I ended up rewatching a whole bunch of shows in the first half of 2020. And this list doesn’t even include the three series I wrote posts about already.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
Young girl befriends people by shooting them with laser beams.
You can see the rough elements here that would later be refined in Nanoha A’s. It’s watchable, but a bit dull. It takes a while to get going, and there’s not enough of a story to sustain it. Since it was turned into a movie later, there’s probably no real reason to watch the original series anymore.
What if surfing, but with mecha?
This is a show I was hoping would still hold up, and it did. I don’t even care about mecha, but I was originally drawn in by the cool style. Eureka and Holland are great characters and the show does a very good job developing them. And while Renton may not be the most instantly likeable main character, I still enjoyed his growing relationship with Eureka. It has some weaker episodes and didn’t always deliver on its promises, but even the second time around I was engaged the whole way through.
Dracula spells his name backwards and wears a red trenchcoat.
This was one of the first anime series I ever watched, and I loved it at the time. But then I started reading the manga and watching more anime, and quickly realized it wasn’t actually that good. There’s really no point in watching this now that Ultimate exists, except maybe for the funky soundtrack. The anime only covers a handful of manga chapters, and pads the rest with original material and more character focus. Some of it is fine, but the pacing is a lot slower, and the ending is a boring mess. Vampires action should be more fun, and that’s why we got…
Like Hellsing, but actually following the manga.
Ultimate is significantly better. It looks great, it’s action-packed, and it actually covers the whole story from beginning to end. That alone would’ve already been enough to make it watchable. But Hellsing is more than just cool scenes of vampires fighting bazis and Vatican assassins. It recognizes that its characters are monsters and delves into that to some degree. It’s not exactly high art, but it’s not brainless entertainment either.
Kid tries to make it in city of interdimensional visitors and super-powered weirdos.
Some shows are still just as good as I remembered them. Others are not, and this is one of them. The setting is interesting, it’s super stylish, and it has a wealth of crazy characters. But there’s not a lot of substance to it. New characters are constantly introduced but not a lot is done with them, and the protagonist Leonardo mostly just gets shit on. There’s an anime-original plotline that culminates in a pretty good ending, but it’s kind of obvious that it was an original addition because it’s not integrated into any of the other episodes. Still a fun watch, but did not live up to my own expectations.
House of Five Leaves
Socially awkward samurai gets mixed up with the wrong crowd.
The strength of this show lies in the characters. They’re all interesting, and I was engaged just watching them interact. This goes especially for the timid Masa and charming but secretive Yaichi, who are the main focus of the show. It’s a little light on story, but there’s just enough of it to carry it through its 12 episodes. It’s hard to describe in a way that does it justice, because there’s nothing flashy about it. It’s just well written.
Galaxy Angel S1
Goofy space antics of five mecha pilots
Humor is subjective, but anime comedy usually doesn’t work for me. The best I can say about Galaxy Angel is that it’s occasionally amusing. It has fine characters, it just doesn’t land enough jokes for me. At least it wasn’t boring, and I didn’t have any trouble getting through the whole season.
Somehow I watched all four of them back in the day…
Darker Than Black
Edgelord assassin pretends to be a nice guy… or is it the other way around!?
Another show I could’ve sworn was better than this. It’s a hodgepodge of action/mystery/comedy that faffs about a lot. The convoluted setting is poorly explained so it’s hard to understand the world they live in, and the comic relief characters are not funny at all. It starts off fine, but I quickly started getting bored and it was a struggle to finish it. It’s not bad at all, but it’s ultimately kind of forgettable.