2017 Winter, Final Thougts

This is the mid-season update so comments will be brief. I save longer thoughts for the end of the season. I was going to wait until the middle of the season, but shows are so spread out (some on ep 5, some 4, some 3) that I’m doing it a bit early rather than waiting. A couple shows also just hit major story milestones so this seems like a nice time to step back and take a breath.

I won’t be including Winter shows in the rankings below, so this is purely based on Spring. I’ll do the year-to-date cumulative ranking when Spring is complete.

[ Standard disclaimer: Not spoiler free! ]

All of the following are loosely grouped by color: Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, Tier 4. Click on a title to jump to the comments.

Completed or Airing
01. Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? [ 8.0 / 10 ]
02. Hinako Note [ 8.0 / 10 ]
03. Alice to Zouroku [ 8.0 / 10 ]
04. Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2 [ 7.0 / 10 ]
05. Natsume Yuujin-chou Roku [ 7.0 / 10 ]
06. Twin Angel Break [ 6.0 / 10 ]
07. Sin Nanatsu no Taizai [ 5.0 / 10 ]

Shorts
01. The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls Gekijou [ 6.5 / 10 ]


Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? 50% import
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I could gush forever about the opening seven minutes of this show, which are genuinely among the best I’ve ever seen. From the arresting cold open to the haunting, unspeakably beautiful rendition of Scarborough Fair I was just entranced. The cold open is the most fascinating since Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica (I had literal goosebumps), and the Scarborough Fair sequence does more and better world-building than any light novel wall of text exposition dump could ever hope to. I’ve been playing it on loop while writing this whole post.

Even though it’s never quite captured that magic again, it’d be unfair to expect it to. There’s a pretty dense story being told here and that requires getting down and dirty with the details of the plot. While I think the show is moving a little quickly at times, it’s doing it relatively elegantly. It always manages to justify what feel like leaps of logic or convenient shortcuts. Even its iffier decisions (see here for my thoughts on the massage scene) still feel like they’re grounded in a desire to tell a genuinely thoughtful story. One of the most crucial things the show needs to do is sell us on what will almost certainly be a romance between Willem and Chtholly. I was taking a wait and see approach to that, but their conversation near the end of episode three has me completely on board with the pairing right now.

Of all the shows I’m watching, this may be the one I’m most excited for each week, although it’s also a show that could go wrong in so many ways (hence the lower import % chance). Maybe that fear is part of the excitement, though I quite hope it’s an unwarranted fear. [3 episodes]

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Hinako Note 99% import
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Hinako Note is doing an admirable job of pinch-hitting in a season that lacks any Manga Time Kirara adaptations. It’s not yet on par with the better MTK titles like last season’s Urara, but it’s been finding its groove with each passing episode and I have high hopes it’ll finish out at least as well as it’s started. The premise definitely clicks with me, as it features one of my favorite slice of life archetypes: a shy character who, though her own determination and a little help from her friends, challenges herself to break out of her shell. Hinako is attempting to battle her inability to communicate with people through theater, and I’m all about that. She’s surrounded by a strong cast with distinct personalities. The landlady Aki is the least interesting, but her being the (mutual?) object of Mayu’s affections is promising. Kuina is a strong enough character to stand on her own, and Yua’s tsundere for Hinako provides the ship I’m prepared to go down defending. The best OP and ED of the season round out a very charming series which I’m enjoying immensely. [4 episodes]

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Alice to Zouroku 75% import
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Half the reason I decided to do this post now is the very intriguing decision Alizou just made to drop a big narrative shift (or, so it seems at the moment) into episode 5. It feels a whole lot like a first cour climax of a two cour show, but this show pulled it off much earlier. It worked, too! The organization that Sana escapes from has been raided by the authorities and disbanded, and their most formidable agent sent back to America. I haven’t the slightest clue where the show is going next, and that’s genuinely exciting.

The antagonist thus far was Minnie C, and I commend the show on its ability to convey her as simultaneously sympathetic and loathsome. Her awful treatment of Sana makes you rightfully despise her but her genuinely affecting backstory somehow still works. Hell of a balancing act. But the two shining stars so far are Zouroku’s ‘ain’t got time for this shit” grandpa-ness (banzai for adult protagonists!) and the deeply sweet sisterly relationship between Sana and Sanae. If this show doesn’t trip too badly over its darker aspects, it’s going to be really special. A shame about the truly abominable 3DCG that crops up during action, but ep 1 has the worst of it and the characters themselves are at least spared. [5 episodes]

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Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2 10% import
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Can’t blame the guy, this really does feel like the sort of show you need to drink to get through. Whew, is it ever relentlessly grim. I generally don’t like that kind of tone, but I guess Shingeki owns its grimness well enough to keep me watching. There’s just something about the show that intrigues me. The way Everyone Is Angry About Everything All The Time should be obnoxious, but I find it a mix of engaging and hilarious. I’m also interested in the decision to sideline Eren for basically the entire first five episodes. This has allowed other characters to stand out, even if it doesn’t always nail it. Sasha’s episode was excellent and told us a lot about the girl behind the potato memes, but Ymir’s arc leaves me a bit puzzled as to what it was trying to accomplish. It feels like we skipped a ton of material with her. The show’s biggest flaw so far is its often needlessly mean-spirited deaths. While I get that’s the tone is wants to go for, it’s just thoroughly unpleasant (particularly two deaths in episodes 1 and 4). The show’s best asset is its oppressive tension, and I’m not convinced they really enhance that. They’re breaks from the tension, not for catharsis but for… people screaming for their daddies as they’re torn to pieces? Eh. You’re much better at other things, Shingeki. [5 episodes]

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Natsume Yuujin-chou Roku 1% import
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Ahhhhh it’s season frickin’ six, either you know what this show’s formula is, or you’ve never seen it. This season seems to have no interest in advancing any of the big plot threads (Natori, Matoba, Reiko) so just sit back and enjoy more of its fun youkai stories. [3 episodes]

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The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls Gekijou Imported
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Cingeki is about half exactly what I hoped for, and half very clearly aimed at the kind of Idolmaster fan that I am not. 45 second gags about random idol fawning over faceless Producer is just boring. 45 second gags that involve the idols bouncing off one another for comedic purposes, now that’s the good stuff. I understand part of Idolmaster’s appeal for a lot of people is the “you’re the producer” aspect but I’m not into that self-insert stuff in the least. I ended up liking the Producers in the two TV series so much because they didn’t play that card at all. This show needs to give us more like episode three and less of “some idol wants to play marriage interview with P-san isn’t that funny?”, please.

Still, I’m importing it because it’s Deremas and it’s cheap and I love these silly idols too much to not support it. [4 episodes]

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Twin Angel Break 0% import
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This is where we get into shows that aren’t in imminent danger of being dropped, but which are far from safe. I haven’t seen the other Twin Angel series, though I don’t think that helps or hurts with Break. Right now it’s on thin ice because it’s wasting our time with Sumire’s onii-chan complex, even though it initially did such a good job selling the budding friendship between her and Meguru. Having some of the absolute most abysmal action animation I’ve seen doesn’t help either. I will give this show points for an unusually decent portrayal of a cross-dressing queer boy though. It’s had multiple opportunities to treat Yuki’s gender non-conformance as a gag in a mean-spirited way (especially in the latest episode), but never goes for the low blow. He’s portrayed as a little flighty and unserious, but I never feel like TwinAB is making fun of him. That’s a low bar to clear, sure, but it still feels like a minor miracle.

That aside, while I think TwinAB could find its footing and end decently, right now I’m feeling ambivalent. [4 episodes]

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Sin Nanatsu no Taizai 0% import
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It’s exactly what it advertises on the tin, so nothing in here will surprise you in the slightest. I usually just avoid these buxom battle girl T&A-fests, but ep 1 got some decent reactions and Leviathan looked really cute. Nanatai is an occasionally funny, occasionally icky, always deliberately ridiculous experience. If there’s one show that I may not stick with, it’s this. It doesn’t really appeal to me much on a yuri level either. Like yeah it’s explicit girl-girl physicality but there’s really no purpose to it beyond the most base titillation. The non-con nature of a lot of it isn’t surprising and thus not something I’m super offended by, but it does make it that much duller. So I dunno, if I have time I’ll stick with it just to see what amusing thing Leviathan does next but I’m genuinely not going to remember this show three minutes after it’s over. Chalk it up as a “meh” right now. [3 episodes]

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Dropped Series
none yet

 

My feeling this whole season has been “unexpectedly solid, but lacking a break-out winner”. Hinako Note is eminently competent slice of life and I enjoy the hell out of it, but I don’t think it’ll reach the heights of recent favorites like Urara or even New Game unless it really pushes Hinako/Yua as a viable couple (which it won’t). In the end, I think it can achieve a solid Gabdro-level 8.5/10 which I’d be perfectly happy with. Manga Time Kirara has Blend S and Yurucamp coming up, as well as New Game s2, so if Hinako Note just holds me over until those, then thumbs up to it.

That leaves Sukasuka and Alizou as the ones with the most potential to reach that 9.0/10 level of greatness. But that’s a risky bet to make, as both have a dark streak that is equally likely to break as to make them. Alizou seems a little safer in that regard at the moment, and thus is a little less risky. Sukasuka on the other hand is way riskier. But it keeps hinting at some underlying brilliance that really wants to burst through, should the anime staff have the skill to unearth its potential.

2 Responses to “Spring 2017 viewing update #1”

  1. AholePony says:

    Good impressions as always. I’m surprised you are giving Sin: Nanatsu a fair shake at all. I watch these shows (Valkyrie drive comes to mind as a recent example) for the ridiculousness, I find them much more funny than titillating personally.

    I Completely agree with your assessment of Hinako Note, it’s better than the very bland Stella no Mahou a few seasons back, but not quite up to the higher standards others have set in the genre. It’s very competent but I don’t think it’ll be that memorable. This iteration of Twin Angel isn’t banking on the camp quite as much as the prior entries and I think it’s worse off for it unfortunately. The new Danmachi series has a bit of yuri pairing but I don’t think it’s your type of series so not surprised you didn’t try it out or dropped it. The only one you don’t list that I can recommend is Sakura Quest. I’m loving that shows easy delivery and fun characters.

    • something something says:

      Sword Oratoria I skipped because it’s in Amazon Strike hell, and because I just found Danmachi kinda frustrating in the end. Also Ais was just about my biggest problem with Danmachi so I wasn’t terribly excited by the idea of a show focusing on her. Now in fairness to her, it wasn’t that she was that bad, so much as that the show used her as an excuse to bring out the worst in Bell. He was a pretty decent dude for the most part, likable even, but around her he started acting like the kind of LN protagonist I don’t like, and that was just weird and off-putting.

      As for Sakura Quest, I think someone got drunk before they did the subs on CR because they are not at all like CR’s usual subs. Flipped names, dropped and translated honorifics, bizarre handling of nicknames, just ugh, unacceptable work all around. I have no idea what happened there. I’ve decided to just skip it since I’ve got enough other shows to watch and in any event, reactions to it on my twitter timeline seem to be cooling off a lot in the last week or two.

      If I did pick any other shows up this season (say if I drop Nanatai and/or Angel Break) it’ll probably be that Zero no Sho series I keep hearing good things about. But it’s Anime Strike as well, so I’d have to find decent fansubs, and with rare exceptions I honestly can’t be bothered to care about any show that isn’t on CR these days.

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