encouraged by a mysterious figure to get revenge on the “gods” of their respective stories (meaning, the writers).
This story touches on a lot of fascinating ideas- it not only explores the nature of fiction, but also fanfiction, how fast stories can spread through the internet, the struggles writers go through and so on. I love a lot of the ideas in this show and some of the conversations about writing and the ways stories can inspire people are great.
Sadly, the under-developed characters, bad pacing and over-reliance on exposition harm the show a lot. The story is crowded with way too many characters in to be developed adequately and most of them are pretty flat as a result. Most of the show is devoted to the characters spouting exposition at each other interrupted by battle scenes that are very nice to look at but hard to get invested in when you don’t care about anyone who’s fighting. It’s a great concept, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired.
Attack on Titan Season 2 (Sequel to Attack on Titan, 12 episodes, complete)
It’s been several years since the last season of Attack on Titan and fans have been waiting quite a while. Was this installment of the story about humanity being threatened by man-eating giants worth the wait? That depends on whether you fell out of love with the series during said long wait. I have to admit that I kind of did, so it's a hard series for me to evaluate.
Manga readers will like how faithful this season is to the source material, but that also means the source material’s flaws are very present.This season of Attack on Titan goes for “grim and gritty” and “horrifying” quite a lot, but often ends up being unintentionally comical instead. The pacing flaws are also on full display- there’s an entire episode where characters talk at each other a bunch and yet everyone learns pretty much nothing new. Seriously, the episode even ends with Eren thinking “I learned absolutely nothing”.
There are a lot of highlights though, particularly the relationship between Ymir and Christa, which is well-developed and often heart-warming. There’s a few surprising twists as well.
Alice and Zouroku (12 episodes, complete)
Alice and Zouroku tells the story of a girl with the power to warp reality. She escapes an experimental facility and is taken into the family of a grumpy old man.
This was a really sweet series, though it was also a fairly uneven one. The first parts of the series had a hard time finding a balance between it’s slice-of-life elements and action-sci-fi elements. The action and exposition scenes were often muddled, anticlimactic and hard to follow, while the day-to-day life scenes were solid and heartwarming. However, the series finally found the right balance with its last arc. It was a story of two confused young girls struggling with growing up, relating to their families and relating to each other. While still a bit weirdly paced, it was a solidly written and touching arc that made me hope for a season 2.
My Hero Academia 2nd Season (Sequel to My Hero Academia, 12 out of 25 episodes, ongoing)
I enjoyed the first season of My Hero Academia well enough, but this season really knocked it out of the park and added a lot of complexity and nuance to the narrative. The show is set in the world where most people have superpowers and there is an academy where kids can train to become superheroes. A young boy named Izuku Midoriya inherited amazing superpowers from his superhero idol and aims to become a great hero.
This season featured the “fighting tournament” arc you see in a lot of anime, but it was not predictable. It was full of unusual match-ups, epic fights and lots of emotion, backstory and character development. Watching Uraraka, a cheerful girl with defensive anti-gravity powers, have to get creative in order to fight Bakugou, a rage-filled brute who could produce massive explosions, was a blast, if you forgive the pun.
One character also struggled with a trauma in a way that was heartwrenching but ultimately hopeful- it felt a lot more “real” than these stories typically do because he wasn’t able to instantly overcome his problems.
The cast of characters really shined this season- most of them are colorful, interesting and fun to watch (save for the characters who’s entire deal is “sexually harass girls and never shut up about it”, he can go away.) I’m excited to see where the series goes next.
Little Witch Academia (25 episodes, complete)
Little Witch Academia finished up this season and it was truly a gem of a series. The series focuses on a young girl named Akko, who enters an academy for witches after being inspired by the showmanship of the witch Shiny Chariot. She struggles with magic and searches for her idol, getting into adventures along the way.
This series is an all-ages treat. The animation is wonderful, colorful and expressive. The magic-filled fight scenes are often breathtaking. The characters are funny and likeable and grow quite a bit over the course of the show, which focuses heavily on the complicated relationships between dynamic female characters. The world of the story is captivating and interesting. This is a coming-of-age story with great visuals and an adorable, determined lead. The plot will occasional falter and some characters don’t get as much focus as they should, but overall it’s a truly magical series that children and adults alike can have a lot of fun with.
The Eccentric Family 2 (Sequel to The Eccentric Family, 12 episodes, complete)
The Eccentric Family 2 continues the adventures of a tanuki who’s a magnet for trouble dealing with the complicated politics of his world and his weird family. Like the season before it, this season was a beautifully complex meditation on the meaning of family. It had a sprawling cast with complicated relationships and conflicting motivations, but manages to pull it all together at the end, making for a satisfying finale that features an epic fight. The show has visually striking, wonderful animation as well. Overall, it’s another winner.
Natsume's Book of Friends 6 (Sequel to Natsume's Book of Friends 5, 11 episodes, complete)
Natsume’s Book of Friends is one of the few anime that’s made me cry multiple times. Focusing on a boy with the ability to see demons, it’s a heartstring-tugging tale of healing and growth. This is the sixth season of the show, but the quality hasn’t faltered one bit. Its cast of characters is endearing, complex and ever-growing.
This season continues Natsume’s slow and careful character development as he learns to trust and open up to other people. There’s a lot exciting changes in the character’s relationships for this season and the finale drops some intriguing questions about Natsume’s grandfather.
On top of all that, the animation is absolutely gorgeous with the opening being a real standout, featuring some breath-taking watercolor images. I cannot recommend this show enough and I can’t wait for the next season.