Today I took advantage of Crunchyroll’s Hero Week to rep some of the best goddamn shows of the last few years. Gatchaman Crowds, Samurai Flamenco, and Concrete Revolutio are all near and dear to my heart, so I was happy to get a chance to celebrate them, and hopefully turn a few more people on to some of the most compelling stories in recent memory. Everybody deserves a little Nice Justice in their life.
And somehow, another year has come to a close. This has been a strange year for me – as my first full year of wholly anime-related employment, it’s been often terrifying, sometimes uplifting, and always exciting. I’m not sure it means anything that my move to freelance coincided with the world catching fire, but hey, things happen. At least I also write for Crunchyroll now!
As far as anime itself goes, this has been a very solid year in general. The industry is currently at a somewhat unsustainable level of production, and though foreign streaming and other forms of revenue are putting the industry in a more stable place financially, that still hasn’t adjusted the workflow mechanisms that keep animators so terribly underpaid. That will have to change eventually, but as far as the actual shows go, there were plenty of anime I had a great time with this year, and solid hits in a wide variety of genres. In fact, this year’s crop was so good that I even have some honorable mentions! That’s honestly kind of unusual for me – I generally struggle getting to ten shows without including stuff I’m not totally sold on. So let’s start right there, and run down the shows that just barely missed the list before we count off the final ten!
Concrete Revolutio’s second half sure was something. I was initially a little disappointed to realize the second half would largely stick to the same structure as the first – but as I say in my review, ultimately that’s just how the world works. It wouldn’t fit with Concrete Revolutio’s style to pretend all the problems it’s discussed can be resolved through some vast central conflict; problems emerge out of natural circumstance, we deal with them the best we can, and then we just keep doing our best to live. Concrete Revolutio’s mix of frank, almost bitter realism and clear optimism resulted in a wonderful experience all around, a show that was unafraid to either admit the world is a harsh place or submit to the fatalism that understanding might engender. This season might be called “The Last Song,” but it is clear right up until the end that the song goes on.
We had a bunch of very fun episodes this week. Rallying from a weaker start, the conclusion to Red Hot Chili Pepper was one more power episode of Diamond is Unbreakable, and My Hero Academia refused to give any ground in its big All Might battle. And we also had a pair of solid season endings, with Concrete Revolutio and The Lost Village both impressing in their own extremely, extremely, extremely incomparable ways. No Flying Witch did result in a bit of a comfy shortage, but I hear there’s a comfy surplus coming up next week, so things should even out in the end. Let’s get right to it and RUN ‘EM DOWN!
The season is wrapping up at this point, but this season’s shows still have a few surprises left. In this case, the main surprise was My Hero Academia and JoJo switching places – My Hero Academia was on fire this week, easily vaulting over its usual failings, while JoJo turned down the temperature for an episode that unfortunately evoked some of Stardust Crusaders’ worst tendencies. But aside from that, everything was pretty much business as usual. Concrete Revolutio is speeding towards what’s likely to be an astoundingly good finale, Flying Witch is as consistent as ever, Luluco is still unsure of whether it wants to be a real show or not, etcetera. All this and more in today’s week in review, as we cast our eyes backward and RUN ‘EM DOWN.
Anime was plenty strong this week, full of epic punches and cathartic emotional revelations and long afternoon naps. JoJo added another feather to this arc’s already outrageously festooned cap, and My Hero Academia finally started in on its higher-tier material. The Lost Village and Flying Witch both did the kinds of things you hope for from those shows, and Concrete Revolutio seems to be sticking the landing by smartly tethering its overall ideas directly to Jiro’s personal development. The season would be strong even if the more questionable shows actually did fall apart, but it’s nice seeing that even stuff like The Lost Village and Kiznaiver are rallying for their last acts. This is a season to be proud of.
Anime held pretty darn steady this week. In a season this strong, I’m not forced to watch shows that I have to pray for every week – the only inconsistent show I’m watching is Kiznaiver, and even that has established a really strong rhythm over the last several episodes. Concrete Revolutio had a very rich episode this week, and Flying Witch continued to make strong use of the magical cafe for fantasy and humor. Luluco was crap, but hey, Luluco’s been crap for a few weeks now, even that’s not a surprise. I’ve still got plenty (of Conrevo) to discuss though, so let’s start with the conclusion of Koichi’s whirlwind romance and RUN ‘EM DOWN!
Anime was good this week! Anime was extremely good this week! ANIME WAS RIDICULOUSLY GOOD THIS WEEK. Kiznaiver and JoJo each had their best episodes of the season, with Kiznaiver offering probably my favorite episode of any of these shows, and JoJo basically just synthesizing all of the things that have made Diamond is Unbreakable great. Concrete Revolutio was right up there as well, as Urobuchi penned one of the most pointed episodes the show has ever seen. And the rest of the lineup was not far behind – only The Lost Village and Luluco had weaker episodes this week, and I’m sure they’ll both survive. That’s enough summary! Let’s get right to it!!!
Our strong spring season continued to chug merrily along this week, offering a few new highlights and a clunker or two, as you might expect. My weekly list has been paired down to the point where even the disappointing episodes are only mediocre entries in fundamentally strong shows, which feels like a real luxury (I dropped Macross Delta, incidentally, which I realized I hadn’t really been impressed with for a good 4-5 episodes). And both Kiznaiver and The Lost Village actually seem to be improving as they go along, which I wouldn’t expect from such shaky and unpredictable productions. Top that off with the reliably competent My Hero Academia and the consistently stunning Concrete Revolutio, and you’ve got a season that never fails to at least entertain. Let’s RUN ‘EM DOWN!
The halfway point is here! I’m not the only one who feels like this has been a really fast season, right? I mean, it’s obviously going to feel like I’m running through anime faster if I’m enjoying it more, but it feels like Flying Witch and The Lost Village and My Hero Academia just got started a couple weeks ago, and suddenly here we are. As has at this point shifted from “it’s cute to say some silly blog thing is ‘traditional'” to “wow, this really is a tradition, I’ve been doing this crap for a substantial portion of my adult life,” I’ll be running down my current schedule from best to worst as your seasonal reminder that rankings don’t matter, we’re all going to die, the only truth is the abyss. I’ve got a lot of very fun and very different shows to get through, so let’s not waste any more time in preamble. From top to bottom, here are this spring’s very best cartoon contenders!