Soul Eater

Despite being published 15 years ago, Soul Eater remains to feel fresh and lively. The unique art style, beautiful animations, and solid Shonen story will forever keep this a timeless anime.

Soul Eater pulls in references to a bunch of different European stories without the show feeling recycled or generic like a lot of current amines. Dr. Frankenstein, The Grim Reaper, Escalator; although all coming from different fantasy stories, they were perfectly integrated as characters in Soul Eater while feeling fresh and unique.

Komi Can’t Communicate

Komi Can’t Communicate is a typical slice of life anime with some humor. The humor is very Japanese, but if your familiar with anime you would probably like it. Newer anime viewers looking for a comedy anime, I highly recommend watching “The Disastrous Life of Saiki K”. Komi Can’t communicate keeps a fast pacing, keeping the story fresh, but Saiki K takes things to the next level, landing joke after joke.

Yowamushi Pedal

Yowamushi Pedal is an anime about a high school bicycle racing club in Japan. The characters are funny and the story is addictive. Overall, this is a pretty good sports anime, especially if you enjoy biking — however no knowledge of biking is required. My only gripe with the show is that the pacing of the story is a bit slow by the time they get to the final road race. Also, some of the characters are a bit over the top, but it adds to the cheesy aspect of the show that I find charming. Although this isn’t quite as good as Haikyuu, it shares many similar aspects, so if you liked one, you would definitely enjoy the other.


Oh my god. This show. The backgrounds design, music, and animations are off the chart. I was hesitant to watch it since it was based on a video game but watching it you wouldn’t even notice. The story has a great emotional depth to it and ends each episode with enough of a cliff hanger to keep you watching.

The animation itself was a very stylized 3d version, think very high-level video game but with cinematographic shots. This has the potential to set the standard when it comes to future 3d animations. Although some 3d anime’s like Ajin have mixed reviews, this executed 3d animation flawlessly. Too bad that the production quality is probably too high to become a long running show that releases frequently.

Sword Art Online

It is hard to review this anime online. Sword Art Online gets a lot of hate. I enjoyed this show and would recommend others watch it because it’s an iconic anime, but I do recognize its flaws.

The best part of the show is its world-building and high-tech fantasy components. It is hard not to get drawn into a show about an immersive VR fantasy game where sensory data is beamed directly into your brain rather than viewing things with a traditional VR headset or TV screen. The high-tech fiction is extended in seasons 3 and 4 with the introduction of artificial intelligence and the ability to copy someone’s ‘soul’ entirely. These relevant high-tech concepts paired with stunning artwork make for an anime that immediately draws you into it.

The problem with the story itself is that it often lacks focus. Interesting concepts are presented throughout the show, such as what it means to be human, the purpose of life, high stakes politics, morality within a virtual world, etc. However, most of these concepts are sabotaged by harem romance antics. A prime example is blatantly clear with the antagonist Nobuyuki Sugou. After SAO was defeated, Sugou hijacked 300 of the SAO survivors and began to conduct experiments on them to determine if he could implant memories inside their heads to coerce them. Fascinating concept, consider the geopolitical implications of this technology– what would the military do with this… BUT, this plot point was tossed to the background of the story since Sugou was a creepy person who tried to rape Asuna on several occasions. And, he had several weird tentacle research assistants… Plus, there was a weird incest romance thing happening during the same story arc… Need I say more?

A part of me feels like the story of SAO could have been on par with titles like Attack on Titan if it ditched some of the more sexual topics and focused on the high concept tech plot more. However, I’m not totally sold on that. Consider Netflix’s series Black Mirror. Although Black Mirror is about dystopian technologies, it’s about human nature at its core. Technology has a way of bringing out the worst in people. Although it’s an uncomfortable truth, technologies like the ones in SAO enable new ways for sexual assault. SAO is not the best story to explore these topics considering the harem plot, but it is worth having these discussions before VR technologies like this emerge. How do we prevent people from using new technologies for evil? I hope the answer we come up with isn’t one teenager with a sword in a VR world, but it does make for a good anime.

Forest of Piano

There isn’t a lot to be said about this anime other than it is an underrated anime and you should really check it out if you enjoy music. Although, having knowledge of music is completely optional. The show gives you a real appreciation for classical music as it follows two children with vastly different backgrounds through their journey on becoming professional pianists.

With that said, its animation is pretty bad. Well, more like, really, really bad. The cut between 2d and 3d animation for the piano playing is jarring. Plus, any scene with a crowd is poorly animated, which is usually forgiven since these are one off occurrences in most amines. However, this show relies upon competing in front of a crowd, so the poorly animated crowds stand out like a sore thumb. This feels more like an anime that was produced in the early 2000’s and not a Netflix anime produced in 2018. The show is carried upon the music and plot alone.

Blue Period

Wow, Blue Period is an amazing and inspirational anime. Most of my thoughts can be summed up on this youtube video elaborating on the anime.

As somebody who picked up art as a hobby, this anime really inspired me to work harder and improve my skills. During episode one, a quote at the end of the episode really stuck out to me:

That doesn’t mean you have to go to art school to be an artist, there are plenty of great artists who are hapy to presue it as a hobby…

But, I may offer ‘Just leave your passion as a hobby,’ that’s something only an adult would say. I think that those who don’t give it their all are those who don’t have passion.

At first reading, this is a really inspirational quote and definitely encourages the viewer to pressure passions with more intensity and vigor. However, I’ve learned the dangers of letting the flames of passion burn too bright. I nearly depleted my passion for programming by turning it into a full-time job. That is one of the reasons I picked up hobbies like photography and art; I felt like it has helped me balance my creative outlets more. Since I started practicing art, I’ve learned that passion is very finicky, it needs to be nurtured and cultivated. Inspiration and motivation don’t come spontaneously, they to be egged on by action and a consistent routine.

Maybe I’m trying too hard to project myself into this anime. I’m not anything like the protagonist; I’m a recent college graduate working a 9-5 software engineering job. I’m surrounded by people who are sapped of all passion and are just doing the bare minimum for their job. It is frightening, to be honest. The fear of being lost in a sea of mediocrity… Recently art has been beckoning me. Something about this anime perfectly captures the energy and emotions of a new artist and it can only be described as pure excitement.

The Orbital Children

The Orbital Children is a six-episode Netflix ONA that is about several middle schoolers in space. Some of the children were obnoxious — especially when it came to the social media parts. But overall the characters were each interesting and had their own quirks. For such a short series, it managed to do a fair bit of world-building and hit on some pretty high sci-fi concepts along the way.

It needs to be said that most of the “sci-fi” was pretty bogus. The “hacking” was just clicking a button and having droids shoot lasers at each other. The AI was pretty out there, but the show never tried to explain how an asteroid suddenly turned into a giant AI, so I will just leave it as that…

The ending was quite satisfying, emotional, and left room for a second season, but a second season is yet to be confirmed by Netflix. However, the season summarized two years of events in the last 10 minutes of the show, so I really don’t expect a second season. Most shows that do this are just trying to give the audience a somewhat satisfying conclusion since they don’t know if they will get a second season.

Ready Player Two

Oh boy, it’s time we talk about Ready Player Two, the sequel book that nobody asked for.

I really enjoyed Ready Player One, the movie was meh, but the book was really good. It felt unique, was interesting, and had a lot of nostalgia. Plus, it played an hommage to geek culture with the inclusion of things like D&D. I am a big sucker for 80’s nostalgia, despite growing up in the early 2000s. However, where Ready Player One felt new and exciting, Ready Player Two felt preachy and non-unique. The root of this issue is that the first book was pure world-building and nostalgia. Where the second book skipped the world-building and skipped right towards being a Debbie-downer and preached about real-world events. Not saying that commenting on current events is a bad thing for a book to do, but making it your main plot is a big turn-off for fiction readers.

The main protagonist was cast as an unempathetic villain– the equivalent of the Mark Zuckerberg of their universe. Although the book tried redemption for Wade, it came across as flat. To top that off absolutely none of the problems the book got preachy about was ever solved during the book. Instead, we are left with an ending that just introduces a new technology that apparently makes everyone forget about the handbasket of problems the book started off with. Making social commentary about social media/technology addiction is a good thing– there are amazing books that do that. But, Ready Player Two simply drums it up as a big deal to then completely forget it during the end of the book. Nobody can argue that the conclusion that “Technology Will Solve All Our Problems” is satisfying.