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!
Today I reviewed the season’s other trapped-in-a-fantasy-world show! Grimgar was great, in the end – the show had a wide variety of tiny issues, but none that could really substantially detract from the things it did well. It was lovely to see a show that actually treated one of these worlds as a living space, and treated the things people do there as actions with consequences. From what I’ve heard, a great deal of Grimgar’s merits came down to the excellence of its director, so I’m very eager to see whatever he does next. A great show is one thing, but a show that introduces me to a new artist to follow is even better.
All of our new shows have turned in their final assignments, and the testing period is over. Who will rise, who will fall, who will entertain us mightily for a few weeks only to slowly sink into a mire of mediocrity and disappointment – all these questions lie ahead, but for now, we can already viciously judge the labor of thousands of animators based on our first impressions of their new creations. I knew from before this season even began that it would be a relatively light one, but with that in mind, the haul here is actually pretty solid. We had a couple truly great premieres, a few more shows that demonstrate either potential or reasonable genre chops, and The Rest. There’s always going to be a The Rest, but as long as anime continues to produce just a couple shows that justify our nostalgic Stockholm Syndrome every season, this unhealthy relationship can keep chugging merrily along. Let’s start right at the top of the list and RUN ‘EM DOWN!