I’m a little late to the party, aren’t I? To tell you the truth, my dear readers, I have not even settled on the shows I’m going to watch this season with the sole exception of Ojisan to Marshmallow, which is a very amusing short. Feel free to give me your three favorite shows so far in the comments section below, and I promise to take a look at them.
Looking back at the anime of Fall 2016, the high scores I awarded to the shows struck me. Have I become even less critical than normal? Then, your humble blogger realized that last season’s worst shows haven’t ended, and I decline to rate shows until I see the ending–unless Beneath the Tangles requires one of me. So, let me talk about the worst shows of the past season before I get to the good stuff.
8) The Perfect Insider (aka Subete ga F ni Naru)
The fact that such a well constructed show finds itself at the bottom speaks volumes to how good the Fall 2015 was. The Perfect Insider‘s problem was that it strove to appear erudition and merely became abstruse. The philosophical queries at the show’s beginning drew me in, but the show became less about metaphysics and human nature and more about trying to learn the psychology of the killer, Dr. Shiki Magata. One might claim that learning Dr. Magata’s psychology helps us understand philosophical ideas and human nature. But, the usefulness of any philosophy we derive from a person’s psyche depends greatly on their sanity. Dr. Magata has a few cards short of a full deck, is five cans short of a six pack, four quarters short of a dollar, and, in brief, is mad as a hatter. Since insanity is based in pride and not in reality, one learns very little philosophy indeed.
Nishinosono and Saikawa made for interesting protagonists. I could not but favor the former, since all the interest in Dr. Magata flabbergasted me also. There was some great voice acting and animation, but the next half needs to go a long way to offset this poor beginning.
7) Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Ken
I cringed when a commentator in a Beneath the Tangles podcast dismissed the original Utawarerumono as an anime merely for those with a predilection for furries. (My high estimation of the show can be seen by its placement among my top 50 anime.) However, that description applies to the sequel with unfortunate accuracy. The first four episodes feature danger and intrigue, but are followed by some bland slice-of-life harem antics. The characters were cute, several were hilarious, but the anime is not worth your time unless you love the franchise or furries. As one of the former, I shall inflict another season on myself.
N.B. Angryjellyfish tells me that the second season is jarringly violent compared to the first. That gives me some hope of the sequel not being a complete waste.
6) Heavy Object
If memory serves me right, iblessall had a terrific time lampooning this show on Twitter but could take no more than five episodes. I perfectly understand why: the first five episodes were pretty stupid. It’s as if someone threw in the heroes of 50/50, skimmed von Clausewitz on Brainy Quotes, and tossed in the the mentality of Tengen Toppa Guren Lagaan while still attempting some realism. The commentary on the brutality of war against this background–especially with the excessive fanservice and S&M gags involving Captain Frolaytia–strike one as pure ridiculousness.
However, the anime somehow hits its stride after episode five, and I found the following episodes surprisingly enjoyable despite the ever-present goofiness. As the action and plots become somewhat more reasonable, their commentary on warfare also does. The backstory of Frolaytia vexed me by being its perfect absurdity; but I enjoyed about everything else about the second half, and I look forward to more.
5) The Anti-Magic Academy: 35th Test Platoon – ★★★ 1/2
I was happy when I convinced Jusuchin of A Journey through Life to watch and blog about this show. The characters were all quite likeable, and I agree with Kaze’s assessment that the show gave constant entertainment throughout–even if I give it a full star higher. It never became terribly profound, but the show made me deeply invested in the characters and their fates. (If a story can do that, it’s a winner in my book.) This show’s style reminded me much about Black Bullet and was about as fun for a harem fantasy. The 35th Test Platoon had good animation, likable characters, great fights, and some gut-wrenching situations–everything I want in an anime.
4) Ushio to Tora – ★★★★
I believe that it was Genki Jason who referred to this show as “shonen done right,” which pithily explains the greatness of the show. Shonen often gets looked down on for its hackneyed tropes, but Ushio to Tora never gave me the sense that I watched something derivative. It had a resemblance to Inuyasha, but the manga was published prior to Inuyasha. So, I cannot accuse Ushio to Tora of stealing from that splendid show. (And if Rumiko Takahashi stole/borrowed some ideas from Ushio to Tora…well, it’s better than a world without Inuyasha.) The way this show never gives Ushio an easy fight, creates an amusing anti-hero in Tora, and delves into the themes of loyalty, love, and self-sacrifice made for a very refreshing shonen.
3) Beautiful Bones – Sakurako’s Investigation (aka Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru) – ★★★★
At one point, this show was my favorite of the season. (I had placed the next two on the back burner.) With beautiful animation, intriguing Holmesian mysteries, a great dynamic between the characters, and a heroine who reminds me much of Holo, this show had a ton to offer. Like all Japanese mysteries, the main goal of unlocking the mystery was to understand the psychology of the actors. Still, the mysteries presented some difficulty in solving, which is rare among anime outside of Case Closed. Through various literary allusions, one could tell this show’s creator was a lover of literature, especially the works of Doyle’s famous sleuth, and that added a whole other level of enjoyment for me.
2) Seraph of the End: Battle in Nagoya – ★★★★
Readers of this blog know how fond I was of the first season. In artwork, the second season outdoes itself, striking me as a “wallpaper anime,” i.e. one with plenty of striking scenes worthy of gracing my computer screen. Here’s a few examples:
(Okay, that was more than a few, but I really loved the artistry of this show!) Also, the fights in this season became more intense and realistic in some respects. (Who can forget Mikaela’s rash charge to kidnap Yuuichirou?) The only thing that prevents me from giving the show more than four stars is its slow start, and the silliness of certain scenes. Bring on another season!
1) Noragami Aragoto – ★★★★ 1/2
Remember how I said that I had only given the above rating to Arslan Senki and Eden of Grisaia? I had not yet seen the second half of Noragami Aragoto. This show had one of the slowest starts of this season, which caused me to place it on the backburner, but the latter half more than made up for that slow start. Some of the fights and animation were spectacular, and the characters were very likable as always.
It feels odd that I can write so little about my favorite show of last season, yet write so much more about the shows I loved less. But, this article has gone on quite long, and I thank my dear readers who have made it to the end! Now to finally turn my attention to the new season and a review of The Wind Rises, which I finally got around to.