Top 5 Animes I’ve Grown to Appreciate

Let’s start off 2019 with something positive. I’m not too proud to admit that my first impressions can occasionally be a bit, harsh. Not wrong mind you, just possibly fail to take certain things into account. And so, I do occasionally change my mind about shows after a little time has gone by.

In this case, I’ve put together the top 5 series that have grown on me in hindsight. These are shows I either didn’t care much about or actually disliked on first viewing that I now remember fondly.

Megalo Box Episode 9 anime review

so cool and fighty

 5 – Megalobox

Let’s be clear, I never disliked Megalobox at all. In fact the first episode absolutely mesmerized me. I called it a mix of Battle Angel Alita and Hajime no Ippo which happen to be my childhood favourite manga and my childhood favorite show, so there.

However, having to watch it on a weekly basis and review it each time, I believe did a great disservice to the series, making its lack of character development much more glaring and kneecapping the smooth action based progression. Moreover, the almost fanatical universal praise it seemed to be receiving at the time, left me a bit dissatisfied as I was seeing some clear flaws. In the end, the last few episodes won me over and I left the show feeling generally satisfied.

As time passed though, I’ve grown to realize that the story was simply not a character driven one and more complex personalities would have taken away from the world building and fighting progression which where the backbones of the show. Seeing the episodes closer together allows you to enjoy the steady ramp up and form just enough connection to feel the full punch of those emotional moments without giving you time to forget what was happening. With time, the series has slowly become one of my favourite of 2018 and I recommend it to any of ou that haven’t had the chance to watch it yet.

hitman reborn

not for the first time, I find myself wishing they would make another season

4- Reborn!

When I first watched Reborn! I thought it was a shonen. You know, an action fighting series with a lot of episodes. Granted it had an even more bonkers than average premise but in the end it would blend in with all the other ones. It should be said that I quite like shonen so this wasn’t a bad thing it’s just that Hunter x Hunter is my favorite and the rest are all in the not Hunter x Hunter category.

I can’t quite put my finger on it but I find that I think back to Reborn! a lot more than most shonen and I am more attached to those characters than I would have imagined. The pacing of the series is rather good and it generally stays away from the preachiness that can mar these shows at times. And making all the characters absolutely crazy can be a bit exhausting in the moment but it also makes them all rather memorable.

It’s still no Hunter x Hunter but it’s earned its own distinction as a fine shonen in my book!

your name cityscape

this movie was landscape pr0n

3- Your Name

I know I know, how dare I!?! This time I would like to blame the circumstances. We don’t really have much of an anime market in Montreal, despite having a pretty decent con every year. As such, Your Name only played in one hard to get to, hard to park around and rather expensive theater. Getting there in the first place was a chore. Combine that with the fact that one of my very few anime loving friends had organized it as a group outing, dragging a whole bunch of rather disinterested people along, and I ended up watching it surrounded by visibly bored people I barely knew who were playing on their phone half the time.

I have to assume that this served to dampen my mood because I found the movie dragging in places and considered it reasonable pretty (although not my peculiar taste) but rather dull. In the months since though, I find that particular scenes will jump in my mind from time to time and those scenes are utterly delightful.

I have since rewatched it at home on my computer, a much less grand experience, and enjoyed it considerably more. I still think it has a few problems with pacing in some parts but it is a delightful film that has earned its stellar reputation an I now regularly tear up at screencaps.

Another dance

this scene alone is worth the show

2- Another

I really did not like how Another ended. Not so much that I didn’t like it, but as the show started to trade tension for bloodbath in the last few episodes I completely stopped caring. I realized then that as a byproduct of keeping that beautiful tense and mysterious atmosphere, most characters hadn’t been developed at all. It’s difficult to get your audience to truly know a character while keeping them suspicious enough to be a potential bad guy. Especially with only one cour at our disposal.

Upon finishing the show, I felt like that hackneyed and rather boring ending was a betrayal of the fantastic opening arc and generally declared the show a failure. That knee jerk reaction was not completely unjustified but may have been a touch unfair.

Fact is, for most of its runtime, Another is a fantastically suspenseful mystery with a superbly sustained atmosphere that more than makes up for the silly horror trope contrivances of the plot. I would say a good three quarters is some of the best classic horror anime I have seen. With a step back, I find that I’ve mostly forgotten those last episodes while the build up is still fresh in my mind an I can’t deny that it was a great build up.

I am quite happy to have seen it. And having since then searched uot horror animes atively I can also say, it compares quie favourably to most, even with that ending.

Honorable Mention

Psycho Pass – Did that take you by surprise? I’m not including it in the list because I always liked it but the year I saw it, it was just one of the animes I saw that year. That’s it. I don’t know when I started to realize that the classic science fiction dilemas it asks happen to be my sort of thing and as a result I constantly discussed it with anyone who would listen. It’s one of my favourites now of course. But it was not love at first sight like with some other series.

Toradora! - 13 - Large 14

fne! I hear you

1- Toradora

Poor Toradora is probably a victim of circumstance more than anything else. You should know that by the time I got around to watching this series, it had been recommended to me by everything and everyone. This was the gold standard. This show would have me getting a six pack from all the uproarious laughing I would do and rekindle my faith in man and love. This was he IT anime. Suffice it to say expectations were pretty high.

I also didn’t have my romance bias at the time (this show may have started it). I had only seen Kare Kano and Fruit Baskets that could count as romance animes and hadn’t started considering how I tend to enjoy them less than the average viewer. So I went in, no reservations, completely ready to get my mind blown and…

It started off ok but I really didn’t like any of the cast except for Ryuji. I didn’t like them  all. As time passed, I liked them less and less. I’ve come to understand that you’re suppose to forgive characters for being unpleasantly aggressive, walking talking basket cases or just plain self serving as long as they have some type of emotional pain but I still don’t buy into that. If you’re going to make a character a jerk, then own it, don’t try to make me buy that they’re not a jerk… Anyways, I also just don’t care that much about needlessly complicated romantic progression so I was mostly annoyed and bored while watching it. And it really wasn’t very funny most of the time.

Even at the time, I did realize it was a well made show. Beautifully produced, nicely crafted, well directed. With some distance I’ve also come to realize that a lot of the elements and plot points that I didn’t care for are actually dictates of the genre that I should have expected and really, Toradora does them better than most. In fact, it does more than a few things fantastically well.  I still don’t understand why they chose to follow 4 of the most unlikable puberty ravaged teens they could find and throw in perfect wonderful Ryuji just to make them seem even worst in contrast. OK, so I can’t say I love this show now but I am willing to watch it again some day and remember more than a few episodes being rather fun, which is a huge step forward.

There you have it, these are 5 shows that I like much more with some distance. Just goes to show you, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover…or pages… I’m sure you have some examples of animes that have aged well in your mind! Share them with us, we’d love to know.

Parasyte smile

Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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35 Responses

  1. Another’s bloodbath fever towards the end really didn’t help the suspense much, did it. But, I loved the plot twist and the reveals in the finale, thus the series still holds as one of, if not, my favorite anime horror series.

    Oh, and I’m glad you finally saw the light that is Your Name. It’s a shame those “friends” of yours couldn’t care less—next time, kick ‘em out!

  2. ManInBlack says:

    There are a few I watched when they aired and didn’t get at all then watched again where I got the review discs and found them much better when marathoned, like Guilty Crown, Psycho Pass and From The New World.

    And whilst I didn’t hate it at first, it took me a while to appreciate One Piece, having wondered what all the fuss was about for the first 40 odd episodes! 😮 I love it now though! 😀

    • Irina says:

      hmm never considered the impact of watching Shin Sekai Yori on a weekly basis. Since it’s so atmosphere driven, it must be odd and difficult to get into

      • ManInBlack says:

        Had it come out today I would have dropped it after a few episodes – it was only my stubbornness that made me stick with it on a weekly basis. Shows with convoluted plots are made for marathon viewing not piecemeal broadcasts.

  3. UGHHHH. I’m still a fan of Katekyo Hitman Reborn (even bigger in high school since I used to memorize all the character songs and replay Rebocon on Youtube) and find it so rare to find someone else who enjoyed it! I’m still miffed to see that it isn’t dubbed yet, but I follow Reborn’s seiyuu Neeko and she’s done the KHR musical. Yet another reason to go to Japan one day.

    I never put time into watching the last three entries of your post, but maybe I should. I mean, I’m giving Gundam Wing a proper shot this time around and I’m enjoying it.

  4. Artemis says:

    Funnily enough, I also didn’t care that much for Toradora when I first watched it, and only came back to it several years later, when I ended up enjoying it immensely. For me, I think it was because someone first recommended it as a comedy, and so I initially approached it as such and wasn’t impressed. When I returned to Toradora the second time, it was because another friend told me it definitely sat better as a drama… and in my case, that happened to be very true – I loved it as a drama with funny moments sprinkled in, but not the other way around.

    • Irina says:

      I agree, the comedy tag does it a disservice. If that’s what you are in the mood for, you’ll be disappointed or at least confused by Toradora

  5. terranceacrow says:

    “Upon finishing the show, I felt like that hackneyed and rather boring ending was a betrayal of the fantastic opening arc and generally declared the show a failure.”

    I hate to post “Me, too!” but, well, “Me, too!”

    Scenes from the early to mid season stuck with me. I _still_ can’t look at an umbrella without a subconscious shudder.

    The the last few episodes are a complete blank.

    Toradora… I completely identified with Ryuuji as soon as we meet him, especially with his reaction to the mold. We first see Taiga amid a wreck of a room, and I’m wondering what’s up with this girl — and why’d she sneeze? The voice over as we first meet these characters, talking about the Tiger and the Dragon, just blew me away. So poetic yet practical; so romantic yet down to Earth.

    I loved that series, but it’s hard for me to explain why. That’s why I’ve never reviewed it. But everything I think about it, three scenes come to mind.

    The first is when we meet Ryuuji’s mom. Talk about a sympathetic character! Deprived of the love of her life, struggling to raise her son, working at the only job she knows how to do… God, that’s tragic!

    The second is after sitting through episode after episode of all of Ami’s sycophant friends saying how mature she is, Ryuuji runs into her coming out of a store. He sees her grocery bag stuffed with junk food, and he says something along the lines of, “Jeesh, what a child!” His simple statement rocked her perception of herself.

    Finally, I remember Taiga, enraged at how the student council president had treated Yuusaku, drawing her wooden sword and running across the freaking desktops! That fight was really something!

    I wish I could express what I liked about the show!

    • Irina says:

      If I related to Riyuji I would have loved it but sadly he’s more or less the polar opposite of me. And also the best – love that guy.

  6. Dawnstorm says:

    I’ve never seen Reborn!. Is that the Katekyou Hitman show? If so, I know about it mostly from the PS2 game, rather than the anime, and even then I don’t know much about it.

    When I first watched Toradora I knew nothing about it. I just picked a show at random and had no great expectations. I didn’t think it was brilliant or anything, but it had strong scenes, and I did like most of the characters. (People say it’s realistic? I’d say its best watched as a melodrama; the emotions are more soap-opera like than anything else, I think.) The show did grow on me, and I remembered it more fondly than I thought it would and it held up better than I thought it would on a rewatch. I only found out I was watching a really popular show after my first re-watch, so there’s that.

    Another‘s ending didn’t disappoint me; that was pretty much the show I was watching from the beginning. It tried to be both sinister and shocking and didn’t understand that the two are at cross-purposes, and to make matters worse, the show would underlay fairly normal slice-of-life moments with a creepy soundtrack for no reason at all. People said the show had a good atmosphere, but I was already saying after episode one that the show was trying too hard to be ominous, so I can’t really take it seriously. The show did have excellent scenes, and the one from the screenshot was wonderful.

    For me, I have trouble keeping track of what I thought of shows. I have this mushy sort of attitude to shows that fluctuates, and unless there’s a moment in the show where I get caught by surprise, I don’t remember much when or even if I changed my mind. After finishing a show, I tend to file it away and not think about it much. Sometimes when I see a screenshot I get a fond reaction I didn’t expect. This happened recently for Konohana Kitan, a CGDCT show with fox spirit girls I quite enjoyed but didn’t think about much since it stopped. Then Derek posted a picture on Apprentice Mages Lounge, I got the warm fuzzies to an extent that surprised me.

    The upshot? I’m probably not self-aware enough to make such a list, or maybe it’s an issue with memory?

    There are, though, shows I misjudged and dropped early, only to pick them back up and actually enjoy them: Imouto Sae Ireba Ii, Mirai Nikki, Alderamin in the Sky come to mind. I thought I’d get mindless siscon trash, a dull survival game, and… I just thought it looked boring. I got a sweet little romance that involved no little sisters other than trope teasing, a non-dull survival game, and a decent war story.

    • Irina says:

      it was Katekyou Hitman Reborn and it’s kinda bananas… In a very rare turn I have to disagree about another. Although cheesy the first 4 to 5 episodes were a great slow burn athmospheric anime that could have gone many ways including having Mei as an actual willing re herring and therefore complicit or ven in a mastermind role. It also could have been a non supernatural conspiracy story. That instability made it very interesting and could have been a psychological thriller rather than a schlock horror which it leaned into at the end.

      • Dawnstorm says:

        I don’t disagree with most of this. I think our disagreement hinges on “atmospheric”. I felt it was more ty-hard; it was going for atmosphere but it didn’t work for me. (It’s rare for me to say this about a PA Works show; I mean I’m one of about three or four people who liked Glasslip.)

  7. Karandi says:

    I need to give Toradora another shot. It is one I put on hold after a couple of episodes and just never got back to but I always intended to give it another go because sometimes my mood really does impact how I feel about a show.

    • Irina says:

      That’s definetly true. And it goes both ways. I’m sure there are shows i adored that I would consider average at best on second viewing. Not Black Butler2. That was awesome.

  8. Fred says:

    Your Name, Another, and Toradora all made me fall for the characters and hit me hard in the feels. I consider them all to be classics and I can watch them over and over. I’ve always been a character-driven anime watcher and the characters were just the right kind to punch my happy buttons. Because of that Megalobox leaves me uninterested.

    Aren’t most teenagers dangerously unstable? The genuinely mature and confident ones are the minority. They are pretty boring too.

    • Irina says:

      I honestly found the ToraDora charas, aside from Riyuji and his mom, a bit one note for my tastes but i am very tough on characters. Oddly one of my complaints about another is how the cast was underdevelopped with a lot of secondary characters being relegated to plot devices. The designs were beautiful. Maybe I will rewatch it some day.

  9. AK says:

    I liked Cowboy Bebop when I saw it as a kid, but there was a lot in it that I couldn’t really connect to until I became an adult, and the show became a lot more meaningful to me when I rewatched it.

    As far as Toradora goes, I get how you feel. I still haven’t picked it up again after dropping it, though I’m probably being unfair to it.

    • Irina says:

      You know – I really thought people would tear me a knew one for not adoring Toradora but I might have overestimated its appeal. Now I sort of feel bad for it…I have to stop thinking of anime as people….

  10. Chris Voyage says:

    Amusingly, Toradora would also probably be my number one on such a list. I don’t think I had quite as much contempt for it, because the only character I actually outright disliked was… I don’t even remember her name. But the third girl to get added to the posse. The one who’s supposed to be “mature,” but is actually just insufferably arrogant. That said, it was one of the first romance anime I watched, so I didn’t really get the beats, either. Nowadays romance is one of my preferred genres, though, and having watched it again since then, I do appreciate it to the point that I actually like it a lot more. Definitely still don’t love it. But I like it.

    “Forgive” isn’t really word I like to attach to less likable characters in a series like this though, though. Just “understand.” I don’t think we’re actually supposed to forgive them, per se. Not for consistently bad behavior, anyway. Just to know where they’re coming from and, with the proper character development, grow out of it. It lines up well with me because I like knowing how characters’ heads are working and what sorts of things drive their behavior. And Taiga was actually one of my first exercises in doing that. It drove me to appreciate her more. I don’t give her harsh acts a pass at all. But I’m willing to put up with them as her character development drives her past them and I can expect, in events after the series, she’s matured even more than we did in the series, proper, which it’s indisputable to say she did. She’s the character that basically drove my attitude towards other, similarly tuned characters, since she’s the first one (that wasn’t a villain) that I can recall disliking.

    • Irina says:

      I think what annoyed me the most was being told that these were realistinc and natural portrayals of young women and their feelings. And I was like, but they’re dangerously unstable…all of them… That didn’t help either. Probably if it had been presented to me as dark satire I would have taken in the characterization differently.

      • Chris Voyage says:

        Oh, is that what the discourse was? I never actually looked at it through that lens at all, but I also didn’t have anyone really telling me to watch it, either. I just decided to watch it because I saw it was a big thing and decided to see what the fuss was about. If that’s how the series, itself, was trying to come across then… I never really paid attention to it? I dunno. I never really go into any story expecting anything involved to be portrayed as especially realistic or natural (usually because I don’t care about those things), as long as they operate plausibly within the realm of the story, itself. Sort of viewing the story in a vacuum, I guess.

  11. crimson613 says:

    i tried watching megalobox because my brother said it had samurai champloo vibes and i LOVE samurai champloo but i just couldn’t get into it. not to mention boxing isn’t one of my favorite sports (i avoid it at all costs). but the other day i saw it while browsing anime and i thought i should give it another chance since everyone seems to love it. i just have a better opinion of things when i can binge them

    i can’t believe your name is on this list LOL

    i have the manga and light novel for another and haven’t read either!

    i ended up watching toradora back when i was in high school and i think i was more agreeable to it then. now that i’m old and wrinkly i don’t think i could really watch it all the way through. i was never a fan of the girl with the pink hair or blue. i always liked taiga and ryuji i ADORED (he’s so cute!). i was meh about the green haired kid. and even though i had issues with a lot of the characters individually when i watched it i just enjoyed it. i guess it was fun. but now i don’t think i would be as agreeable towards taiga. i’ve grown out of tsundere characters because i don’t like the violent streak. you won’t find her in one of my top 5 female charas but i think i like the memory of her ^^;;

  12. ameithyst says:

    Aww I really like Reborn because the characters are fun to watch for me. I haven’t finished Toradora yet but this may be the motivation I need for it. Actually, I recently started watching Golden Time as well (it’s from the same author) and I’m quite close to dropping/putting it on-hold. I think I prefer how Toradora started (at least based on how I remember it).

  13. RisefromAshes says:

    I really ought to do some of my own reflecting on this sort of thing, because in my brain there’s no way NOT to like Megalo Box. It does bring up the interesting points of what you do during watching; episode reviews, binge watch verses watching weekly, etc change your perspective. Especially since how I watch weekly episodes for certain series verses binge watching them really does a number.

    A really interesting list to boot! Thanks for sharing! You’ve always (to my knowledge) written very positively of Toradora, so I had no idea that you had to ‘come around’ to the series!

    • Irina says:

      Oh yeah – I really did not like it at first… I’ve always had a tough time with abusive romance stories.

  14. I watch Ergo Proxy three times before I figured it out. Of course, it was good enough that I was willing to watch it again 😀

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