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!
My Hero Academia’s fifth volume is a friggin’ masterpiece. That’s basically all there is to it – the manga has continued to improve from a starting point of “extremely solid archetypal shounen,” and at this point its strong art, wonderful characters, and bubbling themes are all working in concert to create legitimate magic. This was a tournament arc where I actually cared about every single competitor, where I cheered and cried at every single fight. It perfectly fused climactic action and very personal storytelling, demonstrating exactly how you make fights worth fighting. I can’t even imagine what comes next.
Today I took one more look back at this spring’s big shounen superhero extravaganza. My Hero Academia’s strengths and weaknesses have been pretty firmly articulated at this point – the show had great material to work with, and understood the spirit of that material perfectly, but was hamstrung by the limitations of adapting too few chapters into too many episodes. In spite of that, I had a solid time with MHA, and am hopeful the second season will learn from this one’s mistakes. There’s always next time!
The spring season came to a full end this week, finishing off with a double helping of Flying Witch to help make up for our dearly departed Lost Village and Conrevo. Most of the other shows I’ve been watching have been pretty consistent, and this week confirmed that – Kiznaiver’s conclusion was the best it could be given the circumstances of its existing narrative, My Hero Academia finished a fairly simple arc with as much passion as it could muster, and Flying Witch charmed for every dang minute. Luluco was probably the biggest upset, as its fairly strong conclusion raised my overall impression of the show a tick. And heck, if I just pretend the cameo episodes never happened, it’s even better!
Anyway, enough preamble. Let’s sweep up the season’s loose ends and RUN ‘EM DOWN!
We had a bunch of very fun episodes this week. Rallying from a weaker start, the conclusion to Red Hot Chili Pepper was one more power episode of Diamond is Unbreakable, and My Hero Academia refused to give any ground in its big All Might battle. And we also had a pair of solid season endings, with Concrete Revolutio and The Lost Village both impressing in their own extremely, extremely, extremely incomparable ways. No Flying Witch did result in a bit of a comfy shortage, but I hear there’s a comfy surplus coming up next week, so things should even out in the end. Let’s get right to it and RUN ‘EM DOWN!
The season is wrapping up at this point, but this season’s shows still have a few surprises left. In this case, the main surprise was My Hero Academia and JoJo switching places – My Hero Academia was on fire this week, easily vaulting over its usual failings, while JoJo turned down the temperature for an episode that unfortunately evoked some of Stardust Crusaders’ worst tendencies. But aside from that, everything was pretty much business as usual. Concrete Revolutio is speeding towards what’s likely to be an astoundingly good finale, Flying Witch is as consistent as ever, Luluco is still unsure of whether it wants to be a real show or not, etcetera. All this and more in today’s week in review, as we cast our eyes backward and RUN ‘EM DOWN.
Anime was plenty strong this week, full of epic punches and cathartic emotional revelations and long afternoon naps. JoJo added another feather to this arc’s already outrageously festooned cap, and My Hero Academia finally started in on its higher-tier material. The Lost Village and Flying Witch both did the kinds of things you hope for from those shows, and Concrete Revolutio seems to be sticking the landing by smartly tethering its overall ideas directly to Jiro’s personal development. The season would be strong even if the more questionable shows actually did fall apart, but it’s nice seeing that even stuff like The Lost Village and Kiznaiver are rallying for their last acts. This is a season to be proud of.
Anime held pretty darn steady this week. In a season this strong, I’m not forced to watch shows that I have to pray for every week – the only inconsistent show I’m watching is Kiznaiver, and even that has established a really strong rhythm over the last several episodes. Concrete Revolutio had a very rich episode this week, and Flying Witch continued to make strong use of the magical cafe for fantasy and humor. Luluco was crap, but hey, Luluco’s been crap for a few weeks now, even that’s not a surprise. I’ve still got plenty (of Conrevo) to discuss though, so let’s start with the conclusion of Koichi’s whirlwind romance and RUN ‘EM DOWN!
Anime was good this week! Anime was extremely good this week! ANIME WAS RIDICULOUSLY GOOD THIS WEEK. Kiznaiver and JoJo each had their best episodes of the season, with Kiznaiver offering probably my favorite episode of any of these shows, and JoJo basically just synthesizing all of the things that have made Diamond is Unbreakable great. Concrete Revolutio was right up there as well, as Urobuchi penned one of the most pointed episodes the show has ever seen. And the rest of the lineup was not far behind – only The Lost Village and Luluco had weaker episodes this week, and I’m sure they’ll both survive. That’s enough summary! Let’s get right to it!!!
Time for a new essay! This one focuses specifically on My Hero Academia, but is more generally about a spirit of optimism in fiction that I find really compelling and valuable. It was frankly kinda tough cutting down all the various topics I wanted to cover into one editorial-sized piece (I could easily write another entire article about the ambiguous ways idols interact with this concept), but I’m pretty happy with the result. I hope you enjoy the piece, and wish you luck finding some spirit of heroism in your own life!