Look, this season is just great, guys. I don’t know how many times I can say it. A season that’s simultaneously airing one of My Hero Academia’s best arcs, the sequel to one of my favorite shows ever, and the spiritual successor to Shirobako would frankly have a damn hard time being bad. Even with Tsuki ga Kirei taking the week off, there were no shortage of high points this week – Sakura Quest had one of its best episodes, My Hero Academia ran through an entire goddamn tournament bracket, and even Re:Creators pulled off some of its most rewarding conversations yet. This is a fine time to be an anime fan!
Dear lord has this season ever begun. Having just barely survived the most absurd preview week yet, my relative watch-positioning on this season’s various attractions is an absolute shambles. I’ve got shows I’m already somehow two episodes behind on, shows I just reviewed this week for ANN, and shows that ended weeks ago and I only just now found time to watch. In light of that, I’m gonna be keeping things a little loose for this Week in Review, and just running down what I actually watched this week in whatever order comes to me. It’s been a hectic week in anime, so buckle the fuck in and let’s RUN THIS SHIT DOWN.
Somehow I am still alive. This preview “week” was one of the most punishing I’ve experienced, spreading out an absurd number of shows across an untenable number of days. The silver lining on this whole affair is that this season actually seems to have a whole ton of worthy contenders. I’ve spent the last week and a half or so sifting through this absurd haul, dragging treasures to the surface and weathering the rest as gracefully as I can. My trials have been numerous, but suffering this fate has granted me a new perspective – at last, I am blessed with moderately informed opinions on basically everything coming out this spring.
Starting with the brightest lights and slowly descending into the depths, I will now share my vast wisdom and narrow opinions with all of you. As usual, you can check out the full list of reviews over at ANN, or click on any of the titles here to go to my full thoughts. If you’re frustrated that your new favorite was only afforded a toilet emoji here, just click through that name and check for Nick Creamer to see me try and justify that takeaway. In the end, I’m just one guy with my own specific tastes, after all. So without further ado, let’s get this boulder rolling!
The season’s in full swing now, so it’s time once again to take stock of where we’re at so far. With six shows released as of today, things are playing out pretty much by the script – My Hero Academia has the same issues the first season did, Alice & Zoroku is the most promising new property, and nothing else is really worth mentioning. Titan is still Titan, but I’m not really at a point where I feel obligated to watch the crossover hits anymore, so I’ll probably be skipping that one.
As usual, you can see a list of my scores so far below, and click on any of the titles to link to their full review pages, or just go to the overall review page here. Have at it!
The winter season is drawing to a close, which means it’s once more time to look forward and see what the future might bring. This current season was a bit of a wash, and I’m not gonna sugarcoat it – next season isn’t looking great either. Frankly, if you’re not anticipating at least one or two of this spring’s big sequels, it might be worth calling a mulligan on this one. Outside of Masaaki Yuasa’s new films, there are basically no noteworthy projects by any of the creators I generally keep tabs on – no Matsumoto, no Mizushima, no Nakamura, and nothing by Kyoto Animation period. Couple that with a slate of dire-looking premises and previews, and you’ve got the recipe for a fresh season of playing videogames and catching up on backlog. Personally, I recommend the first one – I normally only get excited about a couple games a year, but this year’s already brought us Resident Evil VII, Nier Automata, Nioh, and Breath of the Wild, with Persona 5 still on its way. Those are some pretty great videogames!
But of course, you’re here for anime. The good news is, if you are in the market for sequels, this season has some extremely promising ones. The Eccentric Family counts among my favorite shows of all time, and both My Hero Academia and Rage of Bahamut have strong predecessors to live up to. As usual, my list won’t cover every show – you can check basically any resource to find that, along with handy synopses. I’ll just be running down the shows I’m actually excited about, along with what specifically sticks out to me. So let’s start with my most anticipated shows and run this coming season down!
There are a lot of anime out there! Literally thousands, with over a hundred more being released every year. There are new hits every season, and old favorites that have slowly lost their topical sheen. Given all those shows, it can be understandably hard to pick what to watch next – anime, like every other medium, is full of stuff that will disappoint you, and everyone’s tastes are different.
My own tastes in particular are a little weird – I like arthouse stuff and intimate character studies and occasional cathartic message-focused shows. But fortunately, there is indeed such a thing as “normal” taste in anime, or at least the most common preferences shared by fans outside of Japan. And today, I’m hoping to help that audience – or more specifically, hopefully, You.
The preview guide is once again nearing its end, meaning it’s time to run down every single one of these goddamn cartoons that never stop coming out for one second ever. The actual hits this season were pretty limited, but that’s pretty much what I expected going in – even in my preview post, I was only actually looking forward to a bare handful of shows. Most of those shows turned out to be either solid or display some potential, though there weren’t any real positive surprises outside of just how nicely composed One Punch Man turned out to be. But what the hell are we even doing here if we’re not watching cartoons, and I gotta earn my too-many-words keep, so let’s run ’em all down anyway. TAKING IT FROM THE TOP!
Management: This particular piece only covers one side of the equation, so before I start, I should link this earlier piece that tackles this issue from the opposite angle.
Over the last couple weeks, I’ve witnessed a good number of online teapot-tempests related to both criticism generally and tone specifically. Which seems like a silly thing to even announce – of course people have been bickering, this is the internet, that’s what it’s for. But these particular arguments kinda struck me – though they all concerned different groups of people, they all played out similarly, and I think the reasons why touch on some general pitfalls of both criticism specifically and discourse more generally. Unfortunately, those pitfalls don’t all line up in a neat row, so I’m gonna have to break this down into a few pieces – starting with the dangerous assumptions critics can make and hopefully meandering my way towards something approaching a point. Consider this an open letter to critics, fans, and anyone else who’s ever valued their own opinion enough to inflict it on others.
Management: This one should obviously go without saying, but it comes up so often in response to criticism that I figured I might as well give a more full response. A couple thoughts that I’d rather just link than constantly paraphrase.
Why are critics so against shows that are popular? Just because perfectly good shows likes SAO or Titan become popular, they have to pull at the seams and attack them? It seems mean-spirited and pointlessly non-conformist to put down shows just to look “critical.”
Attack on Titan arrived at the head of quite the hype train this spring, based on both praise from manga readers and this impressive PV. Its OP inspired countless parodies, its sales were enormous, its cultural penetration extended far beyond the reach most anime could dream of. With good reason – most anime essentially self-marginalize themselves through overt anime-ism aesthetic choices that cut off significant potential markets. Titan does not do this – it’s an unapologetic action blockbuster with an evocative western aesthetic and a fundamentally compelling premise. Humans live in a massive renaissance-era walled city, titans try to break in, humans fight using sweet spiderman-esque maneuvering gear, action ensues. Let’s start with those strengths.