Sunday, July 2, 2017

Spring Anime 2017 Review


Attack on Titan. My Hero Academia. Boruto.

People always say that the Spring and Fall seasons are the best for anime, but hot damn did we have a ton of blockbuster anime debuting this season. Sequels, established franchises, and cult hits all had a showing this season in what will surely go down as one of the most jammed packed seasons in years.

And I didn't watch any of them.

It's not that I don't care about big named anime franchises, but for the case of the three I mentioned above, I didn't care about either of them, whether it was because I haven't followed anything about the series for years on end, or that I already watched the first seasons and didn't really care about what was on offer. Instead, I wanted to focus on a smattering of titles that caught my interest for being... unique. To my knowledge, all of the series that I watched, minus two, are all anime original series. They're not based on any light novels, manga, or video games. These are all original stories that had to sell me by their premise and first few episodes alone. I wanted to try something a bit different this time and see where it took me, and I was satisfied on the whole. Not floored, but I don't regret watching these shows the way I did. Quality wise... well, most of them were pretty good...

But before I begin, I'd like to take a quick minute to review Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid,  a series I binged in May that was a holdover from the Winter season. In short, I really liked it! It was fun, had a lot of charm to it, a likeable cast, a great OP, solid jokes, and a few great action scenes, Personally, I would rank it alongside of Saga of Tanya the Evil as being the best title of the Winter season, and I'm kicking myself for the fact that I'm talking about it so late. Business aside, let's talk about the Spring anime I've watched this season.

Okay... I know that I may have crapped on the first cour of this series for its animation and gave it a relatively poor review because of that... but can I take it back? Upon further thought, the first cour of Berserk, while not great, has a lot more good in it than I originally gave it credit for. It told a complete story, had great music, some interesting fight scenes, and I got to know and enjoy to company of several characters over the cour of those 12 episodes.

I bring this up because the second cour of Berserk is complete garbage. Like, I didn't think the animation could get worse, but BOY WAS I WRONG.

I would like to say that at least the story here was fine, but while we got a lot of nice teasing and some good plot points set up, most of it was unresolved by the end of the season. Will the new Band of the Hawk save Midland? No clue! Can Guts finally overcome the dark temptations of the Berserker armor? Who knows! Will Casca regain her sanity? I care, but the animators certainly don't!

Great ideas were brought up and put to waste in this season that had the gall to end on a non-ending. We spent several episodes just dealing with a troll invasion that was only made slightly better by the fact that at least Guts fought one of the God Hand at the end of it, but a few awesome fights can't make up for the lazy and sloppy way this cour was handled. And DEAR LORD THIS ANIMATION IS HORRIFYING.

Everyone wanted to much better for Berserk, but even a fan like me was over this adaptation by the end of it. Just... no...

KADO: The Right Answer
KADO is a very interesting and compelling series about an inter dimennsional being coming to Earth to share advancements beyond the comprehension of humans. This being, Yaha-kui ZaShunina, exists in something called the anisotropic, and wants to give human being the means of becoming like him. And the entire series is a moral and ethical dilemma about should humanity progress at a rapid rate, how would the world change, is ZaShunina a God and why is he giving us gifts like this, can we trust him, and can humanity truly be saved? And what's more important, the series is done through negotiations and through level headed reasoning. There are very few anime tropes here. The main character, Shindo, who is as charismatic as drywall, is a middle man between humans and ZaShunina, and no scenes devolve into shouting matches about good and evil.

In truth, I was really compelled by this series as it aired and I wanted answers to these questions, This is similar to Gatchaman Crowds: Insight, where an extra terrestrial being comes to Earth, promises everything to Earthlings and an evolution, and the series progresses with very little violence but is highly compelling because of that. I thought KADO would be like that, and it was for most of its run.

And then the series went full Xenoblade and ruined everything in one fell swoop.

I can't explain how or why everything falls apart here, but let's just say that characters lose all subtlety, it becomes a fate of existence plot, multiple Gods do God things, and the final episode has tons of crazy eyes, yelling, and an intense fight scene that feels so out of place when you consider the first few episodes were about negotiating the release of passengers on a plane and the policies behind it.

I guess the creators thought that it would be a bit too boring if it was all just discussions and meetings, but you can't have a consistent tone for 9 episodes only to erase it all for the final three. It's a betrayal of an interesting premise. I would still recommend KADO if only to see the solid first 3/4's of the show and to see how a good series can deteriorate so fast in so little time.

Little Witch Academia
Netflix needs to really gets its act together when it comes to streaming anime. I would like to say this is a review of the second cour of Little Witch Academia, which concluded last week, but instead, this is a review of the first cour which aired during the Winter and was just released on Netflix Friday. There's still no sign of the second cour being released by Netflix, but the subtitles are crap and the only reason I waited so long to actually watch this show is that I wanted to watch it in an official capacity and not illegally stream it, tempting as it was. Rant aside, Little Witch Academia is a great little show.

Akko is a girl that has always wanted to become a witch. Even though she's not from a famous witch family, she's wanted to become like her role model, Shiny Chariot, a witch that had frequent magic shows that Akko always saw and loved every second of them. Now Akko enrolled herself into Luna Nova Academy in order to become a witch like Chariot and hopefully meet her role model. She makes friends, has many misadventures, and fails at nearly everything magic related, but by golly she tries her darndest!

It's a miracle that we got a full blown television series of Little Witch Academia, which previously had two short films that were Kickstarted, but now the franchise has grown enough to have its own series without the need of public funding, and it's a great time. Nearly all of the episodes are self contained, and Akko is a great leading lady. She has a huge amount of energy and all of the facial expressions she has are great ones. Plus the series has such a knack for colorful situations for Akko and her friends to get into. In one episode Akko is trying to wake up one of her friends, Sucy, from a potion that requires Akko to go into her dreams, another episode has Akko chasing dragons, and another episode has Akko becoming a merman to save a fish teacher that she accidentally flushed down the drain.

I wish I had more time to let the episodes sink in, but there's something so nice about seeing a series about magic and the power of believing in it. Flying Witch and Kiki's Delivery Service all showed off how great it is to watch a witch do wholesome, nice things, but when you combine that wholesomeness with the genius action animators at Trigger, you get a powerhouse series that only impresses me with each new episode. I wish Netflix would release the second cour sometime soon, but these first thirteen episodes were enough to tide me over until then.

Love Tyrant
I thought that I was going to drop this show sooooooooooooo fast after I read the initial premise. It's a romcom parodying Death Note where the main characters write people's names in a Kiss Note (HA. HA.) to make them fall in love, it has potential incest, a Big Brother complex, yandere, and outright sadistic characters to make things even more uncomfortable. And yet, this was a solid, enjoyable comedy. Nothing ground breaking or memorable, but I enjoyed what I saw.

Seiji is a normal high school student that has the unfortunate pleasure of running into Guri, a Cupid that is obsessed with making yaoi couples in her Kiss Note. By complete intention, because Guri is a Cupid that likes to watch the world burn, she writes her name, Seiji's name, the hot chick in Seiji's class named Akane that is madly in love with Seiji and is full blown yandere's name, and Akane's sister that has a creepy obsession with Akane named Yuzu's name into her Kiss Note, meaning all four of them are now a big old couple, they cannot die because they're tethered to an angel, and they must make people fall in love or else horrible things will happen.

What follows is a series that fluctuates wildly between dramatic moments and lighthearted comedy, or at least as lighthearted as a comedy can get when one of your main characters is a yandere. When the series is being funny, the jokes are nifty and put a smile on your face, but its during the more series moments that the quality really takes a dip. There's a whole subplot about Akane's family that feels long and played out, there's an creepy stalker character that fetishes stabbing Seiji, and Guri's main development over the series is her discovering what love really is. This is usually followed by a scene where Guri finds two opposing politicians and writes their name in her Kiss Note, making them break out and kiss each other during a debate on national television.

I'm not saying that comedies shouldn't have a few serious moments in them, but the serious moments in Love Tyrant far outstay their welcome when compared to the slapstick comedy. I get that there needs to be something to fill a 12 episode series, but the drama is stretched out so far that it makes the comedy weaker by comparison. Guri is a great character because of her chaotic-neutral sense of humor, and Akane is a lot of fun with how she quickly goes between head-over-heels in love she is with Seiji and wanted to stab him repeatedly for saying hello to Guri once. Love Tyrant is fine when it's allowed to be a comedy, but that's only about 60-70% of the time.

Have you ever wondered what happens if a fictional character came to our world. In the world of Re:Creators, we're viewed as Gods by the fictional characters that created us, but the creations want answers. Why did the Creators make the world as they are? For some characters, they're thankfully for their Creators for making a world filled with happiness, friends, and loved ones. Others want revenge against their Creators for making their world like Dark Souls. One Creation, known only as the Military Uniform Princess, wants to destroy all Creators for some mysterious reason, and it's only up to Sota, a high school artist, several Creations and their Creators, and the Japanese Government, to stop the MUP and her small army of Creations from breaking all of reality as we know it.

Re:Creators has an extremely interesting premise that is lived up to fully over the course of its first 12 episodes. We meet a variety of characters from different world and watch them all interact with each other. There's a ton of talking in this series with very little action in the first half, but the second half features some stirring character development and revelations about our heroes and villains that make the entire series feel a lot grander than it was before.

To me, what I love most about Re:Creators are the rules at play with Creations. We have a bunch of fictional characters from different walks of life interacting with each other, and it's nice to see that the series takes time to establish just what's going on. If you're watching the show and have any questions at all about how does X work, then Re;Creators will answer it for you. Granted, it will be answered by a near emotionless NPC character whose sole purpose is literally to cram exposition down our throats for nearly two hours, but your questions will be answered. And when your questions are answered, then things get crazy.

Not only is the MUP an interesting villain based on her unique powers and her origin which is frighteningly OP when you think about it, but we have another compelling villain in the form of Magane, a villain from a manga whose power to to wrap reality based on her ability to lie. It's as if Kefka from Final Fantasy VI could bend the world based on his words alone, and Magane is terrifying in that regard. So we have a series that has good heroes going up against great villains in a conflict that is continually escalating and has another cour that goes into the summer, and features some brutal and inventive fight scenes that mix giant mechs, flying horses, gravity bullets, Persona users, and summonable military artillery all in the same battle. When fight scenes finally do happen in Re:Creators, they're a sight to behold.

If you have Anime Strike on Amazon Prime, I highly recommend giving this show a watch, especially seeing as how it's a thinking man's action series with a ton of potential that I hope doesn't get wasted.

Seven Mortal Sins
It's censored softcore porn. What more do I need to say?


To be fair, the only question I had this season was in regards to what would be in my middle of the pack. It's safe to say that the worst anime were Seven Mortal Sins for... well, being censored softcore porn that can't even do the porn part right, and Berserk, which actually made me wish for the censored softcore porn because at least then I wouldn't have to look at the laughably bad animation that was produced for masochists, but what makes something truly average; a series that has great potnetial and botches it, a series that does one thing well and fails at another thing, or a series that spends the first half of its run explaining every little concept to death. I'm tempted to say that Little Witch Academia is the best series this season, but when Re:Creators has a hit, it's a hit.

I think what makes Love Tyrant and KADO so average to me is that both series have an identity crisis at different times. Love Tyrant has sporadic crises every couple of episodes about whether it wants to be a comedy or not, while KADO tried for a long time to be a serious political drama, but instead devolved into JRPG tropes that ruined an otherwise good premise. I think the lesser of the two is KADO though for ruining an otherwise fine series with its sudden heel turn of tone.

So between Little Witch Academia and Re:Creators, both of which have an upcoming second cour, it really comes down to which series do I want to see more of right away? Which series got me the most invested in what's to come? When put like that, my answer ends up being Little Witch Academia. It's fun, colorful, and I enjoyed my time in the world of Luna Nova, while Re:Creators has me excited, but I'm not sold on the series being absolutely fantastic yet. Maybe by the end of the summer, but until we get a conclusion, Little Witch Academia is the best series of Spring 2017... by technicality. Thank you Netflix.


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