Every November for the last 4 years, I’ve partaken in my own creation. It is called the November Challenge! The idea is, I get 5 people to give me anime to watch by November’s end.(There is a far more complicated process, but that is the gist!) It’s partially a competition, and the other part an experience. I came up with the idea to watch shows I normally wouldn’t get around to, and make it a little interesting for me as well. The five people would be competing to show me good works of anime they have seen. The best show to me is henceforth dubbed the winner! The winner in turn gets a prize, and a free slot in next year’s running of shows. It was and still is just a simple idea. 5 shows, 1 month, lots of anime consumption. A fun but exhausting experience. And of course, for the 4th year I decided to mix  things up once again. Last year I couldn’t contact the previous champion, but this time around I was lucky and managed to do so. If you are wondering what that means, well let me put it in layman’s terms. This year I watched not 5 series, but 6! I thought it couldn’t get anymore time consuming and draining either!!

The way this megapost will work is as follows: I will talk about the shows in order of when I watched them, there will be two splits of non-spoiler & spoiler, and you will get an idea of how I felt about them all through that. Afterwards, I will present individual awards for several hand-picked categories.(Because that is fun of course!) Then the final part comes. I will give the official order of how they all ranked this year, and deem the winner of the 2017 November Challenge! It should be fun, but it will be a lot to read. I will have a large spoiler picture above each section that talks about well…..the spoilers, for people to avoid if they wish.

Before I begin, I figured since I didn’t do it last year, I would inform the readers outside of Kitsu, what the rules of this tournament are generally when people sign up. Aside from a first come first serve sign up unsaid rule, these are the following rules I use.

THE RULES
-The show’s length must be between 10-30 episodes. No less, no more.
-It must be have full length episodes.
-No shorts, OVAS, ONAS, films, or anything else aside from standard format shows
-No adult content like hentai
-You must have seen it to completion
-I must have not seen any of it.(Even a single episode seen by me disqualifies it)
-Season 1’s are allowed, but not multiple seasons at once unless it fits in the 30 episode overall rule above
-You get to choose if I watch it dubbed or subbed if both languages are available

Other than that let’s get into talking about the challenge!

2014 Winner: Shinsekai Yori

Other Shows: No Game No Life, Shiki, Bokurano, & Kyoukai No Kanata

2015 Winner: Berserk(1997)

Other Shows: Donten Ni Warau, Princess Tutu, Mawaru Penguindrum, & Master Keaton

2016 Winner: Oh! Edo Rocket

Other Shows: Planetes, Katanagatari, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, & Haibane Renmei

 

2017 November Challenge!

                                                                       

Show: Kino’s Journey/Kino no Tabi The Beautiful World

Year Aired: 2003

Studio: A.C.G.T.

Episodes: 13

Source: Light Novel

Watched For: CheesyJ

 

Adventure is one of the most universal themes you often see stories use as their main drive. So many wonderful series like Star Wars, Lord of The Rings, and many more rely on the fascination of adventure to create their unique worlds. The sweet feeling of a new discovery, to uncover each and every time is without a doubt, one of the most satisfying feelings in fiction. Kino’s Journey is no different in this regard, as the series primarily lets the episodic adventures of the titular Kino carry along every single part of it.

Kino really relies on the idea of identity. This young girl who travels across the land from country to country, on her talking motorbike, is always being learnt of new and interesting things. In this universe, every place is basically considered a country. Normally, you’d expect them to vary a bit, yet in general that would have seldom things that make them stand out, aside from their customs. However, in Kino’s Journey, every single country has itself a fully realized identity. What I mean by that is, they all are defined by something super specific, that no other country in the land does. One place has people fight in a coliseum for the right of a privileged life out of the slums, while an other  has machines completely do all of the work for the humans. Every place is basically an individual.

One very noticeable thing about this series for viewer  is the way it looks. Now, I know that seems like an obvious thing to point out with it being animation, but hear me out! Kino uses a filter over the standard animation, to give the series a very dated look. This isn’t done to make the show look bad or anything, rather I think it was done as an artistic choice to invoke old parables of the past. With the series basically being a collection of short stories, each involving one common character, I think the idea was to give a specific feel with it.

The show is definitely one that has showed some age with the many years that have passed, yet it is also beloved by many for a reason. It is easy for many to be engrossed with the themes that carry the show. Each country usually has some philosophical idea attached to its own specific narrative, that Kino uses to pose a question to the viewer. More often than not, these are not answered purposefully to leave the final decision to the one who watches it. And in the end, I think that is what a lot of artistic interpretation is about. The beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the only one who has the “best” answer is yourself.

 

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The Good: Kino is an episodic anime at its finest. It fits a large amount of content into a single episode or two, without wasting a bunch a time for fluff. I always love this notion, because honestly, I like the idea of less is more. Kino clearly tries to adopt this mindset the wholeway through, and most of the self-contained stories excel for it. I found many of them quite enjoyable to sit through. The what ifs the series places on the viewer is a fun concept. It treats you as a smart person, who can make your own conclusions with the examples given. Many of the one-off characters were a hoot too. I especially liked ones like the girl making the plane, the old lady robot, and of course Kino. Ah, yes the reveal of the original Kino was a neat little twist, that I was waiting to be unveiled to me. I needed a bit of context for what was at the root of the beginning of her adventure, and they gave it to me simple and sweet. The series is easily one that runs as a classic because it has universal ideas, and really smooth plots. I also enjoyed most of the action sequences, and the music was a good support as well. Kino is a well rounded series with enough to satisfy everyone at least a little bit, if not far more so.

The Bad: I get the filter from an artistic standpoint, but honestly I hated it. Aside from the fact that the normal animation is terribly dated by today’s standard’s, the filter just further multiplies how old this series looks, and not for the better. Kino herself, is also maybe one of the least engaging main characters I’ve come across is a while. She stands as a neutral source in most conflicts, due to the series not wanting to make a clear swaying point for the viewer, but it makes her incredibly unsatisfying to watch. The way she interacts with the world is so dejected, and far removed from the little girl we met earlier in her life, and while I can see the harshness of the world warping her some, the overall concept makes her almost lifeless. Of course the severe lack on continuation(you’ll be hearing that from almost all of these haha), didn’t help either. So, what I got from Kino was so bare bones, that I felt like it was just a small collection of stories with little value aside from a few interesting questions it poses. I certainly, wouldn’t call all of the individual stories equal in quality either, so this makes Kino a bit of an oddball with what it is trying to accomplish with it’s tiny episode count. Less may be more, but sometimes I just want more damn it!

 

                                                                       

Show: Aishiteruze Baby

Year Aired: 2004

Studio: TMS Entertainment

Episodes: 26

Source: Manga

Watched For: Feethebunny

 

In the past few years, one of the most emerging types of stories in anime has been that of a child/guardian relationship at the heart of a story. Series like Usagi Drop, Sweetness & Lightning, and Poco’s Udon World to name a few, have been some of the most high profile ones. Before all of them though, was a little shoujo series by the name of Aishiteruze Baby. As time has moved on, the show has been forgotten, but not today! What kind of feelings can this early adopter of this type of storyline produce?

We follow the antics of Kippei Onii-chan(it’s important to always remember the whole thing), and him suddenly becoming the primary caretaker of a young girl named Yuzuyu. Recently abandoned by her mother, she is forced to turn to her outside family members to be there to foster her. Due to Kippei Onii-chan(I told you it’s important!) being a delinquent, his family decides to arbitrarily toss the responsibility upon him. So long sexy time with random girls at school on the stairs, hello being the new big brother to this preschooler! A bit of a wacky premise to start it off, but yeah it’s anime and that isn’t the strangest thing in the world I’ve heard, so lets go with what we get.

This show really flip flops between what it wants to focus on. Part of it is the relationship between Kippei Onii-chan/Yuzuyu, part of it is him/main love interest, and part of it is focus on random side character arcs. Aishiteruze Baby is a true mixed bag of genres. One episode it is slice of life, the next it is a serious drama, and the following one it is a romance. You never know what you are going to get, because it doesn’t try to follow a typical formula with how it expands upon the future narrative. I’m unsure if this was intentional, but irregardless it makes for a surprise each and every outing.

The show might not be a hit with everyone, since it doesn’t rely too heavily on any one specific thing to be a selling point, but it does carry a lot of things people tend to enjoy. Do you like classic anime comedy hi-jinks? Check. Do you like some romance time? Check. Do you want to see two characters constantly get closer and closer and become like true family? Check. It’s rather wholesome all around, and if you enjoy that sort of medley, well I think this one might be for you.

 

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The Good: I love the dynamic between Kippei Onii-chan(Nope not dropping it), and Yuzuyu. It’s absolutely precious, and I think the reason my friend made it a choice to give me for this competition. He knows I love kids, and you do get some genuinely cute shit in this series. It will for sure make some people completely fuzzy inside with how warm it can be. On the slip side, I think Kippei ended up being a decent lead, despite being fairly typical. When the series needed him to step up, he sure as hell did. It made him a guy I could root for constantly. The drama was solid too. There are two back to back arcs that deal with child abuse, and suicidal thoughts from bullying that really came out of left field, but I couldn’t help but tip my cap to the execution of both arcs. They spent a solid 3 or so episodes on both, and gave them fantastic proper conclusions, that were worth the time spent with them.

The Bad: You know what didn’t have a conclusion though? Well yeah most of these shows, and this one is included! It really is driving me nuts how many shows I got this time around that lacked a true gratifying finale. This show also really dropped the ball, when it had to do with anything romance related. The main couple was never sold to me well, and I never once shipped them together. They spent so little time together, I couldn’t remotely believe they were into each other. The series also constantly made Kippei Onii-chan to be like dripping in sexual pheromones. So many ladies were throwing themselves at the guy for some personal time together. I haven’t a clue what this guy was doing as a delinquent, but me thinks he was getting busy like a pro. I wasn’t able to stomach this idea, because they spent so much time working up Kippei as a sweet older brother, and them immediately undercutting it with him being sleazy with dozens of girls at his school. I mean I didn’t mind him never wearing the school uniform shirt, or the stupidity of his sleeping spot on the top of the stairs in the middle of the school, but the girls thing was simply frustrating for me. Also, while I commend the show for doing what it wanted, whenever it wanted, I feel the inconsistently of what it was choosing to do made it really hard to invest in. I still don’t know what the overall goal of the show is. It has a romance sorta, and a somewhat undefined goal for Yuzuyu reuniting with her shit mother, but it just meanders on things unrelated to that for so long I can’t help but wonder.

                                                                       

Show: Food Wars/Shokugeki no Souma

Year Aired: 2015

Studio: J.C Staff

Episodes: 24(Season 1 Only)

Source: Manga

Watched For: Dynyma

 

There is something every single human can connect with. There is something that all of us,without a doubt enjoy in some way or another. There is something so universal to us all, that making a series with a plethora of it is bound to make it an unrelenting hit with the masses. That something is se……FOOD! Food Wars is all about delicious gourmet meals, produced in various circumstances, and how titillating the taste of it can be. If there is one thing all humans partake in each and everyday it is cuisine. A story that revolves around a basic part of human life and nourishment should be easy to consume, but honestly it does depend on how it hits the palate of us all.

Small town boy Souma, works at the family diner with his pops. They cook and serve fantastically scrumptious dishes to their clients on the daily. Souma’s dad decides to travel and cook, and with that sends his son to go to the most prestigious cooking school in all of Japan. A dog eat dog world of the best of the best competing, to show their food is superior to their classmates. The majority of the student body are rich people who have been born, and bred into the cooking lifestyle. They expect no one, but those of equal class status to match their pedigree. Souma is a clear outlier in this world, and from the get go is public enemy number one when he declares to all, he will become the top chef.

Food Wars is a true shonen through and through. It bolsters high energy battles, in the form of cooking, that are every bit as intense as two people duking it out with punches. It hyper focuses on the excitement of different recipes, and the kick flavors have to those who eat food of such amazing caliber. Everything about the series is turned up to 11, to make it feel as hyped as possible. People will feel all sorts of exaggerated things, when their mouths are hit with the power of a dish. Anything from metaphorical exploding clothes and orgasms, to someone feeling like they are literally feeling all the pleasures of Spring itself. The simple taste of any food in this world brings people to a whole new world few of flavors, they apparently have never even conceived possible.

That is really what Food Wars boils down to. It is simple and light hearted fun about food. They just crank it up a few levels to make it stay interesting, to those investing time. How else can you make a series about cooking food a land full of excitement? You up the descriptive factors of how the food makes them feel, to ludicrous levels and just have a ball with it. Food Wars isn’t trying to be thought provoking, it is trying to be fun. It wants to produce tons of that feeling, and I think if anything that is one of the most respectable ways to go about making a series if you were going to do so.

 

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The Good: Like most Shonen based series, this series is absolutely balls to the wall over 9000 levels of ridiculous. A cast of memorable, and mostly lovable characters, tons of fights that constantly one up the ones before them, and lots and lots of good times. Something I’ve always liked about the genre of Shonen is they try to be for everyone(well mostly at least. There are demographics haha.), and don’t try to a slog to watch. These stories are made weekly, and have to try to keep readers/watchers engaged for what is to come, every single time without losing overall narrative flow/enjoyment. They spread merry cheer all the time, because that is how they like to be. They don’t want to get hampered with overly serious stories, or lose what made them so fun in the first place. I think Food Wars is a true modern example of why Shonen works so well, with such a large audience of folks. It hits all the right spots, and even when it doesn’t the good almost always outweighs the bad. Also, the food in this series is heavenly, and I was often plagued with a rumbly tummy after a set of episodes.

The Bad: You know one thing I get tired of though with the Shonen genre. It wants to sell, so the men who make the stories, just toss sex appeal for the sake of it. We need boobs or abs all the time! It’s not that I mind some fan-service, I really don’t. I think Food Wars even has some really fun examples of it. However, when you so consistently have these girls with like G cup size breasts(like 90% of the girls in the show) having full on orgasms, each time they eat in the series it gets incredibly tiring and eventually downright exhausting. It is completely awkward, and not sexy when they do that. They contort their bodies in ways that defy human biology, and their boobs move like jello, that I can’t help but be like…alright I get it. Food Wars tries to be equal opportunity with the fan-service and somewhat succeeds, but it is still far more localized on gals, and really dumb in execution. I think as I get older, I get more jaded by the juvenile attempts to make people more interested in your work, and I think this is by far the biggest crux into the enjoyment of Food Wars. Oh yeah, and since I haven’t mentioned it yet, finishing your season in the middle of an arc is really annoying, and I hate being cock-teased about good stuff to come. Don’t put the apple on a string in front of me and laugh!

                                                                       

Show: The Great Passage/Fune Wo Amu

Year Aired: 2016

Studio: Zexcs

Episodes: 11

Source: Novel

Watched For: KNO108

 

Modern anime conventions are not too unlike those of the years gone by. The majority of the new shows, that flood us every single new airing season tend to cater to what is popular. Trends will never disappear in general, and I get why they exist. What is the new fad of the current time-frame, is something many creators want to cash in on, for a hotpot of reasons. Currently, the things that are huge are idols, really grim stories, and of course moe. If a series has one or even somehow two of these elements, well you can expect it to be the talk of the season; if there is also a margin of quality tossed into the narrative as well. On the other hand, there are some shows that deviate from the norm, and they aren’t attempting to be blockbuster mega-sellers. No, they just have a story to tell, and don’t have time to be weighed down by anime tropes and trends.

Fune wo Amu is exactly that type of series. It doesn’t use hardly anything most shows are using today, to make it function. It is 100% focused on using the animation, and the narrative to make it all come together. You think this would happen more often, but in all honesty, shows like this are a rarity in the modern age. You get maybe a handful of them a year, if we are lucky enough for a studio to pick up a lesser known story to adapt. The story of a shy man becoming engrossed in the world of making dictionaries, is certainly not something most people jump out and say, “Oh, I want to see what that one is about!”

Majime is not your typical protagonist in the anime world. He is very much a klutz, and struggles to have conversation with anyone easily, unless he is totally comfortable. Even then, he still comes off in very awkward, and sometimes strange ways. It is clear he is harmless and full of good intention though, so no one ever thinks the worst of him for it. Fune wo Amu is strongly about the idea of language, and communication. All of us will no doubt relate to the idea of trying to convey your emotions through a series of words. We basically call that simple conversation amongst each other, but in a primal sense it is all about what the words mean and how we use them that gives them that power. Everyone reading this can tell, I have my own way with how I use the words within this post. You could use all of these words, and in a different context or usage and they would mean an entirely different thing. Language and definition of it are something truly remarkable.

This series is a very relaxed paced drama, all about the ideas of dictionaries, and how they are basically bibles of the language of their time. As time goes on, words never die, but rather evolve and change just like species on the planet. To those who create these mammoth tomes of information, the words coursing through them are certainly and very much alive. The story is short, and easy to watch in a few sittings, and will most likely give all viewers a new found appreciation for the hardwork, that goes into creating dictionaries. It’s not a job that can be done quickly, or without a lot of though. In this series is takes almost 15 years for completion of their work. Next time you open a dictionary, be sure to appreciate how man man hours went in to crafting the beast!

 

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The Good: Where to start with this one? How about the fact it utilized one of my personal favorite animation techniques in rotoscoping! I love the flow it produces, such seamless realism from each and every movement of the characters on screen. I feel like no type of animation makes the human body look as real as rotoscoping. I loved it in Anastasia and Kids on the Slop, and I love it in this! I can also always appreciate seeing anime brought to life that isn’t chained down to trying to be a hit. Fune wo Amu is based on a novel, and clearly didn’t want to lose the feel and heart of the drama that was within the original work, when it was adapted into anime. I’d say Mijima was also incredibly refreshing, to see as a main lead. It is sort of rare to make a character in anime like this, be the main character, and much less actually stick to it as a trait. Anime tends to just drop that after a while, but in the end that is just who he is! Finally after 4 shows, I got one with a real ending too! 11 episodes of pure story, with no wasted time, and a true wrap up to it all. The journey of this dictionary was an arduous one, but it does come with a finished product. Certainly it isn’t that hard to do that?

The Bad: Alas, I did have some gripes as always. Why on earth did they have to kill old man Matsumoto before The Great Passage was completed!? Sure, it let us have an amazing follow up scene with Majime that was tear worthy, but damn was that a punch to the gut! If there was one thing I wanted to see, it was the gentle old man seeing the completion of that massive work. I get why they did it, and his letter was splendid too, but man I’m still bummed about that. On another note, I really wish I could have seen more of Majime’s home life with the old lady, and his future wife. The scenes I got were always so precious, but because this story was to the letter of the original work(At least I pressume it is) there was no space in the run time to allow for it. I wanted to see their wedding, and many other cute moments darn it!! I wanted to be brought page by page through some sort of montage, showing me all the cuteness of their life. A sad reality of always wanting more, is sometimes you set yourself up for disappointment even when the show isn’t really at fault for it.

                                                                       

Show: Hanada Shounen-Shi

Year Aired: 2002-2003

Studio: Madhouse

Episodes: 25

Source: Manga

Watched For: Greebo

 

Expectations are impossible to formulate for something, when you have literally never heard of it. I like to think, I’m pretty well versed in anime to know most titles of common knowledge, but Hanada takes the cake in the world of being obscure to me. Another series that is slowly being forgotten by time, has yet again made itself known in this challenge, and I’m so interested to see what it could be about. The moment you see a poor bald country child, being accompanied by the tunes of the Backstreet Boys, well you really are in for a world of questions!

Hanada is a series about a young boy named Ichiro, who when one day running away from his mothe, after causing some usual mischief, gets hit by a truck. He miraculously survives the accident, with less damage than the driver no less, but he gain a power he never expected. Ichiro is now one with the world of spirits, and can talk/see to ghosts. His world has gone from ordinary child, to medium of the dearly departed. And from that you can guess where the show decides to use that idea for.

Ichiro is almost episodically, given the task to help a spirit who can’t pass on from Earth, make it to the other side. The ghosts vary in personality, and requests for him, and some range into super silly reasons. There are some serious ones that involve saving someone in the living, like a recently passed pregnant dog wanting her babies rescued. On the flip side of things, you have ones like a man who cheated on his wife all his life, and tasking Ichiro to hide the evidence he left behind of it all. Not all of the folks are really what you would call redeemable, but no matter what they ask, they always manage to rope Ichiro into doing it regardless if he wants to or not.

This series is adult in nature, and often uses references to sex, violence, and many other things to move the individual stories along. It’s interesting to see that sort of thing, because 15 years later, I’m unsure how well you could get away with some of these things they used so nonchalantly. If a story about a young child being the arbiter of lost souls in a quest of the day format entices you though, I’d reckon you would enjoy this one. It uses a mixture of adult drama and comedy, to create a show for older audiences, and it never once strays away from its bread and butter.

 

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The Good: Some of the one-off stories were absolutely breath taking in emotion. The old teacher meeting up with his love, the son finally getting his deceased father’s Christmas gift, and the cat trying to save her kittens, to name a few, were really standout. When the series flipped the switch to drama, it normally really excelled at it. I’m really surprised, because the comedy was all over the place, but the drama was almost always on point. I definitely laud the writer for using some actual more adult storylines for once too. It’s so seldom we get to see more mature stories tossed in anime, and when you do, rarely are they in series that lack violence or huge over-arching plots. So kudos for that little flavor they tossed in. Sometimes, the comedy too was truly amusing, and I was smirking pretty hard at it when they hit the nail on the head with it.

The Bad: However, for the most part, I really wasn’t a fan of the comedy of the show. It was far too crude, and that got super tiring to sit through. Ichiro was almost insufferable too. What a truly bratty child. You know those really, REALLY shitty kids you see in stories, who never learn their lesson and almost continuously act out? ichiro is the epitome of that, and boy did it drive me crazy. Two of the best arcs I mentioned above, he completely ruins their final moments, by following up with really dumb things. If I was going to sit through so many stories with this kid, I wanted him to become a little more enlightened or mature as it went on, but nope that didn’t happen! He was truly a devil child the majority of the time, and hard to lenjoy. Also, like I mentioned earlier, some of the stories were not equal in quality. A lot of the earlier ghosts were very shitty people as well, and I really didn’t care what happened to them. I assume it was meant to be funny, but I wasn’t sold on it. The humor of the series was often too crass for its own good, and would diminish what the show was doing well. Also, despite it being technically over, the series didn’t really feel like it ended, which was a disappointment

                                                                       

Show: Cuticle Detective Inaba/Kyūtikuru Tantei Inaba

Year Aired: 2013

Studio: Zexcs

Episodes: 12 

Source: Manga

Watched For: Futatsu

 

While I come off as a very harsh judge of quality at times, I am quite open to giving everything a fair shot. Some folks assume, because how often I point out poor comedy, that I most not like most of them. I actually adore series that attempt to be straight laughfests throughout their run-time. It’s something you have to truly commit to, but it allows you to focus on one element as the cornerstone of your series. If you make them laugh, you succeed in the long run. It seems like a simple task, but of course if you fail at making the jokes land, then you end up being a very silent auditorium of people waiting for the good stuff.

Cuticle Detective Inaba is all about creating a string of laughter. Every character has a specific role to fill in the comedy of the show, and when the series hits a joke, they all start to fall into place like you would expect. Gag series that rely heavily on this format, are definitely some of the most risky types of stories to tell. Everything is make or break on the writer’s ability to sell their comedy well. When you hear a wolf, cross dresser, unstoppable detective, and normal guy; are at odds against the evil group of a goat, man with a knapsack on his head, genius child scientist, and sadistic assassin, you think, “well that is certainly a colorful bunch!”

Everything in the series hinges on these two parties, and a few other key characters, and the way they interact with each other. The story itself is super simplistic, and used to make the story have an apparent endless struggle. The detective wolf must capture that evil mastermind goat, but every time he tries, the goat manages to escape in the end for a plethora of random reasons. Usually the escape is used a comical outro, to the whole bit of the scene they are setting up. It isn’t there to over complicate the plot, nor make the viewer think to hard. They don’t want to waste time with that. They just want to make you laugh.

Most of the cast is something you’ve seen before, but most likely not in tandem and in such a blitzkrieg of random comedy. Every episode is split into 2 or so short stories that are meant to be light, not overly long, and full just enough gags to fill about 10 mins or so. If you are a fan of cute character designs, and loads of quickfire energy filled comedy skits, then I’d be hard pressed not to recommend this show to you. It’s an adopter of the KISS method. They keep it simple stupid, so viewers can just sit back, relax, and hopefully not choke on whatever they are snacking on as they watch it snickering away.

 

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The Good: The more bizarre and random the show got, the funnier it was. I really commend the first episode, for setting the tone of what the series would be aiming to do. Absolute carnage for every comedy bit would be the idea. Just go all out and see what works. I love seeing people who use comedy, to just go with the flow, and let it be as nuts as possible. Will it always work? More than likely of course not, but when it does, you know you will be in a for good ride. I also liked the simple roles everyone played. It made it easy to predict how they would react to certain scenarios, and therefore build up an anticipation of how the following jokes would make that result incur. A few episodes(That daughter is so cute and gut busting) in particular were very strong, and I think, if this was the way the whole series would have progressed, then it could easily become a top tier comedy. The mixture of cute designs, and fun gags makes the show an easy choice to recommend to friends, who you know love that sort of stuff. Making your show a tad more universal in appeal is never a bad thing.

The Bad: Not all the episodes were equal in quality though. I had some issues with the middle of the series. A lot of the bits with Inaba’s brother just fell flat. I didn’t much care for him, or any of the storylines attached to him. Normally the comedy was best for the villains, if it was Valentino or Lorenzo at the center of it. And because they would cycle out which members of the show were going to be important in which gags, not all bits were as funny. I never found myself bored with the series or anything, but I did find myself not laughing through most of the portions that involved side characters that didn’t hold the same appeal. Of course the lack of ending could be commented on yet again, but really the series is set up to not have a true ending either way, so it doesn’t really factor in much. I’d just say the comedy is hit or miss. When it hits, I was super amused(Lorenzo with his bayonet, or goat farm), but it misses plenty at times, and it really holds the series back from consistency. If the higher quality comedy was in the show the whole time, I would say it was a must watch, but I’d really say if you expect it to be nonstop laughter you would be wrong.

Awards!                                                         

Favorite Character

Megumi from Food Wars!

This was a run away victory again just like last year. I absolutely adore characters that are super sweet, and always thinking of others. And shyness to be is soooo damn cute. I think Megumi is just a very wholesome person, and I feel confident and giving her the award this year.

Least Favorite Character

Miyako Sakashita from Aishiteruze Baby

Sack of shit is right! Oh Sakashita, my bad. This woman is an awful person who can’t bear the responsibility of taking care of her child, and I denounce her through and through. The explanation she gives is no better either. You are filth! Not even the deplorable characters in Food Wars or Hanada could match you!

Best Cast

Food Wars!

 

Inaba and Fune wo Amu both competed pretty well in this category, but a Shonen series with a huge cast of lovable characters has an edge that would be hard to beat. In the end it just had the best ensemble, and I’d be wrong to not crown it the victor.

Favorite Visuals

Fune wo Amu

 

Food Wars was really the only show that competed against Fune this time. The rest of the shows(excluding Inana) weren’t very pretty to look at, and have aged very very poorly. Fune wo Amu thought has a ton of attention to detail towards realism. Real clutter in rooms, the way lights bounce of the frame of glasses, and of course the rotoscoping! You are the winner for this one!

Favorite Music

Food Wars!

 

There wasn’t a ton of standout music this year amongst most the competitors. Kino’s had some good stuff, and Fune wo Amu was solid, but most of the shows had forgettable music. Food Wars though time and time again stood out with the music choices that were every bit as over the top as the series itself.

Favorite Drama Scene

Cherry Blossoms from Hanada Shounen-shi

 

Hanada actually had a ton of front runners in this category. The catchy ball scene was close too. Then Fune wo Amu had the crying scene. Kino’s Journey has a few good ones too. Honestly every show outside of the comedy Inaba, had a scene that was stellar for this category, but this scene is breath taking and gorgeous to behold.

Favorite Comedy Scene

Myriad of Jokes Ep. 1 from Cuticle Detective Inaba

 

The first true sequence of jokes in Cuticle Detective begin when they arrive at Don Valentino’s place. The amount of rapid fire comedy that happens here is the best the series has to offer. I laughed more in the pilot of this then the rest of the whole challenge.

Best Fight

Miki from Aishiteruze Baby

 

I really wanted to put a Shokugeki or mention Souma doing like 100 omelettes in a short time for this, but I couldn’t ignore this battle. I suffer from depression, and this arc really digs into something personal with me, and it was such a powerful way to end the arc. Legit almost cried with how this battle goes.

Worst OP

What a terrible opening. The song itself sounds fine, but gosh the animation is so slow and boring, and the lyrics are completely bonkers and mean fucking nothing. This is a throw OP if I’ve ever seen one, and that is a shame since the ED is really cute for this series.

Worst Ed

Sexy curry is just plain awful. A terrible ear destroying voice, and really gross visuals really hurt this ending. Why would you focus on the worst characters in the series, and support it with such an odd singer? Just really really way to bring it down after the great first ED.

Best OP

*Removed needs to replace

The OP battle wasn’t even a contest. Nothing came close to the visual beauty and synchronization of the animation of this opening. Kino’s was pretty good, and OP 1 of Food Wars wasn’t bad, but nothing had a chance against this bad boy. Not even the power of the Backstreet Boys.

Best ED

*Removed needs to replace

This was a close nit battle between Food Wars ED 1 and this, but the naked children nudged the winner closer to Fune Wo Amu. A beautiful song, along with an opening transition that teaches the viewer a definition ties into the show way too good not to give the win to it. Despite another good Backstreet Boys ED, and another ED having a hilarious singing goat, I & I is the clear winner!

 

So Food Wars is the overall winner of individual awards this time around! Last year the winner of this section placed second, will that trend continue or possibly it will indicate it deserves the actual championship!!!

And the winner is….                       

6. Hanada Shounen-Shi

Poor Hanada! I really wanted to love this series. So many excellent drama stories given to me that I was enamored with those from the get go. I adore slice of life stories about spirits. Mushishi and Natsume are some of my favorite anime, but Hanada forgot one thing. It made it’s main character completely a pain in the ass, and most of the “comedy” was him just being a brat. He never grows until maybe the final episode, and even then it is very very marginal. I think this show is worth seeing, but the unsatisfying crass humor, and lack of an engaging main character really made it fall further and further from grace for me. None of the shows this year were bad, but this was the one I found the hardest to enjoy due to how varying the good and the bad were. At least the OP & ED were tight as heck though, albeit they didn’t fit the series, but I love the Backstreet Boys!

5. Aishiteruze Baby!

Another total mixed bag for me. Some parts were truly fantastic. BUT most of those parts had literally nothing to do with Yuzuyu or Kippei Onii-chan! I mean Yuzuyu has some adorable portions, and I was all over that stuff, but the two best arcs of the series dealt with her friend, and cousin. Then you have the main love interest Kokoro. She had some good reasons to be in the series, but her romance with Kippei Onii-chan is just underdeveloped and so hot and cold. One moment she hates it, next she is sticking her tongue down his mouth. I couldn’t get behind that madness. When it was cute it was solid, when it was dramatic is was good, but it was brought down so many pegs by not focusing on the main characters enough. Oh yeah, and no ending didn’t help resolve the stuff that did actually have to do with them.

4. Kino’s Journey

I flip flopped between 3 & 4 more than anything else, and decided Kino would be 4th. This show just isn’t as good as everyone tends to claim it is. It’s not bad, it’s quite enjoyable, but that is really it. It lacks actual substance. I don’t care about the cast or world hardly at all with how removed they make Kino from it all, and after a while it feels very lacking. That connection is important for me, and if the story can’t make me feel like I care about what I’m seeing despite it being pretty well told, then I can’t help but be sad about it. This series is ripe with potential to be true star, but it stumbles and flubs the landing pretty badly. I would love to watch more of it though, and no not the new stuff. I’ve heard enough mixed opinions to stay away from that. I want more of this version that is full of good stuff, but missing the x-factor to make it a true hit with me. It’s solid work, but that isn’t enough to be higher on this list. And with that marks Cheesy’s first loss in the challenges history!

3. Cuticle Detective Inaba

Probably a big surprise to most folks that I ranked this over Kino, but I just had more fun with it. The series was bombastic and stupid, and that was all it tried to be. I laughed a few times, and just found myself enjoying the moment. That is really all I want from anime in general. To enjoy the living heck out of it! Easier said than done sometimes, but Cuticle Detective Inaba was full of it. My girlfriend was worried she made a huge mistake giving me a comedy like this that was a potential hit or miss, but to let you know honey, you got a hit. It wasn’t mindbogglingly hilarious, but it was a simple pleasure that I was into. If you folks end up doing anything, see if the ED makes you chuckle any, that was the selling point for me, and hopefully it can be for you as well. A ball of laughs this one was, despite not being the best of the best. I think the middle ground placing fits it just nicely.

2.  Food Wars!

Way to recover from last time Dyna! From 5th to 2nd! Very close battle between the top two, but Food Wars suffered from too much ecchi, and leaving me hanging in a good part of the story. It fits all the right spots with me though. It is funny, it is exciting, it is endearing, it is emotional, and it make me fucking HUNGRY! Food Wars is like a full course meal that you order hoping to be starry eyed with and succeeds with it. The show is just everything it needs to be. It fills me with the same feeling other shonen like Eyeshield 21, and One Piece do, and that is just loads and loads of good time. It’s not my all time favorite, but you can best believe the first thing I will be continuing in my free time for anime watching will be season 2 of this. Also yes, Megumi best girl. Her cooking is like my girlfriends, which makes me feel all cozy inside.

1. Fune wo Amu

Here we are ladies and gentleman!! I present the winner of the 2017 November Challenge to Fune wo Amu!! I would me remiss if I didn’t give this series the due diligence it deserves. If there is one thing in fiction I truly adore, it is when it teaches me something. I love learning, and when something respects my intelligence, and teaches me about it in a fun and interesting way, well I’m sold immediately on the concept. Fune wo Amu was the only show that really didn’t have many flaws to it to name. Aside from me longing for more content, it really was a tightly packed piece of art, full of love for its story and of course dictionaries. I really never ever thought about the amount of effort that goes into creating them, and really applaud anyone out there who has ever worked on one. This show was just a splendid drama that told a simple story with a lot of heart. Bolstered by fantastic animation, and a very neat directing style this is the type of anime I would call like an Oscar nominee. It doesn’t make crowds come to see it, but for those who do, it is a treat and utterly tremendous in what it does do. Fune wo Amu is the 4th annual champion of this competition, and my sister KNO108 is the new champion! Congrats to you, and thank you for this great series! I shall have something given to you soon as your prize for winning the whole thing!

 

Congratulations! You made it to the end of this behemoth of a post! As always it was quite the undertaking to make it all come to fruition, but in the end it was well worth all the trouble and lack of sleep to see these 6 series. I thank everyone who participated, and hope to have just as good a time next year. I know this post if rife with mistakes, and what not, but bear with me, I’m no expert editor, and mine for my blog was part of this competition so she can’t fix my mistakes until after the fact! Otherwise, I wish you all a happy holiday season and….

Until Next Time!

See ya My little Wanderers!