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Anifile’s Top 5 Anime of Spring 2014


So the Spring 2014 season has finished and with it the end of some more series of anime. Some have been good, most have been decent and some have been pretty dire. It’s been a mixed bag and some surprises have cropped up. There were shows which surprised me and others which disappointed. This top five list for the season of Spring 2014 was pretty tough as there were shows which I wanted to put on such as No Game, No Life and Captain Earth but I can only have five and I wanted to be true to my opinion instead of following the consensus. Note that there have been some anime which I didn’t get to see due to a busy convention schedule and as such I shall list the anime which I summarised initially and still think have potential at the end of this post. So let’s spring into action, shall we?

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#5 – Baby Steps

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FULL REVIEW

I’m not much of a sports person, but when I watched this show for the first time I was curious about tennis. There was something about Eiichiro which I liked; he was a methodical individual who wanted to understand every single detail about tennis and use it in a logical manner to better his game. His drive is not from passion which has been seen many times, but through deduction. It makes the audience get behind Eiichiro and feel for him as he struggles to understand the sport both on and off the court. It’s not the most beautiful anime out there, but it’s still good. Baby Steps has a touch of realism about it and feels like a drama that could be easily made into a live-action film or special with little friction. This was probably one of the bigger surprises of the season in my eye; for that it managed to edge out No Game, No Life for the last spot on the top five. It also confirmed that slice-of-life is my favourite genre of anime.

#4 – If Her Flag Breaks

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FULL REVIEW

The biggest surprise from the season goes to If Her Flag Breaks. Why? Well, it made me laugh! Also it’s cute. Usually comedy anime tend to disappoint me and I rarely break out a smirk when I watch something which is meant to be funny which hails from Japan. When I watched Souta beginning to thaw and warm up to his new found friends, it was a touching moment. He had suffered a traumatic ordeal of losing his family and then was bestowed with a power to read people in the form of cutely decorated flags. He uses this power to his advantage and it makes for a cute story about Souta changing the fates of himself and his friends whilst throwing in some dorm room action and cheeky comedy for good measure. There is quite a twist later on in the show which helps the show stay fresher than most would in the second half of a run. All in all, I’d say this was a turn up for the books!

#3 – Chaika: The Coffin Princess

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FULL REVIEW

Chaika: The Coffin Princess was a fun ride. It had a certain something about it which made me think that this show is going to be a hit with anime fans everywhere. With the studio which brought to you Fullmetal Alchemist and Soul Eater, Chaika and her crew have the same endearment level as well as ‘cosplayability’ in the form of the leading lady. Its narrative was easy to understand and the magical ecosystem was not a complete mess which requires a masters degree to comprehend. Put simply, magical sniper rifle rules all! With the help of Tohru, Akari and Frederika the quartet feel like a true team and one that has potential to be a lasting squad going into an upcoming second season this autumn. This show has got a lot of heart and that heart will be pumping strong for years to come thanks to a English release by Sentai Filmworks! Woo!

#2 – One Week Friends

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FULL REVIEW

You know how I said I like shows with charm and heart? Yep, I think you know where this is going. Prepare the tissues, people! One Week Friends is about a girl who has had suffered severe mental trauma which results in weekly memory loss; she can’t make friends. Literally. She’ll forget them each and every Monday. How sad. One boy though tries to help her overcome her affliction by writing down a diary and slowly but surely it works. Yuki and Kaori are beacons in the world of anime in that nothing sexual is alluded. It’s all about one boy trying to make a friend where before it was impossible to do so. A simple story with a beautiful colour palette is something to behold and cherish. If you ever needed a good example of why anime is so special, this anime is a prime candidate.

#1 – Knights of Sidonia

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FULL REVIEW

Oh yeah, you knew this was going to be here. It was no contest. Knights of Sidonia is a landmark anime which marks a turning point in how anime is made. Three-dimensional, cel-shaded models aren’t new to the creative world but it has rarely been used to such an effect than in this show. Tsutomu Nihei’s art style lends itself to the clean lines of the third dimension making the non-mecha moments feel more organic, especially in the latter half of the first season. True, the animation was a little rusty at first but it improved quickly and by the end of the season it was on the mark! Then when you get to the mecha sequences; it’s gorgeous and a spectacle for my spectacles! Nagate Tanikaze’s ascendency to the world of mecha piloting was an awesome ride; the amount of plot points which impressed me were numerous [such as Nagate not being a hothead towards his ‘rival’ Kunato and the whole Izana/Hoshijiro love triangle]. The soundtrack is the icing on the cake with one of the best anime intro themes of recent memory. Its similarity to Attack of Titan should mean that lovers of Eren Jaeger’s adventures would get a kick from Knights of Sidonia but I strongly recommend it over the former. It is, in my opinion, way better. Does it beat my favourite anime of all time, Martian Successor Nadesico? Keep an eye out on my all-time top ten in the coming months. Also, there is a second season and I intend to buy the manga; I’m that stoked about this show!

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Missing In Action 

Due to my hectic schedule in June and July of this year, it meant that there were some shows which I didn’t get around to seeing after previewing them. There were shows which appealed to me and would suggest checking out despite my lack of review for them. They are as follows:

Ping Pong: The Animation , Even So The World is Beautiful , Nanana Ryugajo’s Buried Treasure & The Kawai Complex Guide To Manors and Hostel Behaviour

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That’s it for the prime beef of this season! Next time, we check out the off-cuts and tripe in my worst five anime of spring 2014.

What did you guys think? Cast your vote now for your favourite from this season!

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Knights of Sidonia [Sidonia no Kishi] [UPDATED]


http://blip.tv/masakox/anifile-knights-of-sidonia-6899149

Above is the FULL video review for Knights of Sidonia. Enjoy! You can still see the audio review below as well as its written review.


Japan arguably produces some of the best giant robot series out there. The genre is engrained in the DNA of anime enthusiasts, writers, production companies and visionaries everywhere. Countless series have been made in the last half century, so where do you go from there? How do you make your series stand out from the crowd? It’s hard, but the team at Polygon Pictures have tried with their production of Sidonia no Kishi or Knights of Sidonia by pushing the anime medium into the third dimension entirely; not just backgrounds or props, everything. It’s a bold move but it’s a thoroughly respectable one.

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Let’s make one thing clear, 3D animation has been used in anime for a long time in some shape or form. Most of the time it has been used for layering 2D content on top of one another in 3D space; a sort of 2.5D hybrid you could say. Sidonia no Kishi takes the ambitious step of taking the character models into the third plain of space. I shall go into detail about that later but for now, let’s focus on the story. If you’ve seen Attack on Titan, you’ll get it immediately and feel right at home. Sidonia is [as far as we know] the last haven for mankind after a biological terror known as the Gauna destroyed not just the Earth but the ENTIRE SOLAR SYSTEM. It makes Eren’s struggle with the Titans look like a picnic in comparison. The Gauna have rarely been defeated, all humanity can do is poke it in the eye with some blades known as Kabizashi and run away. In a little over a thousand years, humans have had to adapt to interstellar habitation and constant threats from the Gauna. These adaptations include the ability to absorb energy from light akin to photosynthesis thus reducing the need to eat food and preserving supplies as well as a whole new gender that can procreate with either men or women depending on the neutral gender’s preference. Every human on Sidonia can do this except our main character Nagate Tanikaze. He has been living in the depths of the colony with his now dead grandfather living off scraps and playing video games [virtual reality simulations of the Guardian battle robots that protect Sidonia] and as such missed out on the genetic enhancements. He is a natural at piloting giant robots. However one day, on a foray for some rice, he is spotted by guards and taken into custody. His name though saves his bacon and he is recruited to pilot the Guardians alongside the majority of the main cast including the androgynous Izana who becomes Nagate’s best friend, Shizuka [Nagate’s crush] and Norio [the pretty boy rival to Nagate who feels immense amounts of jealousy.]. All this character introduction leads to the end point of the initial exposition; the return of the Gauna after one hundred years of ‘peace’. Sound familiar?

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Let’s get one thing straight; Sidonia no Kishi’s manga was developed and released five months prior to Attack on Titan in 2009. Therefore it is wrong to assume that this show is copying the other. It’s more along the lines that television networks are now more likely to commission a similar production; the whole “If you liked that, you’ll love this!” philosophy. In my opinion, I feel that Nagate’s story is like the sci-fi genre having a go at the apocalyptic beast angle of storytelling and coming up with something grander, more threatening and far more bleak. Attack on Titan is epic but its universe is a lot more eccentric and fantastical; Sidonia no Kishi is more grounded surprisingly. Granted it’s set in space and way in the future, but it’s more familiar to those who enjoy sci-fi. It’s safer, quieter and yet just as epic as the story about Titans. Sidonia’s story in some places got really dark and really introspective, pushing my emotions to the limit and leaving me feeling really shaken; there’s one place in the early episodes that resonated with me the most but I’ll leave that for you to find out and trust me, you’ll understand why I found it disturbing. Nagate is a good main character because he is more flawed and primitive than those around him and yet he’s better than all of them in the pilot’s seat. It just goes to show that it’s best to not judge people on their biology. Izana is interesting too. He is more male at the start of the show and explains his gender immediately in a mature and sensical fashion; humans have fashioned genetically a new breed of human to reproduce with whatever gender it grows affection towards or has most contact with. It makes sense and doesn’t feel shoehorned in; it also adds the dilemma of whether Izana is a love interest or simply being Nagate’s foil.

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I think it’s a wonderfully put together show. If you take out the 3D character models and look at everything else, it’s as polished as a new car that’s been polished to within an inch of its life. It’s a show that Polygon Pictures is proud to present after testing its animation techniques with the American series Tron: Uprising using a similar style. Its epic detail and finish is a site for sore eyes and something you simply have to watch in HD so as to fully appreciate the time and effort that the animators put into creating such intricate models and shots. When we get to the character models though, it’s less rosy. I will applaud Polygon for taking such a big risk in making everything three dimensional, it’s a more integrated workflow where everything is one place and can be manipulated together. Movements are easier to make and tweak and the models themselves can be swapped out at any time meaning that if a character goes under a massive overhaul, it’s less time consuming to replace potentially. My problem with the opening episodes is that the framerate is so patchy. In some sequences, the movement is as smooth as butter and much like a film and then in some places, particularly the more comedic actions, it’s like I’m watching an internet video from 1998 or something. It’s so jittery and unnatural that it ruins the illusion for me. My hope is that this is something that will be fixed for the upcoming Blu-ray and DVD releases as time must have been against the team to produce the TV version in time. 3D animation takes a fair bit longer to render than most anime so it’s understandable to a degree. The models themselves though are well made and in some places shots looked like a regular 2D anime, the lighting and camera position working perfectly with one another. I approve of this style ultimately, I just hope that the framerate issues are reduced in later episodes.

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So does Sidonia no Kishi impress? You bet it does! It stands out as a great show on its own back and is to be regarded as one of the best examples of anime moving into the fully three dimensional animation workflow. Anime has been embracing 3D design for the past decade and it’s now ready to make the leap full-time. I feel bad comparing this show to Attack on Titan, but the similarities cannot be ignored. One thing to remember though is that apocalyptic anime are not new, there will be shows similar to the two I have mentioned produced in the years to come and people will becomes fans of them. Mankind is always curious to bring its existence to its knees in narrative form and that’s not going to go away. These two shows are paragons of that genre and should both be respected and not vilified because they just so happen to have common traits. Love anime! Love Sidonia no Kishi.

Sidonia no Kishi is available to stream on Netflix.

RATING: CONTINUE [A candidate for the top 5 anime of this season. A turning point in anime production.]

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The Anifile People’s Choice of Winter 2014


Written by MasakoX [@MasakoX]

So it’s been a few weeks since the anime of winter 2014 have mostly come to an end and their seasonal successors for the spring lineup have commenced their runs. These shows may have shuffled off to the annals of anime televisual archives, but that doesn’t mean we’re not quite done with them just yet. Earlier I listed my top five and worst five anime of the season and left polls in each post allowing you, the Anifile reader, to cast your votes for each category. After almost three weeks and over three hundred and fifty votes, we have managed to come up with a list for both the best and worst that the visitors of this website have chosen.

Some of the anime listed are expected, they made a positive or negative impact which caused a widespread consensus amongst anime fans as a whole but there were some surprises as I shall list right now for you. So let’s kick off with the top ten anime!

#10 – Sakura Trick

Sakura Trick surprised everyone with a formula which was refreshingly calm and not as yuri-heavy as it had been predicted. Reviews from other websites applauded the show for its restraint and tasteful delivery and you all have reflected that in your inclusion of it in the top ten.

#9 – Inari, Kon Kon

This touching tale of a girl’s devotion to her local shrine coupled with the adventures of the gods around her managed to warm its way into your hearts as well as mine.

#8 – Nobunaga The Fool

This wacky and yet beautiful looking at an alternative history is both justifiably cool and relevant given the recent fascination with the idea of multiverse theory which has penetrated the mainstream media. History is represented in an eccentric fashion and we’re left slack jawed in shock and awe.

#7 – World Conquest Zvezda Plot

This quirky tale of a little girl wanting to take over the world is pretty cute and has a rather unusual visual aesthetic which was able to interest those bored with the typical dystopian conquest which most tyrannical antagonists usually express.

#6 – Witch Craft Works

Witch Craft Works had this ability to be visually striking, interesting and engaging and was a close second to Wizard Barristers when it came to the best magical anime of the season. The characters may have been a little formulaic but it led to a fun adventure nonetheless.

#5 – D-Frag!

D-Frag! and its bizarre presentation was enough to engage with the audience at large and excite them with its clubhouse atmosphere with the air of gaming at its core. It was enough to remind me a little about The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya because of the rag-tag team present which is both unusual and cohesive. Good choice.

#4 – Nobunagun

Like me, Nobunagun’s different take on the female lead with a penchant for violence and artillery shot it straight into your conscious and leave it wanting more.

#3 – Nisekoi: Fake Love

This is a little higher than I expected but I’m glad to see it here. The story and presentation are commendable with the latter being particular enticing. Chitoge is this year’s Haruhi Suzumiya with the former’s inclusion in the latest smash hit fighter J-Stars Victory Vs. a clear sign that this character is meant for greatnes…at least in the realms of the marketers.

#2 – Space Dandy

It was clear that Space Dandy’s aggressive marketing push in the western audience coupled with its almost simulcast English dub led to the adventures of Dandy becoming engrained in the minds of nearly every active anime fan out there. Whether it was for good or for bad, this space comedy was out of this world!

#1 – Noragami

However, Dandy wasn’t able to seize the top spot in your minds; it wasn’t even close! With almost twice the number of votes, Noragami and its tale of a god left wanting for a new career captured the attention of the vast majority of anime fans. It may have far less marketing than some of the other anime on this list, but it didn’t need it. It had you at hello.

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So we had the best as chosen by you, but what was the worst? Let’s get straight to them!

#10 – Nisekoi: Fake Love

As much as I liked this show, I can understand why others might not. Its professional quality and effort that was put into the production masked the fact that the show’s plot is nowhere as robust. It’s a straight romance tale which we’ve all seen before BUT its accessories such as the mafia motif was one welcome addition which brought Nisekoi to the fore…but for some that wasn’t quite enough.

#9 – Sakura Trick

I’m sad that this show is here but again I can understand the reasoning behind it. Sakura Trick is a more tasteful yuri anime, but it doesn’t quite eschew its girl-love tropes. There are people out there that may have found the show boring and somewhat slow-paced or may have disagreed with the story in general. In the show’s defense, this is a slice-of-life story which is meant to be more grounded in reality than some other shows. Having said that, it is a premise which is bound to cause discussion and it was able to both please and annoy.

#8 – Tonari no Seki-kun

Tonari no Seki-kun doesn’t have much going on. It’s a simple short story about two students who are bored in class; well, one bored girl and one bored boy genius who comes up with ingenious ways of killing time. The first few times you watch Seki-kun, you are mesmerised with his daring stunts and wonder how his teacher hasn’t spotted him. After that you kind of know where things are headed and are left feeling bored. This short shelf-life is enough to turn off viewers and earn it a spot on the worst ten list; it just had little staying power.

#7 – Nobunagun

This is a little weird in my opinion. This was my favourite pick of the season for its sheer insanity and awesome premise. However to others it could be considered grating or vapid in that the entire premise is a complete farce in the eyes of historians or those who question the use of historical figures as templates for warriors. Especially Gandhi. Perhaps it’s that that got this show into the worst ten.

#6 – Z/X Ignition

This show annoyed me. It was a very poorly executed ploy to sell a new type of card game with silly monsters, confusing plot points and an irritating main male character. Or female character. I didn’t know who was supposed to be the real character. I wasn’t ignitied by this show; it stalled at first sight.

#5 – Sonico: The Animation

Yeah, this show is pretty vain and pointless. It’s a tie-in to a company’s mascot and music. Take busty girls, gaming, a dash of K-ON! and there you go – a boring and fanservice-laden tale of a girl who doesn’t like her ears, I think? She never takes those headphones off. It occupied my time pondering that notion whilst watching this as I was so bored.

#4 – Space Dandy

This is the major surprise. Why is Space Dandy so high up on the worst list having scored so highly on the best chart? The answer is simple. Its episodic and hugely misogynistic premise is enough to grate on viewers if exposed to it long enough. The formula is repeated a lot of the time and it does get stuck in a rut after a while. For me I found the show to be funny overall despite the questionable attitude towards women but I get why others might have been turned off or tuned out of this show after a while – it gets repetitive.

#3 – Pupa

For such a short show, three minutes per episode, it’s a surprise that it climbed so high up the list. Then you look at the content and understand why. It’s graphically violent and traumatic. Most people tend to steer clear of ultraviolence and gore. This is meant to be a show that rocks the boat and cause controversy and debate. You all were repelled by the blood and guts on display but if you think about it, Pupa served its purpose and got into your head where other shows might drift out and be forgotten; you can’t fault it for that achievement!

#2 – Magical Warfare

Oooh, this show. This show. It was a poor showing and cheapened the idea of a magical academy by resorting to fanservice to attract attention in its first outing as well as looking shoddy. Not only that, but in the second episode, the deus ex machina weapon is not bestowed through some mythical incantation…it’s in a barrel in a supply room. WHAT?! How stupid is that? It clearly angered most of you and I totally get why. Also, I check the stats for the site and my review for the show is one of the most often visited pages on here! Especially when people search to check if the show got cancelled. I must say, I did chuckle a little.

#1 – Recently My Sister Is Unusual

Thank you. You, like me, found this show to be awful and it [like Noragami for the best anime] was the runaway winner [loser?] of this place on the chart. I’m not going to say anymore about this series, I’ve said enough. Check out the link above and find out why.

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There you have it. Noragami wins Anifile’s first People’s Choice Award. A deserving win as well as a convincing one. Which anime will win next season? Well, let’s find out in the coming weeks!

Anifile’s Top 5 Anime of Winter 2014


So Winter 2014 has seen the first time that Anifile has reviewed an entire season of new anime. Of course there were shows that had a sequel season but as always on this show we don’t include those shows and concentrate on new I.Ps. So what has been the overall impression from this season? On the whole, it’s been a mixed bag. Some gems poking out from the bland desert. Of course there have been some metaphorical cacti and here we’ll cover both. In this first outing, we’ll go over my top five from this season. These shows are my picks from the more than twenty series I have reviewed, so let’s go! Check the bottom of this page for your chance to cast your vote for Anifile’s viewer choice!

#5 – Sakura Trick

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FULL REVIEW

Sakura Trick is one of those shows that on the surface might be considered as a purely fanservice show but once you get past the fact that this is straight-up yuri series, you realise that this adventure is very adorable. The animation quality is really different to stuff I’ve seen this season and the visual cues are very charming and endearing. Haruka and Yuu make an adorable couple and Yuu’s sister adds a little bit of comedy and intrigue into the mix too.

That being said, the fanservice early on can mar some of the entertainment value from this show but it calms down later on leaving a cute and sweet tale of two girls who slowly become really close. This is a really good show and I can say this was one of the biggest surprises of this season in my opinion.

#4 – D-Frag!

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FULL REVIEW

D-Frag! has a great mix of drama and narrative integrity despite the amount of bonkers humour that is within. It is a silly show with characters that have strong personalities and are multi-faceted amongst the insane level of shouting and ranting from Kenji [our main character]. It has the ability to be all things to all people with a charming story of people banding together and hatchets being buried from past anguish whilst we’re also being entertained with some rather impressive humour that is immune from the language barrier; slapstick is universal.

The gaming element of D-Frag! sometimes gets pushed into the background which is a little unfortunate but sometimes it’s necessary in order to focus on the people that populate the world we’re based in. It’s juggled well and you don’t feel that you’re watching something with little artistic intellect and instead feel like you got a light-hearted tale with some deep elements thrown in.

#3 – Space Dandy

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FULL REVIEW

Yes, I know, controversial. Why isn’t it higher? Simply put, there were series that I had a stronger emotional connection with; I sometimes like to be moved. That being said, it doesn’t mean that Space Dandy didn’t engage with me. It’s one of those shows that will define the 2010s in terms of anime like Excel Saga did in the 90s for its comedic impact. The show in fact has a distinct 70s vibe in terms of music and the demeanour of the main character, Dandy. Sadly though, the misogynistic nature from that time is rife throughout the anime which spoils my enjoyment a little bit. Honey is merely a pinup and it’s a shame. I can look past it enough to appreciate the rest of the quality components that make Space Dandy a modern classic simply because it is mad and such a memorable main character.

#2 – Inari, Kon Kon

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FULL REVIEW

Charm is important when it comes to making something memorable. Tug at a person’s heartstrings and you can guarantee a place in that person’s memory for a very long time. The tale of Inari gaining a feeling of self-confidence through her Shinto beliefs which are manifested into a touching and quirky goddess is wonderful. Uka isn’t like any god I’ve seen before in that she isn’t intimidating or pretentious. She’s like your mother; someone who has watched over you all your life and will always love you.

You get that connection which I talked about earlier. To some this show may seem a little bland but I don’t see it that way. It’s got heart. It’s also a really good demonstration of how the Japanese really value their Shinto roots even in the more secular world we live in today. You must give this a try.

#1 – Nobunagun

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FULL REVIEW

Nobunagun is one of the shows I came across last and I regret not reviewing it sooner. This show is pure insanity and despite this it’s also got an original main character or at least one you rarely see. A geeky girl who is not interested in socialising who is interested in military stuff as opposed to makeup and boys which the average girl of that age prefers. This fascination is realised with the use of superpowers and guns. Lots of guns.

Couple that with a surreal supporting cast, a killer intro theme akin to Death Note’s metal offering from 2006, a compelling substory in Shio and Kaoru’s growing friendship as well as badass action and you have a truly great show which can excite, intrigue and satisfy your desire for what makes anime what is; a feast for the eyes and mind.

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So there’s your lot for this season…at least the good ones. Click here for the list of the five least popular anime that this reviewer had the ‘pleasure’ of watching.

What did you think of my top 5? Do you agree or do you even have your own? Leave a comment about what your favourites were from this season or better still, select your favourite new anime from the poll below!