So, on a whim, I decided to try something new this year. In part, this stemmed from wanting to try some new anime, but being unsure where to start. I mean, there’s a lot of anime out there, and a fair bit of it is on my list of ‘shows that I’d like to get around to eventually’. Having cancelled the household Animax subscription (after a number of instances of very mixed customer support), I decided to give Crunchyroll a shot. Given the sheer number of shows available, even on the reduced UK selection, the best way I could think of to decide where to start was to pick a show completely at random. And then it hit me: I was taking a ‘Crunchyroll of the Dice’ in terms of what I was going to watch. And so the name was born.
From there, I got a bit ahead of myself and decided to turn the whole concept into a tournament. The idea was pretty simple: I select two shows at random and watch the first episode of season one of each, then compare them in several categories. The winning series then moved on to round two where the process would repeat with episode two, then episode three in the semi-finals and episode four in the third place play-off and final.
This was honestly the most mammoth undertaking of my blogging life thus far. It was so, so worth it though! So … let’s get on to some analysis, starting with a basic run down of each match-up:
This was the first CotD battle, and boy did I seem to luck out with the selection! Both series had been on my ‘to watch’ list for a while, and the battle itself turned out to be pretty close. What surprised me was that I expected SAO to win as, on the face of it, it seemed more like my normal sort of show. In this case though, it couldn’t quite compete with the ever popular idols.
Another close fought battle here, and another one where I enjoyed both shows. In the end, nostalgia played a big part in getting Lupin through here, as School-Live is an immensely good show, and would have stormed into round two if it had been drawn against most of the others that came out in round one.
The battle of the short episodes here was an odd one. Yamishibai is a very simple thing in essence, but there was simply no denying how good it was. Orenchoi was … OK. Looking back on it, that was about as good as it was getting.
Flying Witch took a clean sweep of points here. I was expecting far less of it as I don’t often go for chilled out series, and my thoughts coming out of this were that, while Flying Witch was enjoyable, it would not have fared quite so well had it had a better opponent. Danchigai though? It never stood a chance.
Coming into this one, I expected the result to go the other way. I make no secret of my rather negative views of most fan service, and it was clear that that was what we were going to get with Rio Rainbow Gate, so the obvious outcome was for it to fall by the wayside. Somehow though, Wolf Girl and Black prince managed to fluff what was an OK premise and come up short against the surprisingly entertaining Rio.
The second clean sweep of the tournament saw Amanchu! pull a Flying Witch and score maximum points against a weak opponent. In this case, Pet Girl has an interesting enough set up that I could see it being better as it goes along (which puts it a fair way above its fellow zero pointer, Danchigai), but there just wasn’t enough there for it to even manage a draw against the superior slice of laid back goodness that was its foe.
This was a surprisingly enjoyable battle that could really have gone either way. The final score doesn’t really do I Don’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying justice either, as it was actually pretty good for what it was. Wanna Be The Strongest meanwhile wasn’t the best example of its genre, but it did have a generally stronger first episode. For that, it won.
Two shows with really cool set ups squared off, and only one made the most of its episode time. Trinity Seven marred itself with fan service when it could have been world building, and Kiznaiver just walked on through with a far more consistent approach.
Love Live continued to face strong opponents and as a result scored a narrow 7 – 5 win. Lupin was so close to winning this, it really was, and is more than deserving of its general praise.
Flying Witch faced off with a stronger series than it did in the first round, and it showed in the final score. While it continued to slay the short episode series, Yamishibai gave Flying Witch far more of a run for its money than Danchigai did, and really shone with what little resources it had again. Flying Witch continued to be enjoyable enough to push through though, and set itself up for a semi-final battle with Love Live, a pairing that I never expected to see go so far.
Despite continuing to be surprisingly good, Rio Rainbow Gate was simply outmatched here. Amanchu! is never going to set the world on fire in terms of action and heart stopping excitement, but my word it is consistent when it comes to presenting beautifully realised scenery and believable character interactions!
Kiznaiver continued on to the semi-final with a hard fought but deserving win over the wrestling themed Wanna Be The Strongest. At this point, it was clear that Kiznaiver was not without problems, but the interesting premise was more than enough to create intrigue.
Love Live, consistent to this point, finally stumbled. The result was that all that Flying Witch needed to do to make it to the final was remain consistent, and it managed that with ease.
In stark contrast to Love Live, Kiznaiver stepped up its game for this one and managed to come out much stronger than I was anticipating. Sure, Amanchu! still managed to take the win, but Kiznaiver was finally starting to click for me, and that was cool to see.
THIRD PLACE PLAY OFF
Love Live fought to regain its footing here and did so in style by pulling out a far better episode this time around. Kiznaiver meanwhile continued to grow in quality and ended up forcing a very close battle here, but just missed out on victory in the straight comparison.
The two most laid back series in the tournament clashed in the final, and both put forward highly enjoyable episodes that showed off their strengths. In the end though, Amanchu! was just that little bit better.
So … what that means is that the final four placed as follows:
- Flying Witch
- Love Live! School Idol Project
What I found interesting about this is that when you tally up the total points received over the tournament, things end up slightly differently:
- Amanchu! – 39 Points
- Flying Witch – 32 Points
- Kiznaiver – 27 Points
- Love Live! School Idol Project – 25 Points.
It would be easy to view that as a sign that Kiznaiver was a little more consistent than Love Live!, but that simply isn’t the case. What actually happened here is a combination of things: First, Love Live! generally faced stronger series and so ended up in far closer battles than Kiznaiver did. Second, they both took slightly different routes in the second half of the tournament: Love Live! remained generally consistent in quality (albeit with a slight stumble) while Kiznaiver slowly built up in quality, allowing it to take more points towards the end. Which one is better overall? That’s a tough one to call.
Now … what happened to the losing shows? Well, they kinda fall into a handful of categories in that regard:
No Interest In Continuing:
- The Pet Girl of Sakurasou
- Trinity Seven
- Orenchoi No Furo Jijo
- Wolf Girl and Black Prince
May Continue At A Later Date:
- Wanna Be The Strongest In The World
- Rio Rainbow Gate
- Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories
Definitely Want to Continue:
- Flying Witch
- Love Live! School Idol Project
- Lupin III: Part 4
So that leaves three series that I haven’t mentioned above. The reason for that? Because I did continue them after they were eliminated. Here are some brief thoughts of them:
- I Don’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying: I sped through season one, but haven’t checked out season two yet. It’s a little inconsistent but it does succeed in creating a fair few genuinely funny moments, along with some surprisingly heart-warming scenes. I have an idea for a write-up on this one, and hope to get that going sometime soon.
- Sword Art Online: I made it to episode 5 and stopped. It’s not like it’s a bad show, but it really doesn’t draw me in enough to continue. As far as I’m concerned, SAO is the weakest of the MMORPG based series I’ve watched (the others all being in the dot Hack franchise). I may give Log Horizon a shot and see it stands up better.
- School-Live!: This was incredible. Honestly, I loved it, and I’ll be writing something about it soon.
Anyway, that’s about it. Thank you all for sticking with me throughout this crazy experiment, and I hope it was enjoyable for you as it was for me. I’ll be reviving the tournament next year, though I may run it as a shorter thing and start at the quarter-finals in the first quarter of the year, then do another one in the Autumn. Maybe. Until then though, thanks for reading!