Blogging teaches certain life lessons, a surprising number of them maladaptive.
Today’s anime post was originally the winter 2017 anime preview, but by putting it off until the season ended, I’ve succeeded in giving better recommendations of what shows from the current anime season are worth Ludovico-ing your roommates with. Spoiler alert: this was actually a great season for anime. Let’s look at what this season had to offer in our traditional categories: Didn’t Finish, Haven’t Finished, Heard It Was Good, Fuck You Netflix, I Watched (And You Should Too), and finally the Show of the Season.
Shows I didn’t finish and don’t plan on finishing (Because fuck you and fuck everything)
The initial premise is pretty fucking cringe-y: Fat kid gets rejected, goes to 4chan/reddit for advice, gets told, “Get fit bro,” and becomes a physical adonis for the sole purpose of seducing and then dumping the girl who hurt him. But I couldn’t get through this show for two reasons. The first is that it is morally repugnant. While the show goes out of it’s way to hurt or otherwise cause pain to the “nice guy” main character, in every scene it accidentally confirms his central premise that the answer to all of life’s problems is to become more attractive. Given what the rest of this article praises, I could probably stomach that if weren’t for the second issue I have with Masamune-kun’s Revenge: It has nothing new to say. If I want watch anime on autopilot, I’ll at least watch an action show with good animation.
Shows I haven’t finished but will (Because cute anime trash girls are kawaii desu yo, and so are giant robot child soldiers)
The basic premise–overachieving angel goes to Earth, discovers free-to-play MMOs and goes full trash NEET, while a goody-two-shoes devil tries to reform her (and a ditzy failchan chunni devil is tortured by a sadistic Ojou-sama angel) hints that this is pretty much a softball set-up for some engaging 4-koma comedy. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s Gintama-level funny. As a piece of advice though, if you’re going to watch it, make sure to watch an illegally-fansubbed copy: the opening and end theme are untranslated in the legal Crunchyroll release, which means you’ll miss a gut-bustingly funny Schönberg and Boublill-quality musical number sung by the characters.
This last part of this show is not nearly as effective as the first three quarters, in large part because, despite some effective throughlines (such as the continuing physical deterioration of the main character), IBO feels like two or three different shows over the course of its run. Characters suddenly leaving, weird tone shifts, etc–it feels like watching a new season of a soap opera where there are new writers and arbitrary new plotlines. The show is still great on a technical level, from the combat to the direction to the dark themes about child soldiers; I just wish it felt like one coherent 50-episode work rather than three different decent Gundam shows stapled together. Because Gundam has basically monopolized the mecha space in anime, if you want to watch giant, expensive robot duels, this is the best show of the season. Also, buy some model kits, because Gundam.
Shows that I haven’t watched but people I respect are convinced are worth watching (Just like I how I convinced this editor of this blog that Junjo Romantica season 3 was an action show) (Editor’s Note: That is not what happened.)
Cute slice of life yuri comedy about a dragon? That’s a meh premise to me, but enough anime fans I trust assure me it sticks that landing with great execution, so I’ll get around to it.
Yeah, yeah. Season one was a masterpiece I skipped. People say season two is better. I’ll get to it eventually.
Like most people, I dismissed this show when the first episode aired. Animated on the tens, trash CG, and no real plot? Those air every year. Then halfway through the season, AniTwitter began talking about this show. When a cute animal girls show has a Madoka-level drop (something something post-apocalyptic dystopian future something something) over half-way though, that’s enough to guarantee I’ll marathon it sooner or later.
Shows I would have seen by now except fuck you, Netflix
Basically the “cute girls anime” version of Harry Potter? I want more.
Having to wait until Netflix decides to drop the season at once when I can watch it week to week if I download an illegal fansub? Do you understand the anime streaming market at all, Netflix?
Shows I watched (and you should too, if you want to get on my otaking level)
I’ve blogged about this show before (both its previous season and this one), but nothing prepared me for how the show would expand and improve by dedicating itself to hating its characters, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia-style. Aqua is a trash goddess. Explosions are best girl!
Lots of anime tries to have “sexy” teenage girls in it. But those characters are always strictly there to be looked at, ala Laura Mulvey’s explanation of the male gaze. Scum’s Wish isn’t like that. It’s a show about horny, hormonal teenagers who make shitty, shitty choices about their sexuality, just like real teenagers. Although it still has conventionally attractive characters doing traditionally sexualized things, this show manages to be so honest with its treatment of its subjects’ desires and the ensuing consequences that it is often painful to watch. Which is exactly why you should.
What begins as a show exploring an interesting, extended metaphor involving monsters as minorities/people with disabilities/the Other is only somewhat weakened by a middle section where Interviews becomes a harem show between a 28-year-old teacher and three of his 13-year-old students. This is a profoundly useful show. Use this show to find the part of yourself that is angry and disgusted that they would ruin a heartfelt and well-written slice of life about being different with hours and hours of 13-year-olds hitting on their teacher. Once you’ve found that part of yourself, you can kill it and become stronger (or at least a better anime fan).
In many seasons, ACCA would be my show of the season (but this season is just too fucking stacked). A stylish, well constructed six-hour tale about politics and characters that is squarely aimed at adults (and has a Hot Fuzz-style second half which makes every part of the first act better), it’s a great show for any fan of smoking, cloak and dagger politics, or solid character work.
Show of the Fucking Season
Youjo Senki is the highest rated non-sequel of the season on MAL, and blew well past the 8.0 barrier for good reason. A bizarre anti-telling of the Book of Job, Youjo Senki is a meditation on man’s war with god, the importance of reason versus faith, the nature (and moral ambiguity) of all modern military conflict, and the fundamental question of what makes us human.
It also has a WWI German magical combat loli who gives an inspirational speech to her battle-trained, flying witch commando squad that essentially ends with, “God is dead because I’m going to kill him, let’s go commit war crimes.” This not a figure of speech or an abstract point of philosophy for her.
Sometimes I talk about anime as an experience of motion and color, and the (often shameful) feelings of pleasure it evokes in the audience. Sometimes I speak of anime as an artform that dares to tell stories that would not or could not be told in any other medium. Very, very rarely is there a show that so effectively accomplishes everything anime is capable of in both of these ways at the same time. Youjo Senki is that show, and therefore Show of a very strong Season.
That’s about all you’ll hear for me for a while on anime. This current season needs no preview guide (Attack on Titan Season 2 is out), but I’m impressed that what started as an unassuming season ended with multiple shows sticking the landing.