March comes in like a lion – Episode 35

Though Trump’s active presidency has reduced some of the humor of dril’s “Trump has no time to fuck” tweet, rest assured, I am feeling exactly that tweet at the moment. Still buried under preview week work, still got many projects to do today. What’s this post about? March! Right, March had an episode. It was fine. Here’s my review, and you can check out my notes below. I’M OFF!

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 34

March comes in like a lion returned this week, offering some welcome narrative progression in Hina’s school bullying arc. I was kinda hoping that Akari would really let the bully’s mom have it, but in retrospect, having this be the moment where Hina steps up to care for her sister was pretty much the only way this could have gone. Hina’s actions here were a perfect progression of her growing strength, while Akari clearly needs to learn that her promise to her mother doesn’t mean she has to do everything herself. A fine episode on the whole.

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

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Top Ten Anime of 2017

That fabled time has come once again. With four full seasons of anime on the books, it’s time to mark out the true all-stars, the cream of the crop, the shows we just might remember in spite of our recency-mad fandom culture. I normally preface posts like this with a glib assurance that rankings don’t really matter, art deserves to be engaged with in a manner more meaningful than relative evaluation, and thus this whole ordeal is a hopeless exercise. That all remains true, but at the end of a year that’s offered plenty of things to be cynical about in the real world, I’d rather end this introduction on a note of honest positivity. Rankings aren’t bad things. Not only are they fun to read, but to people who actually haven’t spent countless hours poring over the year’s better and worse selections, rankings can genuinely help point people in useful directions. On top of that, simply celebrating the shows I love is one of my favorite things about criticism, and what’s a better venue for pure celebration than a list of my recent favorites? So let’s put the critical knives aside, and appreciate how good some cartoons can be. Here’s my Top 10 Anime of 2017!

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Fall 2017 – Week 12 in Review

And so it ends. This really wasn’t much of a week in anime, considering a third of my airing shows have already finished, but it still seems worth it to stop by and turn the lights out. Even taken as the season’s conclusion, this was a pretty weird one; not only are Just Because! and Love Live lingering into the year’s final days, but March comes in like a lion isn’t concluding at all, and Land of the Lustrous was only able to offer a light thematic bookend. This was an extremely good season, but it seems that it’ll be ending very quietly; no anthemic finales, and not all that much finality in general. But hey, if all these great shows want to end with slow dignity instead of dramatic fanfare, I suppose they’ve earned that right.

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 33

We were basically just in transition territory for this week’s March, as the show swept up the emotional loose ends of the past arc and started arranging some pieces for future conflicts. The show’s rigid adaptation style once again resulted in some dramatic weirdness, but frankly, this week’s material would have been kinda blase regardless of its presentation. They can’t all be standouts!

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

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 31

I apparently forgot to post this one back when episode 31 aired. Whoops!

Rei finally arrived at the Newcomer Tournament finals this week, and was able to pay Nikaidou back for his loss in the semis. Of course, that victory only came after Rei painfully accepted this arc’s main lesson: that sometimes we cannot help the ones we love through direct action, and must exercise emotional restraint. It was a smart narrative embodiment of this arc’s central emotional conflict, and seeing Rei rewarded by actually being able to help Hina was great as well. This show is good stuff.

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

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Fall 2017 – Week 11 in Review

Another of our beloved contenders set sail this week, with MMO Junkie ending on a kinda mediocre but still relatively charming OVA episode. Outside of that, the fall season continued to offer nothing but hits this week, with Sunshine managing its second strong episode in a row while all the season’s more stable contenders maintained their usual sheen. I have to admire March comes in like a lion for its confidence in continuously interrupting its excellent Hina arc with diversions that all turn out to be satisfying enough to warrant messing with the narrative structure. March’s choices don’t at all feel like the way this story “should” be told, but at this point, the embellishments feel like expert saxophone solos threaded into a confident jazz standard. Meanwhile, Lustrous continues to surprise in new ways, while Just Because! keeps up its awkward-as-hell consistency once again. It is so very nice when the anime is good. Let’s GET TO IT!

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 32

March veered away from the ongoing Hina-Rei drama again this week, instead focusing on Rei’s just-defeated opponent Junkei. In any other show, this would be a frustrating diversion, but Junkei’s story was just so damn charming that I was completely taken in by his worldview, anxieties, and utterly pure love of pigeons. Anybody who cares about pigeons this much can’t be a bad guy. Damnit March, you made me care about another one.

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

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Why It Works: The Reach of our Hands

Today on Crunchyroll, I returned to March comes in like a lion to plot out the biggest thematic thread of its most recent arc. Considering how long and well-observed Rei’s initial journey out of total dependence was, it makes sense that the show dedicates equal care to demonstrating how even when we want to help others, we’re often not really able to do that much. Rei’s Newcomer Tournament match managed to hinge on that concept while simultaneously offering a satisfying win for Rei, which was a very tricky balance. March is just a remarkably solid show altogether.

The Reach of Our Hands

Fall 2017 – Week 10 in Review

It feels like all of these great shows are now just jostling to remind me exactly how great they are, right before the season ends and we’re all left in the winter void. March comes in like a lion rose to a dramatic crescendo, Land of the Lustrous had one of its most visually jaw-dropping episodes yet, and even Love Live Sunshine managed to shake off its recent woes and deliver a strong performance. With Recovery of an MMO Junkie already taking its bow, we’re really in the final days now – and with the end of the year prompting me to write way too many final lists, I’m getting even more reminders of how good this season is. Considering Land of the Lustrous is likely to be one of my future go-to gateway shows, I can’t really complain about all this anime ending strong. Let’s instead celebrate it while it’s here, and run this week’s episodes down!

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