Summer 2017 Final Thoughts – Part I

Doesn’t it seem odd to have multiple parts of final thoughts?  To me finality implies a definite ending.  But it’s a necessity to keep the post length down and get some content out.  Some shows are easy peasy to wrap up, others not so much.  Today, I’m going to tackle the easy ones.

love-and-lies

That being said, let’s hit the jump and talk about this first batch!

First, a note about ratings – I use a five point scale to match my ratings on Anime Planet. (http://www.anime-planet.com/users/DerekL) I’m not all that consistent about my scale though, but I am slowly getting more consistent and editing my ratings. A numerical scale doesn’t really convey all the nuances though… a 2.5 can mean very different things between different shows. One 2.5 might suck balls, another might be worth watching if you have the time to spare.  Thus most ratings are accompanied by a clarifying comment.

Just for reference, here’s my Summer 2017 anticipation post.

Love & Lies Season Review

Love & Lies started out strongly enough.  Two young lovers fated to be torn about through intervention by a paternalistic government.  The first few episodes gave us a number of interesting hints and raised some provocative questions…  Based on the first four episodes, we were in for a hell of a ride.  And then it all came to a screeching halt mid season.  The back half was repetitive drek limping painfully back and forth over the same ground.  The finale didn’t provide much in the way of closure because it emphatically repetitious.

I’ve seen it argued that we shouldn’t expect much more because it’s an ongoing manga, but I don’t buy it.  We’ve all seen plenty of anime from ongoing series that still manage to have character growth and some sense of plot progression.  Many of those same shows still manage to reach some kind of end point (even if that ending is a setup for the next manga arc).

Shortly after the finale aired, Harubruh of For Great Justice asked if he should check out the show…

I couldn’t agree more.

Final Ranking: 1.0 – Only saved from a damming .5 by the provocative questions raised early on.

Sakura Quest (2nd cour, carryover from Spring 2017) Season Review

Young women at work – a formula P.A. Works has struck gold with twice before with Hanasaku Iroha and Shirobako.  Sakura Quest was marketed as part of of thematic trilogy with those, but did it succeed?

Sakura excelled at illustrating the problems a dying town faces.  Because I live in a small city that had its commercial heart ripped out and moved to a mall outside of town, the issues the shopping district faced really resonated.  As you may have seen in some of the links I posted, it showcased the issues facing an aging community equally well.

The plot did a very good job of building on itself.  With the annoying exception of the wood carving display, past actions had an influence on current events.  In the same way, many of the side characters grew beyond tropes and their distinct personalities and behaviors had an influence on the course of events.

But characters were also the problem.  The Queen’s Court were all interesting and mostly changed and grew over the course of the series.  Maki and Ririko and their character arcs were particularly well done and enjoyable.  Shiori and Sanae, not so much.  Despite her brief moment of glory early on and the amount of character time she received overall… Shiori remained pretty much a one-note character throughout the run of the series.  Sanae, while an interesting character in her own right, never really completely emerged out of the background.  As the other ‘outsider’ in the core cast, they blew a big chance to compare-and-contrast the older experienced woman with the younger and more naive Yoshino.

And speaking of the Queen…  The great strength of both Hanasaku Iroha and Shirobako were their strong central characters.  The great failure of Sakura Quest was this essential weakness at it’s core.  Until the almost the very end, Yoshino kept making the same basic mistakes – not learning from her past actions, leaping before looking, and presuming she knew better.  While her eternal enthusiasm and optimism are to be commended, they’re no substitute for growth.

Ultimately, that leaves Sakura a distant third to it’s thematic predecessors and stablemates.

I wanted to like Sakura Quest.  Heck, I wanted to love Sakura Quest.  But in the end, all I can say is that I didn’t dislike it.

But at least it was better than Glasslip.

Final ranking: 2.5 Not bad per se, but painfully average.

Tsuredure Children Season Review

Screenshot (61)

Honestly, I just kind of stumbled onto/in to watching Tsuredere Children – and I’m glad as hell I did.   In some ways though, it’s a rough show to write a full review of, there was a lot going on despite the brief length of the individual segments and episodes.

I guess if I had to summarize it however, I’d say “all the best parts of all the romance anime you’ve ever seen or ever will see”.  Most romance anime include a lot of what could be called filler (for lack of a better term) in between the actual romance bits, and Children leaves all that out.  But that doesn’t mean the character growth and other elements of a romantic anime are left out – far, far from it.  Children manages to skilfully weave all that into it’s condensed version.

I think my favorite part was the wide variety of couples and relationships portrayed.  Kamine and Gouda’s exploration of the boundaries of their relationship and what each wanted from it.  Chizuru and Takurou’s tentative and halting steps from childhood friends into adolescent romance.  And my favorite, Chiaki and Kana’s deep connection and rocky road was impressively well done.


I’m trying not to slight anyone, but I really can’t cover all the couples because there was a ton of them.  If anything, that was the show’s one glaring flaw – even though each segment was mostly self contained, there was a lot going on and a lot to keep track of.  Children is enjoyable without all the effort, but I think I missed some subtle bits on couples I wasn’t watching closely.

Children also starkly shows the failures of Love & Lies (above).  It too is an ongoing series, yet it’s characters manage to grow and change.  It reaches a comfortable ending that both leaves the viewer satisfied and leaves open questions.  It leaves you wanting to read the source material, but neither demands it of you nor begs for a second season.

Final Ranking: 3.5  – Among the top shows.  (4.0 and above are the stratospheric “best of the best” territory, 3.5 is no shameful place to be.)

Drops: 

A Centaur’s Life (dropped, 2 eps) • Angels 3P (dropped, 2 eps) • Fastest Finger First (dropped, 3 eps) • Restaurant to Another World (dropped, 6 eps) •
The Reflection (dropped, 2 eps)

Not all dropped shows have a tag page, because they got the hot potato treatment without ever having had a full formal write up.

That covers the ‘easy’ reviews…  Shows that are simple(r) to talk about, and which I don’t have an episode to cover before diving into the season review.  Left to cover:  Konbini Kareshi, Made in Abyss, My Hero Academia, Princess Principal, and Re: Creators.  One post, maybe two.  The goal is to have it all done by Friday.

So what do you think of the shows above?  Or shows that I didn’t watch?  Drop us a line down in comments and share your thoughts!

15 thoughts on “Summer 2017 Final Thoughts – Part I”

  1. I loved Tsuredere Children. Marathoned the whole show in a day and have since purchased the four mangas on Comixology. I’m a moody fellow by nature so cute/funny shows like this one help me lighten up. Even if the series isn’t deep I like how most of the couples get to the relationship stuff right away. I have little patience for shows that keep you waiting for two seasons for a first kiss.

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    1. Pretty much why I called it “all the best parts”. It’s also why I loved My Love Story!!. While I don’t think they ever kissed, by the second or third ep they were at least a committed couple and spent the rest of the two cour working that out. Most shows don’t even make it to the ‘committed couple’ stage, let alone kissing.

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  2. As you must know by now, I liked Koi to Uso a good deal more than you, but that still doesn’t make it more than a little above avarage. I do think that the plot had a direction; people say and do the same things a lot, but these repetitive actions occur before a different emotional background. The problem with the plot is slow pacing and ending near the end of a confusion period (which I wouldn’t expect to be the last in the greater scheme of things.) The plot isn’t very interesting, though, even taking that into account. What it does is showcase the setting, and that I do find interesting. The characters are fine for the most part. Again, all this is just unreflected impression; I’m not trying to convince anyone, and I don’t even have to motivation to explain myself enough to be understood. It was entertaining enough while it lasted, I’d watch a second season, but I’ll probably also forget about the show pretty quickly.

    I haven’t really changed my mind about Sakura Quest. From the beginning I saw the show as a best-of-PA-Works sampler, and that’s what it ended up being. There’s little new in this show, and almost everything they do they’ve done better. There are flashes of brilliance here and there, and the arc about the old people, the anthropoligist and transportation was probably the most consistently enjoyable thread for me. Fun enough while it lasted, but not very memorable.

    Tsurezure Children is my favourite of the bunch; no contest. All those adorable kids! I’d love a second season, but I’m not holding my breath. Initially, I wasn’t that fond of the simple character designs, but in the long run the simplicity turned out to be a strength, since the designs are very malleable, and equally suited to subtle emotion and silly reaction faces. Studio Gokumi is one of my favourite studios, and like PA Works, I like the studio better than I actually like their shows. Tsurezure Children is the type of show that validates me. Here’s my Gokumi hitlist:

    Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge
    Tsurezure Children
    Koukaku no Pandora
    A Channel
    Saki Franchise (minus the first, which isn’t yet Gokumi)
    Atelier Escha & Logy
    Seiren

    The studios biggest strength, IMO, is to conceptualise a show and then focus razor sharp on their concept, which is especially noticable when resources go sparse: they often have a noticable drop in production values, but it somehow never matters too much. They know what makes their show tick and set clear priorities (or at least that’s the feeling I get).

    I finished all the shows you’ve dropped except Angels 3P, which I never picked up, and The Reflection which hasn’t had its final episode yet (since it started late).

    The Reflection is a straightforward superhero show. I enjoy it well enough, but it’s not my genre. If you like the genre and click with the art, it’s okay. It’s not a must watch.

    Centaur no Nayami is very uneven, with great episodes and awful episodes being rare, good episodes outnumbering the bad ones slightly, a couple of avarage episodes, and one or two I don’t know what to think of. Overall, I’m positive on the show, but the manga was a lot better. Thematic bundling doesn’t do the show any favours.

    Restaurant to Another World was mostly dull. It had its highpoints, I if you don’t click with the show, it’s not worth wading through the morass to get there. It’s supposed to be a feel-good show, I think.

    Nana Maru San Batsu (I dislike the alliterated English title for some reason) was okay. After episode one, there are no notable suprises – what you see is what you get. It’s decently entertaining, and that’s it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve watched a decent bit of Gokumi myself – I think they took some of the best people Gonzo still had left when they broke off from that studio 7 or 8 years ago. Anyway, my own ranking of what I’ve seen of theirs:

      Yuki Yuna
      Saki Achiga-hen
      Saki Zenkoku-hen
      Koe de Oshigoto
      The Severing Crime Edge
      Lance n Masques

      That’s four I actually really like, and two that I ended up dropping. TSCE was okay but too weird for me, and LnM was just plain bad.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I actually managed to enjoy Lance ‘n’ Masques somewhat, but they occasionally pushed hard against my creepiness tolerance with that one. I also give them bonus points for being the only anime I know to actually feature a pangolin (Bamboo Blade mentioned the creature, but only Lance’n’Masques actually featured one). It’s still probably my least favourite of theirs (though the sister show is also down there).

        Koe de Oshigoto is one of the few I haven’t seen (with The Ambition of Oda Nobuna being the other). So it’s worth watching? As far as I know, it’s their debut show.

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        1. Recommending Koe de Oshigoto or not is a very YMMV question and depends entirely on your tolerances for sexuality in anime. The KdO manga is basically a sex comedy about a 16 year old girl getting recruited by her older sister to work as a VA for an eroge game, which means first having to get over her own embarrassment at the idea of saying or doing sexual things in front of another person, as well as being educated in some of the details of sexuality where she’s still naive (she’s not implausibly innocent, but she’s obviously very inexperienced), which is where much of the comedy comes from. The anime is a two episode OVA covering the first few manga chapters, and it’s definitely one of the most erotic non-hentai that I’ve seen. It can be very funny sometimes, but some scenes get pretty explicit, too. The only (censored) sex is what Kanna imagines the characters doing as she’s recording, but she is asked to do other things IRL as part of her training, like sucking on a man’s index finger to hear what fellatio sounds like, or being tasked with trying to turn someone on using nothing but her voice. Some viewers might see it as a sharp comedy series about a young woman being awakened to the world of adult sexuality in a humorous but basically harmless way. Others might simply dismiss it as more pandering for men. I think both perspectives have a point. It was originally a seinen series written for men, so there’s no getting away from that, but it never felt crass or trashy to me like it very easily could have if it was done badly. I think that’s because even though the comedy is mostly built around Kanna’s inexperience and her adjustment to this strange new frontier, the story generally treats Kanna herself and her own feelings with a reasonable amount of respect. It feels like she’s involved in the joke, but not the victim of the joke, if that makes sense. If the show had made me feel sorry for her, I probably would have dropped it in the first five minutes.

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        2. Oh, so that’s Koe de Oshigoto. Turns out I’ve started the first OVA but didn’t get very far with it (there was only one back then; it’s fairly long ago – didn’t have my MAL account yet). As far as I remember, I didn’t quite rule out coming back later, but it wasn’t a priority, and then I just forgot about the show.

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  3. @Sakura Quest Yeah, there were good parts. I remember praising the village arc when it aired. But there just wasn’t enough there to glue together all the good parts. I think we’re in violent agreement, differing on details only.

    I looked up Studio Gokumi, and they certainly have some good shows. Including YuuYuuYuu, which I know isn’t to your taste.

    Restaurant to Another World seemed to be my kind of show, but it was (as you say) dull and also repetitive. I think I like that kind of show when, as in Gourmet Girl Graffiti (or Sweetness and Lightning), there’s at least some plot wrapped around the food porn. OTOH, I’m a flat-out fan of Wakako-zake… Which, in anime form, is pretty repetitive. (The live action has more of a plot going on.) But it’s a short and pared down to essentials which relieves much of that tedium. Restaurant had a couple of decent plots early on (notably the lizardman and the lion guy), but those ended up being rare bright spots.

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    1. I really need to watch Wakako Zake one day. I watched the first episode and was neutral on it. Normally, I’d watch more, but somehow that didn’t happen. Everyone who watched it, though, is immensly positive about it.

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  4. I remember thinking I wanted to carefully choose a Summer anime, since I knew I wouldn’t have much time to indulge myself in all the series I wanted. And of course, craving some sort of romance story, I ended up watching Koi to Uso–the perfect choice, amiright

    But seriously, that was…I wouldn’t say it’s as catastrophically bad as a 1.0 out of 5.0, but boy, I chose the wrong series. On the flip side, I’m glad that Tsuredure Children was fantastic! Guess there’s a series to work through when I have the time :P

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    1. Everyone looks at things differently, I’ve even seen people praising Love and Lies. (0.o) But yeah, your dart missed the bullseye there.

      If you like romance, I highly recommend Tsuredure.

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  5. Well, thumbs up for Gamers! My one pickup for this season was definitely a keeper. It’s been a long time since a pure comedy anime had me laughing so frequently. For a show helmed by a first-time series director, at a studio doing its first full-length TV production, it was a pretty strong debut effort all the way around. 7.5/10, would definitely watch more in the future.

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