Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Fall 2017 Anime Review

Hey guys!

I'm still trying to figure out what exactly I want to put on the blog here in the future but it's still really handy for me to make these little listicle/round-up posts for myself. ("Handy?" Well you know, when I'm making larger lists, recommending things to friends, figuring out what books my parents should buy me for my birthday, etc).

So, here's what I spent the last three months predominately watching when it came to anime (Just Because! was dropped halfway through, Ancient Magus Bride & Garo: Vanishing Line are still on-going so they aren’t in this post). Some of this will sound a bit repetitive since I mentioned a number of these shows in my 12 Days of Anime posts (like my Top 9 Shows of 2017 post) but here they area again one more time!

Anime-Gataris: I picked up this series quite late, after all of the buzz about it had started, and I thoroughly enjoyed this mashed up series. It starts out as a series about a bunch of high school nerds forming an anime club, which is amusing in and of itself, and as the series goes on it just becomes more /anime/. To the point where I was cracking jokes that the series would end with the characters realizing they were in an anime and well, that’s not actually how it ended but I was on the right track! It’s a super fun show but I’m not sure how much of an anime fan you need to be to watch it since some of the references and tropes used in the last few episodes are a bit obscure and I’m not so sure how enjoyable those moments will be to a viewer who doesn’t get them. I feel like the story should still be able to be followed by someone who’s been following anime, at least generally, for a while, but if anyone thinks differently please chime in!

Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond: As I think I have already said too many times: I was hesitant going into the first season of BBB but the story won me over, I was hesitant going into the second season with a different director and the story just didn’t win me over a second time around. Some of the characterization felt different, Leo just felt a little more petty and vulgar, and while it was really nice to have additional focus episodes on some of the side characters (like Chain, who didn’t have one in the first season) I felt like the lack of an overall, unifying arc or theme for this second season really hurt it in the denouement. This isn’t the most disappointed I’ve ever been with a sequel (ie, this story wasn’t an incoherent mess, thank god for that at the very least) but it is causing me to have mixed feelings on the story as a whole. 

Code Realize: ~Guardian of Rebirth~: This anime is an adaptation of an otome game that I’ve actually been interested in for a number of years and would have tried already if I had the right system for it. Having seen the anime now I’m less inclined to play the game, not because the anime was bad but because I realized I wasn’t interested in over half of the male cast and wouldn’t particularly want to spend time on their routes. Also, this anime adaptation followed the “true” route so I feel like I already know most of the story! I know that some things were cut, as happens in every game adaptation, but I felt like the story was still understandable, it was easy to see why some players would go for even the characters I wasn’t interested in, and main character Cardia actually had more of a personality and agency then quite a few player-insert characters. Heck, while I didn’t love the story as much as some other bloggers I follow, I also appreciated that all of Cardia’s potential love interests spent a lot of time and effort to give her real-world skills and that they were genuinely interested in her growth as a person. I really prefer when these adaptations choose to make the main character an actual character instead of a “blank slate” so all in all I was fairly happy with this anime, I just don’t think it will prove memorable enough for me in the long term.

Juni Taisen: Zodiac War: This battle royale had a promising start but like many viewers (it seems) it fell flat for me at the end. I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about how the story became routine and predictable early on but for me the killing nail was how the story liked to tease that it had deeper ideals and motivations in mind but never really followed them through. “You can’t judge us because you people are in charge of all of these conflicts and are the real villains all along!” isn’t a new viewpoint these days, I wish the story had committed one way or another to at least make this a more interesting subplot. And speaking of subplots, I feel like the story completely inadequately explained the underlying reasons for the Juni Taisen in the end. The set-up of the story didn’t demand a rigorous explanation but come on, if you start talking about the set-up then you need to commit and actually explain things by the end!

Land of the Lustrous: As I’ve been saying in all of the “top anime of 2017” discussions I’ve been on, this show blew me away. I tried the manga before the anime aired, wasn’t especially grabbed by it, but something about the anime’s execution hooked me from the beginning and I was completely invested in this group of gemstone people living in an isolated world and fending off attacks from Lunarians who want them only as jewelry pieces. The 3D CGI animation looked great, I loved some of the visual effects and framing that were possible because the show wasn’t traditionally animated (*wouldn’t have been possible in 2D animation given the often crushingly small production schedules that tv animation is working under in the current day and age). I’m hooked, I plan to give the mana another shot and I am dearly hoping that there’s a second season or more to the show to continue the story.

Recovery of an MMO Junkie: Well this was a charming little series which was NOT about the main character learning to “leave behind” the world of MMOs but instead it was a story about an adult character who is “recovering” from a nasty work-life and the story reaffirms how important online relationships can be, that’s pretty great! This is a rom-com on some levels so there are a lot of contrivances to get Moriko and Sakurai in the same place and talking to each other but by and large I didn’t mind, if anything the fact that they kept meeting and re-meeting meant that they knew each other pretty well already which made me more invested in seeing them date. I know some folks have talked about side character Kowai and how he trips off a few “creeper” alarms but I was able to overlook them since it was pretty obvious to me what the story was trying to clumsily do. Your mileage will vary, especially based on your own past experience with trying to avoid people in a convenience store, and I do wish the story had written that a bit better. Folks who act creepy and “don’t realize it” do exist in real life so it’s the way the story frames these characters that is so important and MMO Junkie could do better there. That was it’s one moderate misstep for me, also I wholeheartedly recommend watching the OVA after the finale if you have the time since it’s also a hoot. 

Yuki Yuuna is a Hero 2: The second season of Yuuki Yuuna was actually split into two parts, a prequel about Washio Sumi and an actual sequel to the first season. I didn’t like the prequel as much, the humor and pacing just felt off to me (the second might be explained by the fact that the Washio Sumi chapter was originally released as a series of OVAS/movies) and it was a bit heavy-handed with the “we are trying to make you care about these characters before we do horrible things to them). The second season also didn’t work as well for me as the first season did, by now the Yuuki Yuuna franchise has become a multimedia project so without some supplementary information (like, how the Shinjuu, a conglomeration of land gods, is “fighting” against the heavenly gods, who are sending the vertexes and worse to obliterate humanity) parts of the larger story were hard to follow. I also felt like everything was a bit too short since the second season only had 6 episodes to work with. I am interested in seeing adaptations of some of the other stories in the franchise, like about the very first hero team and about the Sentinels, girls who don’t have hero potential and use mass-produced equipment to fight instead. If I had to guess, there were a few moments in the second season that involved imagery associated with the very first hero team so I would guess that that story would be the next to get adapted if at all. And outside of the story I have to wonder, with PonyCan going quiet for a while and the fact that this was a former Anime Strike title (now an Amazon Prime title), will this season even be licensed for home distribution at all?

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