Winter 2017 – Week 2 in Review

This week in anime was… look, I’m barely watching anything this season. ACCA and Interviews with Monster Girls are the only non-Rakugo show I’m not both watching and covering for ANN, and that second one’s already kind of on the borderline. If the season continues at this pace, it seems likely we’ll be at This Week in Rakugo before too long. That’s not actually the worst thing! I’ve probably said it before, but I’m much happier with a show or two I really love than a bunch of “watchable entertainment” I’d be comfortable skipping. My media consumption tends to reflect that – I make top ten lists and whatnot, but as an “anime fan,” I’m probably only a fan of 2-3% of what the medium puts out, and could take or leave the rest. That’s not to say I’m a more refined consumer or anything, it mostly just means I understand that some seasons aren’t going to have much for me to talk about. I’ll figure out if I should adjust my schedule for the season at some point (“Week 6: the award for best Rakugo goes to Rakugo”), but for now, let’s run down this season’s slimmest of pickings!

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 13

March had a pretty shaky episode this week, both in terms of its structure and its visual execution. The actual material being covered was fine, but the show’s adherence to its chapter-by-chapter format and creaky animation didn’t really do this block any favors. I’m probably enjoying the show more than I would if I’d read the manga – since this is my first time enjoying this story, I can accept some sloppy execution.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my notes below.

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 12

March returned this week with what was honestly a pretty disjointed episode, mixing Rei’s thoughts on the Kawamoto family home with the first stages of a tournament and even a brief showdown with a new nemesis. Gotou isn’t anything but a one-note antagonist so far, but March has very good about avoiding that sort of character in the past, so hopefully he’ll gain some complexity before the Lion King finals. Either way, it’s nice to have this show back.

You can check out my full review over at ANN or my notes below.

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Top Ten Anime of 2016

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!

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Fall 2016 – Week 12 in Review

Welp, the year is coming to an end. 2016 has been a tough year for the world at large, and a stressful year for me personally, what with transitioning entirely to freelance work the year before. Fortunately, 2016 was also a pretty excellent year in anime – there wasn’t anything I loved on the level of a Shirobako or an Eccentric Family, but the breadth of the year’s top tier was pretty dang remarkable. This season in particular was a real standout, offering a substantial portion of the shows that’ll make up my final top ten. We’re arriving at final episodes now, which is sad, but I’m never unhappy to see good shows end strong. Let’s run these titles down, and get ready for whatever 2017 may bring!

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 11

March took things a little easier this week, finally giving Rei some time to rest and hang out with the Kawamotos after two straight episodes of tough matches and sisterly abuse. Of course, this is still March comes in like a lion, so that rest and relaxation was prefaced by Rei falling into a fever so deep he could barely take care of himself. But most of this episode was charming slice of life material, and again demonstrated how well the show has established its general platform. I’m happy to share some warm holiday memories with this show’s wonderful crew.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my episode notes below.

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Fall 2016 – Week 11 in Review

Most of the shows I’m watching were pretty fantastic this week. Alright, I’m watching six shows, so we can more specifically say four of six. JoJo is nailing its final battle, Chitose is actually becoming a sympathetic character, Flip Flappers is pulling its story together, and March is drawing all possible pathos out of Rei’s anger and resentment. That’s a pretty good ratio! So yes, Euphonium may have dedicated a full episode to a nonsense conflict, and Yuri on Ice may still be a generally underwhelming sports production, but frankly, the standards are quite high this season. With all my shows having around two episodes left, this is still easily looking to be the best season of the year, and a season any year would be proud of. The coming winter may be a bleak wilderness, but let us remember: sometimes anime is good. Continue reading

March comes in like a lion – Episode 10

This might not have been March’s overall best episode, but it certainly had one of the show’s best sequences. The finale here, where Rei finally let out all the resentment that had been building over Kyouko’s actions and the odd “selfishness” of his opponents, was an absolute stunner, and the rest of the episode was very solid as well. I guess you have to really enjoy “shows about people who are sad” to get that much out of March, but it sure is a great sad person show.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my notes below.

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Fall 2016 – Week 10 in Review

We’re coming to the close now. With 2016 ending on America electing its first Russia-approved candidate, it’s a little hard for anime to really shock me, and so I’m perfectly fine with embracing stability in my Japanese cartoons. The fall’s highlights all seem to be ending strong at this point – Euphonium has risen from a weak middle arc to some stunning Asuka-focused material, Flip Flappers is actually making a coherent transition into its more straightforward endgame, and Yuri on Ice is finally giving Victor the focus he needs. And if strong new episodes aren’t enough for you, I also made posts I’m happy with for fans at either end of the pool: a next step recommendation list for new fans, and a dive into Studio Pablo’s background work for regulars. But these posts are for celebrating the week’s anime, so let’s get right back to that and RUN THIS WEEK DOWN!

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 9

March comes in like a lion had a bit of a lesser episode this week, though Rei’s match against Mr. Matsunaga was still both entertaining and dramatically important. I continue to appreciate how thoughtfully March approaches character drama focused on someone who’s fundamentally unhappy – Rei’s daily life is full of failures, victories, and new emotional discoveries, but all of that occurs in the context of his more overarching depression. Some occasional lazy jokes are a fine price of admission to a show that handles March’s key variables this well.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my notes below!

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