Anime Tier List(December 2020)
As we come to a close from the craziest year in recent history, I am here to provide you more reviews on some great anime. While I always enjoy anime, it has been a particularly good escape during this time of uncertainty and turmoil. As we move on to a new year that will hopefully have us returning to normal, let me recap some anime that you can catch up on before you get back into the swing of things. Here is a reminder for the tiers that I am evaluating these anime on.
F tier is my general “did not finish” tier. Some anime here will be worse than others, but if it is here, I do not recommend the anime at all.
D tier is for lackluster anime. There are too many negative points about these anime for me to enjoy them, but I am either too committed or curious to drop the anime. I would not recommend them for most people, except for niche cases.
C tier is for decent anime. These anime are alright, and weren’t terrible, but weren’t the best either. I would situationally recommend these anime depending on what the viewer wants.
B tier is for good anime. I enjoyed these anime a lot, but they are not refined enough or executed well enough to be A tier. I would recommend most of them.
A tier is for great anime. I thoroughly enjoyed these anime, and they are well done and put together. I would highly recommend anything in this tier.
S tier is my favorite anime of all time. They are essentially the same as A tier anime but are my personal favorites. There will be 4 S tier anime in this list.
Once again as a reminder, these are all my opinions. Many shows that I rate low have fan bases around them, but simply let down my personal expectations. Likewise, many anime I like you may find lots of problems with since we have different values.
First up in this installment of anime tier lists is a large group of anime, Toaru. This group has 3 different anime series that are all based on the same storyline but have different points of view and focus on different aspects. They are very distinct so they will be getting their own ratings, but just remember that they are all connected in their story.
A Certain Magical Index is the primary storyline, where we follow Touma and Index, as they deal with magic and science, and the balance of both in the world. The city they live in is primarily focused on science, with some sci-fi elements, such as espers, which are focused on in the Railgun series. While the premise is really cool, this show has a lot of problems. The arcs that make up the storyline are all separate events, with no connecting pieces. The show is divided into arcs, which depicts a certain timeframe well, but does not connect the dots very well. There is no mention of how the arcs are connected until much later, and it feels like the show went way too fast. The arcs’ storylines ranged from pretty good to mediocre, but it usually had something to keep you interested. Touma definitely had a case of the dumb main character syndrome, which certainly did not help this show’s case. He managed to carve his own niche out of this terrible generalization, but being the rant master of the dumb male protagonists is not necessarily a good title. Earlier seasons made Index, the character the show was named after, to be a side character, though eventually, she did earn her role as a main character. However, being the main character feels like a downgrade sometimes when the writing for Index seems to make her as annoying as possible. The later seasons add a lot in terms of storylines and animation quality, but many of the moments in these later seasons feel rushed in terms of presentation, unfortunately. All in all, I think index is a decent series that has its share of high and low moments, and has some literal gaps in its plot, but has a lot of redeeming qualities if you can stick with it.
A Certain Scientific Railgun is the first spin-off series, and immediately we can tell that this series has a different narrative direction to it. The storylines are done much better this time around, and there are only 2 arcs per season, which gives plenty of time to connect things together. Too much time, in fact. The biggest complaint of the early seasons of Railgun is that it’s pacing is very slow for an action/sci-fi anime and has periods of time that are just straight-up slice of life. This doesn’t bother me much as someone who is very accustomed to slice of life anime, but to someone who came for action and an expansion of Index’s storyline, this show can definitely fail in the pacing aspect for the first season. Many (but not all) villains in the Railgun series are some of the best-designed villains I’ve ever seen. They all have their own motives that are more than world domination or revenge. They have reasons that almost seem reasonable and would be reasonable to someone who is a bit insane as many of them are. Particularly the first villain, we are constantly debating as we watch if they are actually a villain or not. The second and third seasons manage to patch up most pacing issues and get right to the point with their action. Misaka is also a much better main character than Touma, since she actually uses her brain all of the time instead of just sometimes. Later seasons get very interesting as it slowly entangles with Index’s plot, with the production value that Railgun has over Index. I would recommend watching Railgun even if Index didn’t sound appealing to you, as Railgun has enough to be an independent series of its own.
Lastly, A Certain Scientific Accelerator. This series focuses on Accelerator, one of the many gray characters in the Toaru series, but he definitely leans towards the psychotic/evil side for the majority of the show. This series was fascinating in terms of fight scenes and early character development of Accelerator that persist throughout the entirety of the show. Saying anything about it would spoil a lot of Railgun and Accelerator, but it shows how a psychotic and self-centered individual grew a heart from the pain he caused; almost like The Grinch, but in his own twisted way. There is a huge downfall in the latter half of the season, however. There is a bunch of fights that happen within 24 hours that is just constantly dragged on, and it puts a spotlight on a new character that turns out to just be awful in terms of writing. The whole premise of this show is hardly even about accelerator at this point, it’s about a side character who drags accelerator into this. The story was sadly a letdown, but even the frequent fighting scenes were at least animated excellently. It was just tedious and oversaturated with them. The OP for this series is also one of the most banger songs I’ve ever listened to, which was always a treat to re-watch. Overall, Accelerator’s series stayed true to his psychotic, edgy personality but the plot, unfortunately, was quite lackluster and only really developed Accelerator’s character. Not necessary to watch but if you enjoy the character Accelerator, it will be a fun watch regardless.
Love is War season 2 continues the amazing set up of the first season with even more student council shenanigans. The second season manages to differentiate itself from season 1 with a different overall tone. The first season had a lot more comedy and romantic ideals, while this second season had a lot more serious drama than the first. It was still done with the same excellent quality of the first season, but the tone shift was unexpected. At first, I was so-so about it, but it really started to grow on me as I reflect back, and the final 3 episodes are just amazing. They delve even further away from the typical Love is War formula, with some actual backstory and character development, but it was maybe the best presentation for any scene so far in the series. The only thing I dislike so far is that Lino was added and yet has no current purpose, often being more of a background character than Ishigami. This will hopefully change when season 3 comes out. Regardless, an excellent season.
Verdict: Staying at A+
High School Fleet has a similar premise to a previously covered anime, Girls und Panzer. I wasn’t the biggest fan of GuP because of how small the niche for the show was, as well as some boring moments, and I expected High School Fleet to be the same, but with warships instead of tanks. I was pleasantly surprised, however, that this anime went beyond a slice of life. It had an actual story and character progression. Also unlike GuP, this anime did not have history lessons that really dragged out the show and made it boring. Anything historic about the ships or formations you learn are learned through how the characters talk to each other about ships, rather than bringing up a 4th-dimension breaking presentation. Despite all of this, it isn’t exactly a great show though. The plot is very gimmicky, and the quality of the show doesn’t really go very far. In many ways, it’s just a slightly expanded upon slice of life. Regardless, this anime was a big step up from GuP, as these shows are very similar in most regards. It has some pretty solid animation and it actually attempts to use all of its characters, unlike GuP.
Your Lie in April was an anime I was initially hesitant to start watching since I was under the impression that it was something that I was not going to like very much. I eventually decided to try it though and it turned out to be a very heartfelt and funny anime that I did not expect. Many anime are nice and outlandish with a bunch of Sci-fi or just unrealistic situations for the sake of story or comedy, so when a very grounded anime comes around like this, it’s really a breath of fresh air. Many sad or depressing moments were relatable and not too over the top. The art style has this sort of intentional messiness that makes it really appealing to the eye. The only real negative I noticed during this anime is that, as someone who doesn’t play an instrument, listening to this many piano solos got tedious eventually. But every other moment had me glued to my screen and wanting more.
Toradora is a unique romantic comedy about 2 very quirky characters finding their true love by asking help from each other’s best friend, who happen to be neighbors. The character development in this anime is incredible, as it shows a very realistic and reasonable development of the thought process and emotions of the main cast. It doesn’t feel artificial, but very natural and authentic considering all of the situations encountered. The first 2/3rds of the anime disguises itself as wholesome and fun, but it takes a big turn towards the end. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of how the ending was done, and felt that the last few episodes were pointless in the grand scheme of things, but it was still alright. The ending was awkward, but in a way that kind of fit the whole vibe of the show so I was more okay with it. Other than that, my only problem with the show was the character Minorin. Many times she was fine, being a quirky, absent-minded person who works an insane amount of hours to hide her pain by being busy, which is a nice trope to build on. However she randomly would get extremely angry over things she should not, and it felt like a random character trait that was just tacked on and didn’t fit her personality very well. However, these moments are few and far between, and as a whole Toradora is an amazing show that has aged well despite being released in 2009. Yeah, a whole decade ago. Its animation style in particular really impressed me, and as a whole, I really enjoyed watching all of the Taiga’s antics.
Blend S is a funny little slice of life with an all too familiar premise: a cafe with a bunch of funny anime girls. So what differentiates Blend S from the rest? Primarily, the characters are much less 1 dimensional and have more depth to their character. It was also more on the funny side than the wholesome side, which overall helps it stay relevant and interesting. It’s OP is also very iconic and catchy. The positives stop here unfortunately because despite it focusing more on comedy, it didn’t do much to make me laugh. It wasn’t terrible by any means, but many of its jokes didn’t land. Perhaps my standard is just really high at this point, but when an anime that is selling itself on being funny only makes me laugh sometimes, it’s hard to really enjoy the other parts of the show. It’s still a decent show though and it’s short so give it a try if you want something new and unique from the slice of life genre.
I guess I was just in the mood for something funny because I watched Nichijou right after Blend S. Both are shows built on the same thing: slice of life by nature, but with the intent to make you laugh a lot. The direction these shows went in though, were quite different. Nichijou has a very relaxed vibe and doesn’t take itself very seriously. In fact, it seems to endorse the weirdness of the characters and put it to the max in terms of the animation style. Just like Blend S though, I didn’t actually laugh too much at the jokes thrown in the show. This time, however, I suspect it’s because of which jokes were used rather than the delivery. This is an extremely high-quality show, but many of its jokes are specific to Japanese culture. Without me living in Japan or understanding much of its culture, I just didn’t find many of the jokes making me laugh. It is still entertaining for sure, but without the comedy element, I was a little bit bored at times. This show could easily reach A tier if I had been able to enjoy the jokes, but as it stands, I’m not enough of an otaku to appreciate the show.
One of the hottest anime being released in 2020, Rent-a-Girlfriend showed a lot of promise with a very interesting and unique premise. As far as I know, rental “people” is a thing that is done sometimes in Japan. I’ve definitely seen a video of a rental mother before, so a rental girlfriend is not too far of a stretch. I loved the idea of this show and how unique it’s premise is, since I’ve seen nothing like it before. And initially, it definitely holds up. It has cute girlfriends with fake personas, and an unfortunate MC grieving over an ex, who decides to use the rental service. Beyond that though, there are many problems with the show. The primary one is that the MC, Kazuya, is just an awful character in multiple ways. Not only is the writing for his character bad (maybe on purpose?), but he shows many points where he is just dumber than a brick with a hint of toxic masculinity thrown into the mix. I dropped the show Gamers! for having 2 extremely infuriating main characters that pissed me off, and Kazuya was starting to head in that direction for a little bit. One example is Kazuya being sad that he is alone on Christmas AFTER he told a girl who wanted to hang out with him that he “had other plans”. Eventually, he redeemed himself a bit and I didn’t quit the show, but I certainly thought about it. The art style and animation quality are really good, which definitely helped in me debating whether I should drop the show or not. It has these waves of a few great episodes followed by a few terrible ones which is really weird. If you want a unique premise to a show with some waifu material girls, this is your show, but be warned that the MC has a way with words that really pissed me off at times.
Aho-Girl has a lot of dumb antics to make the show fun and entertaining. In the same way that many cartoons are funny because they have dumb characters in funny situations, Aho-Girl has plenty of dumb or entertaining characters to use. This show takes pride in its stupidity, and you know, I respect that. Embracing your stupidity and rolling with it is better than what a lot of shows can put up. There isn’t much else to say here, this is a really funny and dumb show with a shorter episode length. Don’t expect it to be the best show ever, but I really enjoyed binging it when I lost power for a few hours and it made the wait a lot more enjoyable.
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU is the last show for this blog. Despite the title, this show is actually 3 main genres but never all 3 at the same time. Season 1 was a comedy with a small amount of drama, season 2 was just entirely drama with a hint of romantic elements at the end, and season 3 finally had the more romantic drama part. It’s very weird that it never had a nice blend of all 3 genres it clearly aims to have at the same time. The comedy aspect just drops after the first season and only occasionally makes an appearance later. I really enjoyed the show though, partly because I could relate to the MC Hikigaya a lot. I used to be a loner in high school and much like him, I eventually got sucked into a group of friends that I now really appreciate for bringing me out of my shell. Even with the series having 2 distinct art styles, they both fit well. My main complaint with the show is the writing. It’s an intentional decision, but I really disliked how cryptic the characters are. This show is great for making you pull out a Thesaurus just to try to understand what the characters are trying to express. They are unable to say anything remotely close to “I just want to learn to be more independent” and must instead say it in a way that confuses everyone and thus causes drama. There are plenty of good moments throughout the show, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have to dig through the comments section of each episode to try to figure out what the characters meant at some tense point of conflict. If you enjoy something with a bit more elegance than your typical rom/com drama, this show might be for you.
Thank you everyone for making it this far. If you have any suggestions, comments, or concerns feel free to tell me, as I’m still far from perfect with how I do these. Below will be the tier list. It is extremely long now, and I am looking into a way I can make a tier list that works (primarily, a tier list that has a way to expand so you can see the picture larger and also some text for me to put the review in). If you know any websites that can allow me to do this please let me know! This may also be my last post on medium, as I am working on making a website so that I can format things how I want as opposed to how medium forces me to. I will make an announcement on here if/when it happens. Stay safe and happy holidays everyone!
Weathering With You
A Certain Scientific Railgun
Love is War
Bloom Into You
Release the Spyce
Your Lie in April
Love, Chuunibyou, and Other Delusions
Love Live! School Idol Project
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU
The Pet Girl of Sakurasou
Girl’s Last Tour
A Certain Magical Index
The Quintessential Quintuplets
A Certain Scientific Accelerator
High School Fleet
Is the Order a Rabbit?
Is The Devil a Part Timer?
Love Live! Sunshine!!
Girls Und Panzer
How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?
Komori-san Can’t Decline