Worst to Best Animated Films of 2020 Part 3

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

Hey everyone, welcome back to part 3 of the Worst to Best Animated Films of 2020. If you have yet to read part 1 or part 2, then you had better do so because if I don’t mention a film on this list, then it might be on a later part of the previous or future list. Let’s continue then, shall we? I mean, that’s what’s going to happen. 

18 Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarves 

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With all of the controversy surrounding this one, I am glad that it was a solid little gem of a fantasy/action/comedy film. Unlike a lot of these fantasy comedies that came out after the wake of Shrek, Red Shoes has a more engaging hook and does have a few good messages and morals in the overarching story. It also helps that the voice cast is pretty solid, and Jim Rash and Patrick Warburton steal every scene they are in. If it had better jokes and a more compelling villain, I think this could have easily been higher on the list, but for now, it’s a solid little oddity from South Korea, and if you can find it for cheap, I recommend checking it out. 



17 Superman: Man of Tomorrow 

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It feels like it’s been forever since I have truly loved a DC-animated feature, and Superman: Man of Tomorrow is one of those films that I love. It takes a little more time to flesh out Superman in his early days than other films about the hero. The dialogue feels a lot more nuanced and grounded, which makes me fall in love with a character I have been drifting in and out of loving for years now. The new animation style is visually distinct from the previous films. With its use of thick outlines, it’s different enough from the previous films to make it feel fresh. We also finally get a Superman film with a different villain with a three-dimensional take on Parasite. It might have some of the typical DC DTV film clunkiness, and I’m kind of tired of them doing a connected universe thing again, but Man of Tomorrow is a promising start to a hopefully better lineup of films. 





16 No. 7 Cherry Lane 

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Now, this is quite a film experience. An adult animated film that’s not a comedy or raunchy. It’s more of an adult romance that takes place in the 1960s. I know some people have criticized it for its slow pace, but it does make up for it by having some great intimate and personal moments between the lead characters. It also captures a period that I was not fully aware of in China. It might have some flawed CGI animation that isn’t as polished as other features seen on this list, but if you can find a way to watch this film, I highly recommend checking it out. 





15 Animal Crackers 

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It seems like we should have gotten this film years ago, and it was nice to finally get it. While I understand how some people may not gel with this film due to a fairly weak villain, and it could have gone further with being a full-on musical, I had fun with it. It was a very creative film with plenty of laughs and creativity that led to a rather amusing experience. It might not have the most polished animation, but it has such a cartoony look that it will age better than those films and shorts that use hyper-realistic visuals. If you need a low-key family comedy, I recommend this film!







14 Trolls: World Tour 

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Who knew DreamWorks would have a much better track record for sequels than Disney! While it has some story beats that don’t quite match up with the overall commentary that the film is tackling, and some characters regress from the first film, I’m still in awe that they pulled so much out of a sequel to the 2016 original. On top of building upon its vibrant and creative world with more troll races, it takes multiple music genres and creates a rather ambitious commentary about diversity, LGBT elements, cultural appropriation, and commentary about the music industry as well. I just wish the overall film was stronger, but check it out if you haven’t already.






13 SHe

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This is probably one of the two most obscure films I have talked about on this list, and probably the one that’s the most abstract to dive into. Here is what it is, this is a stop-motion film about how men and women are treated in society and the workplace. The catch is that it’s all done in stop-motion and instead of using humans, everyone is represented by shoes! I’m not joking, and this film exists. I saw it back in 2019, and while it may have been the wrong film to play late at night at Animation is Film, it’s a film you never quite forget about. It’s a visual experience full of some of the most distinct stop-motion and darkest visuals you will ever see. I think it’s a touch long, and unless you are paying close attention, you may lose track of the plot at points, but if you want an animated film like no other, well, you can’t go wrong with this film. 





12 A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

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While I still prefer the original film, Farmageddon is still an enjoyable and charming romp from Aardman and their flock of sheep. With its more sci-fi elements, it leads to some creative jokes, a better villain, and it puts Shaun in the seat of character growth. I wish the other sheep and the farmer had better story beats, but you still get an overall charming and heartwarming story about family and responsibility. Also, the alien is incredibly adorable, and it’s yet another film that shows that you don’t need dialogue to make a film amusing. You simply need to build your story, visuals, and character movements around it. 




11 The Nose 

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Now, this is the most obscure film I have talked about, and it makes me wish we could get an official US release of it. While it takes a bit for the ball to get rolling and to get the context of the plays this film is based on, this has some of the most unique visuals seen in animated films from this year. It was a rather captivating watch that was easily the best film I was able to fully see at Annecy 2020 Online, and I hope some distributor can pick it up for a US release. 

Spring 2021 Anime Season Impressions Part 2

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)


Here we are with part 2! Let’s do this! 



Drama



Higehiro: I Shaved and then Brought Home a High School Girl (Crunchyroll) 

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Based on the novels and manga by Shimesaba, the anime was directed by Manabu Kamikita, written by Deko Akao, and produced by Project No. 9. I am so frustrated with this show. Not because it’s one of the worst shows this season, but because it has a decent idea. While the base idea is already a bit uncomfortable, you see how the show unfolds and it turns out to be this drama about young adults and the baggage that they carry with them. They do talk about it and interact with one another like real individuals. It’s uncomfortable, but at times, it’s uncomfortable for the right reasons with these characters coming to terms with what they carry with them and how they interact with friends and people they are close to. On the flip side, it’s also filled with fanservice and the show keeps using shots to leer at the young girl and the women in this show, and it can’t seem to balance out what it wants to be. Does it want to be this adult drama that tackles uncomfortable elements and the emotional baggage you carry? Or does it want to be a fanservice show? Granted, so far from what I have seen, it doesn’t want to entirely be about the fanservice, but it’s distracting enough to make the experience of watching the show a tough sit. I think I’m more disappointed with how it handles its themes and story than downright mad. Still, I wish it focused on just the drama. 




86 (Crunchyroll) 

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Based on the light novels and manga by Asato Asato, this A1 Pictures-produced series is directed by Toshimasa Ishii and written by Toshiya Ono. What this anti-war drama gets right is what might be the biggest criticism aimed at it right now with how it handles its commentary and themes about discrimination and war with the carefulness of a sledgehammer. It’s very blunt about its beliefs and its story about a society of people who use “AI”-control mechs to fight, while in reality, the “AI” are humans that are of different races than the ones who sit back and do something. Normally, this would be a major issue since everyone loves to scream and rave about subtly while missing films and shows with subtle elements. I’m fine with them being blunt about the show’s themes and commentary. Sometimes, you need to tell them upfront what you are about. Luckily, the comradery between the 86 team members is constantly entertaining and feels like they are real friends. The action does use a lot of CGI, and while it comes with some of the typical clunkiness that is seen in none MAPPA and Studio Orange-produced CGI series, it’s a lot better here than in other anime from this season or previous seasons. However, the action is handled well and is intense. They also find a great balance in the drama, the action, and the moments of lightweight wholesomeness. It’s not subtle, but it’s a good anti-war drama that I think is one of the highlights of the season. 





Tokyo Revengers (Crunchyroll) 

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Based on the manga by Ken Wakui, this delinquent school drama with a time travel twist was directed by Koichi Hatsumi, written by Yasuyuki Muto, and produced by Liden Films. What seems like a first in such a long time, we have an honest-to-god school delinquent story. It takes a few creative twists about its setting and how the lead can go back in time to try and prevent the death of a girl he dated in the past. I think what works about the show are the character dynamics. I found the lead way more interesting than he came off at first, and when he meets one of the future gang leaders, it sets off this chain reaction of relationships that I admired. Maybe it’s because it’s been a while or what feels like a long time since we have seen a school delinquent anime, but it feels new and fresh. Now, granted, I was not fond of the first episode. I found it a bit too try-hard in showing how pathetic our main character is, his friends from middle school were obnoxious (even if they were middle school boys, they were a bit much), and it was a bummer that the girl that our lead is trying to save gets relegated at first to being an object of a goal. However, as I went through the episodes, the friends got better, the lead got better, and it has turned into one of my favorite shows of the season. I hope it can keep the momentum up. 






Those Snow White Notes (Crunchyroll) 

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Based on the manga by Marimo Ragawa, this show is directed by Hiroaki Akagi, written by Kan’ichi Kato, and produced by Shin-Ei Animation. This is hands down the best drama of the anime season with its focus on finding your sound aka your way in life through the power and mastery of the shamisen. Outside of gorgeous production values, solid comedy, and a more introspective take on the character’s arc, you have music that was supervised by the famous Yoshida Brothers, and it does make up for how much their talent was wasted back in the Summer 2020 season on 2020’s worst anime, Gibiate. The shamisen music heard throughout the show brings so much emotional depth that I was instantly hypnotized by the stand-out moments of each episode when a character would play the stringed instrument. It’s a show that truly stands out and so far, I have no real complaints about it. Now, if I continue watching the show and I find faults with it, maybe I’ll do quick little anime reviews going over the overall season of the show. 

Action/adventure

Combatants Will Be Dispatched (Funimation) 

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Based on the light novels by Natsume Akatsuki, this adaptation is directed by Hiraki Akagi, written by Yukie Sugawara, and produced by J.C. Staff. Well, it might be from the same author as Konosuba, but it is not by the same anime team that made Konosuba the smash hit that it was. This show is very confused about what it wants to be. Is it set in a sci-fi world with fantasy? or is it a fantasy world with sci-fi elements, because by episode three, they pretty much dispatched the sci-fi elements in favor of fantasy offerings. What also doesn’t have that thing that made Konosuba work are the characters. Instead of having Konosuba‘s chaotically likable idiots, Combatants has characters who have none of that energy or drive that made the other property so fun to watch. What you get here are an annoying lead, a robot girl who looks like a young child, and a harem of quirky characters that don’t have much going for them outside of their one personality trait. The jokes are also not funny. Some got a mild chuckle, but the exact kind of jokes you would find in such a show are all here and accounted for. The one thing missing is any of the major jokes being funny. It’s a shame that I didn’t like this show because it makes me wonder if the Konosuba anime just got lucky it got a director and team that understood the goal or if the author of both this anime and Konosuba were not good. Maybe the source material is better than the adaptation, but as of right now, I do not want to watch these combatants be dispatched! 



Seven Knights Revolution: The Hero’s Successor (Crunchyroll) 

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Based on a mobile game we can’t even play in the states, this anime adaptation is directed by Kazuya Ichikawa, written by Ukyo Kodachi, and produced by Liden Films and DOMERICA. It’s a real bog-standard action fantasy RPG with characters and a story you have seen before. Even the monsters look painfully generic. It’s always amusing how we get these anime for games we don’t get access to, because if you don’t know about the game, then why would you watch this show? It’s fine if you don’t play the game, but since I’ve seen this whole premise and cast of characters before, it doesn’t add anything to my experience that I couldn’t get with other action shows this season. When the action does kick in, it’s fine, but you can do a lot better this season than this anime. 


Cestvs: Roman Fighter (Crunchyroll) 

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Based on the manga by Shizuya Wazarai, this anime is directed by Toshifumi Kawase and Kazuya Monma, written by Toshifumi Kawase, and produced by Bandai Namco Pictures and Logic & Magic. While we might not have an Ex-Arm this season in terms of bad CGI animation, Cestvs almost hits that mark. While it has better CGI animation with weight behind the movements and actual lip movements, the show suffers everywhere else. The main character is way too whiny, the aristocrats are pushed to an unlikability that’s not tolerable, and the side characters are boring. However, it then also pulls the stunt of being a mix of 2D and CGI, and while it’s better implemented than Ex-Arm, the show suffers by not fully going the route of CGI. Also, this whole gladiatorial combat stuff has been debunked by historical findings, so seeing some of the inaccuracies pop up that are only there to drive the story is humorous to me. It has a few interesting characters, and it doesn’t 100% fail at brushing the horrors of slavery under the rug, but even after going 4 episodes deep into this show, I can’t find myself going back to it. The only real reason to watch this show is the combat, but when there are so many anime this season with great action set pieces, then why would you go for the weaker shows in the action category when you can get something better? I would personally skip it unless you are curious about seeing a boxing anime that takes place in ancient Rome. 





The World Ends With You: The Animation (Funimation) 

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Based on the cult-favorite video game from Square Enix, this adaptation is directed by Kazuya Ichikawa, written by Midori Goto, and produced by DOMERICA and Shin-Ei Animation. Well, it’s an anime adaptation of a video game. You get all of the cutscenes, but none of the fun of actually playing the game. It’s an extremely dense three episodes as we go from story beat to story beat with no time for stopping to take it all in. It got better by the third episode, and I would consider this to be one of the better action shows of the season. It’s not better than some of the other anime out this season, but I can see myself wanting to see how this show ends. 




Mars RED (Funimation) 

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Based on a manga by Bun-O Fujisawa, this action drama is directed by Kohei Hatano and Shinya Sadamitsu, written by Jun’ichi Fujisaku, and produced by Signal.MD. This show set in 1923 and dealing with an elite unit to take care of a blossoming vampire problem was one of the first shows of the season and one of the first to get a dub. I’m not entirely sure why, but I found myself enthralled with this vampire drama. It’s not doing anything unique, but I think having the characters be adults let the scenes that have them contemplating about their vampire nature be handled better here than most stories that deal with the blood-sucking monsters. There are some truly heartbreaking moments in the show and I was compelled and pulled into their stories. The action is more grounded, but it has some small fantastical elements sprinkled in that make for some truly great visual moments. Speaking of the visuals, Mars RED is one of the most gorgeous shows I have seen this season with perfect linework, expressive animation, and the designs and world overall feel cohesive. I can understand why some people aren’t as into this show as others, but I see myself getting back into this show once I’m done writing this article. 


Joran: The Princess of Snow and Blood (Crunchyroll) 

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Joran is an original anime this season directed by Susumu Kudo and produced by Bakken Records. It’s an anime version of the Lady Snowblood films mixed with Blood+, and turn-of-the-century technology (the late 1800s maybe early 1900s). I compare it to these elements because it has a stellar female lead who slays shapeshifting demons while wondering what is going on with the shady underbelly of the organization she works for and the targets they go after. It has pretty great animation, and when the power sets are turned on, the animation takes on an entirely different visual style that is so much fun to watch. It has great characters, intriguing plot twists, and lots of creative action that has impressed me within the five episodes I had watched.





To Your Eternity (Crunchyroll) 

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Based on the manga by Yoshitoki Oima, this adaptation is directed by Masahiko Murata, written by Shinzo Fujita, and produced by Brain’s Base. Without a doubt, To Your Eternity has made one of the biggest and best first impressions out of any anime this season. The first episode would have been amazing as its own little short film. Then you realize it has more story after that first episode! They threw a lot of talent and resources into this show if they got Utada Hikaru to do the theme song. It’s an ambitious story about life and the human experience as we follow our lead character as it interacts with the characters it meets. It’s a show that has a lot of enticing dialogue, creative world-building, and the individual the story is revolving around actually does become the main focus as the story goes on. Still, if you are against shows that have a sort of passive main character that traverses the story, you might not like this, and some story beats might be a bit much. Still, I have enjoyed the story and admired the ambition that this show has. It’s easily one of my favorite shows of the season so far. Now, will it stay that way, who knows? 






Romance/Comedy



It’s Too Sick to Call this Love aka Koikimo (Crunchyroll)

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Based on the manga by Mogusu, this anime adaptation is directed by Naomi Nakayama and produced by Nomad. This is an age gap romance where a man who is obviously in his 30s, is falling for a teenage girl, and the anime only seems half of the time aware of how creepy this premise is. You can spew all of the “well it’s a different culture and age of consent” comments as you want, but when one side of the party is not okay with the guy hitting on her constantly, then any defenses become null and void. The show only calls out the fact the guy is a creep half of the time! The other half is everyone gaslighting the high school girl that “hey maybe he’s not that bad” when all he does is stalk her, send her presents, and then does the bare minimum of a guy being nice and kind. Maybe this anime adaptation would have been better if it was leaning more on the dunking on the male lead and the animation was better, but it’s not. Alongside Burning Kabaddi and that Battle Athletes reboot, this is one of the cheapest-looking productions this season. The designs might be okay, but the animation is downright mediocre. It’s stiff and lifeless, and that’s saying something when you can say “Hey, The Way of the Househusband, a motion comic, is better animated than three of the shows in this anime season”. The opening and ending songs for Koikimo are okay, but that’s about all the kindness I have for this show. If I were ranking these shows, this would be right at the very bottom. I can’t see myself wanting to see how they gaslight the girl into loving the guy twice her age. 


The Romcom Where The Childhood Friend Won’t Lose (Crunchyroll)

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Based on the light novel and manga by Shuichi Nimaru, this adaptation is directed by Takashi Naoya, written by Yoriko Tomita, and produced by Doga Kobo. This might be the one anime this season where I don’t honestly don’t know where I stand on it. I enjoy it way more than Koikimo, but I don’t know if I downright love this show. On one hand, the first episode has a lot of ideas that rub me the wrong way. A high school boy is getting revenge on a girl because she is going out with another guy, and a girl who was crushing on our lead teams up with him to get revenge on the girl. But then you get to episode 3 and so many twists happen that it turns into less of a revenge fantasy with some rom-com elements, and more of a dysfunctional rom-com of teenagers who are in love and have no real idea of how to handle these emotions. The production values are okay, and so far, the cast is only okay, but something about this show grabbed me as I went on through it. Maybe I’ll pick it up again, but I will have to see if I do want to return. 




Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagataro (Crunchyroll)

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Based on the manga by Nanashi, this series is directed by Hirokazu Hanai, written by Taku Kishimoto, and produced by Telecom Animation Film. Who would have thought about a rom-com with a bullying fetish would be good? It’s not something I’m personally interested in, but the comedy is well-executed. Now if you aren’t into bully fetishes, then you won’t enjoy the titular character’s antics with the male lead. However, Nagataro herself is a sadistically delightful character who has some of the most expressive animations out of any character this season. While some of the teasings can lean a little too hard on being mean, there is this sincere kindness and teenage awkwardness under it all that makes it a delightful show to watch. You can tell she isn’t meaning to be a jerk, and she’s being more of a doofus crushing on the lead character who doesn’t get how to approach him respectably. The male lead isn’t the most interesting character at first but becomes more interesting as the show goes on. It’s a show I was wary about with how it would turn out, but I ended up enjoying it quite a lot and I can see myself wanting to finish it up alongside Dragon Goes House Hunting as my two comedies of the season. 

And there you have it! The Spring 2021 Anime Season watch is complete. I am burnt out on anime, and I need to take a small break before I can fully dive in and enjoy more anime when the summer season heats up. Still, even if most of these shows didn’t pan out, I was happy enough with the ones I loved. 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Spring 2021 Anime Season Impressions Part 1

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

The Spring 2021 anime season decided to come back swinging with even more anime than the infamous Winter 2021 season. It was almost exhausting to watch so many, but there was a lot of anime that was quite fantastic! It will be some of the best anime we will be seeing this year. Even the worst anime of the season aren’t worse than Ex Arm and Redo of Healer. That’s why I’m going to split this one into two parts due to how many shows there were to cover. As usual, this is only covering the new anime of the season. No returning series and I’ll only cover anime reboots if they are important in some way shape or form. No rankings this time either. I’m giving my 3+ ep impressions on these shows in terms of what genre they are in. Animation is a medium of storytelling, and anime is very good at going in different directions with their stories. Let’s start, shall we? 


Sports


Battle Athletes Victory Restart (Funimation)

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Based on the manga by Yuki Nakano, this new iteration/reboot of the fan-favorite series is directed by Tokihiro Sasaki and is produced by Seven. Let me ask you a question. Remember in the Fall 2020 season there was that great Higurashi sequel reboot thing that got people to talk about Higurashi again? Well, this one will get people talking, but for all of the wrong reasons. This reboot is not good. It’s not only bad at setting up what kind of plot we are getting into, but the characters are also flat, cookie-cutter, and the animation is easily some of the worst this season has to offer. For a show that’s going to be about intense athletic challenges, the animation is very basic. No weight is put behind the movements and you think they would make the sports stuff look exciting and thrilling. It comes off like a show that was made because they made a deal to make it to keep the rights of the property more than any real passion behind it. Also, while this show may aim at a female audience, it sure loves to have a ton of male gaze elements like looking at character’s butts, and it is more interested with the yuri baiting than telling a more followable story. Also, since one character has prosthetics, couldn’t they have made it appear like something that wasn’t looking like they pulled some pantyhose over one arm and leg? Oh, and this show doesn’t earn its political space drama either. No one gives a rat’s behind about this world or the main story. Eh, either way, Battle Athletes Victory Restart is easily one of the weakest shows of the season, and the only thing it will get people talking about is the original anime from the 90s. 







Burning Kabaddi (Crunchyroll) 

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Burning Kabaddi is a sports anime based on the manga by Hajime Musashino. It’s directed by Kazuya Ichikawa and produced by TMS Entertainment. I always look for a sports anime with a unique hook. For example, this is a sports anime where the sport in question is Kabaddi, which is full-contact tag. That sounds great! Too bad that this is one of the cheapest-looking anime of the season. It doesn’t have the best animation and for a sport that I said is a more aggressive tag, then that’s a huge problem. It doesn’t help either that this is by a studio and director that are busy with other projects. Unless said otherwise, it sounds like this anime got the short end of resources. The voice acting is decent, and some of the leads are amusing, but it doesn’t stand out. It makes me wonder if this project went to someone like Studio Mappa. The animation would have been better. Even then, it has a severe case of “been there done that” in terms of its story and characters. I was honestly looking forward to this anime, so it makes me sad that it wasn’t better. It’s, at the very least, earnest in its execution that I can’t fully hate it as much as some other anime this season. 





Farewell, My Dear Cramer! (Crunchyroll)

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Based on the manga by Naoshi Arakawa, this anime adaptation was directed by Seiki Takuno, written by Natsuko Takahashi, and produced by Liden Films. Unfortunately, this is yet another sports anime this season that suffers from major production issues. It’s a show where the visuals are at some points decent, but keep leaning into the wholly mediocre territory. For a sports anime about running and kicking a ball, it all feels so stiff and lifeless like Battle Athletes. The character designs look so wonky. A friend of mine described it as if they were given the eyes and lips of a fish, and I can’t unsee it that way now. At first, it looks like they were going for a more retro-inspired design for the characters, but it’s not gone far enough to warrant the “retro” vibe, and then there are some weird inconsistent designs. It doesn’t help that it’s hard to know who is the real main character of the show. Due to it being a team of girls, it keeps shifting between the ones who play a more important role in the story. I get why they keep focusing on so many, but with how slow-paced the progression of the story is going, it doesn’t seem like we are going to know anytime soon who is the main focus, and the story isn’t good enough to care about who wins, and that’s a shame. I love the drama angle of how popularity is dropping for women-driven soccer, but that needed to be the focus, not watching the team of the story fail and deal with intensely smug champion teams. I’m so bummed that this one isn’t better, because I was hoping to find a soccer anime that I could love, but this sure ain’t it. 

Bakuten! Aka Backflip! (Crunchyroll) 

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Oh my goodness! We have an actual good sports anime this season! This original anime is directed by Toshimasa Kuroyanagi, written by Toshizo Nemoto, and produced by Zexcs. This is the sports anime of the season that has everything the other sports shows are lacking. You have beautiful animation that masterfully matches fluid and expressive 2D animation with CGI, likable and hugely memorable characters, and a story with stakes that are just big enough to keep the story moving forward, but doesn’t treat the experience like it’s the end of the world. It has incredibly wholesome energy with the story, music, and character chemistry that makes for easily one of the best shows to watch of the Spring 2021 season. 






Fantasy/Isekai

Full Dive (Funimation)

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Based on the light novels and manga by Light Tuchihi, this anime adaptation was directed by Kazuya Miura, written by Kenta Ihara, and produced by Studio ENGI. This was advertised as a dark comedy take on the VRMMO anime series like Sword Art Online, but this one has a devilishly solid gimmick. The VRMMO in this anime is so realistic that there are no traditional game gimmicks and so on. It’s pretty much a game that drops you into a hard mode crafted by From Software and the teams behind those obtuse adventure games. Sadly, for as great as the first episode starts, the rest of the show, so far, has failed to live up to that first episode. It seems more comfortable explaining the more “realistic” elements of the game itself than doing something fun with them, and the characters aren’t that interesting. It also loves to slide into mean-spirited dialogue and interactions, but not balance it out to where we are rooting for anyone. The main character is dull and has every right to be mad at how he got conned into buying this game, the female lead is irredeemably awful, and it doesn’t have that flow or execution that makes anime like Konosuba work. It’s trying very hard to reconcile the game with the real world, but it’s neither fun nor interesting to be in this game world. Maybe it will get better, but when you start with such a strong first episode, only to flop hard in the second and third episodes, it makes me not want to watch the rest to see what happens. Maybe I will give it an episode or two more, but so far, it’s easily one of the biggest disappointments of the anime season. 




I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level (Crunchyroll)

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Based on the light novels by Kisetsu Morita, this anime adaptation is directed by Nobukage Kimura and was produced by Revoroot. Yes, it’s another isekai, and yes, it is about an individual who died of being overworked. That’s why I was curious to see how they take the “I maxed out my level and now have god-tier powers, but all I want to do is be left alone.” angle the marketing made it out to be. On one hand, I think it is a smarter show than its very obvious all-woman harem elements offer. It does dive into how the lead makes sure none of her now newly adopted family members (who are of course cute monster girls) don’t make the same mistakes as she did back in the real world. It also does its job of being a cute fantasy-comedy as it has some very solid jokes. I’m just not pulled into the overall story yet. I think it’s because it feels like they took the premise and halted it for cute harem shenanigans, and while we now have two spirit girls, a dragon girl, and a clumsy elf girl, I have seen better versions of these characters before. I think it’s not hitting it out of the park fully, and maybe I’m just thinking about how Taoteba Last Dungeon and Konosuba took more advantage of their premises by the first episode. Still, I don’t hate this series, but I wouldn’t be shocked if I decided to drop it after another episode or so. I at least think the characters hold up the plot more than most isekai shows. It’s cute and harmless, and sometimes, that’s all you need. 

The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent (Funimation) 

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Based on the light novel series by Yuka Tachibana, this adaptation is directed by Shota Ihata, written by Wataru Watari, and produced by Diomedia. I was first hooked on the premise of a regular working-class woman who gets swept to another world, only to find out she was swept to this world by accident with the real “chosen one”. It’s something I haven’t seen tackled in a lot of isekai, and I fell for this show even more once she decided to sit back and do her own thing. She didn’t want to save the world or deal with some demon king, but instead, she wanted to make potions. Sei Takanashi, our lead character, ends up making the world she is in a better place by simple actions of healing and helping out the individuals that would otherwise get looked over in other isekai stories. It does have a male harem element with three guys that may or may not be crushing on her all at once, but it doesn’t feel as skeezy as other anime with these types of setups. It’s a slow burn, but it’s a burn that has been worth it. 

Dragon Goes House Hunting (Funimation) 

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Based on the manga by Kawo Tanuki, this adaptation is directed by Haruki Kasugamori and is produced by Signal. MD. You would think with a premise about a dragon wanting to find his own home with the help of a demon lord real-estate agent it would have a limited range in humor and writing, but it’s a show that knows how to expand on its setting and isn’t stuck on the elevator pitch of a premise. It’s got a great dynamic between the dragon and our real estate agent, and it uses every situation with getting the dragon a new home to have some kind of expansion on the world, the characters, or the story. It might not have the best animation since it feels like it wants to stay heavily on model due to how detailed the characters are, the show does do a good job transitioning to more comedic animation, and the jokes are funny! It’s a show that was an early favorite this season, and I’m so glad it feels like a fully realized comedy and fantasy anime. It’s probably my favorite comedy this season since shows like Combatants Must Be Dispatched have underperformed. 




Other 

Blue Reflection Ray (Funimation) 

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Based on the game developed by Gust, this video game adaptation is directed by Risako Yoshida, written by Akiko Waba, and produced by JC Staff. It’s boring. It’s supposed to be this dramatic battle royale anime with powers that revolve around girls teaming up with other girls and being defined by emotions. It does a really bad job at explaining how it all works, the characters are pretty forgettable, and I had a hard time remembering the names of the two leads. The art direction looks nice, but there is a real lack of movement. Characters will stand around to drag out scenes, and I know this is typical for anime shows, but it feels so restrictive and with such a distinct visual style, it only makes the stiffness stand out even more. There could have been a really interesting way to tackle this story and world, but I gave it the three-episode rule, and well, I won’t be watching any more beyond that.








Pretty Boys Detective Club (Funimation) 

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Based on the novel series by Nisio Isin, this anime adaptation is directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, Hajime Ootani, written by Akiyuki Shinbo and Shaft, and produced by Shaft. Well, with a name like Pretty Boys Detective Club, you have to assume it’s going to be a very pretty show, and boy howdy does it have some of the best visual eye candy in terms of this show’s visual presentation. Great designs, fluid animation, and stylish visuals carry this entire show. The impressive visuals also carry into the writing of the show that is fairly dense with the first three episodes’ storyline of helping a girl find a star in the sky. It turns from a solid mystery of a heartbroken girl to the girl having the eyesight to see something she wasn’t supposed to see. It takes a huge leap, and while the dialogue is a bit much and some of this is familiar ground, if you are looking for something like a mix of Ouran Highschool Host Club with some bonkers detective work, then this will easily be the show for you! 




Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song (Funimation)

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This is an entirely original anime by creators Tappei Nagatsuki and Eiji Umehara. It’s directed by Shinpei Ezaki, written by the creators, and produced by WIT Studios. Vivy is a wildly ambitious sci-fi story about time travel, the commentary about man and machine, and morality. The story about a futuristic AI being sent back in time to prevent a robot uprising that kills the human race in the future is some truly compelling stuff when you realize who this AI has to team up with to save humanity. The other side of the equation is the first AI android who the future AI goes to find doesn’t believe this super AI from the future is telling the truth. The real drama and driving force are the different ideals of the two AIs as they try and fix the past so the future doesn’t unfold into bloodshed, but then small wrinkles come up from time to time that throw a wrench into the situation, and it makes for an extremely compelling story. I wish it was dubbed because the future AI talks way too fast and it’s hard to keep up with the subtitles at points. Otherwise, it’s one of Spring’s most intriguing anime. 






Odd Taxi (Crunchyroll)

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This is a very cool original anime this season. It’s directed by Baku Kinoshita, written by Kazuya Konomoto, and produced by OLM Inc, and P.I.C.S. It does have a manga, but it was an original series first and foremost. This is a mix of a drama, a thriller, and a slice-of-life anime about the world that revolves around this lone walrus taxi driver and the storylines that spin-off of his encounters with both familiar faces and new individuals. It’s an anime I can’t quite compare to many that are out these days or not right off the top of my head. It’s like someone took the tone of something like The Wire or Fargo and mixed it up with Zootopia and Beastars with the designs from Animal Crossing. It’s an anime that truly stands out among the pack from not only its visuals, but its low-key story and perfect writing. I want to see what happens with all of these characters to see how the mystery around this missing girl unfolds and how these stories interact and finish. It’s an anime that was made with my kind of sensibilities. If I was ranking these anime individually and not by genre category, it would easily be in my top five. I highly recommend people check out this show because it hooks you within the first episode and doesn’t let go. 



Slice of Life

Super Cub (Funimation))

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Based on the light novel series by Tone Koken, this anime adaptation was directed by Toshiro Fujii, written by Toshizo Nemoto, and produced by Studio Kai. So far, from what I have seen, there is a real polarizing reception to this show. You either love how low-key and slow it is, or you find it too much of a slow burn to get through. I’m in the middle. I do like it due to how low key it is, but it is a touch too slow. The writing can also come off as making the lead character, Koguma, a touch dafter than she is. The CGI is also hit and miss as it doesn’t always blend well with the 2D characters or backgrounds. However, something about this show just clicks with me. I love the low-key vibes, I like the 2D visuals, the interaction between the leads, and the calming music. It reminds me of an indie game where all you do is drive around and listen to the music and just have a no-stress time. It won’t be for everyone, and I wouldn’t consider this a top 10 anime of the Spring season, but at least it is what is advertised and it doesn’t fall apart like Full Dive and Combatants Must Be Dispatched




Fairy Ranmaru (Crunchyroll)

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Hey, look, another original anime this season. This one is produced by Studio Comet, written by Jo Aoba, and directed by Kosuke Kobayashi and Masakazu Hishida. At first, I was enjoying the abstract dumbness of this one. A bunch of hot men who come from different fairy clans comes to earth to help clients expel the toxic and negativity in their lives via abstract combat. Within the combat encounters, the men transform in extremely horny ways into their fairy forms. It’s a dumb trashy anime that could have worked. I love the music, the transformations are delightfully horny to give the middle finger to male-focused fanservice. And yes, this isn’t the first anime to do such a thing, but it’s so rare, that it’s delightful to see it when it does happen. I like a lot of the little ideas about the leads and how the rules work. However, it’s a hot mess and it doesn’t always blend. It seems like it’s always at the edge of going down the right direction with its content but then doesn’t go far enough. I wish it went full dumb, but it also wants to be about something. I don’t know if I want to see what happens next after the three episodes I watched. If you like dumb but sincere anime, then, by all means, watch this one, but I can easily list a few other shows that go all the way with their fun dumb premise that do it better than Fairy Ranmaru



Shadows House (Funimation)

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Based on a manga by Su-mat-to, this adaptation is directed by Kazuki Ohashi, written by Toshiya Ono, and produced by CloverWorks. Okay, before we continue, let’s get the joke out of the way first, this is where all the resources that were for The Promised Neverland Season 2 went after the Neverland committee simply gave up on the second season. Anyway, Shadows House is a great show! I love the mystery behind this world of shadowy individuals, living dolls, and the commentary that can be picked from not only the environment but the dialogue and the ideas at play here. The dolls are rather complex characters, and their dynamics with the Shadows are really interesting to watch in motion. It has nice animation, the designs are distinct, and the writing has kept me invested in this show, which is why I’m going to so far, stick with it. 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Worst to Best Animated Films of 2020 Part 2

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Hey everyone, welcome back to part 2 of the Worst to Best Animated Films of 2020. If you have yet to read part 1, then you had better do so because if I don’t mention a film on this list, then it might be on a later part of the previous or future list. Let’s continue then, shall we? I mean, that’s what’s going to happen. 

27 Kill it and Leave this Town 

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I always respect the fact that we still get animated features that stay true to the original ambition and idea created by the director. I think that’s always a good goal to have in mind with making animated features. However, if that director wants to make a film that’s extremely slow, hard to follow at points because of the heavy emphasis on dream logic, and only appealing to a certain niche group of animation and film fans, then you shouldn’t be shocked if someone ends up not liking it and not recommending it. I do get what this film is about, but the meandering pace and focus on surreal dream-like images, designs, and a very morose tone make for a fairly dull watch. I love the art style and the music, but it shouldn’t be a shock when a film like this doesn’t find a wider audience. I know this was the director’s passion project, and that’s fine! I get why some critics do love this film, but again, if you want to make a film that’s as far away as possible from the films that come out from big studios, then don’t be shocked if you don’t catch many fans. 


26 Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge 

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We have yet another video game movie, and while it’s low on the list, it’s one of the better films in terms of video game adaptations. When it’s actually about Scorpion’s Revenge, it’s a compelling story, and the action throughout the overall film is fantastic for a direct-to-video film. However, the film wants to be a universe starter and a traditional Mortal Kombat plot with a tournament set up. It’s too busy trying to focus on making a franchise and giving Johnny Cage a predictable story arc. It’s a fun film, but easily one I can see not coming back to. 

25 SCOOB

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What is with WB and their fetish for wanting universe starters? Even taking out the above-average CGI animation, some decent casting, and a few clever jokes, references, and side characters, the film is not a Scooby-Doo film. It’s a Hanna-Barbera universe starter, and that’s it. It’s uninterested in being a film about the iconic dog and that’s a shame. When it does have some of that charm from the franchise, it’s a decent watch. Like everyone else, I wish some of the concept art that we got to see after the film was released was what we got instead of this lukewarm universe starter. 

24 Justice League Dark: Apokolips War

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Speaking of universes, we now have the finale to the previous cinematic universe of DC/WB direct-to-video films. Outside of an opening sequence that made me unintentionally laugh for days, I was glad this was the last film in a franchise I wasn’t a huge fan of. It had great action, some endearing moments between certain characters, and I think the ending was pretty good! I just wasn’t a fan of this storyline and I’m glad they are moving on. 

23 Summer Days with Coo

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This was one of the few foreign films in 2020 to be a carryover from a long time ago. I mean, a long time ago in terms of 2007. We finally got this film in the US, and while I do like seeing one of Keiichi Haara’s first directorial efforts, it is flawed. It has a weird time balancing more child-like whimsy and the darker tones of what it wants to tackle. While it has some very hit and miss animation overall, it does end on a rather nice note that I wish carried the overall tone of the film. It’s a cute film, but I can safely say his later films are miles above this one. 

22 A Whisker Away

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If there was a real disappointment from 2020, it would be this film. While it has gorgeous animation, some truly great visuals, and the villain is fun, the main character is what breaks this film. Her constant stalking and harassment of the male lead are uncomfortable. It bogs down a film with some very mature themes and ideas. It’s just a reminder that not every original film that comes out is going to be good. 

21 A Dog’s Courage

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This is another film that we finally got from a previous year in the US. While I’m not fully familiar with South Korea and its animation scene, I was aware of this director’s previous film and was excited about finally checking this one out. It uses CGI animation quite wonderfully. It is also an effective experience of a group of dogs trying to find a better life. Its use of 2D animation isn’t as good as other films, and it is yet another animated film with a tone problem. Still, I always admire a film that has a strong emotional story, and I’m glad I got to see it. Just don’t expect this film to be very kid-friendly. 

20 My Favorite War

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This is such a unique movie. While we have films in this similar fashion with Another Day of LifeMy Favorite War tells a more intimate story of the director growing up in Soviet Latvia, and it has a very distinct visual style when the animation beats happen. It might not be the best animation, and it does look a little wonky at points, the personal story and the history behind that country are way more than enough to carry the rest of the film. 

19 Twilight

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Yeah, we finally got this film. I remember there was a lot of hype for it due to being crowdfunded, which is not uncommon with Japanese animation, but then everything went silent, and it stayed in Japan for a few years. Crunchyroll then finally brought it over, and well, it’s a solid little teen drama. While it’s not revolutionary or better than other teen dramas or coming-of-age dramas, it’s still well animated and earnest in its execution to warrant at least one viewing of the film. 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Worst to Best Animated Films of 2020 Part 1

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

So, 2020 was a stressful and soul-sucking year, wasn’t it? On top of, well, everything else that matters more than what I’m about to write about, the animation scene was a mess in the feature film department. Delays upon delays, and changing release strategies shook everything up. Luckily, animation was a bright spot despite other elements getting in the way, and not only did we get a lot of great movies, but also a lot of incredible shows. Sure, the major studios bowed out of the release windows, but that left room for multiple smaller indie films and streaming features to enter the scene, and overall, it turned out to be a solid year. Maybe not the strongest, but still entertaining enough. Plus, unlike some animation critics, I watched all of the major releases that mattered. Anyway, the rules still apply. They must have had some kind of US release, I tend to stick to if they were released in some way during 2020, and while I am still following the Oscar Submission List, I am moving some of the films to my 2021 list due to the fact they didn’t get proper 2020 releases. Let’s get started. 

38 Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Water Rebus

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Honestly, I didn’t want to add this to the list because it almost doesn’t count as animation. It mostly feels like a bunch of live-action footage with multiple filters with the bare minimum of rotoscoping the footage. It doesn’t feel like an animated film, but even if it was more traditionally animated, the plot was hard to follow, and trying to find out what the plot exactly was made my blood boil. Maybe it was a subtitle thing when I saw this at Annecy, but it’s no real shock this film had no chance at the Oscars or most award shows. It’s the exact kind of film that I would categorize as unpleasant to watch and is what I think of when people say they want something as far away from the big studio projects as possible. Well, this is what ya get, a film with such little interest in making sure you know what’s going on that it resulted in an experience I never want to have again. Sadly I do get that kind of experience, but we will get there on this list. 

37 Pets United

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I know it’s a cliche to bash Illumination, but you would realize how much talent and work goes into their films if you see a film like Pets United. It’s a weird mishmash of tones, ideas, and it doesn’t work at all. Say what you will about the Secret Life of Pets films, but they were at least fun to watch and kept your interest in some way to make you not forget them. Moments after I watched Pets United, I was forgetting details about the story, the themes, the characters, and so on. Its animation is fine, and some weird aspects stand out for how out-of-place they are, but that’s not enough to call it anything good. It’s one of the films that Netflix picked up because it didn’t cost much to purchase and translate. 




36 Fe@rless 

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Shockingly, a Vanguard Animation film wasn’t on the bottom of the list. Honestly, it does deserve it, because while it’s “better” than the previous two films, I wouldn’t call it good. It’s got all of the hallmarks of the studio’s work with a bad story, bland characters, and some decent ideas that are never expanded on or fleshed out. It all feels like a film that only had enough money in the budget for a rough draft and then got dumped onto Netflix with no fanfare. A few amusing lines do not make a good film. Otherwise, it’s just more straight-to-video/straight-to-streaming schlock. 



35 Pokemon Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution

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Who knew we would get our very own version of 2019’s Lion King, but instead of a bad remake of a good movie, we got a bad remake of a mediocre movie! Yeah, I am not a fan of the original film, and I know many love it due to how every kid saw it back in the day. Still, it’s an ugly CGI remake of a 2D animated film that does the bare minimum of improving the story, and while it might be closer to the original Japanese version of the film, that doesn’t change much due to how it’s already a mediocre story. The CGI Pokemon looked fine, and the voice cast was solid, but there was no real reason for this film to be made. 



34 Latte and the Magic Waterstone

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Oh, look, another foreign feature Netflix bought on the cheap and gave no other support for it. Honestly, out of the worst films on the list, it’s harmless. Its most offensive element is that it’s boring and forgettable. It has a few cool moments like this one sequence where a character’s shadow is hand-animated, and some of the moments with certain characters were amusing enough. The biggest offender of this film is that it feels like a feature that was dated in terms of storytelling, themes, and characters. 




33 Henchmen 

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It’s a real bummer the lead actor for this film is a garbage bin. I probably shouldn’t have it on there because of the recent news about Thomas Middleditch (on top of the other creepy and awful stories about him), but honestly, no one in this film is good. It’s a situation where the film’s production history is more interesting than the film itself. I mean, an animated superhero comedy written and produced by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell sounds incredible, right? Well, that is not what we got due to them leaving the project early on. Instead, we got a middling superhero parody that has a decent hook, but like most bad parodies, does nothing interesting with the hook. The animation is kind of cool, but it’s nothing incredible or as iconic as what Spider-Verse did with its visual style. It’s a film with a promising elevator pitch, but that’s about it. 



32 Ni No Kuni 

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What do you get when you are a film based on a video game? The answer is a film that’s not even remotely familiar to the video games it’s based on. It’s related by name only. While it has a few decent story beats, it plays out like a very generic fantasy film. The only part that is kind of cool is the moments in time where the leads go back and forward between the real world and the fantasy world, but that’s about it. It’s a real disappointing film. 




31 Superman Red Son 

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Do you know what my least favorite kind of DC animated film is? It’s the one based on an adaptation that shouldn’t have been one film! While the story of what if Superman was raised in Russia is a compelling one, it’s not given enough time to let the proper story beats play out, and it doesn’t feel as compelling as you would think this premise is. It’s easily one of the most forgettable films from DC’s animation lineup, and that’s a shame. 



30 Dragon Quest: Your Story 

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The video game curse strikes again! This is why truncating an entire video games’ story into one movie is a bad idea, and it’s even worse when it’s based on what might be the most popular entry in the biggest RPG franchise in Japan. The CGI animation while better than most, does a few things that irked me. Why do you have Akira Toriyama’s iconic designs, but take out distinct design details that end up making everything look generic? The action and music are quite fantastic, but then the film pulls a plot twist in the last 10 minutes that causes the entire experience to drive off of a cliff. I get what they were trying to do, but maybe don’t try to make your own story when you are based on a story that already existed. 




29 The Last Fiction 

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I might not like this film, but boy howdy do I respect and admire how this Iranian animated feature wanted to be this epic that had dark tones, violence, and plenty of action beats. That doesn’t mean I can’t find some things to criticize. The scale of the story is ambitious, but it feels badly paced with huge leaps through time, and characters I found forgettable. The combination of 2D animation and CGI was also something that felt like it was from the early 2000s. Still, there is something to admire about the ambition of this film. Hopefully, we can see some other promising projects from this corner of the world. 



28 Manou the Swift 

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Way back in 2017, I reviewed a film called A Stork’s Journey. I considered it one of the weaker films of that year, and I still stand by that. Well, to me, Manou the Swift was what that film wanted to be. While it’s not a marginally better film, it at least has a lot more that I like about it. It has a decent cast including Josh Keaton, Nolan North, Willem Dafoe, and Kate Winslet, the animation was better, and it wasn’t as obnoxious in the comedy department. It still had a lot of the same problems as A Stork’s Journey, but it did just enough better with the story beats to not make this a total borefest. 

Still, the next batch of films on this list are at the very least more interesting, so stay tuned! 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Winter 2021 Anime Season Impressions

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

So, here we are, a new chaotic year, and I am now going to start doing these seasonal anime impressions more regularly. Maybe I’ll even do a best to worst ranking of them all after the season is over! So, the same rules that we used in the previous listing, will be used here. These will only cover the new anime of this season. This won’t cover returning series from last year. No reboots unless there is something extremely noteworthy about them, like Higurashi: When They Cry New or Yashahime. Now then, let’s get started!

Actually, before we start, a couple of these anime will have content warnings before my short 3+ episode impression of them, so please be wary about that, and if you are disturbed by any of these warnings, then skip them and move to the next one. Viewer discretion is advised. 

Worst

Redo of Healer (HiDive, VRV)

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Content Warning: Rape, abuse, racism, violence, sexual violence, and homophobia 

Based on the novel and manga by Ryo Tsukiyo, this adaptation is directed by Takuya Asaoka, written by Kazuyuki Fudeyasu, and is produced by TNK. Well, to the shock of no one, this is the worst anime of the season. On a moral level, it’s a repugnant revenge fantasy that has rape, homophobia, racism, and every red flag you can think of for an anime. It’s made for edgelords that don’t see anything wrong with the main character thinking rape is a proper revenge tactic. It is an anime with a time travel gimmick, but since the writing and storytelling are not good enough to distract me from the other minefield that is time travel, all I’m stuck wondering is why didn’t the main character, instead of doing all of this awful stuff, not just go back in time to a point where his abusers weren’t alive, or go back in time and kill them before they were born. Heck, if you are going to become a power fantasy since you can pull up the cheat sheet of powers and abilities, why not just create a past where you didn’t become the healer, and just live on your merry way? Instead of doing something more straightforward, this unlikable dumpster fire goes out of his way to “get back” at the abusers in a way that still makes him an abuser. Even if Sentai Filmworks wasn’t showing a censored version of this anime where they cut/edited out the sex scenes, the show isn’t all that great to look at. The fantasy world designs have all been done before and better, the characters look generic, and the music doesn’t stand out. It looks “better” than the worst animated show of the season, Ex Arm, but at best, Redo of Healer looks only okay. Also, for everyone crying about how people need to watch the uncut version, well, no they don’t. All the uncut version does is show the sex scenes, and since a lot of this show is full of assault, abuse, and rape, no one needs to watch them. Plus, if you wanted to watch porn or in this case, hentai, then go watch it! There are continent-sized amounts of hentai on the internet that you don’t have to justify watching. Seriously, the defenders of this show have been nothing but trolls who think this show is the best thing ever and go after anyone who doesn’t like it. When the novel and manga don’t have releases in the west due to a real lack of market value and no real audience, then maybe it was a bad idea to make an anime you are going to have to show censored, and then use an entirely different site or wait for uncut blu-rays to watch in full. The ratings for this show are dropping, the viewership is dropping as of writing this editorial, and it’s no wonder. Even if there was something good to say about the show, like the actors for Flare and Bullet are doing great with such garbage material, it wouldn’t matter. The exhausting nihilistic and toxic world, writing, story, and characters ruin anything it has going for it. For some reason, if you like this show, fine. Keeping liking it, but if you go after and harass anyone who doesn’t like it, because they don’t like it, then you are not worth anyone’s time. Redo of Healer is easily the worst anime of the season. 

Ex Arm (Crunchyroll, VRV)

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Considered dead on arrival, this anime adaptation is directed by Yoshikatsu Kimura, written by Tommy Morton, produced by Visual Flight, and is based on the manga by HiRock and was illustrated by Shinya Komi. What do you get when you hire a director who has no animation experience, doesn’t bother to learn how animation is produced, works with a studio that hasn’t made anime before, relies too heavily on motion capture, and then has the giant brass cajones to think this was going to be the next big science fiction hit? Well, you get Ex Arm. While Redo of Healer is more morally repugnant, it is, at the very least, competently made on a production side of things. You knew everyone there was going to go in and adapt every hateful aspect of that anime. Ex Arm on the other hand went headfirst into a brick wall with no helmet on, thinking that it was going to be the next hot stuff. Well, it did become big and popular for one reason, its incredibly terrible CGI animation. This might be the worst CGI animation I have ever seen in anime. Lifeless, emotionless, stiff, and it’s 100% amateur hour from top to bottom. You can even tell when this show uses ugly white light circles to cover up that the people working on this show did not know how to do anything but animate CGI models like they were bashing action figures together. It’s an embarrassing front all around, and even if it had the proper animation team behind it, the writing falls flat, the characters are forgettable, the designs aren’t interesting, and due to the awful reliance on motion capture technology, the action sucks. What’s worse is that Ex Arm cuts out aspects of the story for no reason. So, yeah, have fun watching an incomplete story. If Redo of Healer wasn’t the worst anime overall, then Ex Arm would be the worst anime of the 2021 season. At the very least, Ex Arm is a perfect candidate for bad movie nights, and that’s all it does right. 

Scar on the Praeter (Funimation)

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Content Warning: some suggestions of incest.

Our first original anime of the season is directed by Shingo Suzuki and produced by GoHands. We have yet another anime that is filled to the brim with pretty boys looking edgy and cool, and maybe a touch too much in world jargon mumbo jumbo to make you feel invested. Anytime I have tried to talk to someone about this show, I don’t remember anything outside of the gaudy 3D visuals, and while the main characters look better than in Handshakers (a previous anime from the studio), they are still overly designed and they almost blend into one another. The action is disjointed and janky with fights that feel very unsatisfying. It’s a show that easily goes through one ear and out the other, and that alone is shockingly bad. I don’t know who at GoHands keeps getting funding for these original projects, but just because you are an original anime, doesn’t mean you get off with a free pass because it’s rare to find original anime not based on something. It also has a light homosexual subtext, which is fine, until the first episode introduces the main character’s younger adopted brother who may or may not want to make love to him. Seems like you can’t get a GoHands anime without some creepy incest or sexual context. If it was more memorable, I would probably put it in the mediocre category, but since it just feels like a nothing show with a confusing world, weak animation, disappointing fight sequences, and entirely forgettable characters, it’s in the worst spot. 

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation (Funimation) 

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Content Warning: Creepy perverted actions, mentions of rape, softcore porn, voyeurism, masturbation, and suggestions that the lead does watch illegal porn. 

This anime from the newly formed studio, Studio Bind, is based on the light novels by Rifujin Na Magonote. It was then adapted into a manga by the same individual. This anime adaptation is directed and written by Manabu Okamoto, with gorgeous music by Yoshiaki Fujisawa, and character designer Kazutaka Sugiyama. It’s honestly one of the most beautiful anime on the list. it’s in the top five. It looks incredible from the designs, the colors, the fluid animation, the consistent character models, and it’s a visually stunning overall package in the presentation department. This sucks for one reason, and one reason only, because the main character is intolerable and unlikable. I have heard that there is a long-term play with the lead’s arc, but when the story is about a 30-something loser who gets kicked out from his home after running out of money, dies when he’s struck by a truck, and is reincarnated with all of his memories into the mind of a kid, it’s a really insufferable and sometimes extremely uncomfortable part to sit through. The lead does get better and does learn to change his perverse ways, but when the anime dabbles a little too much into it, it’s a tall order to tell people that it gets good later on. So far, it is getting better, but that still doesn’t excuse the fact that this anime put everything into making a stupidly stunning show, but then have a wildly problematic lead character whose whole redemption arc is going to be a slow crawl to being a better and somewhat less perverted individual. Luckily, it does seem like it is going to get better, but I won’t blame anyone for wanting to drop out after that first and second episode. Even with every great emotional moment, every bit of gorgeous animation, and every great song, a crummy lead (with some very problematic issues that people online are too easily ready to wave aside, which, you know, don’t do that) can still drag your series down. It doesn’t help that the 4th episode revealed the dad to have had an affair, and back in his training days, assaulted someone. So, yeah, for once so far, Rudy was not the biggest scumbucket in the show for one episode. Still, I’m hoping for the best, because this is still a decently impressive first anime from a brand new studio. 

The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter (Crunchyroll, VRV)

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Content Warning: sexual sequences

Based on the novels, light novels, and manga by Meguru Seto, this anime adaptation is directed by Kenta Onishi, written by Kenta Ihara, and produced by Okuruto Noboru. This power-fantasy harem comedy is in the worst category for multiple reasons. Its RPG elements are reliant on the main character getting pleasurable satisfaction from the women he interacts with. The fantasy world itself looks like a more mediocre Konosuba, and the animation is just okay, which is a problem if you want some softcore fanservice. The side characters are constantly unlikable, and for a fanservice show, it doesn’t go far enough to be fully titillating. It kind of knows what type of show it is so it’s not trying to be deeper than it is, but by the 3rd episode, I’m already seeing way more “likable” characters than our male lead, and this entire time, I was just thinking about how I would rather be watching Konosuba or Princess Connect: Redive. It has some funny jokes, but they are too few and far between in this somewhat mean-spirited world where being a noble has its own hierarchy system, and that just doesn’t make sense to me. They also try to add in some drama, and it simply doesn’t work. I’m too distracted by how horny this entire show is, and you want to introduce drama? No thanks! The stakes feel artificial due to the lead’s over-powered abilities that they just don’t rely on 24-7 because, well, they don’t give a good reason. Oh, and it does yet another sibling character wanting to have lewd fun with the lead when they are brother and sister. I’m getting so tired of anime and their flipping incest fetishes. Stop doing this! Oh, and it also has weak RPG game elements despite it not being an isekai. Boring! 

Mediocre

Gekidol (Funimation)

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This is an original anime from director Shigeru Ueda, written by Keiichiro Ochi, and produced by Hoods Entertainment. It’s another idol anime (big shock), but since it’s coming out during a season with more than just one anime being about idols, it’s going to be tough to stand out, and even tougher to be good. Well, sadly, I didn’t like Gekidol. It has such a weird dark turn with the base of the plot, and then it turns into every yuri trash anime that you can think of with the same batch of characters, dialogue, and weak fanservice. The dark setting doesn’t get brought up a whole lot, since you know, everyone forgets when a huge chunk of your city is just, you know, gone. It’s starting to pick up with it focusing on some of the other characters, but it’s a little too late for that, and to just not 100% explain where the cyborg girl came from, and how losing a huge chunk of your city didn’t do more damage to everything else makes for a mediocre experience. It’s a show that’s aimed in too many directions, and outside of some decent animation, there isn’t much else that stands out about this show. 

I★Chu: Halfway Through the Idol (Crunchyroll or CR through VRV)

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Hey, look, another idol anime. It’s time to buckle up because there are a few of them this season. This anime is based on the rhythm game by Liber Entertainment Inc. It’s directed by Hitoshi Nanba, written by Yoshimi Narita, and produced by Lay-Duce and Twin Engine. What do you get when you have 15+ lead characters? Too many! It was sometimes hard to remember their names, their designs, their quirks, and outside of some of them having some kind of hobby, they are cardboard cutout stereotypical male anime leads. It becomes such a problem that some of them seem to bleed into other characters, and end up sharing the same personality traits. It’s all too much for an anime that’s also really boring to watch. Outside of the principal of the school in which they are all enrolled wearing a giant bear costume and riding around on a segway, and a third episode introduction to a cross-dressing idol, this show doesn’t offer much that other idol shows aren’t offering in spades. It’s even too harmless to be offensive or have something wildly problematic about it. In some way, that’s the charm of this series. It’s too harmless to be bad or enraging. It’s at best and at worst, forgettable. Maybe you will get more out of it than me, but you can only throw so many pretty boys my way and expect me to be invested. 

Hortensia Saga (Funimation)

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Based on the smartphone game by Sega, directed by Yasuto Nishikata, written by Rintarou Ikeda, and produced by JC Staff, this new fantasy anime sure doesn’t do a lot to make itself stand out. It was also bad timing for the first episode of this show to air during the US capitol being raided by terrorists because the anime starts with an evil red-colored army storming a blue-colored castle with a mission to kill all of the royalty in there. Anyway, I’ll say that I least like this anime more than that awful King’s Raid anime from last year. Hortensia, at the very least, looks better and while looking clunky at points, has better action. It looks cleaner, the music is better, but outside of that, there isn’t much else there. It has some decent characters, and the third episode introduces the most likable one of the bunch so far. All this anime does is makes me want to go and play Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Because when I can get that kind of experience from a video game, why would I invest my time and energy into this anime that is failing to grab me? Anyway, Hortensia Saga is just more forgettable fantasy anime fluff with slightly average animation and a generic plot and world. 

Average

Vlad Love (YouTube)

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Content Warning: blood, sexual suggestiveness.

An original anime that’s written and directed by anime legend Mamoru Oshii? That should be incredible. It’s also co-directed by Junji Nishimura and produced by Drive. At first, I was finding it hard to gel with the premise, being a bit too chaotic with its jokes. It slings jokes at you with such intensity that it becomes too much. It’s a yuri romantic comedy about a high school girl who has a fetish for donating blood, who gets involved with a vampire. It’s a bit much due to how high octane it is. It makes more sense when you realize that Oshii worked on the anime classic Urusei Yatsura and Patlabor, but it doesn’t have the cohesive world and characters. It’s also just trashy with its fanservice. However, it has chaotic energy that not many shows have, and its visual style, while using a few too many comic-book-style split screens, at least has a style to call its own. The rest of the series will debut on YouTube this month, so we will have to see what happens with everything past episode 1. 

Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki (Funimation)

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Based on the light novel and manga by Yuki Yaku, directed by Shinsuke Yanagi, written by Fumihiko Shimo, and produced by Project No.9, this is a self-help harem comedy. Most of the time so far has been spent making sure our main male hero is improving upon his social skills and how he is seen on the inside and outside, and I respect what the anime is going for with how they are approaching the subject matter. Granted, some of it feels very superficial and Queer Eye-ish, but I guess sometimes, you need to be pushed into the deep end to hit the ground running. I think my only real issue is that the gaming lingo is awkward as it never sounds natural. It sounds better than the male lead in the first episode when we get to episode 3, but still. I’m also worried about how the other girls in this show are going to react to the lead, Tomozaki, and at least from the three episodes I watched, they are all going to be different and want to be friends or more with him for different reasons. I don’t know, I just don’t feel strongly about this title when the much better Horimiya is doing everything better and it looks better as well. I’m cautiously curious as to where Bottom Tier Character is going, but who knows if I will want to stick through with the entire 12 episodes. 

Idoly Pride (Funimation) 

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Content Warning: Death

This anime is based on a multimedia Idol project by CyberAgent, which has a manga written by Hiroki Haruse. The anime is directed by Yu Kinome, written by Tatsuya Takahashi, Yasuhiro Nakanishi, and produced by Lerche and CAAnimation. Well, even though I wouldn’t say I like any of the Idol anime this season, at least Idoly Pride had an interesting hook to it. Sadly, I wish I could say that the Idol stuff was just as good as the base hook. On one hand, I love the tragic romance aspect of our lead character, who was goaded into being the love interest’s producer while she became an Idol. It has a real tragic twist, but an interesting supernatural element, as she comes back as a ghost to make sure her producer does well at his job. There is a lot of gold that could be mined from this premise, and there are story elements that could work very well to make this a great story. Too bad that’s not the focus. It’s about our male lead putting together another Idol group and having them be big hits. That means we are instead going to focus on 10 girls who so far have really basic personality traits, and their designs are just different enough that you can tell them apart. The Idol stuff is fine, but I just hate how it’s having to hustle to be the main focus when there is a much better tragic romance/drama on the show’s lap. I guess that’s what happens when you are just another Idol project. Still, some interesting elements are being put into the formula, like the younger sister of the now-deceased female lead is a part of this new group, and so on. Still, I can’t say if I’m committed enough to sit through the Idol beats just to get to the small more interesting drama beats. I still prefer it to the other Idol new animes this season.

Good

Skate Leading Stars (Funimation) 

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Directed by Goro Taniguchi, produced by J.C. Staff, written by Noboru Kimura, and based on the manga by Chiaki Nagaoka, this anime came into the winter season with a hurdle to skate over due to it being constantly compared to the one other famous ice-skating anime. So, on its own merits, I do think Skate Leading Stars does stand on its own feet. It’s more interested in competitive skating and team coordination among its multitude of attractive anime boys. It is one of those anime that introduces maybe too many characters, as this anime is supposedly going to have 15+ main characters, and while they are different enough, are still too many to focus on so far for a satisfying story. I’ll say this, they are at least different enough and so far, don’t share personality traits like I★Chu: Halfway Through the Idol. Otherwise, it’s a solid sports anime with some decent animation and likable characters. 

So I’m a Spider, So What? (Crunchyroll, VRV) 

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Based on the light novels and novels by Okina Baba, also based on the manga written by Gratin Tori, this anime adaptation is directed by Shin Itagaki, written by Okina Baba and Yuichiro Momose, and is produced by Millepensee. Out of all of the fantasy/isekai anime of the season, So I’m a Spider had the most creative premise as a lonely gamer girl, along with her classmates being swept up into another world. The catch is, our main character reincarnated into a spider, whereas her classmates had better luck as humans and so on. I was excited to see an isekai fantasy anime that was from the perspective of the animal world. It’s not like the anime doesn’t tease that aspect, since half of the episodes so far are about our spider hero making her way through surviving this harsh world as a monster you usually see in the first dungeon of a video game. While its CGI is noticeable, the models used for our spider hero is very expressive, and once you realize that this was the same studio and director behind that notoriously awful Berserk adaptation from a few years ago, then that’s impressive to see how much better this show is overall in visuals and storytelling. However, my biggest complaint is that it’s taking a bit too long to set everything up. I keep preferring the spider side of the story compared to the more generic humans side, but the show sometimes seems to lean more on progressing the humans more than our spider hero. It’s frustrating because the show also adds in generic RPG stat elements, and I just don’t care about that stuff. I don’t get why fantasy anime can’t just be fantasy anime without the RPG elements. Sometimes they are used well, but rarely have I seen an anime use them well. They keep teasing these other spider characters, and yet we still haven’t seen them, and honestly, this show might be the one I have the shortest patience with in terms of the shows I like this season. I love the premise so much, but it keeps struggling with who to focus on, and I just want to see the spider’s shenanigans. It also doesn’t help that the main lead is loud with her constant self-narration. Still, I’m wanting to see where the story goes and the action is great. I just can see this one easily sliding into my most disappointing anime of 2021 if it’s not careful. 

Dr. Ramune: Mysterious Disease Specialist (Crunchyroll, VRV)

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Content Warning: some episodes may have suggestively lewd visuals

Based on the manga written by Aho Toro, this anime adaptation is directed by Hideaki Oba, written by Ayumu Hisao, and produced by Platinum Vision. I know this isn’t anyone’s favorite due to the chunky art style and clashing tones for a horror/comedy anime, but I find myself enjoying this mix of comedy and horror. What gets me is how the weird diseases the characters are encountering are mixed with some form of social commentary. The stories are so far creative and fun to watch. By episode 3 they have introduced some other members of the main cast, and while one of the characters has a trope I hate seeing in anime, I do love the other new male lead they introduce. It’s an anime that’s easy to get into, and it’s creative enough for me to probably commit through the entire season. 

2.43 Highschool Boys Volleyball (Funimation)

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Content Warning: Suggestions/mentions of suicide

Based on the light novel by Yukako Kabei, the manga by Aiji Yamakawa, this sports drama is directed by Yasuhiro Kimura, written by Yosuke Kuroda, and produced by David Production. While you may wonder if you are getting a similar experience as the smash hit Haikyuu, well, you are not. This is a more grounded male-centric sports drama about our two leads Yuni Kuroba and Kimichika Haijima. It’s full of gay tension between them as well. The show is more about the drive to play, and the philosophy behind the sport in general. It’s also really melodramatic and it’s a bit of a rough sit for the first episode due to how unlikable Haijima is. That’s not even counting the dramatic baggage that Haijima has with him when the show begins. It’s gotten better now by the third episode, but your mileage may vary with how you will invest your time with this show’s story. Still, it’s a good sports drama, and if you need an alternative Haikyuu, then go watch this show! Oh, and the opening song is a real banger!

The Best

Otherside Picnic (Funimation)

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Based on the novel and manga by Iori Miyazawa, directed by Takuya Sato, and produced by Liden Films and Felix Film, this anime is also based on  Roadside Picnic, an eerie female-driven horror drama anime that has our two leads Sorao and Toriko exploring a place known as the Otherside, where dilapidated buildings are conquered by nature, and creatures from supernatural tales reside. It’s a show that captures a real intimacy and offbeat friendship between the two women with some pretty nice-looking animation, quiet humorous moments, and an unsettling atmosphere once they cross over to this new world. Some of its use of CGI is clunky, but it looks better than Ex-Arm by continents. It’s not just a supernatural anime either, as the first three episodes dive into the mindset of both of the leads and the characters with whom they interact. I was a little confused about a few things in the first episode, but I’m having a fantastic time going through this journey with our heroes. Oh, and if you want a horror anime this season, this is the one to watch. Just don’t watch it late at night as I did. 

Back Arrow (Funimation)

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We have ourselves an original giant mech anime this season, which I am super happy about! It’s directed by Goro Taniguchi, written by Kazuki Nakashima, and is produced by Studio VOLN. It stands out from other giant mech shows with the evil imperialist empire having a more Chinese-dynasty look, whereas other villages and towns so far in this show have used more wild west fashion choices. I can’t tell if this will be any more substantial than just being a fun giant mech anime, but I’m fine with that, honestly. We don’t need every giant robot anime to be so melodramatic and bogged down by philosophical arguments. Sometimes, you just want to see giant robots and feel like a kid watching Toonami again. I do like the overall cast, except for the main side characters so far. Something about how they are constantly willing to ditch the main hero on a dime makes them a bit hard to grasp as to whether I should hate them or like them. Still, I enjoy this show so far. I might not have it in my top 10 by the end of 2021, but I think it’s one of the better shows of Winter 2021. 

Wonder Egg Priority (Funimation) 

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Content Warning: symbolic and suggestive suicide

This is an original anime produced by CloverWorks, directed by Shin Wakabayashi, and written by Shinji Nojima. With a season of anime that has had shows like Redo of Healer, which tries to be dark and mature, but falls flat, Wonder Egg Priority handles its subject matter with creativity and respect. With a constant theme of losing someone to suicide, it needs to be handled well, and this show is handling it with a very careful hand. It’s a drama with characters who are trying to bring someone close to them back to life, but who knows if that will happen or exactly what the outcome is. It’s balanced out with some incredible action, vibrant monster designs, and some of the best animation of the season. By episode 3, the action starts to kick in, and it reminds me of something Studio Trigger or Science Saru would make. The designs of the “bosses” in the dreamworlds in which the action takes place are always exciting to see with how symbolic/Silent Hill-ish they can be. You also feel for the characters as the main three girls we have seen so far are all interesting and work well off of one another. I want this to stick the landing because we don’t often get original anime that are not based on pre-existing properties. You can also go through this anime with a comb and pick apart its symbolic elements that are worth looking into more. It’s easily one of my favorite shows of the season. 

Suppose a Kid From the Last Dungeon Boonies Moves to a Starter Town? (Funimation) 

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Content Warning: some suggestive elements from time to time.

Long title aside, this anime based on the light novel and manga by Toshio Sato, is directed by Migmi and produced by Liden Films. It’s a fantasy (not isekai) comedy that gives us a humorous main hero, who would be like if Saitama from One Punch Man didn’t know how stupidly strong he was. You see, the lead in this anime thinks he’s weak even though the village he is from is next to the final dungeon. So while he is considered weak while moving to a small kingdom to train and become a knight, everyone else is horrified of his powers and how humble and unaware he is of his strength. This alone has brought me three-plus episodes of laughter and fantastic character dynamics with some of the best comedy this anime season. The characters are all enjoyable, and the story by the end of the first episode kicks into gear and while it might not be a super unique fantasy tale, the premise and characters alone make up for it. You don’t have to be 100% unique. Sometimes, you just need to be executed well. 

Kemono Jihen (Funimation)

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Based on the manga by Sho Aimoto, this anime adaptation is directed by Masaya Fujimori, written by Noboru Kimura, and is produced by Ajia-do Animation Works. While I do think Dr. Ramune is a gem among the great anime of the season, Kemono Jihen is that gem polished to perfection. What a delightful horror/action/mystery anime with some rather engaging twists and turns. It might look like a typical shonen battle anime, but it has a lot more substance than most shows in these genres. Yes, it has young kids with powers, but with how the story has tackled them so far, it’s more mystery and horror than pure action. The encounters with the supernatural creatures so far also have some cool subtext and commentary about them. The opening song is just a fantastic banger. It’s an overall strong show with a strong cast, and I highly recommend it. 

Horimiya (Funimation) 

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Based on the manga by Hero, this anime is directed by Masashi Ishihama, written by Takao Yoshioka, with music composed by Masaru Yokoyama, and is produced by CloverWorks. This teen drama is probably my personal favorite anime of the season. I love every anime in this category, but Horimiya hit me hard with its themes about how we present ourselves when we are by ourselves and when we are in front of people. It’s a clever premise on how we sometimes wear masks to hide from everyone else. It’s an anime that understands having to deal with emotions, relationships, and other individuals in high school, and I find the romance between our two leads adorable and fleshed out. It’s an extremely healthy relationship as well. What’s even better than this show’s amazing visuals, baller opening, and incredible writing, it shows how mature it all feels. While it might be about teens, this show treats them like adults. It’s also heartwarming, funny, and it’s easily going to be in my top five anime of the year so far. I just hope we don’t get another Sing Yesterday For Me

Sk8 the Infinity (Funimation)

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This original anime is directed by Hiroko Utsumi, written by Ichiro Okouchi, and is produced by Studio Bones. There are a ton of reasons why this show is climbing up the charts as one of the best from this season. For one, you have the director of the beloved Free! and Banana Fish adaptations with Hiroko Utsumi. Second, you have an anime that is 100% stylized and one of a kind in a sea of anime that’s released this season. Third, it’s a sports anime with endearing characters, each having distinct and identifiable personalities, and you then give it to Bones to animate. Seriously, this is easily one of the best looking shows of the season. Not only that, but the skating sequences are a lot of fun to watch, the characters are interesting, and it has the right balance of both action and story-telling to make it all work. I am so happy that we are seeing some original anime knock it out of the park this season.

Heaven’s Design Team (Crunchyroll or CR through VRV)

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Based on the manga by Hebi-Zou and Tsuta Suzuki, this anime adaptation is directed by Soichi Masui, written by Michiko Yokote, and produced by Asashi Production, this is the Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle of the season. Not only is it educational with little moments where they talk about the real-life animals that they create, but the entire show is also all about them making said animals and the process of getting the tasks from God as to what to make. I love how the premise is that God got too busy making the earth and outsourced it to a freelance team of angels to handle the creation of animals. It’s constantly funny, creative, and there is a lot of heart and great chemistry between the individuals who are a part of this team. It helps that there are about three or so segments each episode, and due to the different challenges thrown at them so far, the show hasn’t gotten boring. It’s the right kind of show to watch when you need a good laugh, and it’s pretty much the best comedy anime of the new anime of this season. 

With that, we are my impressions of the new anime of the Winter 2021 season! 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Worst to Best Animated Films of 2019 Finale

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Finally, we are here to talk about the top 10 animated films of 2019! These are the films that I will recommend out of the year. I will rewatch them the most, and I hope people can see them. If you have yet to see part 1, part 2, or part 3, then I recommend checking out those parts before getting to this one. Now then, it’s time to finally count down my Top 10 Best Animated Films of 2019!

10. Children of the Sea

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The third act may be a bit too busy, and I can tell why some would not gel with Children of the Sea, but it’s such a euphoric experience that it was hard to find a film quite like it last year. Its mind-blowing 2D animation, the unique designs and art style, the gorgeous music of Joe Hisaishi, the complex themes of the mysteries of the universe and our connection with it, all leads to one of the most outstanding experiences you can think of for an animated film. 

9. Missing Link

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Due to this film’s failure, we may never see another stop-motion film in theaters, because the audience would rather see Avengers Endgame for the 60th time instead of a film that was original, unique, and refreshing in the scene of comedy adventures. I might like Kubo and Coraline more, but Missing Link still had plenty of charm, wit, clever jokes, and fantastic animation to make it worthy of that Golden Globes win. 

8. Marona’s Fantastic Tale

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I was super fortunate to see this film last year at Animation is Film, and it earned one of that festival’s highest awards, and for good reason. It’s a somber yet beautiful tale of a dog remembering her life with the humans she lived with. Its use of mixed media animation gives the film such a unique identity. It’s a beautiful film and it’s currently doing a virtual theater experience. You should all check it out. 

7. White Snake

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China might have had a prolific if troubled animation history, but if you want to show the world what you can do as a country in animation, then White Snake is going to be the best gateway drug into the world of Chinese animation. It’s an action-packed operatic epic about destiny and love. I loved this film, plus, if you look at the extras on the blu-ray, you can see me in the Animation is Film Q&A. Still, even with some minor issues with pacing and tone, White Snake is a unique experience that everyone should see. 

6. Promare

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Studio Trigger has become one of the most acclaimed anime studios of the last decade with popular series like Kill la Kill, Gridman, and the upcoming Brand New Animal. However, we are here to talk about their first feature film. While it is easy to call this their tech demo, Promare is more than flashy visuals. With likable characters, subtle yet complex themes about discrimination, it’s all wrapped up in some of 2019’s most vibrant visuals. It’s a film that knows what it wants to be, and everyone should own it! 

5. Weathering With You 

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I know some people have had issues with me not loving Makoto Shinkai’s work as much as I should for some reason, but it should mean something that I say that this is my favorite Makoto Shinkai film. It has the best visuals, the best story, and the best romance. Listen, I liked Your Name, but a lot of Shinkai films seem to have an issue with stories that have an actual connection. I loved the romance and chemistry with the leads, and I love the bond the characters share. It might have a rather shocking ending, but I can’t get enough of Shinkai’s newest film, and you all need to check it out. 

4. Klaus

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While Netflix can be criticized for many things in terms of how they handle movies and shows, you have to give them proper and actual credit when they are willing to invest in films like Klaus. Think about it for a moment. This 2D animated film about the origins of Santa Claus has a higher rating critically than any other big Hollywood animated film, and beat out Disney at the Annies. Which is even funnier when you consider that the director was an ex-Disney animator. Outside of all of that, the film is still a super touching and complex film about kindness wrapped up with wrapping paper made of some of the best 2D visuals you have ever seen. Even if it’s limited to only being watched at Christmas, I can still find myself watching this film any day of the year. 

3. The Swallows of Kabul

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As we wait for the inevitable GKids US release of this film, I still have to be one of the few people who have seen it and will shower it with praises. This somber story of living through a tyrannical reign of power focuses on characters going through what they believe and trying to find a way out of the chaos. The downright amazing watercolor animation is elevated by some of the best vocal performances of the year. You feel the struggle and conflicting thoughts that the characters have and go through. It’s a rough sit at points, but it’s one that’s worth watching. 

2. Bunuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles 

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I’m still shocked that this film went under the radar for many because this should have gotten more eyes in the film fandom. It’s an animated film biopic about the famed surrealist filmmaker going through making the documentary that will save his career, while coming to terms with his relationship with his father. Bunuel is a poetic and powerful experience that tells a very human story of finding one’s self and what the bigger picture is. Seriously, this is one of my favorite films of recent years, and it’s a better biopic than most of the schlock that award season pumps out. 

1. Funan 

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Big shock, another year where a GKids-distributed animated film tops the list. It’s like they bring over the best animated films or something. Snark aside, Funan is the best animated film of 2019, as it brought over the most emotionally powerful film about a family caught in a rough situation dealing with the Khmer Rouge of 1975. It’s a film that checks all of the boxes for me, and should have been a major awards contender. It’s a story about love, family, and survival. It’s a film that pulled me in and never let go. It’s why I think it’s 2019’s Best animated movie. 

Worst to Best Animated Films of 2019 Part 3

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Welcome back! Now, it’s time to get into the films that I enjoyed! This is the long part as we count down from 27 to 11! If you have yet to see the first two parts, make sure to use the tags in this editorial to get to Part 1 and Part 2. Now then, let’s keep counting down!

27. Son of the White Mare

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While this is a film from a few decades ago, it was never fully or officially released in the states until last year and will be coming out on Blu-ray this year. That’s a bloody shame, because this movie is awesome. The visuals are striking; the storytelling is straight-forward, but really, you watch this movie to see the amazing visual experience that it offers. Otherwise, it’s a simple fairy-tale-style story that relies way more on its abstract visuals to comment on certain topics. However, sometimes, you want to sit back and take in a film that offers outstanding visuals and enjoy the ride! I can’t wait until more people see Son of the White Mare.

26. This Magnificent Cake

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I honestly contemplated whether I would include this film on the list. Not because it doesn’t count as one, but I just find it odd that a 45-minute or as it’s called, a mid-length feature, is a film. Still, outside of that personal opinion, this is a very poignant and very dark piece about colonialism in the Congo. It obviously could have used a longer running time for everything to be a bit more impactful, and the ending fizzles out into abstract weirdness that is symbolic and meaningful, but it’s still one of the most unique experiences you can find in animation. I can understand why Barry Jenkins loved this film.

25. Abominable 

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It’s always a gamble nowadays on whether a DreamWorks release will be good or not, and that’s a shame because when they release something like Abominable, it shows why people still support them. Sure, it might not have the strongest characters or the beefiest story, but Jill Culton and her team were able to still bring a solid story with some gorgeous visuals to life with a way more interesting villain and tone that you don’t see a whole lot from the studio. I still have my issues with this studio, but Abominable shows that they still have a better sense of talent and storytelling than most animation studios.

24. Teen Titans Go! vs Teen Titans

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While I’m not a huge hater on the current iteration of the teen superhero team, I’m starting to get a little tired of it all now. It’s still a delightfully funny experience, the action is decent, and they were able to make the chemistry between the two different versions of the characters work. It’s always funny to see the same voice actor play two different versions of the same character. This iteration of the franchise might be losing its steam now, but if you enjoyed 2018’s Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, then you will find a lot to enjoy in this one.

23. Aya of Yop City 

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Produced by the director of 2013’s The Rabbi’s Cat, and directed by the creator of the comic series it’s based on, Aya of Yop City is easily one of the hidden gems of foreign animation. Not only is it one of the few animated films I have encountered that star an all African cast of characters, but isn’t about any of the major turmoils that are set in that country in a manipulative way. It’s more of a slice-of-life story, as Aya and her family and friends go through the challenges of relationships, love, jobs, and life. It can be surprisingly funny, endearing, and has a great visual look. It’s a shame that it wasn’t released until this year. Sadly, the story flounders in the end, and Aya herself is not the most interesting character, but people should still really check out this film. Just be ready to experience a film that doesn’t have a traditional story.

22. Wonder Woman: Bloodlines

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It’s rather sad that we finally got a second animated feature after 10 years, but the wait was worth it. The drama between Wonder Woman and one of the villains was compelling, the action was stellar, and it was nice to see a superhero film with a mostly female-lead cast. It’s also a bummer that there are a few moments where you can tell a guy directed the film, and the final act falls into generic action fare, but for a direct-to-video DC animated film, I enjoyed this one!

21. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

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It might be the weakest of the three DreamWorks Dragon films, and it 100% shows that DreamWorks doesn’t know how to handle its side characters, but it’s still a pretty stellar finale with downright stupidly good-looking animation, fantastic scenes with Hiccup and Toothless, and it shows how to somewhat properly cap off an incredible franchise.

20. I Lost My Body

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This shouldn’t be a big shock. Yes, I was not as huge of a fan as everyone else in the world with this multi-festival winning film. I didn’t think the film balanced out both stories well, I found the humans to be the biggest issue with the film, and I felt like other films should have been nominated. With all that said, this is easily one of 2019’s most unique films. It’s ethereal and mesmerizing watching the sequences with the hand and how the story unfolds. It also has a unique visual style that no other film in 2019 can copy. While I do not have the same love and support of it, I still found the experience to be enthralling from beginning to end.

19. Batman versus TMNT

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It seems like that my love for the DC animated films that go direct-to-video always leans to the non-Action 52-style storyline going on right now. I adored the art direction, the action was thrilling, and due to the two properties getting combined into one movie, the story goes bonkers with some sequences. It’s 2019’s Batman Ninja, and I am all here for it.

18. Frozen II

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The first film was lightning in a bottle, and Frozen II was going to have to go through some hurdles to overcome the giant challenge of trying to be as good or better than the first film. To a degree, I do like Frozen II better. I like the songs better, I like the tone, I like the commentary, and the film still does show why Anna and Elsa are great. It’s also a film that feels like the last act got changed due to probably being too dark. I don’t know if I’ll ever know what exactly happened with the third act that rubbed me and others the wrong way, and how Sven got the short end of the stick in terms of plots, but despite the rough spots, I still enjoyed my time with Frozen II.

17. Spies in Disguise

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It’s rather refreshing to sit here and type out the fact that I absolutely loved a Blue Sky Studios film. Seriously, outside of The Peanuts Movie and to an extent Robots and FerdinandSpies in Disguise feels like Blue Sky’s most cohesive film. The animation, the lighting, the designs, the characters, and the themes it tackles with how it handles aggressive and defensive tactics in spy work is rather ambitious for a film from a studio that has a mixed reputation. It doesn’t do it perfectly, and certain casting choices are distracting/bad, but overall, I would absolutely watch Spies in Disguise again in the future.

16. Mai Mai Miracle

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Don’t worry, this is the last of the “we didn’t get this movie until now” films on the list. Honestly, it is shocking that it took until 2019 to get one of the more charming animated features from Japan. It’s very much a film in the same vein as My Neighbor Totoro or the director’s recent work, In This Corner of the World. The story is about two girls from different financial classes enjoying and exploring the countryside post-World-War II. It has the same kind of problem as with the other films listed, where it seems like they had to have some kind of conflict, but if you love films like My Neighbor Totoro, you will love Mai Mai Miracle.

15. Okko’s Inn

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Technically, I saw this film two years ago at Animation is Film, and I still stand by my opinion that it is easily one of 2019’s hidden gems to check out. It’s a delightfully low-key coming-of-age drama that despite having a more simplistic art style, was able to really invest you into Okko’s trials of losing her parents. It also has some set pieces that are a wonder to the eye to see unfold with the power of animation.

14. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas

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I perfectly get why people would absolutely be on the fence with this one. It’s another one of those teen dramas that has one of the teens with a deadly disease and, yeah, sometimes it milks it a bit too much, and the film is a touch too long, and the designs aren’t all that memorable. However, In terms of these types of films, it’s easily one of the best versions of it. The animation is great, the characters have actual chemistry, and I was able to be fully sucked into the drama and romance. Your reception to this film will vary, but one thing we can all agree on is that this film costs way too much to purchase, Aniplex! Lower the blu-ray’s price!

13. Penguin Highway

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For a first time directing gig, Penguin Highway is a smart and creative coming-of-age story about a boy going through puberty and wondering about the world around him. Granted, I don’t know if your journey through growing up included a random infestation of penguins, but still. It overstays its welcome a tiny bit, and I can understand people having an issue with the boy’s fixation on an older woman character, but other than that, I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to check out Studio Colorido’s future projects.

12. The LEGO Movie 2

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It’s truly a shame WB decided to burn through too much of the LEGO IP and it’s understandable as to why this film underperformed. I think it deserved to do better because it’s still a fantastic film with a great theme of boy vs girl mentalities, toxic masculinity, and identity. It’s still lighting quick with its wit, highly enjoyable comedy, and the characters are still strong, and I would argue are better than the first film. It might not have that lightning in a bottle hype the first film got, but overall, this film deserved to have done better.

11. Toy Story 4

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While I disagree with its Oscar win for Best Animated Feature due to it being the safest bet of the films nominated, and it runs into the DreamWorks situation of not being able to do anything with its side characters that aren’t the new ones, Toy Story 4 is still a stellar film in probably the most consistently high-quality franchise in animation. It might be an epilogue for Woody’s story, and Buzz gets short-changed, but the story is still strong, the characters are likable, the jokes are funny, and it still has a lot of that Pixar love that people adore about the studio.

Thanks for reading the editorial/list! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Worst to Best Animated Films of 2019 Part 2

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Here we are with Part 2 of the Worst to Best Animated Films of 2019! We shall now dip our toes into the films that were, simply put, okay, and some that are pretty solid! Nothing wrong with that. If you have yet to see part 1, then I recommend doing so. Now then, let’s get started!

39. Reign of the Supermen

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While I like the second part of the infamous Superman story arc, I still find it overall just okay. Sure, it might have better character dynamics, better jokes, and some solid action, but it’s still having to follow up a story that already had to pretzel itself into fitting the storyline, and it’s one of the last stories in the current DC animated film universe. Hopefully, they can end on a high note.

38. Batman Hush

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Yet again, we have another DC adaptation of a famous comic book that decided to change things up for some reason. I love the chemistry between Batman and Catwoman, and before the reveal, I loved Hush as a villain. Even characters I don’t have the patience for, like Damian, get a good line. Sadly, the twist does undo a lot of the mystery, and I get that they wanted to probably change it, since fans already know, but still. Don’t change too much, DC and WB, or else you might end up ruining the entire point of the story.

37. The Lion King (2019)

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On one hand, yes, this is quite possibly the worst animated film of the year. It was a pointless retelling of an already good film. The photo-realistic CGI is impressive, but it takes away the emotion of it all, and the fact that no one talks about it anymore, but is yet a billion-dollar maker is frustrating, when people could have gone and seen other movies. Films like this shouldn’t be rewarded. On the other hand, I find the tech highly impressive, the cast is great, and I get why people went to see it. I still prefer the original, and if I could, I would combine elements from both the remake and the original into an ultimate version, but alas, we have yet another remake that shows that the Disney remakes aren’t dying anytime soon.

36. Zombillenium

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Out of all of the animated films from overseas that I was interested to see, Zombillenium was the biggest disappointment for me. It has such a fun setting and a cool art style, but the dialogue is weak and the film can’t commit to either being a family film or focused on the commentary of the workforce. It has its moments, and I love some of the darker jokes, but I can understand why this film went under the radar and got overshadowed by other films.

35. Justice League vs. The Fatal Five

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For once, I can talk about a newer Bruce Timm DC animation product and not be on the back of my heels for it. Sure, it falls apart near the third act, and Miss Martian felt tacked on, but the main story and how it handled talking about traumatic events and characters was combined with some of the better action sequences of the DC animated films. I’m rooting to see them return to the so-called Justice League universe in future animated films.

34. The Addam’s Family 

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Out of all of the big theatrical animated features, this one was the most disappointing. It felt like they didn’t want to go far with the dark humor, the story was lopsided in giving characters satisfying arcs, and the animation was cheap-looking. It has a lot of fanservice for fans of the franchise, the casting was great, and when the dark comedy was able to breathe, it was really funny. Hopefully, they can make a sequel that’s better looking, and better told the next time we see this kooky spooky family.

33. Pachamama

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Probably the most family-friendly film of the list, Pachamama was a simple, but charming film that I had the opportunity to see before it hit Netflix, and it’s such a treat. Not only does it take place in, and is a bit more faithful to the culture it’s based on, it also has a unique visual style that it can call its own. It’s more family-friendly, and it’s a fairly simple film, but nothing wrong with well-executed simplicity.

32. The Angry Birds Movie 2 

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Talk about one of the biggest surprises of 2019. Yes, the story isn’t the strongest, and yes, when the jokes don’t land, they fall hard, but who would have thought this was going to be one of the best comedies of last year? On top of the solid animation, the jokes go out there, and are in such an abundance of different flavors of comedy. I give the team that made this film so much credit for going out there, and making this one of the best video game animated films out there.

31. Genius Party/Genius Party Beyond

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This is a wild bunch of shorts that we finally got legally, and it is one of the purest forms of what animation can do, in terms of visuals and storytelling. Some of them don’t work, and the ones that don’t work absolutely don’t work, but when they do, they are some of the most creative visuals you will see out of Japan. I hope they don’t stop doing these anthology shorts, so they can keep bringing in or showing off talented individuals in the animation industry.

30. The Case of Hana and Alice 

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While it is a prequel to a live-action film, the mix of roto-scope and CGI animation doesn’t fully work, and it can be a touch slow, I found myself enjoying the story of these two friends. It takes its time with the actual story that connects the events, but the chemistry of the two female leads sells you on their friendship. It might not be one of the best films out there, but I found the overall charm and small-scale story to be worth watching.

29. Another Day of Life 

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Based on the true events of a famous Polish journalist, Another Day of Life combines CGI roto-scope animation with live-action documentary footage in a dramatic and war-torn time of the Angolan Civil War. It also has some pretty out-there visuals, and can be a rather gripping story. I think it’s a little long, and it’s not a film I’m thinking about rewatching multiple times, but it’s an interesting story, and the visual look alone is worth checking this flick out!

28. Ne-Zha

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It’s amazing how in one year, China was able to show the world that they should be taken seriously with their theatrical animation, and Ne-Zha is one of those films. While looking downright gorgeous, and telling a story about discrimination and destiny, it is also seasoned with some of the best action you will see in CGI animation. It’s a shame that while the story can be deep and the lead characters are likable, the comedy drags the story down, and it’s a lot of comedy that isn’t funny. Still, seeing this become one of China’s biggest hits, and it was one of two amazing animated films from China, it shows a bright future ahead for the industry.

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Worst to Best Animated Films of 2019 Part 1

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial/list!)

I contemplated on whether to do a Worst to Best list for 2019. A lot of the internet discourse seems to have had it with negativity, or at least the wrong and toxic kind of negativity. Sadly, as much as I love animation, I don’t like saying I’m a part of the animation fandom, because of how toxic and ill-informed it gets. It’s gotten to the point where actual real animators on Twitter disown the community because of how uneducated and terrible the loudest individuals tend to be. It’s why I bite back against common hot takes, like Illumination being the worst thing ever when they are not. I’m happy to let more of the positivity shine through when talking about even the films I consider the weakest of the year.

With all that said, I do think as an animation fan and critic, part of my job is to archive the overall year, and that means we need to talk about the new classics, the good, everything in the middle, and the films considered the weakest of the year. It’s an overall report card at what made that year stand out. I plan on making sure that criticism is handled more nuanced, because I still want to talk about the overall year of 2019 in theatrical animation.

Overall, I found the animation scene in 2019 to be fairly mixed. On one side of the animation spectrum, the big Hollywood animation scene put out some real clunkers that mostly had troubled development, or films that were pretty good, but not the best that the studios themselves could put out. It was a B+ year for the US animation scene. Now, the foreign/indie scene was A+. This is why I love tackling foreign and indie animated films, because they tend to be better than what the US pushes out. After all, they take the medium of animation seriously with how many diverse stories they tell. When you can usually find some years to be weaker than others for the US scene, you can always count on the foreign scene to put out some stellar work. As usual, the rules are that they had to have a US release in 2019, so that means Ride Your Wave and Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon is not going to be on the list, since they never got US releases until this year. This also means that older films that got an official release this year, will be put on the list. They also had to have been submitted to the Oscars, and I saw 29 of the 32 Oscar submitted films, which makes me a better animation voter than most of the Academy. I will also be including the DC animated films and any major direct-to-video that made enough noise. Now then, let’s get started with the obvious clunkers of the year.

49 Arctic Dogs

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I will have no real idea of why obvious direct-to-video animated features get put into theaters, because this one didn’t need to be in theaters. Outside of supposed drama behind the scenes, the story is lackluster, the animation is poorly done, the writing is mediocre, and it felt more like a product than an actual film. I’m aware and feel for teams of people who get put into dud projects that aren’t run well, but I want to know exactly what happened, from the piece of concept art to the final product because something happened, and what we got was one of the biggest financial disasters in animation, and that’s saying something considering the next film on the list.

48 Playmobil: The Movie

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I felt badly for this one, because it seemed like it was put through the wringer. It had probably one of the roughest development histories in animation, and it then was panned on arrival. The talent behind this film is great, but that still doesn’t excuse how lackluster this film is. It’s everything that people were dunking on it for. This ranges from being a poorly-made LEGO Movie rip-off to a film that didn’t know what it wanted to be. It also had some of the notoriously worse marketing out of any film in the animation scene last year. Some minor elements were amusing about the film, but when you can’t get a Blu-ray release, then that’s saying something about the quality of your film.

47 Wonder Park 

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You know, if you wanted to make a child/family-friendly version of A Monster Calls or I Kill Giants, you can just show families these films. Wonder Park may have some creative moments and decent voice acting, but it doesn’t save it from a story that was made to spin off into a TV show no one is going to watch, and it couldn’t commit to the film’s darker tones. But, hey, this is what happens when you don’t hire a new director during productions. What you get is a film with no real direction.

46 UglyDolls

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This is yet another animated film that was rushed out and had a rough development. While the film itself is not that great, with fairly weak songs, a world that doesn’t make a lot of sense, and forgettable characters, it’s overall harmless. I found the previous films to be more obnoxious compared to UglyDolls. It had decent animation, Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton were solid with their performances, and sometimes there would be a joke that worked. I don’t know if we will ever see that UglyDolls animated series spin-off, but the film itself is harmless.

45 Stolen Princess

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Out of all of the films I saw last year, this is one that I feel like was supposed to come out years earlier. It’s not the worst film I have seen, but it’s the most forgettable, and it feels so archaic in terms of its execution. Not only is the CGI animation not up to par, but it’s another Shrek/fantasy-parody/comedy film, and it’s not even close to being the worst of that kind of film. It’s competently made, and sometimes you would get a solid sequence. It’s like that film Charmed that we still haven’t seen a US release for. It’s free on Amazon Prime, but you probably won’t remember much after watching it.

44 Captain Morten and the Spider Queen

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Now, this was a film I was bummed that it wasn’t better. The only reason it’s above the rest of the films listed is because of its stop-motion animation. It can be a touch creative, but a lot of it seems derivative to James and the Giant Peach. We rarely see stop-motion films, and to see this one have such a weak story and characters is disappointing. The film meanders around too much, and that’s saying something, considering it’s one of the shorter films on this list. There is a reason you haven’t heard about this film, or why it’s a digital only release.

43 Fantastica: A Boonie Bears Adventure

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It’s probably not shocking that this film is this low on the list. It’s a franchise film where the lead franchise characters play secondary to the film-only characters, the story doesn’t make a lot of sense in some areas, and the dubbing, well, the two English dubs were nothing special. However, sometimes, the film has a decent action sequence, and the fantasy world they arrive in is fairly creative. It’s not made for me, and I don’t think this film’s release will increase the popularity of the franchise, but I can think of much more forgettable films that are way more annoying to have rattling around in your brain.

42 The Secret Life of Pets 2

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Big shock, an Illumination Entertainment film is once again this low on the list. While I think people need to take chill pills towards this studio, I get the frustration. We have yet another Illumination film that has some decent ideas, but lack the drive to follow through with them. Sure, it has some good voice talent, some decent jokes, and great animation, but Illumination needs to start shaking things up a bit. Still, it’s a super harmless film, and if you see anyone acting with toxic vitriol toward it, walk far away from them.

41 Away

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This was an animated film that was made by one person. It won the Contrechamp award at Annecy, and that’s all that anyone is going to know about this film. Sure, a dialogue-less film is fun to see, and it’s ambitious as only one person put this entire film together. However, it does show this was done by one person. It’s not the strongest narrative-wise, the animation looks like something out of an indie game, and it feels like an indie game, but without the gameplay. I won’t take away its fame and awards, but I wish I was seeing what everyone else was at Annecy.

40 Dilili in Paris

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Maybe it’s because I have seen his other work, but maybe this might be the director’s first misfire for me. While I enjoyed films like Azur & AsmarDilili in Paris has a lot of the worst elements in family animation. Its dialogue is heavily exposition-focused, it tells the audience what they are thinking, the third act twist has some weight to it, but it’s way too dark for a film that’s meant to be for younger viewers. I love the visual look of this film, but it had no chance of being in the Oscars.