Well, here are – it’s the end of another season. Some good shows, some bad shows, some middle of the road shows. Hit the jump and let’s run ’em down!
The shows that I am watching are in bold, shows my wife and I are watching together are in bold italics,
strikethrough marks dropped shows and (*) marks shows that are watched but not regularly reviewed.
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.
Endro~! Episode 12
Just… Yuck. The finale depended on a due ex machina/ass pull to makes its point. I HATE that. I HATE it with a dark burning passion. After being so good for so long, it dropped the ball in the home stretch.
Despite the deeply flawed final episode, I had a ton of fun watching Endro~!. The characters were a little one-note, but that’s not a big problem in what’s basically a simple show. I loved how it played with expectations and basically upended what you’d expect from a fantasy/adventure show. It also played with being CGDCT, and smartly blended that aspect with the main fantasy/adventure plot.
Final Ranking: 2.5 Fun, but not great. Could have been so much better had they not (IMO) blown the ending.
Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka / Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka Episode 12
You’ve seen Shirobako? Asuka‘s final episode is exactly how Director Kinoshita was afraid that 3rd Girls Aerial Squadron would end as if he couldn’t get through to Nogame sensei… An incoherent mess with an unsatisfying “our battle goes on, now go forth and read the manga” ending.
Asuka started strong, but gradually lost its way. It introduced a number of interesting themes… (Asuka’s PTSD, Mia’s source of strength) but never actually dealt with them. When it ran out of other things to do, it dragged out a torture scene or gratuitous sexuality. (And in the final ep, both in one scene!)
Final Ranking: 1.0 The only value in this show is that in future I’ll be able to point to it as about the purest example of a our battle goes on, now go forth and go read the manga” ending that I’ve ever had the misfortune to see. On the other hand, at least it’s better than Masamune-Kun, which stopped literally in mid arc. They ran out of episodes and just… stopped.
My Roommate is a Cat / Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue Episode 11-12
This was an awesome pair of episodes to round out the season! Practically every story beat built on what had gone before – but it was all final polish, nothing repetitive. When Haru went out into the storm to find Subaru, it was a gut punch to the feels… and when Subaru found Haru, I could sense the onion ninjas stalking about outside my windows.
I don’t say this often, but it was a practically pitch perfect finale. With Neverland‘s final ep, that makes two this season.
The only thing I was hesitant about was waiting for Haru’s POV portion of the episode, but that was handled deftly. Especially in the second ep, they departed from the norm and interwove his story with hers rather than waiting for the end. IMO a brilliant creative decision.
In the beginning, I had my doubts about Roomate. Haru’s segments seemed a bit heavy-handed, especially in the first ep. (I should note, I’m not a cat person. I’m only marginally a pet person… Though you might doubt that watching me dote on my wife’s guinea pigs.) But over time, as she and Subaru grew closer I grew more comfortable and indeed began to look forward to her segments.
It took a while to find its legs, but once it did… It became a very good show indeed. Well worth my investment of time.
Final Ranking: 4.0 I’m comfortable with putting it in the “on the edge of greatness” tier. It’s a sweet show, and delivers the feels, but it’s lacking… something. Maybe it spent too much time dwelling on the annoying side characters and less one the ones that actually advanced the plot and developed the main characters.
Run with the Wind / Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru Episode 23
I went into the final episode dreading that they’d find a way to get our boys into the lead and winning the race. I felt justified in this because of Wind‘s ongoing reluctance to actually have consequences of any weight or lasting impact. In the end… I think they handled it decently enough. Kakeru beat that redheaded snotball and just barely beat Fujioka. The team just barely squeaked into being seeded for the next year.
Haiji though… As someone who lives with a permanently damaged joint, his knee going, his obvious throbbing pain… those really hit home.
The final scenes… The farewell party for the boys we’ve come to know so well, and Kakeru leading the new team… Loved ’em. A perfect farewell.
Wind is a difficult show to sum up neatly… One on hand, it’s a very good character drama, with each of the characters growing and changing over the course of the show. On the other, it’s a tale of individuals gradually growing closer, coming together as a team, and achieving the once impossible against incredible odds. The latter has, of course been done many times… But Wind does a deft job of making it feel realistic.
But. It has one gaping flaw that gnaws at my guts. Too many times it reached for cheap melodrama with cliffhangers – that were resolved without cost in the first few minutes if the next episode. Other than Kakeru’s knee in the final episode, there were never any lasting consequences.
Final Ranking: 3.5 Wind really should be a tier up, trembling on the edge of greatness… But that constant cliffhanger melodrama drags it down into the merely very damn good. That being said, it’s a show I’ll be recommending for a very long time whenever the topic of sports anime comes up.
Sword Art Online: Alicization Episode 24
This episode was exactly what the series so far had led me to anticipate… And no, this is not praise. Nor is it damming with faint praise. It’s outright scorn. Too much exposition. Unjustified victories. Almost no weight to the fights, even though this time there finally were actual consequences. But I was so tired of the mess that I couldn’t muster any feels.
It’s no contest – Alicization is by far the weakest outing of the franchise to date. I’d be more definitive if it wasn’t for the possibility of War of Underworld to surpass it.
Which leaves me puzzled… For years, I’ve been hearing “just WAIT till you see Alicization” from readers of the LN. What happened? I haven’t seen able to find an answer to that question.
Final Ranking: 2.0 – well below its potential. And leaving me wondering if I’ll be back for the next installment.
The Price of Smiles / Egao no Daika Episode 12
First off – definitely check out Karandi’s evaluation of Princess Yuki.
As far as the episode itself goes… Smiles ended as it lived – desperately running from theme to plot point to concept trying to pack ten pounds into a five-pound sack.
Looking at the series as a whole in the rear view mirror… That was a basic problem right from the start. Too much left unexplained, too much going on without much in the way of antecedents. Smiles either needed two full cour, or a much tighter hand on the editorial helm to trim the scenario and script to fit into the one cour it got.
Final ranking: 1.5 – Well below average and far below it’s potential.
THE PROMISED NEVERLAND / Yakusoku no Neverland Episode 11
It was the best of episodes, it was the worst of episodes…
Not that this episode was actually bad mind you… I’m just not fond of “everything you knew was wrong” type flashbacks. Or maybe, in this case, “we’ve been holding out on you” type flashback?
I should also talk about something I forgot to mention the other week… There’s something of a controversy going around over whether or not Norman is dead. Unlike the others, he’s never shown as being unquestionably dead. My wife’s theory is that he’s alive – and will be raised to stud the next generation of cattle. It’s a provocative thought to say the least.
THE PROMISED NEVERLAND / Yakusoku no Neverland Episode 12
Oh. My. God. That was beautiful… I spent the entire episode waiting for the other shoe to drop and reminding myself to breathe. I can’t think of a single beat they missed.
This sequence hit particularly hard… From her scornful glare at Isabella, to her almost sad farewell to Mom, to turning her back on them both… Yes, both. In Emma’s mind, Isabella and Mom are two sides of the same coin. Forever joined, but also forever separated and different.
(Side note: All through the series Emma has gotten some of the best faces, and it was a tight race. The character animation has been fantastic.)
Yes, Yes… I know. I know. Up towards the top of this post I was scornful of “our battles go on” endings. But Neverland shows how to do it right. Tie up as many of the major plot threads as possible (they even finally explained Phil) and go out on a high note right at a logical ending/transition point.
I think I’d have been positive about even if I hadn’t already encountered the spoiler that another season is forthcoming before watching the ep.
As far as a season review goes… I can’t think of anything to say. The series took a few episodes to really find it’s legs (I almost dropped it) but in the end, it all paid off.
Final ranking: 4.5 – I agonized over the rating for a long time… 4.0 is usually my “trembling on the edge of greatness” tier. 5.0 is reserved for (IMO) true greats. I finally decided that Neverland fell comfortably in the middle. It’s great, and I enjoyed the hell out of it – but somehow it (and I can’t put my finger on it) falls short of being a true great. (YMMV of course.)
The Quintessential Quintuplets / 5 Toubun no Hanayome Episode 12 – Crunchy (ANN)
Putting Futaro in bed with a cold was actually a neat solution to the dilemma of who he would dance with. (And the whole “two identities” shtick I’ve been dreading.) Having all the quints hold a finger as the final song of the dance played was just so sweet that I practically caught diabetes right then and there.
And now – the big question. Who was the bride? For my money, Nino. The bride was wearing cloth things in her braids, as only Nino does. And Futaro was shown wearing the “lucky” bracelet, which also only has significance with regards to Nino.
It’s interesting that in his post on the matter, WingKing gave Nino the highest odds of marrying Futaro…
But Yotsuba is Best Girl, no matter the outcome.
I liked Quints because it avoided most of the usual tropes of the harem genre (particularly the reliance on fanservice and the accidental pervert trope). That the harem was unusually close (rather than being blatant rivals) also made it stand out.
Not a show for the ages, but nothing I regret watching either.
I know, that sounds like damming with faint praise – honestly, there’s nothing wrong with being a fun little romp. At the end of the day, anime is a medium for enjoyment. If you’re not enjoying it – you’re Doing It Wrong.
Final Ranking: 3.0 – The sweet spot for an anime that wasn’t great, but which defied genre expecations.
- Girly Air Force (6 eps)
- Kaguya-sama: Love Is War (10 mins)
- Pastel Memories (2 eps)
- Real Girl 2nd Season (10 mins)
- The Magnificent KOTOBUKI (10 mins)
There you have it! Battle Winter 2019 is OVAH!
So, what are your thought on these or other shows that aired this season? What are your thoughts on my thoughts?
Drop a comment and let’s chat!