Well, here it is! Better late than never they say, my roundup, review, and ratings for all the shows I watched to completion in Fall 2017.
Hit the jump and let’s dive in!
Just as a reminder, shows that I am watching are in bold, shows my wife and I are watching together are in bold italics.
A reminder on my rankings… they’re on a five point scale to coincide with my rankings on Anime Planet. But one 2.5 can often be different from another 2.5, so I supplement them here with verbal comments to clarify.
Ancient Magus Bride
To quote Haruhi “this show’s greatest crime is that it never lived up to the OVA”. While the actual series could invoke an amazing level of sense-of-wonder, these moments were gems in the midst of exposition and pacing problem muck.
Looking back, I think the highlight of the show so far has been Nevin. He brought a wonderful gravitas and sense of the world to the show. Plus as an exposition character, he was at least interesting. Elias is too detached, and Lindel too one dimensional.
My hope, the first cour was all setup and that we can get on with the characters and the adventures in the second.
Mid-season of a two-cour run, no rating.
When it comes to Anime-Gataris, I just don’t know where to begin. The spoof titles of various were absolutely hilarious. The plot was a grand and glorious mish-mash of school club and otaku culture tropes well seasoned with absolute instantly. Somehow, they managed to tie it all up with a pretty bow and have it all make a kind of sense. But it doesn’t stand up to any kind of introspection or analysis.
Aw H*ll, let’s just say I enjoyed the heck out of it. Many episodes I laughed out loud, and many scenes left me grinning ear-to-ear. What more can you ask?
The only thing I wish I’d done differently was to take more screencaps. There’s material for years and years of reaction images to be had.
Final ranking: 2.5, good but not great, no regrets.
When it stuck to workplace comedy, which it did uncommonly well, Blend-S really shined. Unfortunately it insisted on haring off in other directions, which really brought the series down. Nor did it ever really sell me on the (creepy) Dino/Maiko pairing which was theoretically the show’s main ship… Honestly, I found Kaho the more interesting character and her teasing relationship with Koyo to be more amusing.
But credit where credit is due; Blend-S featured the cross-dressing Hideri and they played it straight rather than going for stereotypes and cheap laughs.
Final ranking: 2.0, basically not quite average. Could have been so much better had it stuck to its concept. Watch Working!! (AKA Wagnaria!!) instead.
Girls Last Tour
Two moeblobs explore a post-apocalyptic world. Sounds like one of those “describe your favorite anime badly” threads that run around Twitter and various forums every so often doesn’t it? Yet that is Tour in a nutshell. But the devil and the wonder lies in the details. Chito and Yuuri’s easy and close relationship. Chito’s constant sense of wonder and adventure balanced against Yuuri’s more grounded sense of realism and immediacy. The two are constantly each other’s teacher and student, sliding comfortably back and forth between roles, sometimes within the span of a single conversation.
What ultimately elevates Tour to sublime however is the nicely balanced tone. The girls do worry about food and fuel, but they never despair about what’s beyond their control. They celebrate the simple moments and pleasures, but never give into hedonism to block out their worries. Today simply is and some hope remains for tomorrow.
Final Ranking: 4.0 Which is basically “classic” territory but Tour falls short of the “true greats” level basically because I think the finale was a damp firecracker. It didn’t introduce anything really new, but it did veer off somewhat from what it could have been because of those stupid mushroom things. This is one of those rare times when a “read the manga / our battle goes on” ending would have provided a much needed sense of ambiguity.
I started SideM with a bit of hesitation… as I’ve said many times, I tend to bounce hard off of boy-band idol anime. I don’t exactly know why, or if I hold them to higher or different standards than those with female leads. (Full disclosure, I bounce hard off of otome game based anime too.) There’s also the bungled mess that was Cinderalla Girls, which had far too many characters and spent way too much jumping between them.
I was pleased however to discover that the iDOLM@STER magic was back. They did a great job of balancing the screen time various characters received. There was a nice distribution of archetypes and tropes, and unlike the earlier series a higher proportion of older/more mature characters. (Who actually acted older, having a different viewpoint, drinking, and suffering from not being nineteen anymore.) This was a nice change from so many other idol/band series which focus heavily on middle and high schoolers. In the same way, there was a nice distribution of motivations for becoming an idol. I particularly enjoyed S.E.M., a unit of former teachers who chose music to convey that school and learning was cool.
Final ranking: 3.0, Very good though not actually great. A worthy entry in the franchise and worth your time if you like the original series. Skip Cinderella Girls.
A wonderful slow burning anime about the spaces in between… Paused on the threshold of leaving home. Walking down that lonely scary path between friendship and love. The insecurity of leaving behind the familiar and comfortable past for an uncertain future.
What else to say? Week after week I loved the h*ll out of Just Because as it navigated some very tough waters. Telling a compelling tale without sinking into the maudlin as so many end-of-school anime do. Realizing complex characters within the confines of the medium and the run time of the show. Weaving a multi-stranded tale in a wonderful tapestry…
Yeah, sounds a little pretentious but there were a great deal of complex underpinning to the simple surface story.
Final ranking: 3.5 While the story was rich and compelling, ultimately the script and storyboarding depended on the quality of animation displayed in the first couple of episodes. It deserves a 4.0 or 4.5, but doesn’t quite rate it.
Because it was three shows in one, Konohana is a difficult show to write about.
The first show was a relationship based SOL, and who can dislike foxgirls, friendship, and implied yuri? Certainly not me! The characters were a bit stock in spots, but whatever. The second show was a workplace… what? It never could quite make up its mind as to how it wanted to balance drama and comedy. Really, the weakest portion of the show’s structure.
The third show, and where it really shined, was an exploration of the supernatural. This exploration was facilitated by Konohatei’s position as a way station between the sacred world of the gods and the profane world of Man (our modern world)… With only a couple of exceptions, these were strong stories well told. The tale of the daughter, the man, and the puppy was an incredible one. The tales of the rainbow weaver and the tale of grieving mother should not be forgotten either.
Final ranking: 3.5 Though there are parts that deserve it, I can’t quite justify a full 4.0 ranking because the three different shows did not always mesh well.
Land of the Lustrous
I have… very mixed feelings about Lustrous. I’m not at all sad I watched it, just a bit confused. They packed a great deal into twelve episodes, but that hurry cost them dearly. Many things were skimmed over or left with superficial coverage when a deeper exploration might have been warranted. Somehow, I think it might have been better covering the same range but across two cour instead of leaving the audience hanging. On the other hand, that might have resulted in mighty howls from manga readers… It’s easy enough to criticize from my position of comfort, but I must acknowledge that such decisions are never easy and you’ll never satisfy everyone.
In particular the last three episodes were jam packed with hints and references… and amounted to an extended commercial for the manga. I get that anime often are manga commercials, but there are better ways of handling it. If they couldn’t go two cour, then stretching the first nine episodes to cover twelve might have been a better way to go.
But it’s not like it was all bad, the central story of the anime was that of Phosphophyllite coming of age… and that part of the story was well told. Over the course of the season she went from wide-eyed genki innocent to weary and worn adulthood. As she gained the things she wanted, she also endured the burden and price those things entailed. Yet… she never lost her drive to be and do something, though she never did quite learn focus (or tact). She faces the future with shoulders squared and strong in spirit.
Final ranking: 3.0 Above average, well above in this case… but somehow disappointing in the end. It always seemed to be saying “we’ll get back to this later”, but never managing to do so.
Love Live Sunshine 2nd season
Sadly, Love Live Sunshine’s second season was much like it’s first… timid and afraid to stray too far from the path blazed by it’s elder sibling. Once again, some great character moments when they allowed the characters to act act on their own. And also once again, characters shoehorned into prefabricated slots or reduced to one note performances when the plot demanded zura!
They also once again repeated the incredibly annoying behavior of substituting music videos in place of in-world performances. It was so very obvious that the whole affair was carefully calculated in corporate conference rooms to maximize sales at the expense of originality and character. I do have to give credit where it’s due for staying true to the school closing. (Even if the final ep rode the closing metaphor straight into the ground.)
Final ranking: 2.0, not even the 2.5 the first season earned. Watch the original LL series, skip this retread.
March Comes in like a Lion 2nd season
Rei’s world is expanding, and he’s taking more part in it… This is a good thing.
Mid-season of a two-cour run, no rating.
Recovery of an MMO Junkie
I didn’t know quite what to expect when I started this, but the description sounded interesting… What I found was a curiously fun and relatable romantic drama/comedy that I enjoyed a great deal. No real drawbacks other than some of the plot induced coincidences. I particularly like how the in-game world was portrayed as being real to its participants.
Final ranking: 3.5 Approaching ‘classic’ territory even if it falls a little short. Just too many convenient and coincidental encounters. Still, I loved the h*ll out of it.
Wake Up Girls: New Chapter
So where do I start? The critical view, or the fanboy view? Aw h*ll, it’s my blog and I’ll fanboy if I want to.
From that point of view, despite a couple of plot holes and some annoying pacing issues… I loved it! I mean, it’s WUG-chan, how can I not? I also loved how the series stuck to its guns on its central theme – the girls are first and foremost a group of friends and team that sticks together through thick and thin.
However… the sense of grit and realism that pervaded the first series was noticeably absent, and the roadblocks more of the deus ex machina variety. They spent a great deal of time on the V-dol subplot, but never really did anything with it, let alone resolved it.
Using the new unit, Run Girls Run, to remind us of where WUG had been and to compare what they had become was an inspired device. Few idol shows have the guts to dedicate so much screen time to secondary units. Heck, few idol shows spend so much time showing other units in the world. (Locodol is a noticeable exception, and Love Live‘s first season comes close.)
Final Ranking: 3.0 This was a hard one, I loved the series uncritically, but it also had some problems. But, in the end, the positives outweighed the negatives even if the successor didn’t reach the (4.0 ranking) heights of the original.
Yuki Yuna is a Hero
There were two parts to this season, so my review is split into two parts. For reference, the original season was rated 4.5 – a rating reserved for true greats. (In my opinion of course, at the end of the day these things are all subjective.)
Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero: The Washio Sumi Chapter
The first part had three simple tasks, complicated by its short run: Tell an interesting tale without breaking continuity. Make us care about the characters. Stay true to the themes established in the original series. It managed all three brilliantly.
The scene where Sonoko tied her ribbon onto Mimori’s wrist will live with me for a long time. They absolutely had to get that scene right because of continuity, and it was pitch perfect. Yuuki Yuuna isn’t perfect, but when they absolutely have to get it right, they always pull through.
Final ranking: 4.0 Simply fantastic.
Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero: The Hero Chapter
If anything, the second part had an even harder row to hoe than the first… It had the same essential set of tasks, but also had to work with established characters and more constraining continuity. However, like the first half, it also succeeded brilliantly.
The finale… It’s hard to put down in words, but it truly was a thing of beauty. Especially with Yuuki’s realization that she didn’t have to be the pure and perfect Hero she’s worked so hard to be. Sometimes, it’s OK to be human. To rely on others. To live. The Shinjyu-sama seemed to agree, channelling its power through her to defeat the threat rather than continuing with its plan.
Final ranking: 3.5 Down a little because… Well, it’s hard to explain. I think it’s mostly centered on the finale… It wasn’t bad, just a bit hard to grasp the first time through. Also because of how firmly they closed the door on future continuations. I have to admire it, but I don’t have to like it.
Dropped: Inuyashiki (9 eps) • Kino’s Journey (6 eps) • My Girlfriend is a Shobitch (1 ep) • Two Car (6 eps) • Urahara (1 ep)
It’s interesting that once again the same drop pattern shows up… Either it’s gone right off, or it goes at or just past mid-season.
So, how did you season go? Do you agree with me or think I’m insane? Let me know down in the comments!