2017 Winter, Final Thougts
Spring 2017 viewing update #1

This will be my last update before the season ending/mid-year post, so let’s see where things stand at the moment!

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. Alice to Zouroku [ 9.0 / 10 ]
02. Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? [ 8.5 / 10 ]
03. Hinako Note [ 8.5 / 10 ]
04. Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2 [ 8.0 / 10 ]
05. Twin Angel Break [ 7.0 / 10 ]
06. Natsume Yuujin-chou Roku [ 7.0 / 10 ]

Shorts
01. The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls Gekijou [ 6.0 / 10 ]

Dropped
Sin Nanatsu no Taizai – Ehhhh, just couldn’t stick with this one. Maybe if Maria were totally into banging the demon ladies, rather than just getting molested all the time, it’d be more palatable. The absurdity of it all is only occasionally amusing and there’s only so much fanservice I can really take. This show does what it was born to do, but that’s just not for me. I wasn’t really *expecting* to like it anyway so I’m not surprised I’m dropping it, but it was worth a shot. [4 episodes]


Alice to Zouroku 90% import
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Despite skipping a week for a recap, the two episodes of Alizou since my last update have propelled it into a slight lead. Very slight! But this is the first time all season I’ve felt confident in scoring one of my top 3 above the other two, and breaking that 9/10 line. Episode 6 was the best yet, and possibly better than any episode this season save Sukasuka 1. “Sana” becoming “Kashimura Sana” is probably going to appear on my list of best moments of the year.

But what’s giving Alizou the edge for me is just how confident it’s been with switching between peaceful domestic life and more its emotionally challenging moments. Episode 7 bridges that gap particularly well, with an ostensibly SOL episode that finds time to both touch on Yonaga and Asahi’s past trauma and current regrets, and convey Sana’s internal struggle to integrate into the outside world. There’s something deeply believable in Sana’s rapidly changing emotions. You see it on her face while she gropes around for the appropriate reaction to give Yonaga and Asahi, you see it in her head-scratching frustration when she’s talking to Ichijou, Zouroku, and Sanae. And you see it in their reactions to her – Yonaga and Asahi as caring friends, Ichijou as the friendly teacher, Zouroku as the patient father, Sanae as the doting sister. Sana doesn’t realize it yet, but these people and their relationships vis a vis her are leading her down the surest path to accepting herself as fully human.

This is a show that has an admirably clear idea of what it wants to be and I find it fascinating that it’s handled itself so well after the episode 5 climax. I have a lot of faith in its ability to pull off a final arc that maintains this balancing act, and if it sticks the landing it’ll be at least my #2 show of 2017 as of the halfway point. [7 episodes]

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Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? 75% import
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If I have one big criticism of Sukasuka, it’s the pace at which story beats come and go. It repeatedly hints at tragedy and sort of gets there, but before you’ve really had time to mourn or be shocked it’s already fixed that issue and moved on to the next. There’s something in this story that desperately cries out on a fundamental level to be two cour (or at least a cour and a half) but as we’re all too painfully aware, that’s usually impossible in the current market. Like Sukasuka’s major story events, anime come and go at light speed in this crowded market.

But fuck me if I don’t cry, smile, and laugh just as hard as I would if those moments were spaced out better. Willem and Chtholly’s relationship is intense and delightful and genuine, even if they’ve had enough highs and lows in half a cour to fill a whole season. And I still cried at the end of episode 6, even though a very similar scene had just happened two weeks prior. While Sukasuka hasn’t matched the simple and elegant world-building of the cold open and Scarborough Fair sequence in episode one (there’s been some pretty clunky exposition since then), it’s succeeded at its most important task: making me genuinely care about these characters. Like any tragedy I find myself enjoying, Sukasuka adamantly maintains that there’s still beauty to be found in its world. The fairies’ lives may be fleeting, violent, and highly constricted, but they’re still important. [6 episodes]

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Hinako Note 99% import
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Everything I said about the show in my previous comments holds, but the score got bumped up slightly thanks to a strong mid-series climax during their first live performance. While Hinako’s improvements as an actress do happen largely off-screen, episode five focused enough on that to make it believable. Even more important for me has been Yua’s gradual acknowledgement of Hinako both as a friend and as a thespian. More and more her thoughts have shifted from Chiaki to Hinako without her even realizing it. And after Hinako’s quick-thinking to save Yua during the play, and Yua’s gratitude afterward, I can say they are hands down the ship I’d be willing to go down with this season.

Everything about Yua is everything I love in a character, so it’s a given she’d be my favorite. She’s the modestly tsundere girl who lets her pride get in the way of her true feelings, but who nonetheless finds herself pulled into the orbit of a new friend group that cares about her. I can only hope that the show continues to develop her relationship with Hinako, because even if we’re never going to see anything formally come of it, it’s a hell of a lot more interesting than her pining after Chiaki (who is quite married to Mayu thank you very much). [7 episodes]

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Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2 50% import
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Somehow this show keeps me hooked, and if anything my opinion of this season has only risen, along with its import chances. There’s still the issue of Mikasa being a somewhat annoyingly one-dimensional character, but the fact that she’s obsessed with the damedame Eren is definitely more palatable than if he were, say, a Kirito-type protagonist demigod. After all, it’s hard to call her over-protective when Eren really does need constant babysitting. And I really can’t emphasize enough how important it is that Eren is a total failure. It’s moe as fuck and I kind of love him for it. Every time he gains a little confidence (lmao titan wrestling) only to get dunked on harder, he gets more and more endearing.

I’m also really happy with the overall pacing of this season. There’s been a clear goal in the narrative at every point this far, and now the final arc is going to be “rescue Eren and Ymir” and presumably ending on some new revelation. It’s kept things very manageable this season, and the production quality has been consistent and superior as well. If we’re lucky, season three won’t be another four years away… [8 episodes]

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Twin Angel Break 1% import
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Veil has absolutely saved this show. It’s not just that she’s really charming herself, but her influence on Meguru has finally forced Sumire to acknowledge her own feelings. I was truly surprised and delighted at how strongly episode 7 played up Sumire’s feelings for Meguru, and they suddenly earned a #2 spot on my favorite ships of the season list. The moment that truly sold me on this show was when Meguru acted playfully jealous about Sumire not thinking about her, only for Sumire to whisper to herself, “I do think about you though…”. Now that caught me off guard. Damn.

There’s still a Sword of Broconocles hanging over everything, but I have a whole lot more confidence in the show’s dedication to Sumire/Meguru now than I did a few episodes ago. My fear then was Meguru getting the hots for Yuito and that driving a wedge between her and Sumire, but Veil has stepped into that role instead and done a hell of a job with it, and the show has benefited greatly. [7 episodes]

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Natsume Yuujin-chou Roku 1% import
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This season is completely disinterested in the main plot so there’s nothing new to say. It’s still charming as hell so whatever, I’ll watch it forever if they make it forever. (I guess there was that one really intriguing and foreboding bit about Natori investigating the Book of Friends, but I don’t know that anything will come of it this season.) [6 episodes]

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The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls Gekijou Imported
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Still the same issues as in my earlier update. Skits where the Producer isn’t present, or isn’t treated as a romantic target, are charming and fun. Skits that are just “random idol fawns over faceless producer” are bland and lifeless. Last week was 3 for 4 on good skits, this week was 2 for 4. A show this short really needs a 100% hit rate, but what can you do. [7 episodes]

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My top four plus Twin AB all rose in score this time, which is great to see. I dropped one show, but it’s nothing surprising, and no big loss. Alizou is also making a strong case for why it should be considered a great show rather than just a good show, so that’s rather exciting too. Pretty sure Hinako is gong to hold that solid 8.5 and I’m crossing my fingers for Sukasuka to break the 9 line with a solid last third. It’d already be there if it weren’t so hyperactively paced.

8 Responses to “Spring 2017 viewing update #2”

  1. Avatar flammie says:

    Just wanted to say episode 5 of Sin Nanatsu no Taizai is like a complete 180 from the previous episodes. Its ridiculous and lots of fun.

  2. Avatar AholePony says:

    I’m here to say that after my “meh” impressions of Hinako Note in your update #1; that show has gained some points with me as well. For some reason her conversations with the animals and her friends’ reactions to it really cracks me up. The cast of characters have developed a nice rapport and it’s been much more fun now that the personalities are a bit more fleshed out.

    • something something says:

      I think the main thing holding it back from a 9 for me is Chiaki and the club advisor being dull, but man I really love Hinako, Yua, Kuu, and Mayu. And yeah I feel like the dynamic between the characters got a big boost lately, especially after integrating Yua more closely. really can’t overstate just how much I love Yua’s character type.

  3. Avatar Elio says:

    You should consider watching Re: Creators considering all the characters (including the hapless high school boy) has surprisingly a lot more oomph and depth beyond their perceived stereotypes.

    • something something says:

      I have heard it’s really good, though only Amazon rips being available (and their subs being bad/routinely omitting vital plot details) is a huge turn-off. I’ve got a comfortable number of shows going at the moment and have been using any extra time to continue my Aria rewatch, so I’m not sure I’ll find time to fit it in, but it is on the shortlist.

  4. Avatar Xenos says:

    Cool, by reading your last sentence about Shingeki No Kyojin, I guess you are more confident about a season 3 being made eventually. When would it be made is more shady I understand, but considering that some people was thinking the anime could be cancelled due to the sales predictions, your last sentence gives a light of hope.

    • something something says:

      Heh, yeah not a chance in hell of it being cancelled. Anime is virtually never canceled, unless it’s a very long-runing show with no specified end date. One cour shows just do not get cancelled (except, like… battle Programmer Shirase??). And while I’m certain they expected far better disc sales than it’s currently predicted at (Pony Canyon is probably feeling rather put out right now and adjusting some of their quarterly revenue estimates downward) it’s still so huge and popular a show that there’s no way anyone involved is losing money.

      I’d really love to know how much revenue a show like this earns through streaming. Not just percentage of revenue, but like, an actual yen value. Crunchyroll shared one of their state by state maps for the season and it was #1 in nearly every US state, and I think #2 in the others. I’m betting that’s the case just about everywhere, both internationally and in Japan.

      • Avatar SeibaaHomu says:

        I have to preface this by saying that, in spite of the rise in quality, the popularity of Titan has definitely taken a huge hit over here. It dominated Australian conventions in 2013 and 2014 to the point where it was unfairly stealing the spotlight from just about every other anime. But then it died out in 2015 when the lacklustre live action movies and Junior High series utterly failed to capture the fanbase’s attention. Even now that the second season is currently airing the last con I went had maybe three Titan cosplayers.

        That said, the show is still popular enough worldwide that I’m almost certain it’s still profitable. Sure it would have made 10 times more a year or two ago and it’s quite sad that a 50k monster which shaped the western anime fandom as we know it can even generate a discussion like this. But with Toonami and streaming revenue from Crunchyroll, Animelab, Funimation and the Asian market to fall back on I think it’ll still be a decent success.

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