Final Episodes (and season reviews)! Ready! Go! – Winter 2021


Whew! It’s been a long, busy, crazy season! But here we are, wrapping it up. Not much to say in the intro this week, because I say lots down in the body of the post… Hit the jump and let’s run the season down!

The shows that I’m watching are in bold, shows my wife and I are watching together are in bold italicsstrikethrough marks dropped shows and (*) marks shows with no comments this week.

A reminder for the Winter 2021 season: Due to the large amount of shows this season, brief comments and no comments are likely going to be common… This is about the only way I can remain sane.

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 where needed I supplement them here with verbal comments to clarify.

Attack on Titan: The Final Season Episode 16
Shingeki no Kyojin: The Final Season

Attack on Titan - Where is the enemy

A bit much exposition in the middle part…  but, WOW.  I almost bought Pieck’s change of heart, but really, I shouldn’t have been fooled for a moment.  She’s Gabi after all.  Deeply buried in the world of propaganda she was raised in.  And I’m not sure I even buy that she is “just doing it for her comrades in arms” either.

And who was the Pure Titan who rescued Zeke?  And what happened to Levi?  And what the hell is Yelena’s actual deal?  And…  too damm many questions without answers.

Season Review:  I don’t even know where to begin, because the season isn’t properly done, just paused.  But I will say, sooner rather than later, it’s pretty obvious that someone is going to have to knock some sense into Eren.  And a lot of people are going to have to choose side.  The problem is…  after this cour there’s a lot of sides.  Eren, Zeke?, the Jaegerists, the Marleyeans.  (Heck, who is running the show in Marley now?)

Final Ranking: 4.0  (Trembling on the edge of greatness)  Consistent with previous season’s rankings which have been in the 3.0-4.0 range.

We won’t even begin to find out until Winter 2022… When Episode 76 has been announced to air. It’s unclear currently what, if anything, is coming beyond that point. All we know for certain is that there’s a lot of material left to cover and the intention appears to be to cover it – somehow.

Cells at Work!! (Season 2)
Hataraku Saibou!!

Season review:  Honestly, this season was so uneven it’s hard to call it…  But in the end I’d guess I’d say it certainly wasn’t bad, it just failed to be good.  A large part of that was pushing the ditzy Red into the background in favor of the gruff (and less sympathetic) White.  And what even was Ordinary Cell doing there beyond serving as transport for the lactobacilli?

Final Ranking: 2.5  (It was a good thing it was only 8 episodes and didn’t seize the chance to disappoint us further.)

Dr. Stone: Stone Wars Episode 11

Dr Stone - Stone Wars - Tsukasa idle chatter

I guess I’d call this episode an epilogue of sorts…  But it’s also a transition, and not just between seasons and arcs.  It’s really the finale of the Stone Wars that stretches back to the early episodes of the first season.

True to his ethos, Senku is dedicated to saving everyone.  And that includes jailing Hyouga until a proper authority can be convened to mete out justice – and desperately trying to save Tsukasa’s life.  (Meanwhile, Ukyo doesn’t seem to have suffered any long term effects at all.  A gaping plot hole.)  Failing that, he’s going to freeze Tsukasa’s body and roll the dice on the healing effects of petrification.  Thus setting up for the next arc in the sequel already announced…

Season Review:  At it’s heart, Dr. Stone is essentially a shonen battler, a Saturday morning cartoon.  As such, it really doesn’t profit to think too hard about it.  It kept me in my seat, and on a busy Thursday I always made time for it.  Despite the odd ass-pull and plot hole, it stayed true to itself and never wavered.  There’s a lot of shows you can’t say that much for!

Final Ranking: 3.5 (Strong, fun, worth watching even if it wasn’t a show for the ages.)  That’s the same ranking I have the first season.

Even as the finale rolled… Season 3 and the next arc were announced. Senku & Co. are off to find the source of Petrification – in service of the goal of Petrifying Tsukasa’s frozen body and hoping the healing effects of Revival return him to life.

Horimiya Episode 13
Hori-san to Miyamura-kun

Horimiya Season 1 Episode 13

Episode 12 was forgettable, so I’m going to concentrate on Episode 13, the finale.  And…  Honestly, most of it was forgettable too.  They spent way too much time on vignettes with characters we’ve barely spent any time with and way too little on the central couple.  The titular couple got basically a minute or two and none of that was really them interacting without interference.

Season Review:  Episode 13 was all the problems of the back half of the series neatly freeze dried into a compact form for our convenience.  Overall, the series started out strongly… and then lost it’s way midseason as it dropped the main characters and started spending it’s time with side characters and scrubs.  There were entire episodes where the main characters practically didn’t exist at all.  I am told by manga readers that they skipped a ton of main character material over the course of the series.

Final ranking:  2.5  (Honestly, the only reason it even reached the heights of “just average” is on the strength of the opening episodes and scattered parts of the back half of the season.)

Idoly Pride Episodes 11-12

Largely forgettable, both because I’m starting to run out of time/up against a deadline…  Also because all the problems the characters faced were solved in a largely rote and predictable manner.

Season review: Overall, the season can be divided into three parts.  Opening up, it seemed kind of generic even with the addition of Mana’s ghost.  It got really strong in the middle when it concentrated more on the two leads and their characters and struggles.  (Overall it did not make the mistake of trying to cover all of it’s large cast.)  Then the final arc…  Where they rushed to the finish and solved all the problems perfunctorily and mechanically.

Final Ranking: 2.0  (Really, just below average.  I wanted to rank it higher for what it did accomplish, but I just couldn’t.)

But, damm, did it have some good music.  Hopefully when the rush of the next few weeks settles out I’ll have time to listen more closely to the music and add some of it to my playlist.  Doesn’t this tune make you boogie in your seat?

Laid-Back Camp 2nd Season Episodes 12-13
Yuru Camp 2nd Season

Laid Back Camp - Season 2 - let's go camping again!All about the Izu camping trip…  Absolutely charming as hell, as expected.  What more is there to say?  Well, I could say a ton about episode 13.  For some reason it really resonated with me and I could practically write an entire post just on it.

Also, the capybara hot spring and petting zoo is absolutely a real thing – and my wife badly want to go there now.  How Akari was in the show?  All eager and ready and can’t wait?  That’s my wife too.

The ending was…  a bit more bittersweet than the first season.  But it really worked, especially mirroring Rin’s concerns for her friends.  And it ended on a nice positive note “we’ll go camping together again!”.

The post credits montage was practically perfect.

Season Review: More of the same, only…  Not quite as good?  It’s hard to explain, because it was still a dang fine season.  Still comfy.  Still charming.  And I love the heck out of Sakura and Rin’s budding friendship.  (More Sakura?  Would that help or hurt the series?)  Even if it worked well in terms of building characterization, there was a little faux drama that didn’t sit well with me.

Final Ranking:  4.0, trembling on the edge of greatness and the same as the 1st season.  I can’t justify a 3.5, and my ranking scale is the same 10 point one commonly used, so there’s no 3.8 or 3.9 to be had.

For comparison:  My review of the first season of Laid Back Camp back in Winter 2018.

And if you haven’t, check out my post on the series’ OST: Laid Back Camp – Anime Playlist

And now…  for the good news/bad news:

Good news!  There will be more Yuru Camp.  Bad news?  It’s going to be a movie.  And even if the track record of anime movies coming to the US wasn’t mixed, I kind of feel that the last year of COVID has reset a much the progress we’d made up to then.  Plus Yuru Camp isn’t that big a franchise…

Non Non Biyori Nonstop Episode 12

Non Non Byori Nonstop - It's a sunny day!

Everything changes…  But everything remains pretty much the same.  Isn’t how that goes in that nameless little village?  I loved how they went to the effort to give Suguru a proper graduation.  And I really, truly, expected that he’d speak just this once.  But I’m kind of glad that he didn’t.  Renge and the new baby was about as charming as could possibly be.

Season review:  Not as strong as the second season (which I rated a solid 4.0), but perfectly solid and gave me everything I expected.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Some things as just perfect without being outstanding.  If that makes any sense.

Final ranking:   3.5  (Solid performer, and the same as the 1st season.  Non Non Byori has never disappointed.)

You can read my review of the second season here.

So I’m a Spider, So What? Episode 12
Kumo desu ga, Nanika?

The Big Battle against the Big Bad…  Which Kumoko actually had to work at to win, but in the end won mostly via an unheralded ass-pull.  I mean, they spent the whole season hyping HP and MP – and never explained SP at all.  Just all of the sudden it was there and important.

Mid season comments:  It’s been enjoyable so far, despite the ongoing confusion about what exactly is going on…  and how the human and spider sides are connected.  And there’s the mystery about just why the world is about to fall apart.  Will be back for the 2nd cour.

The Quintessential Quintuplets ∬ Episode 12
Go-Toubun no Hanayome ∬ (Second season)

Quintessential Quintuplets - Miku confesses

This, if you’ll pardon the pun, is the quintessential Quintuplets episode.  The quints scheming, a little family drama ended with a grand making-up, and Futaro being his usual clueless self.  All topped off with a spontaneous confession just as promptly rescinded (kinda sorta).  OK, part of this also Miku is Second Best Girl…  But it was well paced episode, something we’ve seen too little of this season.

But, oh, that cliffhanger…  and probable troll as to the identity of the Bride.  (My money is split between Nino and Miku.  But I wouldn’t be averse to hedging my bets by putting a marker on Itsuki.)

Season Review:  I called S1 of this series “the harem that was better than it had any right to be”…  And while I enjoyed this season, it spent down an awful lot of the goodwill the first had banked.  The biggest problem was that it never slowed down.  The quieter moments that really defined the best parts of S1 were noticeably absent as they tried to stuff as much possible into this season.  So much stuff was just blatant.

For reference, here is my season review of Quintessential Quintuplets season 1.

Final ranking: 2.5 (Average at best.)  For reference, I ranked the first season 3.0

But the good news is that a third season has been announced! From the key art, I presume this will cover the balance of the manga. Yay! Despite the second season’s problems, I’m solidly looking forward to this.

Uma Musume: Pretty Derby Season 2 Episode 12-13

Predictable as clockwork – Tokai Teio recovers completely from her (third!) “career ending” injury and with almost no recovery time handily beats the competition and wins the race.

Season Review:  All season long I’ve struggled not to dump on this show too hard…  It’s pretty much paint-by-numbers, and didn’t expect more than that.  But even by those low expectations, it failed mightily.  Any anime can be forgiven a single near-miraculous recovery – by Uma Musume 2 featured no less than *four*!  (Possibly five depending how you interpret the ending scene.)  Interspersed with this was way too much time spent on irrelevant side characters.  (Waifu bait for the mobage no doubt.)  And the much heralded relationship between the leads…  Well, Mejiro McQueen was barely present and the resulting interactions with Tokai had about as much emotion as cold pancakes.

Final ranking: 1.5  (A grave disappointment.  With a little effort, it could have been so much better.)  For reference, I rated the original series  2.5 (basically average mind candy).

With a Dog AND a Cat, Every Day is Fun
Inu to Neko Docchi mo Katteru to Mainichi Tanoshii

Season review:  I’ve actually been remiss in letting this slide by for two cour without actually commenting.  Not too much to say week-to-week, but I really should have pointed out how funny and relatable it is to anyone with pets. 

Except maybe if you have a platypus, they don’t do much.

Final ranking: 3.5  (The highest a non-classic/truly great can get.)

=========

There’ll be a couple more Anime Playlist posts covering this season, but otherwise I think that wraps up Winter 2021! Just in time too, I’m ready for spring. (In both meanings of the word “season”.) I should have the first round of premiere coverage up in a day or two, or you can check my Twitter for quick impressions.

Anyhow, as usual, over to you! Drop a comment and let’s chat about your thoughts on the final episodes, the season overall, or whatever you want to chat about!

14 thoughts on “Final Episodes (and season reviews)! Ready! Go! – Winter 2021”

  1. I agree pretty much on everything I watched, except Horimiya, which I really, really liked. I’ve always liked huge casts, and you’ve rarely talked positively about them, so I feel that might make the difference here? I do think they could have handled the cast a little better; sometimes someone new would appear, and I’d wonder if I was supposed to know who this is, for example. But I found those minor hiccups. Probably my favourite show this season that isn’t a sequel.

    As for Uma Musume, sounds like I didn’t miss much by getting out early. I’m actually quite fond of season 1, but this was just… sort of there? I didn’t drop it because I thought it was bad; I dropped it because whenever I compared it to season 1 it felt just a little worse than it actually was. And I couldn’t help comparing.

    I’m pretty much with you on the returners as well: none were quite as good as the previous seasons, but they were still quite obviously themselves and enjoyable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Re:Horimiya

      I’ve always liked huge casts, and you’ve rarely talked positively about them, so I feel that might make the difference here? I do think they could have handled the cast a little better; sometimes someone new would appear, and I’d wonder if I was supposed to know who this is, for example.

      It’s the latter that was my problem. They just kept popping in and out. Vignettes can work, large casts can work, it just didn’t in this case… Mostly because they abandoned a strong storyline with the main couple and just filled out the run time with vignettes. If they’d interspersed them with the main couple, and built out the relationships, it would have been a stronger story.

      That you couldn’t remember if you were supposed to remember them or is symptomatic of the larger problem. They simply cut too much material.

      Re:Uma Musume
      No, you did good by bailing early.

      I’m pretty much with you on the returners as well: none were quite as good as the previous seasons, but they were still quite obviously themselves and enjoyable.

      A couple didn’t miss by much!

      Like

      1. It’s the latter that was my problem. They just kept popping in and out. Vignettes can work, large casts can work, it just didn’t in this case… Mostly because they abandoned a strong storyline with the main couple and just filled out the run time with vignettes. If they’d interspersed them with the main couple, and built out the relationships, it would have been a stronger story.

        Yeah, we both reacted to it as a problem, but it seems to me we weight it differently. For me it’s a minor niggle. I agree it would have been a stronger story with more focus, but I’m not sure I’d have liked a stronger story better than what we’ve got. For me, the problem isn’t that they pop in and out, but that the transitions are often abrupt and the framing doesn’t tell me where I am. I feel we have different takes what the problematic item in question is a symptom for (if the medical metaphor makes sense).

        A couple didn’t miss by much!

        It’s interesting to note that all three are in different situations.

        Quintuplets is an ongoing story with development, so there’s a plot line to hold your attention, and some curiosity the show needs to satisfy. Beyond that there’s the mood of the piece, and if it measures up. I liked the second season. I liked the first season more, but not by all that much.

        Yuru Camp is a second season, but there’s not much of a story, it being a slice-of-life. They’re just going camping. I don’t think the second season was any worse than the first, but I’m usually most excited about the set-up stage of a show, and it being a second season that falls away. Also, there’s a slight case of diminishing returns. It’s basically the difference between a new and shiny thing, and a familiar and comofortable thing. It’s hard to compare because the experiences slot into different categories.

        And then there’s Non Non Biyori, of which I’ve seen two seasons and film. I quite liked season one, I loved season two, and I was merely okay with the film. So this season isn’t quite on par with season 2, which is still the highlight in the franchise as far as I’m concerned. I don’t really remember season 1 all that well anymore, so I don’t really know how this season compares. This season was definitely better than the film, though, so there’s a slight feeling of relieve that there isn’t a drop-off in enjoyment, and the film was just a minor dip (it was still enjoyable). It’s interesting that, after what I said above about second seasons and Yurucamp, that Non Non Biyori bypassed the effect by improving on the formula.

        While we’re on the topic of second seasons: There was also Slime, and it’s in the same category. Unlike last season, I was never bored, but unlike last season, there wasn’t really any highpoint either. It’s getting a little darker, but that doesn’t really gel with the mood, and while they’re doing well enough they’re glossing over the more horrific effects of what’s going on (there were signs of this in the first season already, but it’s front and centre here). On the whole it’s more of the same, but with more focus on story, the cracks are more clearly in view, if that makes sense. Would I recommend going back to it? If I recall correctly you experienced severe diminishing returns during the two-cour run. I would say, maybe if you’re ever bored enough and there’s nothing else on the plate. Which is, time-managment-wise, pretty much the equivalent of a no. (It hurts a little to say this, since I’m sort of fond of the show, but that’s my assessment.)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Would I recommend going back to it? If I recall correctly you experienced severe diminishing returns during the two-cour run. I would say, maybe if you’re ever bored enough and there’s nothing else on the plate. Which is, time-managment-wise, pretty much the equivalent of a no.

          Pretty much spot on… I’m getting too predictable… :)

          Like

  2. So that was really funny. That last scene of Quints, with the wedding flash-forward and the kiss under the bell cliffhanger, was actually the end of chapter 68 or exactly where I expected the season to end! They just zoomed 18 chapters past it and then looped back to it again at the last minute. Kind of emblematic of this season as a whole, really. That being said, I felt like this last episode was the strongest of the season, at least for me. And for these past several episodes I’ve been trying to divorce myself from the manga and simply take what the anime was offering me, and I started to find I was enjoying it a lot more when I did that, instead of getting hung up on the negatives. Still a half-step down from S1 regardless, but fine for what it was, and if the changes they made to this season ultimately set up a season 3 that actually improves on the end of the manga, then I’ll completely forgive them.

    One more weekly Yotsuba for the road: https://i.redd.it/dtdey9e51wn61.jpg

    That last episode of Laid Back Camp was incredible. It was the episode of that show that I didn’t even know I wanted until they gave it to me. But really, I had no complaints at all about the season as a whole. The midseason interlude with the B-team was the only time I briefly wasn’t feeling it, and even that wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t the characters I come to watch the show for. I might sometimes skip those two episodes on future rewatches, but the rest of it was all more than good with me.

    I’m most of the way through rewatching S1 of Non Non Biyori now, and looking forward to S3 when I get there. I’m at that stage after five years away where it’s like I sort of remember S1 and don’t at the same time. Some segements I remembered but not exactly when they were coming up, like the rabbit locking Renge and Hotaru in the hutch. And then there are other segments like the cultural festival that I’d completely forgotten about. But that’s exactly why I wanted to rewatch it first before going on to the new stuff!

    I also just started watching Beyond the Boundary, as I pick away at KyoAni’s back catalog. I know it’s not one of their best-regarded shows but I’m enjoying it so far, albeit still only a few episodes in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Re: Quints

      That being said, I felt like this last episode was the strongest of the season, at least for me.

      Yeah. It’s all the good stuff, the development, the slower bits, the interactions that they kinda skimped on in the earlier episodes.

      Specifically the final scenes of the Yuru Camp finale… Even though I have some minor quibbles with the season as a whole, that’s one of the best bits ever. And dammit they better show us the Nadeshiko/Rin camp at Lake Motosu. I can think of few scenes in any anime ever that I’ve wanted more.

      Are you going to re-watch S2 as well?

      Like

  3. Yep, “forgettable” probably is the best word to describe Horimiya. Unfortunately, not all stories retain their initial grip.
    Didn’t know Yuru Camp was getting a movie. Not as great news as getting another season would be, but it’s still great!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, “forgettable” probably is the best word to describe Horimiya. Unfortunately, not all stories retain their initial grip.

      There’s wrong with forgettable mind you… It’s annoying in this case because it started so strong.

      I’m am so crossing every appendage that the movie comes to the US.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. @Shingeki no Kyojin:

    But I will say, sooner rather than later, it’s pretty obvious that someone is going to have to knock some sense into Eren.

    Visual detail, ICYMI: In this episode, Mikasa was no longer wearing her scarf.

    The manga has ended. The fandom is so salty, the merchants could never collect it all.

    @Horimiya:

    The titular couple got basically a minute or two and none of that was really them interacting without interference.

    I know, right? For about the first twenty minutes I felt like yelling at the screen, “Did you forget the main couple got engaged last episode!?” At least the first half of the season was good enough to make me care enough to get mad…

    @Yuru Camp:

    More of the same, only… Not quite as good? It’s hard to explain, because it was still a dang fine season. Still comfy.

    Yep. It still answered the mail for what I watched this show for, and that’s all I ask.

    @Go-Toubun no Hanayome:

    OK, part of this also Miku is Second Best Girl…

    To be honest, she was my pick for Best Girl for most of S1 until I realized her issues were so deep and that Futaro is just too dense to pull her out of them. Yotsuba is Best Girl not on her own, but because she and Futaro would make the best couple.

    @Others:
    Wow, that was a stacked season… I don’t think I’ve ever finished as many series as I did this season (granted, some of these series are still continuing):
    Beastars S2
    Dr. Stone S2
    5-Toubun S2
    Hataraku Saibou Black
    Hataraku Saibou S2
    Horimiya
    Inu to Neko
    Jaku Chara Tomozaki-kun
    Jujutsu Kaisen
    Kumo desu ga, Nanika?
    Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san
    Mushoku Tensei
    Shingeki no Kyojin S4P1
    Wonder Egg Priority
    Yakusoku no Neverland S2
    Yatogame-chan S3
    Yuru Camp S2

    Soft dropped (did not finish, but may pick up later):
    Vlad Love

    Hard dropped:
    Uma Musume S2
    Ura Sekai Picnic

    Bottom line, though: out of all the series I finished that you dropped, there were none I would argue you should pick back up and finish, and out of all the series I finished that you never watched, there’s really only two I would recommend to you: Beastars and Wonder Egg Priority. (Well, maybe Yatogame-chan if you know anyone from Nagoya, or have ever been interested in visiting there… it’s 3 minute episodes, so not too bad of a time sink.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Shingeki no Kyojin:

      Visual detail, ICYMI: In this episode, Mikasa was no longer wearing her scarf.

      The manga has ended. The fandom is so salty, the merchants could never collect it all.

      I missed that, and it’s important in how it portrays her feelings towards Eren.

      Once a fandom gets to be a certain size, it’s pretty hard for most types of stories to reach a conclusion that will satisfy most if not all… It’s worse when you have a highly invested fandom. Titan is well within the Hill Sphere and and across the event horizon.

      @Quints

      To be honest, she was my pick for Best Girl for most of S1 until I realized her issues were so deep and that Futaro is just too dense to pull her out of them.

      Futaro is too dense, period. Though that’s changing, too slowly for my tastes… But swing too far and the series would lose most of it’s charm – it entirely depends on Futaro being a level and kind of dense.

      Like

      1. Once a fandom gets to be a certain size, it’s pretty hard for most types of stories to reach a conclusion that will satisfy most if not all… It’s worse when you have a highly invested fandom. Titan is well within the Hill Sphere and and across the event horizon.

        That’s… a very good way of putting it, and worth remembering when the anime reaches the end.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Just a couple of late comments. I thought the final episode of Idolly Pride was pretty okay. The idol contest came to a relatively predictable conclusion, the songs and animation were good but for me the conclusion of Mana’s story was a nice postscript, giving the story a nice feel over all. Idolly Pride wasn’t great but it’s one of the better Idol series in recent years.

    Uma Musume Pretty Derby 2: I don’t think I’ve seen a series attempt to revise the same plot line three times but Uma Musume made the attempt. Generally Teo’s gritty comebacks were entirely predictable but the final dramatic race almost redeemed the entire series. As an anime artifact in itself, the race’s drama and construction works very well even thought its outcome is what you would expect. I enjoyed Uma Musume’s last episode far more than i did the rest of the series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought the final episode of Idolly Pride was pretty okay.

      “Pretty OK” could be a useful summary of the entire series… :) But that’s been pretty much true of the run of idol shows over the last few. Maybe SideM and Locodol stand out… (IMO, YMMV of course.)

      Uma Musume, I agree, the final episode was pretty darned good. It’s a shame there was no real foundation to give the punch it could have had.

      Liked by 1 person

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