Well, here we are again already, just about at this season’s halfway point. And a very interesting season it is too – although that hasn’t stopped me dropping more shows than I’ve kept. Occultic;Nine, Magic-Kyun! Renaissance, Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru, Watashi ga Motete Dousunda/Kiss Him, Not Me, Trickster: Edogawa Ranpo “Shounen Tanteidan” yori, and WWW.Working!! all got the chop after only one episode, but that didn’t prevent a second round of cuts and there’s still the possibility of more to go. Let’s see how those left have been faring.
Shuumatsu no Izetta/Izetta: The Last Witch
Original score: 6/10
Current score: 4/10 (Dropped)
Dear god no. Just no. I thought there was going to be a decent story here despite the synopsis; I thought Finé with all her actual smarts and agency and refreshingly un-moe personality would make up for all the ridiculously phallic gun-riding; I thought the series would be able to tame its urge to showcase Izetta’s bust (and/or butt) every few minutes. I was wrong. The titular character is by far this show’s biggest weak point – such a huge and unwelcome contrast to Finé that all the decent character work from the first couple of episodes got utterly undermined. Throw in a horrible excuse for a personal tutor/reporter whose hobby is molestation (it’s funny because she likes to grope breasts, har har), and I was more than ready to admit my own foolishness at keeping Izetta on for a whole five episodes.
Original score: 6/10
Current score: 5/10 (Dropped)
There were actually a few pretty decent gags here, but three episodes in and Nanbaka didn’t feel like it was going anywhere, or even like it had much interest in doing so. Slow pacing doesn’t particularly bother me and there’s definitely something to be said for dumb, irreverent humour, but most of the jokes either dragged on so long that they quickly lost their entertainment value or else were just plain repetitive. When even the neon-bright colours and random wall sparkles started getting dull, I figured it was time to move on. I would, however, totally watch a Nanbaka spinoff featuring Yamato as MC.
Original score: 6/10
Current score: 6/10 (Dropped)
I have absolutely nothing against this show; it’s just that it’s not my particular brand of crazy. I’m actually a bit jealous of those viewers who were able to get more into it, because it seems like a truly fun anime to watch; on paper at least, a lot of things really do work in a freakishly oddball kind of way. I mean, why wouldn’t you want to try out a show featuring the most famous of classical composers existing in modern-day Japan and duking it out? Look at Bach in his killer shades and tell me you aren’t at least curious. Alas, only two episodes in and I could already tell it wasn’t for me. As with Nanbaka, I felt the gags sometimes worked but more often were too drawn out or occurred more regularly than was good for them. Also like Nanbaka, the creators clearly picked the wrong people for MCs.
Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari/Poco’s Udon World
Original score: 7/10
Current score: 6/10
My main problem with Poco is that, while obviously cute, it lacks focus. Or rather, it’s not focused on telling any kind of story so much as it is on being a giant flyer for countryside living. I finally figured out (admittedly pretty late in the game) that the show isn’t interested in tanuki, parenting, udon, or even just being one of those slow but sweet slice-of-life tales, despite what the title or synopsis may suggest. Instead, what we have here is an advertisement not only for Kagawa but also for abandoning the big cities in favour of living a relaxed and wholesome life out in Japanese ruraldom. And don’t get me wrong, my heart actually belongs there too – especially when it comes to Shikoku – but at this point Poco has become more moralizing commercial than anything else. And no matter how adorable the series, I’m not sure I’m willing to invest much more of my time in something like that.
Original score: 7/10
Current score: 6.5/10
I’m a bit torn on this one. On the one hand, I still really like the overall tone and feel of the series; it’s dreamy, often downright trippy, sometimes even vaguely horrifying. On the other hand, ‘vague’ would actually be a pretty good descriptor of the story. There is one – or at least, there wants to be one – but the focus keeps skipping off elsewhere, and while I don’t mind some mysteries here and there, Flip Flappers has gone beyond mysterious to being intentionally evasive. Given the huge potential of the show, I find that quite frustrating. Likewise frustrating is the fact that while I respect and even applaud the genuine exploration of adolescent sexuality, Flip Flappers sometimes doesn’t quite seem to know where to draw the line. Fanservice purely for the sake of titillation, especially in this case, makes me feel decidedly uncomfortable but beyond that, the series feels smart enough that it should know way better. Instead, I get to watch it shoot itself in the foot at least once scene per episode. The jury’s still out on whether the compelling artwork and potent use of symbolism can make up for this.
Ajin 2nd Season
Original score: 7/10
Current score: 7/10
Ajin is still going strong, and while I don’t think the series is quite good enough to elevate itself from being just plain decent, at least I can say that it’s consistent. The pacing has been very steady overall, as has the general quality, and there are enough twists and turns going on every week to keep me guessing. My only real complaint right now is that the side-characters are only popping up whenever the plot deems them convenient enough to do so. We haven’t so much as a single shot of Kai since the early episodes of season one, now suddenly here he is and I’m just supposed to start caring again? Ditto with Kei’s hospitalized sister, who I’m sure will become abruptly important to the story whenever Ajin decides it needs to spice things up. These appearances are just too obvious to have much impact, and make it difficult to emotionally invest in anyone other than the main characters and villains of the piece. Personally, I think the show already has enough in the way of both drama and action for anyone but the current core cast to be necessary anyway. Adding yet more plot points only serves to lessen the story’s focus.
Fune wo Amu/The Great Passage
Since this show began airing a week behind everything else, I didn’t end up including it in the first batch of titles. For what it’s worth though, Fune wo Amu is well worth including – a decidedly slow yet oddly compelling series about, of all things, the creation of a dictionary. If internal drama and extremely deliberate pacing aren’t your thing than Fune wo Amu will be as about as dry as it sounds on paper, but otherwise I think there’s plenty here to like. It’s a show about adults doing adult things (shocking, I know), and it’s far more interested in paying attention to the little details than it is in being in any way loud or flashy, as most dramas tend to be. There’s a ton of focus on body language, for example, and on characterization through cinematography rather than dialogue. The animation can be a bit patchy, and the mid-episode break featuring cutesy anthropomorphic dictionaries feels both jarringly out of place as well as completely unnecessary. However, the former is mostly made up for by the meticulous camerawork, and the latter can at least be ignored for the real charm points of the series.
3-gatsu no Lion/March Comes in like a Lion
Original score: 8/10
Current score: 8/10
I was holding my breath a little here because I really, really don’t like the bulk of what Shaft comes out with, but so far so good; it might get ever so slightly overindulgent in its use of imagery at times, but 3-gatu no Lion is a damn good show. There’s sometimes a ton going on at once with onscreen text-visuals and animal dialogue amid several people talking at once, while at other times there’s gapingly empty spaces and only Rei’s physical presence or internal dialogue to fill them, yet the series very rarely feels inconsistent or badly paced – most likely because the overarching story is broken down into smaller snippets that, while interconnected, also manage to stand very well on their own. As a result, there’s a ton of characterization, backstory, and relationship development packed in, but I never come out of an episode feeling overwhelmed and I’m always ready to go back each week for more. That’s good storytelling right there.
Natsume Yuujinchou Go/Natsume’s Book of Friends season 5
Original score: 9/10
Current score: 8.5/10
I still adore Natsume Yuujinchou with all my heart and it would take something pretty major for that to change. That said, I’m not sure if this season is quite as good as the previous ones. Other than some very minor and for the most part barely discernible changes to the art style, everything else is the same, from the characters themselves to the background music, so I can’t be completely sure – and in any case, I don’t really feel comfortable making a judgment call on that until the whole thing has finished airing. Still, something seems just a tiny bit off. Maybe the dialogue/pacing is a little faster than usual, or the individual stories less focused? I’d welcome some other opinions on that. But hey, again, this is Natsume Yuujinchou: the supernatural/slice-of-life iyashikei anime to end all others. I can only complain so much.
Yuri!!! on Ice
Original score: 9/10
Current score: 9/10
Hot damn I love this show. I’m not saying Yuri is a perfect anime, but it’s certainly something I haven’t seen the likes of in a very long time. It’s especially awesome in this case because I never would have thought it of a sports series, yet here I am completely glued to the screen each week, with nearly every episode feeling like it lasts only two minutes instead of twenty. If the gorgeous choreography, razor-sharp focus, and brilliant character development wasn’t enough, might we actually be getting a mainstream anime show centered on a queer relationship instead of just one filled with queer-baiting and awful BL tropes??? Because that would be amazing.
Question of the post: How’s the season as a whole going for you? Has your opinion on any shows changed drastically since the premieres?