The fall 2016 anime season is well underway, but we should take a moment to look back at the summer season. Here’s everything I watched, and whether I am filled with joy or regret as a result, a few shows I still mean to get around to finishing, and some stuff I didn’t watch, but maybe you should. After all, one person’s trash is another person’s, uh, trash.
Here’s everything I saw this season:
Concrete Revolutio – The Last Song: I’m a big fan of both seasons of this show, and wish more shows were this ambitious. It’s hard to watch (an ever-expanding cast of characters, multiple timelines, and multiple motivations), but absolutely worth it. It’s an unashamed period piece that does a spectacular job of analyzing and situating all of the modern anime tropes (most of which were originally toy company demands to sell products to kids) in the historical context that explains them.
Kiznaiver: it’s well animated, has a great song, interesting characters, and is absolutely stupid. It’s an overwrought character piece about teenagers learning the value of human connection with bullshit magic and survival game shit. Kokoro Connect did the same thing, in a slightly less stupid way, as has almost every show about Japanese teenagers that isn’t a romance ever.
Space Patrol Luluco: This is a stunning tribute to animation. This is what happens when all of your animators desert the suits to make their own animation studio, then cram 50+ episodes of plot into 12 five-minute episodes. Hyperkinetic and surreal, it’s the best way you’ll spend an hour all day.
My Hero Acadamia: It’s the standard trinity of friendship, training, and victory, but with superheroes. Besides the absolutely awesome international relations subtext, with every move of one of the main heroes being named after a different part of the United States (and the hero being a blond, blue-eyed buff guy with a giant nose), the show only works because the main character is pre-transformation Steve Rogers through and through: a constant reminder of “heroism” defined as self-sacrifice for the greater good, despite personal risk (or injury). I wish any of the other characters were interesting, though, rather than shallow stereotypes.
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress: This show heralds Amazon’s entry into the anime streaming game in a big way. It’s well animated, with bombastic direction and music, and enough violence to have a real shot at surpassing its spiritual predecessor, Attack on Titan. I’d love to say that Kabaneri is smarter, or better paced, or somehow a better show, but I’m not a liar.
Assassination Class: This show has been going on for a while, but since it’s finally ending, it’s worth talking about once more. Given how profoundly dysfunctional many fictional Japanese schools are (from what I’m told, they are only slightly less problematic in terms of issues like bullying than real life Japanese schools), the stunning counter-argument this show presents about the nature of education and society (and the show’s larger point about being productive members of society) is touching and needed. It’s also a decent action show for most of its run.
Kuromukuro: It’s an anniversary show, so the animation is good. The plot is layered with Evangelion and Fullmetal Panic references. I like Evangelion. I like Fullmetal Panic. It’s a fun show to watch week to week. If you haven’t seen EVA or FMP yet, watch those first, because this show (so far, since it’s still airing) hasn’t added anything to the formulas from those two shows.
Here’re the shows I fucking need to finish:
Bungo Stray Dogs: A more than capable little show with a hell of a pedigree. If you like watching the adventures of quirky bishonen from a time when anime was influenced by “trash” but hasn’t gone full Absolute Duo, go for it. I didn’t stop watching this show for any reason more complex than it took too long to make me care about the characters or the world.
Hundred: This is pure trash, in the “I promise I’m not Infinite Stratos but I’m close” mold. If you like IS (I did), you can see a very similar story, except one in which the main character is aware of sexuality (both his own and those of his harem). If you’ve ever wanted to see an MC-Kun shut up a yandere by telling her “let’s get married” and calling her bluff, this show is worth watching, if only for that. Otherwise, this has nothing to add to the “MC-Kun goes to magic high school and gets a harem” genre.
I’m Sakamoto, Bitch!: It’s a very funny one joke show. It might only have one joke, it’s animated for nothing, but it’s still consistently hilarious. I just couldn’t marathon it (because the one joke gets old), so I’m still getting through it.
Shows I didn’t watch but you probably should:
Re:Zero: The entirety of AniTwitter swears that this “high schooler wakes up in an MMO world” show is unique and good. As absolutely tired as I am of Japanese high schoolers waking up in fantasy video game worlds, I doubt the entirety of AniTwitter can be wrong. (I mean, everyone watched and loved Yuri Kuma, right?)
The Lost Village: Anime fans are sure this is either the worst show ever made, or a brilliant deconstruction of the nature of narrative. When people love or hate a show this much, it’s worth watching just to join the argument.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: It’s still the greatest story ever told. It’s a series of bizarre amazing things that happen every week, to the point where it’s hard to write about the show, because I just end up describing things that happen. I’m not caught up because it’s a better show to watch in small doses, with alcohol and friends to allow for the “Did I just fucking see that?” conversations to happen with people who probably exist in real life (and not just in my head). Convince one of the other Kraken inhabitants to watch another 39 episode of Jojo’s with me (and forgive me for how I inflicted the first 26 on them) in the comments.