I know you’ve been waiting for this – and here it is, my season review for Winter 2018!
There’s some good shows, some not-so-good, and a couple of absolutely amazing standouts. If you’ve been reading this all season, you can probably figure out which is which… So let’s hit the jump and count ’em down!
The shows that I watched are in bold, shows my wife and I watched together are in bold italics.
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 is my Winter 2018 Anticipation post.
I’ve covered the shows in alphabetical order all season, but for this post I’m going to count ’em down from worst to best.
Dropped: Idolish 7 (2 eps) • Katana Maidens / Toji no Miko (6 eps) • Maerchen Maedchen (8 eps)
Citrus… Citrus… What can I say? It had decent parts, but these never really worked well because the supporting work was weak. It had bad parts, and there were sufficiently bad because bad always stands alone. It was easy to be sympathetic towards Yuzu because she really was a fish out of water. It was hard to be sympathetic towards Mei because they could never decide whether to portray her as total (if misunderstood) bitch or merely a victim of circumstance.
Taken as a whole, the show never could quite decide what it wanted to be and where it wanted to go – and as a result frequently defaulted to “trashy soap opera” just to fill time.
Final Ranking: 1.5 It seems that most seasons there’s a show I wish I could go back and tell myself not to watch. This season, Citrus more than adequately filled that slot.
Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles / Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san
Ms. Koizumi was… a show about girls eating ramen noodles. And really, there’s not a whole lot that you can do with such as basic concept though they could have at least tried. Gourmet Girl Graffiti showed that basically the same concept could produce an interesting show. There was enough character development for some believable interactions between the girls, but really not one whit more. It’s major flaw was that its titular character was frankly unlikable. The show consisted of two or three short segments each week, and honestly it probably would have worked better to have simply been a short format anime in the first place.
Final Ranking: 2.0 It wasn’t bad per se but it could have been so much better.
Slow Start got off to a great start. Decent animation, darn good character acting, pretty much an above average CGDCT series. While it never really lost those… then came the stalker episode. And the fanservice episode, which put many a harem comedy into the shade. And the very oddly portrayed yuri elements between Eiko and Enami-sensei.
Ignoring those, you have a serviceable CGDCT series. Add those back in, and have something that’s pretty skeevy in parts. I mean seriously, when the girls are getting into yukata for the summer festival – did they have to really have to focus on Kamari’s panties? It makes me sad because I had such high hopes…
Final Ranking: 2.0 No significant comment, it simply doesn’t deserve anything better than almost average.
How to Keep a Mummy / Miira no Kaikata
Mummy was at it’s best when it gave Mii-kun screen time and let him run wild with the cute and his reactions to the world. The interactions between Mii-kun and Sora were also great to watch and contributed greatly to making the show enjoyable.
Unfortunately, it insisted on straying far from that core competency… It introduced an ensemble cast of humans and chibi monsters, a cast far too large to work with effectively. By the midpoint of the series they had eight main characters, plus two more side characters… (Plus another main character was introduced late in the season.) In the end, only four of the main characters were effectively developed. (And only just barely at that.) The rest were pretty much cardboard cutouts there to deliver their lines and clutter up the place.
Final Ranking: 2.5 When it was good, it was good. When it wasn’t good, I was generally bored.
Ancient Magus Bride
(Continued from Fall 2017 – see my mid-season review.)
In truth, the second cour just left me shaking my head. Too many cliffhangers trivially resolved. Too many actions and choices without significant penalty or consequence. Way too many characters jumping in and out of focus…
Still, the scene where Chise turned into a phoenix and flew to her home was a powerful one and I’ll remember it for a long time indeed. Her growth in agency, identity, and self-assurance was a wonderful thing to watch. (Even if some of the events driving those were trivially handled.)
Final Ranking: 2.5 Pulled up from the cellar only on the strength of a Chise’s characterization and some of the better handled parts. (Plus Nevin, who did so much more for Chise and her growth than Elias.)
Yuru Camp / Laid-Back Camp
I think one simple statement neatly summarizes how I feel about Yuru Camp: I’m already through ten episodes of my first rewatch. I say first, because I have this feeling it won’t be my last or only.
Seriously, I fell in love with Camp pretty early on and despite a couple of lover’s quarrels (eps 8 and 9 were weaker IMO), that never really changed. They could have more clearly characterized Chiaki and Aoi, and who knows what role Toba-sensei was supposed to play… But otherwise excellent. Toba-sensei was probably included because it’s an ongoing manga and leaving her out would have made things awkward if there’s a sequel. Other than March, this is probably the only series I that I want to see more of and that could stand having a second season.
So, basically, count me in as a member of Secret Society BLANKET and a massive fan of the comfiest show of the season. Heck, one of the comfiest shows ever.
Oh, and right from the start it the best food related show this season. Good enough that I’ll file it alongside my other recommendations for food shows. Looking back at my media files, something like half of my screenies from Camp are Nadeshiko’s reaction faces while eating…
Final Ranking: 4.0 This is my “standing on the brink of greatness” tier… Half of me thinks it should be bumped up a notch, and the other half points some of the weaker parts… So, I’m conflicted.
March comes in like a Lion/ 3-gatsu no Lion – 2nd season
(Continued from Fall 2017 – see my mid-season review.)
Frankly, I don’t know what to say about March‘s incredible second season. Hinata’s and Yanigihara’s arcs rate among the best ever. His adoptive mother’s monologue was simply stunning. I applaud the show for having the courage to illuminate Rei’s growth not by keeping the spotlight on him – but by allowing him to reflect that light onto others. (Does that sentence even make any sense? It’s about the closest I can express.) What other show could get away with reducing its main character to practically a supporting character for its last few episodes and still produce something so stunning and insightful?
Final Ranking: 4.5 Among the greats. (For comparison, the first season was rated 4.0.)
A place further than the Universe / Uchuu yorimo Toui Basho
There were three shows that stymied me and delayed the completion of this review… March, Yuru Camp, and Universe. With the first two done, now I have to tackle Universe.
I read someone else’s season review, and they characterized Yorimoi as slice-of-life. Nothing could be further from the truth as the characters undergo significant growth and change over the course of the series. Nor is it quite CGDCT for the same reason. I see Yorimoi as a coming-of-age drama. Though it’s particularly apparent in Kimari’s case, all of the girls advance and grow in maturity over the course of the season.
The side characters… sure, there were some stock side characters. But Gin and Kanae more than made up for those. They were intimately involved both in the tragedy that drove the events of the series and in Shirase’s personal journey of growth and closure. Few shows manage to make side characters such an integral part of the story.
The most stunning side character is one that’s not even present – Kobichizawa Takako. While it doesn’t hold back from making clear the impact of her death, they don’t fail to explain why her death hits so hard. Both as Shirase’s deceased mother and with the portrayal of her warm and close friendship with Gin, her presence fills the show and drives the events of the series.
And… I could go on like that for hours, going through my screenshot collection one by one and explaining the significance. But I think I’ll forebear from doing that even though I haven’t really touched on the hardships and challenges the cast faced, or the developing strengths with which they overcame them. Or the wonderful development and portrayal of the friendships between the girls. (Particularly in the case of poor Yuzuki, adrift in a friendless childhood.)
I think the ultimate tribute I can pay Yorimoi is this: When Hinata was angry, I understood why. When Yuzuki was lost and confused, I felt for her. When Gin remembered Takako, I could feel her sense of loss.
When Shirase cried, I cried with her and for her.
I can feel the tears welling up even as I’m typing this – even though three weeks have passed since the episode aired.
Final Ranking: 5.0 No, Universe is not perfect, but it is powerful. And that’s important.
We often joke about “bringing the feels” and “hitting us in the feels” – but at the end of day, what else is there?
Side note: There’s been talk in some corners of whether or not Universe should have a sequel. I’m firmly in the NO WAY camp. There’s material and stories for some interesting OVAs… Or they could take the route that YuuYuuYuu did and assemble a full season out of smaller parts. But a full blown sequel? No way, no how.
And there you have it folks! Better late than never, my reviews and rankings for Winter 2018. What did you think of the season? What do you think of my thoughts?
Drop a comment let me know!