Turns out anime is good, everybody. Who would have guessed! As usual, nearly everything I’m watching this season operated at a level I generally just associate with my seasonal favorite, leaving me with a pile of cartoon riches to luxuriate in. Euphonium rallied from a weaker episode with possibly the strongest episode of the season, March continued to lay sturdy dramatic bricks in between episodic pleasures, and Flip Flappers steered itself right back towards the compelling bonds between the three leads. Even JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure was acting like it had something to prove, working hard to give Hayato’s struggle all the manic energy it deserves. Anime will likely go back to being bad again soon, but I can’t say I mind having barely anything to complain about. But I’m not doing this critic shtick for nothing, so let’s start off with some complaints and then work our way to the fawning praise!
This week in anime felt a little lonely, courtesy of March taking a sick day, but the rest of our contenders did their best to liven things. Flip Flappers and Euphonium had unexpectedly ordinary episodes (at least for those shows’ definitions of ordinary), but Girlish Number continued to focus on strong character writing over industry commentary, which is definitely where the show shines. Kira found himself with yet another ridiculously specific serial killing-enabling power, and Yuri on Ice decided it was time to introduce a tragic incest narrative and make Yurio a catboy. All in all it was a pretty standard week down on the anime farm, but I still found a thing or two worth talking about. Let’s run ‘em down!
The season’s halfway point has arrived! Normally this is the part where I’d comment on how quickly time seems to be passing, and probably make some offhand gesture towards our inescapable mortality, but given we just concluded one of the most horrific and dispiriting political contests in my country’s history, it really doesn’t seem like time’s been passing all that fast lately. But if you wanted fatigued political commentary, you’d check my twitter feed – in spite of all else, the world keeps turning, and that means talking about cartoons!
This season has been offering us a terrific bounty so far, presenting close to half the shows that will likely star in my year-end list. The better shows get, the more small-minded and useless it seems to rank them in any kind of reductive list, but what’s the point of a tradition if it’s not celebrated far past the point of reason? So let’s once more do that thing I always do, starting at the top and running down my favorites of the season so far!
This was a perfectly respectable week in anime! In fact, it was more than respectable – Yuri on Ice managed to grab my interest in a way it never had before, Flip Flappers pulled off a stunning vignette that raised the bar for the show altogether, and Euphonium had possibly the best musical performance I’ve seen in anime. This season is just ridiculous, you guys – normally something like Yuri on Ice, Euphonium, or March comes in like a lion would be the bright spot in a largely weaker lineup, but this season’s crop basically starts at JoJo/Girlish Number and only goes up from there. Given I’m writing this prior to the election results, the world may literally be on fire by the time this gets posted (UPDATE: the world is literally on fire), but at least we’re going out with some pretty cool cartoons. Let’s RUN ‘EM DOWN!
This was a workhorse week in anime. We’re several weeks out from the premieres, meaning most of this season’s shows have more or less established their tone and structure, but we’re still also some distance from the sort of narrative shakeups that often mark the midpoint of one season productions. That point in the season means many shows are entering a bit of a lean period at the moment – demonstrating their fundamental quality, but not really dazzling with any new talents. Yuri on Ice and Flip Flappers have largely settled into their genre spaces, Girlish Number and Euphonium each hit some mid-sized dramatic turns, and JoJo just kept chugging along. Weeks like this put the onus on me to come up with new stuff to talk about, so thanks a fuckin’ lot, anime. Fortunately, after possibly more than a hundred of these Week in Reviews, I’ve learned how to spend a lot of time talking about basically nothing. So if that sounds like fun to you, pull up a chair and take a seat as we RUN THESE SHOWS DOWN!
Anime is so friggin’ good this season. I thought I was lucky last season, given my sturdy crop of half a dozen reliably entertaining shows, but this one is offering a solid handful of shows that could easily be the best anime of a normal season. Yuri!!! On ICE is consistently funny and extremely propulsive, Sound! Euphonium is every bit the equal of its predecessor, Girlish Number is giving Watari Wataru an easy canvas to riff on, and March comes in like a lion might still be my favorite thing I’m watching. With Flip Flappers and Izetta each offering their own very different strengths, pretty much every kind of show I like is solidly represented here. I remember noting in the spring season that all I was lacking was a strong character-focused story – well, I may not be getting a Conrevo-style themey-wemey show this time, but I think I can be content with this embarrassment of character-focused riches. Anime is being very good to me, so let’s stop with the rambling and RUN THESE SHOWS DOWN!
Preview week has finally concluded, and most shows are already past their second or even third episodes. This season turned out to be even more bountiful than I’d expected, meaning I’ve had to make some ruthless cuts to make the absolutely most efficient usage of my cartoon consumption experience. Magical Girl Raising Project’s second episode killed the sleepy magical girl, so it’s off the list. Keijo’s second episode only had me intermittently laughing through its first half, so it’s gone. With roughly forty or fifty weekly articles to write, I’ve been forced to cut down my list of “leisure anime” to only the fiercest, boldest, most ruthless entertainment machines on the market. It’s brutal work watching all these cartoons, but I can take solace in compressing the painstaking work of dozens of artists and animators into an offhand paragraph for your lunch break consumption. Let’s grit our teeth, clench our bowels, and RUN THIS DOWN!
Holy shit I’m alive. Having dragged myself through one more gauntlet of endless, senseless, pitiless animation, I can finally say I’ve survived another one. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say this was the least psychologically damaging crop of debuts I’ve had to weather since joining the preview guide. Sure, there were bad shows – there are always plenty of bad shows – but the number of true spirit-breakers was mercifully low, and a surprising number of shows were competently executed even if they didn’t appeal to me. Anime’s current production model may be an unsustainable trainwreck of manic overproduction, but the bastards didn’t get me this time!
And so, having sat through all those many, many hours of animation, it’s time to send my battle report back to the folks back home. As usual, I’ll be running down every single show I watched in general order of how impressed I was, grouping things into categories based on how much they hurt me. Also as usual, you can check out the whole list of reviews over at ANN, or click on any of the titles below to go to that show’s specific reviews (I’m Nick Creamer over there). There’s a ton of very reasonable anime this season, so let’s get right to it!
The avalanche continues! More shows keep tumbling out, and with yesterday providing the first genuinely impressive crop of the new season, it seems about time to take stock once more. There haven’t really been any unexpected prizes yet, but both Euphonium and Yuri on Ice had terrific premieres, so I can’t complain. Today will mark the premiere of Flip Flappers, and from there, we’ve still got a fair number of potential stars to look forward to. Looks like we’ve got an exciting season ahead of us!
Anime monsoon season has arrived again, beginning with the usual torrential downpour of mediocre cartoons. The season is starting a little slow so far, but that’s really just an issue of scheduling – most of the shows I’m looking forward to have yet to premiere, and those that already have either matched or exceeded my expectations. First episodes aren’t always trustworthy, of course, particularly when it comes to animation quality, but I certainly haven’t been suffering too much!