A pretty consistent set of episodes this week, although Sword Art Online’s doubling down on its “We’re at war with PTSD, we were always at war with PTSD” new history is resulting in some serious growing pains. But Barakamon and JoJo both had stellar episodes, and Zankyou and Hunter x Hunter continue to be the great shows they are, so I can’t really complain about friggin’ Kirito having inconsistent motivations. Let’s run them down!
So I guess what happens when you drop all your mediocre shows is you end up with only good shows to talk about every week. Fascinating. Let us explore this phenomenon at greater length.
Humanity is an imperfect species. Actually, that’s putting it very generously – humanity is a deeply flawed species. We’re selfish and self-destructive, ignorant to the point of blindness, arrogant to the point of madness. It’s almost a wonder we’ve come so far, or at least that we haven’t destroyed ourselves along the way. For all our triumphs, every advantage of our intelligence and self-awareness is also reflected countless times in insane invention, in total megalomania. We are our own worst enemy.
In light of this, it seems somewhat reasonable to consider the possibility of a do-over. Perhaps another species could do better than us – perhaps a species more interested in its own collective survival, and more able to coherently absorb the lessons of its forebearers. Perhaps a species somewhat more animal, more willing to be part of a grand organism than a wild, unpredictable individual. Perhaps such a species deserves that chance. Or perhaps such a species doesn’t even need to be offered a chance – if we were ever put against a creation that combined humanity’s intelligence and strength with an animalistic unity of purpose, would we even stand a chance?
Chimera Ant is a story about that question – or at least, about that question and a number of others. It catalogs the rise of the (surprise) Chimera Ants, a species that continuously evolves, absorbing the quirks and powers of any species it consumes. The queen of the Ants wishes to build a Perfect Being – the ultimate animal, destined to rule over all others. In order to do that, she constructs her child out of the best pieces available – and in the first of Chimera Ant’s many strange reflections, the construction of a Perfect Being end up requiring a great deal of flawed, self-involved, self-destructive human beings. As her army of Ants grows, their human DNA becomes more and more prominent, and the “imperfections” of human nature become more and more apparent in their behavior. “Fortunately,” this intermingling of human and ant instincts isn’t restricted solely to one side – as Chimera Ant unfolds, even the humans begin to demonstrate that ant nature isn’t perhaps quite so inhuman as it seems. And by the end…
Well, I’ll get to that. For now, let’s start by setting the stage.
Good episodes all around this week! “Sacrifice all mediocre performers to your dark god” is serving me well this season, as I’ve now reduced my lineup to “the shows that consistently impress me plus Sword Art Online because I apparently don’t actually value my time in the slightest.” Barakamon has proven itself generally consistent at this point, Zankyou continues to be the most ‘flawless’ show I’m watching, and Aldnoah has apparently taken it upon itself to be both a satisfying Urobuchi show and my replacement popcorn entertainment. Good work, cartoons.
Welp, we’re a third of the way into the season now, and this season’s looking pretty damn predictable. The top shows continue to impress, the speculative picks have pretty much all fallen off the wagon, and Barakamon stands alone as the one surprise hit. It’s looking like I’ll be reduced to my usual half-dozen shows a little quicker than usual this season, which may just mean I’m getting better at dropping things efficiently, but I’m not really complaining. All I need is a couple standouts to be happy, and this season’s certainly got those – let’s run them down!
Yep, I’ve finally put together a top shows list. As I hopefully made clear in part one and part two of my critical biases post, this is obviously my list – it represents the things I think are most valuable in stories in the way I think they’ve best been articulated. It’s also just a list of shows I enjoy – there’s no hard criteria here, so I wouldn’t stress the numbers too much. Also, it’s a bit front-loaded – I only started watching anime seasonally about two years ago, so the last couple years are disproportionately represented. Incidentally, I’m not including movies here either – I think direct comparisons between shows and films are a bit of a stretch, but if they were included, this list would certainly be somewhat different. And finally, I’m absolutely (and thankfully) certain this list will change over time – there are still piles of widely beloved shows I’ve never seen, so I’m sure the current rankings will be filled out in the years to come. So with that all said, let’s get to the list – Bobduh’s Top 30 Anime of All Time.
-edit- I have now created a Top Shows Addendum for shows that have either fallen off or just barely missed this list. Please enjoy these additional almost-top shows!
With the season nearing its end, we’re beginning to get the expected ramp-up from most relevant shows. Which I’m actually excited for – I’ve obviously had pretty negative feelings about this season overall, but it’s not like I want the shows I’m watching to disappoint. Samurai Flamenco, Nagi no Asukara, and Kill la Kill all had very good weeks, and pretty much everything had at least a respectable episode. Except… well…
Alright, this first one is a little ranty.
I’m feeling confident in having dropped The Pilot’s Love Song at this point, given what I’ve heard about the last two episodes. As expected, they’ve basically just been focused on murdering all the characters the show introduced to be murdered, all in service of a conflict the audience has no stake in beyond possibly an attachment to the Ramen Kids. Aside from that, I’m feeling somewhat fatigued by everything except the season’s highlights, and this season’s highlights are kind of middling shows anyway. Running it down…
New podcast! I talk with Deadlight, Flawfinder, Landon, Psgels, and Sorrows Neptune all about our impressions of the current season, Studio White Fox, Masaaki Yuasa, and Gen Urobuchi, with a slight detour into how Type-Moon’s stories are the opposite of good storytelling. Fun for the whole family!
If you’d like timestamps, just click through to youtube for a breakdown of what we talk about when.
Kinda disjointed week in review this week, since I missed a bunch of stuff due to writing a “season to date” post last week and really just jammed these out whenever I had time. But anyway!