Winter 2017 – Virtually Every First Episode Retrospective

Hello and welcome! With the new anime season’s first week having come and gone, we are left with an immense pile of new series to investigate. A great part of the fun of new media is the joy of discovery, but I detest joy and your acquisition of it in particular, and so I’m here to steal that pleasure from you. Instead, you will now read my list of impressions for basically every new show that came out, which will dictate the terms of your entertainment for the next three months.

Working for ANN’s preview guide means I really do watch basically every new show, and offer a reasonably sized take on all of them (you can check out ANN’s full list here, and find my thoughts under Nick Creamer). But even that is so much material that it’s kind of ridiculous to engage with, and so here at the blog I group everything I watched into vague descending categories, with both brief thoughts and a link to my longer ones. This has been a fairly iffy season so far, so I’m sorry to say the lower brackets will be kind of stacked this time, but there’s still plenty of worthwhile anime to discover! Feel free to skim at your leisure, or just skip to the part where I start rambling incoherently and losing hope in existence. THE CHOICE IS YOURS.

Incidentally, I won’t be covering the shows that are chained to various awful licensing situations here, so just imagine my thoughts on Little Witch Academia are “please Netflix, please spare us from the pain of this empty season.” Alright, I think that covers it. Let’s run this season down!

Continue reading

Winter 2017 Season Preview

I’ll be honest – this upcoming anime season is looking pretty sparse. Perhaps this is our punishment for having such a strong current season, or perhaps the good and just anime gods are displeased with Flip Flappers’ low sales numbers, but either way, we’re going to be scavenging for scraps come January. That said, there are still some bright spots here and there – sequels to strong first seasons, shows with promising creators, originals that might have have some kind of special spark. And we’ve certainly had weak winter seasons before – in fact, this winter may just end up being a repeat of last year’s, where Rakugo stood head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. We’ll get by, as we always do. And we’ll probably have some nice cartoons to help us.

As usual, I won’t be previewing every single show of the coming season, and I also won’t be providing traditional synopses. You can check a site like anichart for all that stuff – instead, I’ll be highlighting the specific shows that seem to have potential, along with the generally staff-related reasons I feel that way. Plot is cheap, but strong artists are irreplaceable. So let’s start at the vague peak of my interest level and run this next season down!

Continue reading

Winter 2016 – Week 11 in Review

Anime was pretty great this week! Basically anything would feel like an improvement after last week’s tragic slate of episodes, but this week’s selection was about as strong as you could hope for. ERASED didn’t magically fix the heavy fundamental damage its last episode caused, but it recovered as well as it could with an episode that mostly rediscovered the concept of subtlety. Dagashi Kashi had one of its best episodes so far, and Rakugo made up for its relatively grounded visual storytelling with some of the most endearing character moments of the season. Things are looking pretty okay in animeland at the moment. This may have been a relatively underwhelming season, but with Rakugo on track to become a legit classic, you can’t really call it a letdown.

Continue reading

Winter 2016 – Week 10 in Review

Well I guess some weeks have to be disasters. A couple of the shows I’m watching were fine this week, but there were some real terrible episodes in there, and one in particular… I don’t even know what to say. It’s pretty rare that a generally excellent show completely sets itself on fire just a few episodes before the end, but here we are. This is what we got. So let’s get right into it.

Continue reading

Winter 2016 – Week 9 in Review

Anime stayed pretty respectable this week, offering up reasonable episodes all around. It seems like Rakugo’s going to the only show I can call truly great by the end of this season, though. ERASED just has too many moments where its thriller mechanics drag down its more compelling variables, and though Grimgar is quite interesting and unique, it’s also a very uneven production. The season’s second tier is also somewhat questionable; Konosuba and Dagashi Kashi both regularly gesture towards jokes that don’t work in the slightest, and Active Raid is pretty much just an average crime procedural. The season has managed to hold together to the point where I’m not actively disappointed, but I’m still very ready for the much richer spring season to begin.

That said, at least Rakugo continues to knock it out of the park every week. So let’s start right there as we run ’em down!

Continue reading

Winter 2016 – Week 8 in Review

Anime was good this week! Basically every show I’m watching had a solid episode, and some impressed with legitimate highlights, too. Both Konosuba and Dagashi Kashi have now established their character relationships firmly enough that they can often just coast on audience investment, and ERASED pulled off a real stunner this week, focusing largely on Hinazuki’s feelings for the first time. Grimgar executed a major action sequence with characteristic emotional grace, and Rakugo Shinju continued to be just as great as it always is. This season has a fairly light spread of shows, but you don’t really need catalog depth if the first couple tiers are holding strong. Let’s get right into this week’s highlights and RUN ‘EM DOWN!

Continue reading

Winter 2016 – Week 7 in Review

This week in anime was a week in anime. We’re entering that stretch of the season where shows often become kinda tough to write about – they’ve established a firm rhythm and personality at this point, but they’re not quite into the leadup to the climax, and so episodes can oftentimes just be described as “pretty much like the last episode, I guess.” Even a show like Konosuba, one of this season’s most inconsistent wildcards, is now at least becoming steady in its inconsistency. There were some slight dips and slight rises among individual shows, but everything is at the moment falling within the margin of error of its existing expectations. That doesn’t mean things are impossible to talk about – that just means I have to work harder to find good points of interest. So sit there and appreciate my hard work as I run this week down!

Continue reading

Winter 2016 – First Half in Review

And suddenly, six weeks have passed. Fortunately for me, it’s actually hard to pretend the winter season has rushed by; not because the shows themselves have proceeded slowly, but because I live in goddamn New England, and so every day is an interminable march of suffering through sub-arctic temperatures and mocking snow. I hate winter, and I’d rather live in a place where it doesn’t exist, but for the moment I’m stuck here. As far as anime goes, this has actually been a perfectly reasonable season.

This seems like one of those seasons where, to an even greater degree than normally, the show quality just drops off a cliff after the second tier. In an ordinary season, there are a decent number of shows I’m not watching that people in a general sense are still enjoying – things that don’t appeal to me genre-wise, or whose writing or art style don’t gel with me, or some other quirk of preference. But this time, it seems like nearly everyone I know is watching the same shortlist of anime, and then there’s just a vast desert of nothing. But this actually doesn’t affect my viewing habits at all – I never tend to find more than half a dozen or so shows watchable, and as far as that small crop goes, as long as I have two to three shows that seem genuinely good, I’m satisfied. But it’d be far too mature of me to just say “I’m enjoying a fair number of shows for a variety of reasons,” and besides, we’ve got traditions to uphold. So let’s start at the top and ruthlessly rank this season’s claimants to the throne!

Continue reading

Winter 2016 – Week 5 in Review

I hate to say it, but this was not a good week in anime. Everything beyond Rakugo Shinju and ERASED has been kinda iffy this season, but this week, not only did ERASED put out its worst episode by far, but both Dimension W and KonoSuba were so bad that I’m probably dropping them until further notice. I was already sort of on the edge with both of those shows, and it honestly wouldn’t take that much to convince me to give KonoSuba another episode, but when half the shows you’re watching disappoint you, it’s not a good scene. ERASED in particular was a real disappointment – the show’s existing issues of overselling dramatic peaks and just being too much of a boilerplate thriller took over entirely this week, leaving me with an episode that felt more silly than dramatically effective. But that said, there were also highlights to make up the difference, and I can always use the time saved to work on more Current Projects! Let’s start at the top and RUN ‘EM DOWN.

Continue reading

Winter 2016 – Week 4 in Review

Things are still settling to some extent here in the fourth week, largely due to the fact that a full third of my current watch group consists of comedies. Comedies are tricky, and comedies are inconsistent, and comedies have much less of a tendency to settle into a reliable groove than most genres. So while Rakugo and ERASED continue to be excellent week after week, this time Konosuba was pretty terrible, while Dagashi Kashi was actually consistently funny. Other than that, I’m beginning to lose patience with Dimension W – the show is reasonably watchable, but absolutely nothing beyond that, possessing virtually no personality and being more interesting as a demographic artifact than an actual piece of media. Grimgar, on the other hand, is all personality, personality to a fault, and that actually makes it my third-favorite show at the moment. All that and more in this week’s Week in Review! Let’s RUN ‘EM DOWN!

Continue reading