52 Anime Review – Part 1

It’s time. Welcome to our 52 Anime Review!

52 Anime Review Compilation Poster - The Culture CoveWe’ve reviewed a lot of anime in this time, some much better than others, but all with their own merits. I made a point of this in our last article ‘The Forgotten Shows‘, so check that out if you haven’t already.

52 shows is a lot of anime! I thought about working out how many episodes of different shows we’ve actually watched, but the sheer thought of that gave me a headache. Instead, here’s some quickly worked out facts summarising all the shows we’ve reviewed so far:

  • Out of the 52 shows, 17 have been action shows, tied for top spot in genre with fantasy.
  • Fantasy was the most watched out of the opening 15, with 10 shows being from the genre. However, since then, fantasy has only predominantly featured in 7 out of 37 series reviewed, only one ahead of Slice-of-Life shows!
  • Comedy is joint-third in genres watched, despite there not being a single comedy series in the first 15 anime reviewed. In the last 22 shows, the comedy genre is second only to action!
  • Mystery is the most niche genre on The Culture Cove, with only 3 shows predominantly mystery-based. Two of these are included in the latest 22 reviewed.
  • Out of all 52 shows, only 11 (less than 1/4) have had leading female characters, compared to 44 male leads! Yes, some have two leads.

These stats do actually make for some interesting reading. The most eye-catching is the bottom one, of course, but on a personal level I’m excited by the rise of comedy series, and also at the disappearance of fantasy series, a genre that somewhat drew me into the anime landscape in the first place!

Without further delay, it’s time to hand out some awards! There’s plenty to win here, but we’ll start the same way we did in the previous two award seasons:

98150161458ccd72368bd034c2fd647eCoolest Anime: Cowboy Bebop

An award that has been dominated since 15AR by Durarara – a show ranked 2nd in 15 and 30 Anime Rankings. However, a new challenger has approached, and this misfit bunch of space pirates has taken this award with them!

Straight from the opening chords of the lively, jazz-infused intro, Cowboy Bebop sets its stool out as a suave action comedy series, mixing simple, childish comedy and a James Bond-esque style of action storyline. However, what makes this the winner ahead of Durarara, more than anything else, is the beautifully retro animation. This 90’s classic is a deserved winner of 52AR’s Coolest Anime award.

As mentioned earlier, if it wasn’t for Cowboy Bebop, Durarara would have deservedly retained this award for its nuances storytelling style. Other deserved mentions go to the unique Mob Psycho 100, and also to Re:Zero for its incredibly fluid storytelling.

b1df1f1d4c2385847b6bf7b4cdcd39e2Best Mature Anime: Your Lie in April

Unsurprisingly, this beautifully sophisticated anime retains this particular award from 30AR. Your Lie in April uses anime’s strengths without overdoing it, creating a series that feels perfect for the medium, yet has a maturity and vision that wouldn’t look out-of-place on the silver screen!

Originally, this award was going to be titled ‘Most Mature Anime’, and if it’s about what anime is the most mature, this award was going to go to Terror in Resonance, which is a very solid anime that shares YLiA’s air of sophistication. another notable mention in this category would be Black Lagoon, which is certainly the most ‘adult’ anime I’ve seen.

79183lBest Alternative Anime: Mob Psycho 100

This is a new award, specifically for those boundary-stretching shows that I wanted to give a special mention to, but didn’t quite fit into any of the other categories. There’s some incredibly unique and original shows in this list of 52, but one certainly stands out more than the others, and that is Mob Psycho 100.

Certainly in our list of ‘unmissable anime series’, Mob Psycho is a fantastically eccentric action comedy that is not only funny, and at times ridiculous, but also packs a dramatic punch which most action-comedies lack.

Other notable mentions in this series include the beautiful Flip Flappers, the free-to-view web series RWBY, and the simple-minded comedy Tanaka-kun is Always Listless!

2b672c3c06c5dbcc043daf1599139bffBest Male Support Character: Osamu Dazai – Bungou Stray Dogs

The enigmatic mentor of lead character Atsushi, Osamu Dazai quickly becomes the star attraction in a series swimming with exciting characters. He ticks all the boxes, being the character to deliver BSD’s comedic relief and show-defining speeches in equal measure. Bungou Stray Dogs is a very good series, but I believe more than most of that is down to this man, a deserved winner of this award.

There’s a lot of excellent side-males in this list, but two others deserve special recognition. First is Yuri Plisetsky form Yuri on Ice, who despite being far in the background is one of the biggest successes in the monumental success of 2016; and the other is Bakuman’s Niizuma Eiji, who plays a very similar and equally enigmatic role as Dazai in his own series.

3bbdeba861430038ae881743a9f33492Best Female Support Character: Mikasa Ackerman – Attack on Titan

Again, there is a lot of fantastic female side-characters in these 52 series. However, I still don’t think I’ve seen a female as exciting to watch, and as exciting to work out, as Mikasa. Winner of this award in both 15 and 30 ARs, Mikasa – with her unbreakable tie to the lead Eren, a tie that threatens to drift into romanticism but never does – becomes one of, if not the highlight in one of the best anime series of all-time.

Agian, there’s a lot of notable mentions here. Other fantastic side characters include Durarara’s Celty, the two female characters – Faye and Edward – in Cowboy Bebop, and the fantastic Ram/Rem combination in Re:Zero.

306475Best Male Lead Character: Lelouch Lamperouge (vi Britannia) – Code Geass

Britannian Prince turned rebel-leader, Lelouch is an incredibly charismatic lead, whose intelligence is as sharp as his face! What makes him the best lead character out of all 52 shows, though, is how this classic ‘super hero’ style character is offset with a natural vulnerability that is rarely seen in anime.

Despite Lelouch’s big lead in this race, there are plenty of other really good male leads out there. People like Re:Zero’s Subaru and Noragami’s Yato share a similar level of screen presence, while there’s not many more charismatic leads that Cowboy Bebop’s Spike. If you’re looking for a more mature character than these offerings, then Fate/Zero’s Kiritsugu, who is a very cold and conflicted character.

95f9154c786f3dc21f2ab8f70d18c3602500c724_hqBest Female Lead Character: Rin Tohsaka – Fate/Stay Night

Despite being 52 shows deep now, I find it surprisingly hard to find a female lead who breaks free of the stereotypes that surround female characters in Japanimaiton. However, Rin – winning this award in both 15 and 30 ARs – is a character that really does command the screen with a deep, naturally conflicted personality that is also one of, if not the strongest personality in a show dominated by violent male characters.

Despite what I said earlier, there are a handful of other female leads who deserve praise for breaking the mould. Aoi, the lead in slice-of-life series Shiro Bako,is probably runner-up here for being the most realistic lead – male or female – I think I’ve ever seen in a show. Naho from romance show Orange deserves a mention for her engrossing display, while Revy from Black Lagoon also deserves a lot of praise, obviously for very different reasons.

bakuman-season-2Best Character Set – Bakuman

There are so many shows in this 52 that have a fantastic cast of characters past the two-or-three that lead the show. It’s so close that there’s some that could have conceivably won this award that won’t even get a mention! However, if had to pick one, and the one I chose to win this award – primarily for its development – is Bakuman.

The slice-of-life series following aspiring manga creators is the king of character development, and while the number of characters in season one isn’t as big, season two introduces a plethora of characters, each with their own personality and dreams, and each is developed really well (note Niizuma Eiji, mentioned in Best Male Support Character). A series helped by the number of episodes, through watching it you honestly feel like you’ve watched their lives unfold!

Too many series deserve a mention, so I’m saving this space for my favourites. Previous winner Akame Ga Kill certainly has the best fighter ensemble in any anime I’ve seen, while Anohana does a great job of creating characters with individuality who yet all connect very naturally. Similarly to Bakuman, Yuri on Ice deserves a mention for creating a collection of dream-chasers who you end up rooting for throughout.

And the finale to Part One, the headline award for this half:

Best Series for a Western Audience: Psycho Pass

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Heavily inspired by western cinema classics such as Blade Runner,this sci-fi dystopian series has the air of a show that would work exceptionally well if turned into a live-action series or movie. Not only that, but the extremely well-plotted storyline and engrossing, mysterious characters make this an anime that is not only incredible, but should also be extremely watchable, even for newcomers to the medium!

Psycho Pass is a deserved winner here, but special mention should also go to Tokyo Ghoul, who had won this award’s equivalent in 15 and 30 ARs. Another great show for a western audience is Your Lie in April, who uses the advantages of the anime medium but offsets it with a classically western style of character development. Cowboy Bebop is another show that deserves a mention here, as it’s a show that instantly reminded me of my childhood cartoons, while not appearing too childish in itself.

52 Anime Review Compilation Poster - The Culture CoveWhat a selection of shows we have here! But this is only the beginning. SUBSCRIBE to The Culture Cove to get Part Two delivered straight to your inbox the second it’s uploaded!

Awards in Part Two include Best Action Series, Best Comedy Series, Best Drama, Best Animation and more, so stay tuned!

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