Back in August 2020, over a year ago, I was chatting with some of my friends. I then noticed that I have three different groups of fantastic, lovely, nerdy friends. Yet, with 2020 being such a rough year, I noticed the shyness we all shared outside of those we felt ourselves with, I wondered, “Why not introduce all these wonderful girls together so we can nerd out and support each other?”
And that started such an amazing part of my life. We now have our Otaku Girls Anime Group. ^_^ I have friends who are now my sisters, us meeting monthly to watch an anime together, do a manga book club, a feast following a food theme, playing nerdy, creative games, and just have a grand time. All of us take turns being responsible for running the event. We go on trips too outside our monthly (meetings), share funny anime memes, shop until our otaku hearts are full (and wallets sore). There have been there for me in great celebrations and the worst of times. I trust them fully and it is so easy to be with them.
Thanks to them, I have been introduced to a handful of manga and anime. So, on this list, I will share with you the top NEW TO ME anime I have watched in the last year (August 2020 to now). Many were introduced by these dazzling gals, but some were with Derrick or on my own.
Now, strap in for these colorful words, zany characters, and epic stories that helped me make friends along the way and soothe my heart! Maybe you will find your next gem here.
Top Ten Anime I’ve Watched This Year:
Fruits Basket: The Final:
I know technically, I have been watching the new (2019) “Fruits Basket” for the two years since it’s been on. Yet, since the third season kept getting heavily advertised as “Fruits Basket: The Final,” I thought I would make it a new entry. Plus, it’s truly my favorite! Just like this new series, it was phenomenal! Raw, beautiful, emotional, drawn so it took your breath away, the voice cast in both the English and Japanese amazing (although there are some in the English recast that I am not fond of.) What I love about this franchise as a whole is how it will warm your heart and break is all at the same time. How even though the stories are about a cursed family that transforms into animals when sick or hugged, the characters are so real, reliable, go through struggles and conflict that deep down, we all do, or for the extreme one, they help us understand them. They feel tangible, inspiring, and full of flaws, which is why they and their story are so loved.
I could do a whole post on this series and manga, LOL! Yet, I will focus on this season. I will give it a 9.5/10. For some odd reason, unlike the previous two seasons, which followed the manga to almost perfection, this one only had 13 episodes compared to 24, meaning they skipped some chapters. They did pass over some arcs and omit two characters. Even though they nailed all the key storylines, I missed some of the arcs they forgot. It helped establish some of the minor characters better (every person in this show has an important role and is all connected in a creative way). Such as Machi and our beloved, goofy Vice President and his not featured girlfriend, Meat Angel (BOO! They even SET UP the start for this arc in the second season. Which really made me mad).
It was all an emotional roller coaster with no break and I think adding those missed arcs would give our hearts, mind, and tear ducts a break. At least we got Momoji’s epic “glow up” that crashed the Internet!
AND! This score would have been a bit lower IF they hadn’t announced the mini-series about Tohru’s parents in 2022 since they SKIPPED THEIR CHAPTERS! Thank Kamisama!
Yuri on Ice
9/10 Rating. I have been wanting to watch this show admittedly. My awesome friend Sarah let me borrow it when I was sick. I was going to pace myself. I planned to only watch 3-4 episodes a day since it was only a 12 episode series. Sarah just grinned, saying “Good luck not to binge-watch it.” I was determined not to, have self-control.
I watched it all in one evening! LOL! I fell in love with this masterpiece HARD from the first episode. You are cheering for Yuri to win the hearts of the skating fans, judges, and his Coach who believes in him 10,000%, the renowned champion and heartthrob, Victor. The characters are well-established from the first episode, rounded, hooking you. Then you meet Victor (SWOON) and his smile, energy, and adorable looks sweep you in like glitter in the wind. The world of male figure stating is stunning, this show capturing it with grace and skill. The blooming romance is slow and pure, gorgeous. And even though there DEFINATELY could be more (PLEASE), it has a complete story, the flow grand.
Yes, this is a Yaoi, but this skeptical is full of such heart, whimsy, and cute humor that makes it precious in every light. The music and arrangements are works of art too. Remember, my dears, we are all pork cutlet bowls! 🙂
Yona of the Red Dawn
8.5/10 Rating: I love how Japan has a thing for empowering lovely maidens with red hair. I have wanted to watch this as well for a while. I saw Derrick watch a couple of episodes, so I bought it for him for Christmas and we watched it together a few months ago. Yona follows the story of Princess Yona, whose father is the kind ruler of the kingdom. Yona is spoiled, sticking out for her flaming red hair. She grew up with her crush/cousin Tsu and her snarky protector, Hak. Everything changes on her 16th birthday when her father is killed in front of her eyes…by her crush/cousin, betraying them all to take over the throne to better the land. Hak and Yona barely escape the castle, thought to be dead. In a desperate attempt to restart her life and maybe one day take her father’s kingdom back, she and Hak go to find the four reincarnate dragon followers of the legendary Red Dragon, each of these young men having a trait from the powerful creature, who was the color of flames…
This show was so engaging! The characters have excellent rapports, the world and colors fun, the budding romance cheer-worthy to the core, the wit, and humor grand, voice cast great, and when the backstories hit, the conflicts, they do twist you up and you want to give them hugs. I would proudly march with the Princess of the Dawn and her crew. Be prepared for table flip moments though!
How Heavy are the Dumbells You Lift?
8/10 Rating. Hahaha! This show is a scream! Just a good 12 episodes of comedy gold with an incredible cast! It is something simple and funny. I watched it in a few sittings while doing perlers, it making me smile from ear to ear. This show is about a girl who is so relatable it hurts. She wants to get into shape, but LOVES TO EAT! MAN, if that isn’t a shot in the heart! LOL! She and her friend decide to try a gym and meet an awesome, encouraging male fitness instructor. When he wears sweats, he looks normal, but when he flexes, well…the above picture becomes all you see. With his higher-toned, sweet voice, I hooted and snorted in laughter and it didn’t get much easier over time! My hubby saw him walking by and he was horrified! xD Oh, this show is worth it! They get more members to join their group. Their antics are awesome.
What I also love about this show is that it teaches you proper technique, an array of exercises, and nutrition guidelines; it’s even in the catchy closing theme song, ha! Muscle, muscle, let’s build some muscle! 😀
8/10 Rating: This show is so stickin’ kawaii! Easy to watch: 12-13 episodes, only 10-12 minutes each. Sarah introduced it to us and we watched the whole thing in one night. It follows a school of a colorful cast of characters, all darling. Each one follows a couple or a potential couple/crushing and their adventures together. Some are sugar-sweet. Some battle like cats and dogs. Others are opposite and make-up in random alleyways to confuse each other, lol! Every single pairing and character is fun and this show is an easy feel-good watch. There is also a character that acts like a young Jeremey from my “The Hunter and The Bringer” series and Julie and I was cackling each time he was there. It was uncanny!
Beyond the Boundary:
7.5/10 Rating: When glasses fetishes meet spirit hunters that can use swords from their own blood?! OH, you are ready for a good time! The opening scene sets it up! Our main guy, Akihito Kanbara, sees a girl in school about to jump off the school roof to kill herself. He gives her a speech (including how glasses on girls are too cute, too cute to die, lol). Suddenly, the girl crafts a sword from her own blood, stabbing him. It hurts him like heck, but he cannot die. The girl calls this fact annoying and walks off! She then tries to follow him at school, find places to get him alone to keep stabbing him just to check! Miari even joins the same Literacy Club he is in!
Akihito, Miari, the President of the Literacy Club, and her older brother are all a part of The Spirit World, them all Spirit World Warriors (SIDE NOTE: I LOVED this because in my young adult series, “Spirit Vision,” my main character, Stary, is THE SPIRIT WARRIOR for the world! EVERY TIME I heard the name, I got excited, lol,) They are those who destroy youmu, demons, all of them having supernatural abilities in some way. Except for Akihito, who is half-human and half-youmu (hence his immortality and healing). This anime is full of action and reverting storylines of Miari’s cursed past and struggle to kill despite her incredible powers, a dark secret Akihito holds, and about a darkness that is sweeping over the world that can cause a lot of issues. The way the powers are used is so cool, the visuals awe striking.
There were a few parts that didn’t fit, like the idol singing scene (although it was sort of funny), or some of the long pauses or jokes that didn’t land quite right. The voice of the main girl didn’t overly fit either. The anime ending kind of rushed to have a happy ending in the last moment after a lovely final episode.
I DO own the movies. I was told the second one of them really ends the series in a proper note. I suppose it did. It was cool, nice going back into this world, and beautiful animation. Yet, it felt more like a special than a movie. It was fast-paced and confusing at times. I liked it and it did its job, but it didn’t stick with me as much as I was hoping. Still recommend a watch though!
Revolutionary Girl Utena:
6.5/10 Rating. OKAY! Let me give you the framework. Picture it! This show is a legend, an icon, a symbol for yuri. My brother and I have been wanting it for ages. But, it’s a rightstuf.com exclusive and usually $200 for all 39 episodes and the movie. YIKES! Finally, a year ago, it went on sale for $100. We chipped in half each and somehow, slowly, found time within the year to watch several episodes straight each time. I mean, the blurb alone ensnares you: “Utena meets a prince when she was a little girl, him giving her a rose ring. She declares that she wants to be a prince too. In middle school, she finds out the rose ring, which all the student council members have, allows her access to the dueling arena castle in the sky. They are fighting for the prize to marry The Rose Bride, who will help bring access to one powerful wish, all of them working for a mysterious figure known as “The End of the World.” However, when Utena sees The Rose Bride being abused by her current fiance, she cannot stand by! She challenges him and wins, starting up a slew of duels and her now being engaged to the dull, but sweet, clueless Rose Bride.”
Oh, my purple monkey madness! This show is a trip! It starts out as it does on paper for the first arc, the first 13 episodes. For 90’s art, it’s stunning, especially the mosaic and silhouette designs. Utena is a powerful warrior and I can see why people think of her as a Yuri role model. The characters and voice acting are all over the place: some amazing, others a river ride of insanity. Any with the blonde sister was stupid filler episodes, and they had one of those every 3 or so episodes! YES! A show with only 39 episodes for that much filler! It was the worst kind of filler too; stupid and pointless. Also, I am sorry, Chu Chu, is the ugliest and annoying mascot character I have ever seen! Sorry! Overall, season 1 was good.
Then, season 2 happens. Yeah…it can burn! The story made no sense, the new additions to the cast are useless. We could not stand it. The only semi-cool part was when Utena dueled her ‘possessed’ friends.
Season 3 brought us back into the epicness of season 1 with an edge, the background of The Rose Bride, and who The Prince is intense but good. The symbolism and betrayal are a lot to take in. The ending was overly complex and we were lost. The villains being evil cars and the duelist having their own version of Rose Brides was so strange! And the Student Council is back, with the main baddie, who makes the eutrophic members who go on a joy ride in his red car to “The End of The World,” their shirts opening and billowing dramatically (and partly sexily) in the wind!
To be honest, yes, there is some implied flirting or poses with The Rose Bride and Utena, but I didn’t see nor did Miles on to why it was such a staple for Yuri fans. Then…we watched the movie. OMG! The MOVIE IS AMAZING! The final boss is weird beyond measure, but that makes it great! I consider it a true ending to the series, but the director did an excellent job! Really, this film, I can see the couple confirmed and proud yuri influence. It is totally 16+, but it’s so worth it.
Sorry! I have been needing to rant about this series for a LONG time! So, yeah, it was…good, but a disappointment overall compared to the hefty price tag.
6/10 Rating: Three pretty high school girls who are the only ones who can breathe without being in a contained building or an air tank, them going around with their abilities and neat personalities. All of this is in our world, a world where the air is toxic. Drew showed us this one. I only watched a bit, but I really liked it and the concept. If you haven’t figured it out, these girls are special…;)
6/10 Rating: Ha! Oh gosh, I have heard so much about this show! It was only six episodes on Netflix, but Derrick was rolling around in laughter with tears in his eyes. It follows a former gang member who is now a househusband. As his wife works, he does the chores: cooks, cleans, takes care of the cat, shops, coupons. He stands out so much, but he’s so good at everything, making shades and white aprons look good! It has a sliding, simple comic book animation style that bugged some, but I didn’t mind. It was definitely enjoyable and I look forward to more!
The Earl and The Fairy:
5/10 Rating: I did adore this four-volume manga series. It followed Lydia, a beautiful girl with hair the color of rust, who is a fairy doctor, one that can see and help fey creatures. She has a sarcastic fluffy cat familiar. But, people do not believe or want to deal with fey anymore so they see her as a freak. She ends up in a situation with a very handsome, blond Earl, as smooth and high-and-mighty as silk. From there, adventure ensues. The magic and wonder, the tragic backstory and his goal to find out his heritage, and the fey encounters are alluring and rich. I only watched the first four episodes (sadly, there is no dub). Yet, the animation lacks the artistic charm of the manga so far. It’s not bad, but it takes some of the lush cultures from it. Still, for sure worth a read or watch!
Go Shine, my Anime Lovers! Stay geeky! 🙂
Educator of young minds by day, super nerdy savior of justice, and cute things by night, Morgan Straughan Comnick has a love for turning the normal into something special without losing its essence. Morgan draws from real-life experiences and her ongoing imagination to spark her writing. In her spare time, she enjoys doing goofy voices, traveling to new worlds by turning pages, humming child-like songs, and forcing people to smile with her “bubbliness.” It is Morgan’s mission in life to spread the amazement of otaku/Japanese culture to the world and to stop bullying; she knows everyone shines brightly.
For more information about Morgan and her works, check out her website, which also has links to all her social medias: http://morganscomnick.com