And so the winter season approaches its end. We’ve got one more rough week after this, but the season’s shows are already beginning to turn out the lights at this point, starting with the scrappy March comes in like a lion. Other shows have a bit more life left in them – Rakugo is certainly tidying up, but Tanya’s narrative shows no sign of ending, and Dragon Maid is as lively as ever. This was definitely a lesser season, but as always, there were odd pleasures to be found here and there. Watching anime on a seasonal schedule means you’ll probably end up watching a lot of crap, but that’s all part of the experience. Let’s take a look at this week’s contenders and RUN ‘EM DOWN!
Today I conclude my article on Dragon Maid’s recent Yamada episode, spending a good thousand words to break down maybe a minute of animation. LIVIN’ THE DREAM.
This episode very easily supported this close of a reading, and I was happy to get the chance to write about it. This also offered me a chance to articulate how animation is inseparable from storytelling in a more general sense, and how thinking of animation as “wasted” is generally a pretty absurd idea. I doubt this will fix the general mess that is discussions of KyoAni dramas, but hey, gotta try.
The anime was very cheery this week! I mean, I expect that from Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, but even sadsack productions like Rakugo and March comes in like a lion turned in remarkably optimistic performances. I certainly didn’t mind that – frankly, it feels like all of us could use a little sunshine as the winter trudges to its end. And these were certainly well-earned strokes of positivity, given what the characters in both of those shows have recently suffered. With all that on top of this week’s wonderful episode of Dragon Maid, this was a pretty alright week in anime land. Let’s start with those reliable dragons and RUN THIS WEEK DOWN!
Today I’ve got the first of a two-parter all about Naoko Yamada’s recent episode of Dragon Maid. This one offered me the chance to do something I love doing, but only infrequently get a chance to – breaking down a massive number of visual choices made for one specific scene, exploring how all of them facilitate the sequence’s dramatic intent. Not all shows or episodes reward that kind of close look, but Yamada’s stuff and Kyoto Animation’s work in general do it all the time. Good anime are fun to talk about!
The winter heavyweights were both firing on all cylinders this week. Fresh from directing what’s apparently the most perfect anime film ever, Yamada turned in what was likely Dragon Maid’s most technically accomplished episode yet. And over in Rakugo land, the final act continued in fierce fashion, as Bon struggled mightily against his own obsolescence. Seasons aren’t necessarily defined by only their best shows, but Winter ‘17’s top tier is making a strong argument in that favor. We only ever remember our favorites from any given year, anyway – even if nothing else stands out, as long as they shine bright, anime will keep. Let’s dive right into those and the other shows of the week!
Anime was perfectly alright this week! No ridiculous highlights to report, but also no dramatic failures, with pretty much all my trusted shows turning in reasonable performances. Tanya apparently spent its week off meditating on the true ugliness of war, which was nice to see, while Dragon Maid recovered from last week’s missteps with a perfectly satisfying beach episode. Seiren wasn’t great, but Seiren isn’t great, so that’s not really news. And most importantly, I caught up on all of Kemono Friends, and even wrote an article over at Crunchyroll about one of the show’s various strengths. It’s been a satisfying week over here in anime land. Let’s take a look!
This week in anime was… not so good. In addition to Dragon Maid making its first legitimate missteps, there was also no Tanya, and apparently a week without Tanya pretty much instantly demonstrates that this season is resting on the thinnest of ice. There’s nothing like Flip Flappers here for me to constantly gush over – Rakugo is great, but it doesn’t really enchant or speak to me in the way my true favorites do. In the absence of Tanya (and with me having dropped ACCA for the moment), I’ve been forced to watch a bunch of Kemono Friends, the show about cute animal-girls who clip through their surroundings because their CG is so bad. It’s a rough time out there. Stay safe, everybody.
Alright, enough doom and gloom. Let’s get right to it and run this week down!
For this week’s Why It Works I returned to Maidragon, and dug into the specific kind of fantasy world the show presents. Magical realism is actually one of my favorite kinds of fantasy, and though its greatest exemplar in anime is likely The Eccentric Family, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is pretty great too. I hope you enjoy the piece!
The season halfway point has arrived at last! In spite of early speculation by certain disreputable parties, the winter season hasn’t fallen on its face, and is actually turning out to be stronger than last winter. It’s still certainly a weaker season, but for some reason that’s just how winters tend to be – and given I’m supplementing this season’s offerings with regular injections of unfair additions like Planetes and Nichijou, I can’t really complain. But today, it’s all about the winter shows, as I commence the seasonal tradition of ranking everything I’m watching at the exact point those rankings are least likely to be meaningful. Theoretically, this is supposed to reflect the fundamental pointlessness of constructing hierarchical rankings of art in general – in practice, it’s more like most other traditions: I do it because I started doing it and I’ve been doing it for a while and goddamnit if I’m gonna stop now. So let’s start right at the top and run this season down!
This was another perfectly acceptable week in anime. I’ve pretty much accepted that this is going to be a workmanly season – there’s nothing I’ll love as much as Oregairu or Flip Flappers, but most of my list will consistently turn out solidly enjoyable episodes. Dragon Maid is the comfiest thing I could hope for, Tanya continues to be far too entertaining for its own good, and Rakugo holds up the prestige end of the season with relative grace. March also seems to be recovering from its weaker stretch, which is nice to see. This probably won’t be the season we come back to at the end of the year, but hey, some seasons are just trying to pay the bills. So let’s start with some fuwa fuwa dragons and run this week down!