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.
And so the summer ends. I really couldn’t be more burnt out on talking about anime, considering I just finished three 8+ page essays on TWGOK, Uchouten Kazoku, and Gatchaman Crowds, but I’ll at least wave my hand in the direction of final impressions.
Hey guys it’s me. All caught up, just in time for this freakin’ finale. I’m excited. You guys excited? I guess everybody’s excited.
These last couple episodes have easily been my favorites of the series. Though Eren’s development still lags, I’m loving how they’re putting Armin and Jean’s character growth into practice, and the side characters of the Survey Corps are just extremely fun to see in action. Things are moving fairly quickly, they’re burning animation budget like nobody’s business, they’re bouncing effectively between flashbacks and action setpieces… just lots to love at the moment. I hope it finishes strong.
ERMAHGERD THERE’S A TITAN IN THE CITY WHAT THE FUCK.
Alright, I’m sure the army has some kind of backup plan here. And last episode managed the excellent trick of being an extremely entertaining twenty minutes without spending absurd amounts of animation budget. So I’m quite excited to see where they go with this – frankly, the fact that the army went so completely all-in on their Annie hypothesis (putting the words of Erwin and Armin into action) is by itself quite exciting, and demonstrates the overall military apparatus being both more intelligent and more decisive than we’ve seen previously. Does this mean we get more Pixis? Possibly a spirited brofist between Pixis and Erwin? A boy can dream.
Alright, Survey Corps. You’re really in it now – morale is low, the public hates you, and like fifty people just got eaten by giant abominations. If ever there were a time to prove you’re secretly harboring a human-formed titan spy, just like that other human-form titan you swore wasn’t a spy, it’d be…
Well, actually, might want to keep that one under wraps. Good luck out there, Survey Corps! I’ll be right here, a healthy and anonymity-ensuring distance behind you.
In my continued quest to put off watching more Fate/Zero (yes, I am determined to antagonize every anime fan, thanks for asking), it’s time to continue catching up on Titan. Last episode was awesome, and I mean that in the least ironic way I’ve ever used the term (meaning “only lightly tinged with irony”) – the action was sweet, the deaths were unexpected and fairly chilling, and the action was sweet. Though I know episodes like that are paid for in a whole lot of episodes like #19, here’s to hoping this show continues to do what it does best – spend money like a motherfucker.