2017 Summer Final Update

I won’t be including Winter/Spring/Summer shows in the rankings below, so this is purely based on Fall. I’ll do the year-to-date cumulative ranking when Fall 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. Konohana Kitan [ 9.5 / 10 ]
02. Urahara [ 7.5 / 10 ]
03. Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World [ 7.0 / 10 ]
04. Mahoutsukai no Yome [ 6.0/ 10 ]

01. The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls Gekijou 2nd Season [ 6.0 / 10 ]

The Idolmaster SideM3 episodesI had pretty high hopes for this one, even though it’s a lot harder for me to develop any sort of emotional connection to male characters. I figured it could still tap into that uniquely Idolmaster feeling and win me over anyway, though. Based on episodes 0 and 2 that was looking quite likely, though 1 and 3 weren’t quite as engaging. But it’s CG that killed the show. While the performance was 90% 2D and this was probably less dancing CG than any other idol show (except Deremas) of the last five years, it’s still not acceptable. It sapped any power and emotion out of the end of ep 3. I just don’t have patience for this anymore, and I hold Imas to a higher standard, so I’ve gone ahead and dropped the show. When even Imas has embraced shitty distracting CG dancing you really, truly know all is lost.
Two Car0.5 episodesgtfo with the faceless coach dude crush please

Konohana Kitan 99.9% import
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It was guaranteed to be anime of the season, so now it’s just a question of whether it’s anime of the year. Based on the first three episodes, there’s a pretty good chance of that. Konohana Kitan is single-handedly carrying the Fall season right now.

Everything about it is just so perfect. Getting an honest to goodness yuri manga adaptation (though I guess we’ll see how far the anime goes with it) is crazy enough, and for it to be this well-produced is just a miracle, because this is a truly gorgeous show. From detailed interiors to beautiful nature, clean character art to loose, lively expressions and chibi forms, everything is so vibrant and attractive.

If I had to single out two things so far, it’d be how well Yuzu and Satsuki’s relationship has progressed, and the way episode three handled Ren. Satsuki is, on the surface, the tsundere cool beauty who you expect to spend a long time denying her attraction to Yuzu. But already by episode two we’ve seen a playful side of Satsuki come out – especially when she pulls Yuzu into the bath with her and invites her on a date. Yuzu is inherently charming, but it’s Satsuki who keeps surprising me, and I’m so excited to see how far they’ll let their relationship go.

Episode three emphasized just how elegantly Konohana Kitan is able to handle its characters. When a drunk patron gropes Ren, she lashes out. While she immediately blames herself for “overreacting”, the show Shuts. That. Down. Hard. From her coworkers to her boss, everyone backs her up, and even the drunk’s friends see no reason to jeopardize the good time they were having to defend his shitty behavior. He gets summarily booted from the building, and the other girls set about covering for an understandably shaken Ren, who is consoled by an unexpectedly awesome Natsume. The moral of the scene isn’t just “groping is bad” and it’s sure as shit not “groping is funny”, it’s “this has emotional repercussions and through it we’re making a larger point about Ren’s past fears and how important she is to her current friends.” It’s some goddamned good anime.

So far, it couldn’t possibly be better. I adore this show. [3 episodes]

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Urahara 33% import
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What do you know, Urahara is good. Directed like an amateur student project, barely animated, and over-reliant on the same handful of visual tricks over and over (those split screens…) it nonetheless packs a ton of charm in its derpy off-model bubblegum rainbow vomit aesthetic. I’m not sure if the goofy production got any better in episodes two and three or if I just got used to it, but that underlying charm has completely overpowered the technical shortfalls, and at this point I’m fully on board.

So far Urahara is relying on aesthetic over any sort of coherent storytelling, with a paper-thin plot that just amounts to “aliens wanna steal our cool things, let’s stop them with magic??”. It’s not really the most coherent show, nor one that’s given much depth to its characters (tho ep 3 did make some effort there). But where it’s not yet given them stories or much depth, it’s given the characters, well… character! They’re a lot of fun to watch. Kotoko won me over first by being an adorable dork, and since then it’s been Mari who has stolen the spotlight. Her getting into a very shippy dynamic with Rito (who finally came into her own in ep 3) sure didn’t hurt.

I don’t know what this show is planning to do, but it is quietly building a bit of intrigue in the background, I think (for one, I sure don’t trust Misa). There could be some cool stuff planned! So if you bailed on this show after episode one, which I think 95% of viewers did, please give it another try, at least if you found the colorful style even the least bit enticing. I can see this one shaping up into a really worthwhile watch, especially as it delves into the characters more. [3 episodes]

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Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World
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Episode one: Kino enters a land of murderers and watches them murder a murderer.
Episode two: Kino enters a tournament of state-sanctioned murder and murders the king and incites everyone to murder everyone else.
Episode three: Kino enters a mobile fortress country that… well murder was actually avoided (probably), although some questionable ecological and property damage happens and everyone involved on both sides of the episode’s conflict was a jerk.

Yeesh, this show is grim. There’s “beauty” in the subtitle feels more like a perverse sort of beauty found in the myriad forms of human ugliness. Isn’t it amazing, all the ways people can be terrible to one another? …I guess? I did watch the original series way back in the day, but it was so long ago I remember none of the individual stories. I certainly didn’t remember how nihilistic it was, at any rate. I vaguely remembered it more along the lines of quiet melancholy than what we’ve gotten thus far.

I’m enjoying the episodes more than not, but in a detached sort of way. There are no characters I can develop any kind of rapport with. Kino is interesting but thus far too inscrutable to connect with, Hermes is just a talking motorcycle, and everyone else is dead or left behind in the dust at the end of each episode as Kino journeys onward. So far I think I enjoyed the second episode most, simply because I was not expecting things to go as profoundly off the rails as they did. This is the sort of show I don’t ever see being in danger of getting dropped, but also one I don’t think I’ll have too much to say about. [3 episodes]

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Mahoutsukai no Yome
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I’m really struggling with this show. I knew going in it wasn’t my kind of show, at least not right off the bat. But it was highly regarded enough (and importantly, available on CR) that I wanted to give it a shot. But so far my opinion is “I see why others like it, but I’m not there yet”.

I know I’m never going to like Elias very much, but that would be alright if I felt invested in Chise’s story. So far, I just see no way to do that. She spends 90% of each episode looking stunned and confused, and while that’s pretty forgivable given what she’s been going through it does not make for engaging storytelling. I’ve been deriving all of my enjoyment from the show thus far from incidental or side characters: Silky, the trickster fairies, the woman running the magical shop in episode two… but not Chise or Elias, the two that matter most.

That said, I can see how this show could hook me, especially since it’s got two cour to work with. I’ve got a feeling that as Chise gains some self-confidence (maybe through learning magic), she’ll come alive in a way that’ll sell her to me as a character. But if she spends most of the show being saved by Elias as every mage and spirit in England chases her down, I doubt I’ll even finish the first cour. I definitely want this show to win me over though – it’s not like I have a ton else to watch right now, so I’m approaching it as charitably as I can. But it’s been tough so far. [3 episodes]

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The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls Gekijou 2nd Season
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The episodes are still too short to develop anything beyond the most utterly basic gags. So as with season one I’m only watching because it’s such a small time investment, and because there’s still the occasional cute moment with one of the characters I like. But I doubt I’ll ever have anything substantial to say about such an insubstantial show. Honestly my main thought each week is “I miss Puchimas”. [3 episodes]

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Without a doubt, Fall is the weakest season of the year. Konohana is outstanding and Urahara is really growing on me, but otherwise it’s been a huge disappintment. From SideM being laid low by CG to Mahoyome not panning out and Cingeki being kind of a throwaway from the start, I mostly find myself counting the weeks until Slow Start and Yurucamp in Winter.

At least I’m still rewatching Hanayamata, slowly but surely, and it’s every bit as fantastic as I remember, perhaps moreso. I also went through all of Sakura Quest over a couple weekends, and that was pretty alright. Definitely worth the time spent on it anyway.

I’ve been spending more and more time reading manga as my Japanese study progresses, and I’m three volumes into Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou (my replacement for it being afflicted with the Anime Strike curse), which is absolutely lovely. The manga has such a unique artstyle and worldview, and it’s been exceptionally good thus far. Been gushing about it on twitter a bit lately. That mangaka sure as hell knows how to blow you away with a perfectly timed two-page spread. I might start volume four tonight. Other than that I’ve recently read Heart of the Girl (2vol/complete), Futakaku Kankei (2vol/complete), and Demi Life! (2vol/complete), which were all great. I’m caught up with Ato de Shimai Masu (3vol/ongoing) and Harukana Receive (4vol/ongoing), so I’m waiting for new volumes of those. I’ll probably get caught up with Shoshuryo (5 volumes are out at the moment) before deciding what to read next. On the English front, I’ve got the Seven Seas release of Centaur no Nayami because that weird-ass manga is way beyond where my JP reading level is ever going to be, and I’m all caught with what’s been released in English. I’m also just about done volume 8 of Yen’s release of Ookami to Koushinryou. Those are the first two English manga releases I’ve bought in probably a decade, and I’m trying not to do so for anything else because reading manga in Japanese is also part of learning it, meaning I don’t want to rely on translated stuff when at all possible. I need to be able to read as much manga as possible to be prepared for the impending death of anime, after all.

13 Responses to “Fall 2017 season impressions #1”

  1. Aqe says:

    Although I understand your dislike toward CG, it’s really unfortunate that you dropped SideM. Because so far, it has been very good, probably the best idolm@ster tv series in terms of storytelling and maybe animation of the performances. Yes there used CG in performance but mostly were non disruptive (back shots, etc)

    • something says:

      It was non-disruptive (more like less disruptive, since it was still noticeable) in the prologue, but was a whooole lot more intrusive in ep3. Certainly wasn’t just back shots this week. I knew ever since the prologue performance that this was likely to happen, and it’s a shame I was right.

  2. Sylver says:

    Do you plan to watch (or import) Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou? The anime got excellent soundtrack and feel very similar to the manga.

    • something says:

      No, I picked up the manga in place of the anime because the anime went to Sentai/Amazon. Like, I guess in theory I could watch the anime raw easily enough since I’m reading the manga, but I’m a bit reluctant to support production committees who choose to work with Sentai/Amazon.

  3. las says:

    The best comedy this season got to be the Amazon’s subs for Yuki Yuna, what a trainwreck.

  4. Reikuo says:

    Konohana Kitan is the bomb for sure.

    IM@S has fallen so far… mobile garbage the PS4 games blow and now male idols with CG graphics lmao… sad and weak IM@S sucks im glad the logo changed because thats about when it turned to total junk. RIP IM@S

    Less CG dudes and more Rin Shibuya and Chihaya Kisaragi please… how on earth do I even have to ask this -_- frustrating….

    • something says:

      If you’re looking for validation of a “how dare women get their hands on my Imas” rant you have come to entirely the wrong place. There’s gonna be zero support or tolerance for that mindset here.

      SideM looked very promising to me in all respects but the CG. That’s a big (fatal, even) issue for me of course, but by no means an indictment of the show’s tone and quality otherwise. And don’t for a second think that CG will be any less of an issue when it goes back to female idols. If we ever get a Million Live anime, you can 100% expect it to have more CG than SideM. There’s no rolling back the clock on CG, sadly, not even for the franchise that resisted it longer than the rest. It’s only going to become more and more common and there’s nothing we can do about it. Well, besides choose not to watch shows where it’s an issue, which is what I’ve done here.

      It’s also kinda silly to decry the (monumentally profitable – Imas is more successful today than it’s ever been) mobage and then bring up Rin as an idol you want to see more of. What exactly do you think Cinderella Girls is…?

      • Reikuo says:

        I suppose my wording was strong. I dont care for male idols, not one bit. However, I also dont mind if they exist. Nor am I against the IM@S brand having any. However its still jarring, in respect to the IM@S brand, to look and see what they are up to and to see CG male idols… im salty as an IM@S fan but I just have different expectations from them.

        I just think their entire approach from the bottom up in regards to every aspect of what they are currently doing with IM@S really stinks. I mention Rin Shibuya because at the time they put a lot more effort into fleshing out the idols. They did not know they would entirely convert over to mobile games, essentially. Cinderella Girls really tried to branch out and have a different feel to the original idols.

        Now IM@S is like Pokemon with pretty faces, and sometimes not even that. They are soulless basically prostitutes who exist only to sell merchandise and have a few lame lines in the mobile games. Fans have been asking for them to flesh out the Cinderella Girls and Million Live girls forever. Even 765 idols have had almost nothing of value given to them for years and years. No development at all. Platinum Stars was the biggest and loudest slap I have personally ever seen from a company to fans. Where is the idol interaction? Where are the stories? Where is the real gameplay at? Im just a disappointed long time fan. The anime is the only development the characters get and after that they get nothing. It will be the same with SideM.

        If they want to do male idols as a side project, thats totally fine. Its just that me and plenty others have been waiting for real games and stories for a long time now and are a bit disjointed to see them pandering to other markets when they have so much work to do with the 3 projects they already built up, Million Live, Cinderella Girls, and 765. It just feels like they have abandoned them and the only content they are going to receive is new card art and songs.

        Im with you on the CG regardless. Fact is SideM is the series that broke the IM@S tradition and used CG and even if it was Million Live, I would not be watching and would still be just as salty. I left the series after Platinum Stars and wont be getting Stella Stage so its pretty pointless to complain online anyway. Rant over : p

        • something says:

          Really not digging that “prostitutes” line. And what would it even mean to treat SideM as a “side project”? Why should it be handled as anything less serious than the other projects? The staff working on the SideM anime has been quite open about being extremely passionate for the franchise, just like the Animas and Deremas anime staff were. And I think that shows.

          Honestly it sounds like what you’re annoyed at has little to do with Imas specifically and everything to do with the gaming industry’s move from console to mobile. Bamco have probably already made more money from Starlight Stage than they did in the previous decade of console games and anime combined. Same deal with FGO, it’s bringing in revenues that eclipse what the Fate franchise can do as a visual novel or anime in 2017.

          While I’m not interested in mobage, and certainly don’t welcome a future where mobile has all but killed off console and desktop games, Imas is just one part of a much larger trend. As long as the anime staff keep putting passion and love into the series, that’s the most I could ask for… even if CG is a killer. But that’s a problem the whole anime industry deserves blame for, and it’s most certainly not SideM’s fault.

  5. AholePony says:

    It is thin this season for you with your specific tastes. I guess you just have to reflect that 2017 overall has been pretty great though, so there’s that. Houseki no Kuni has been pretty cute so far even while it is pounding our impending CG future into our faces. Two Car has some great character beats and yuri undertones for the side characters but the mains are basically bratty kids in love with sensei. It’s a weird choice for an anniversary project at Silver Link. In my experience, shows with main characters that are overall just crappy people usually don’t do to well, I hope they shape up as the series goes on.

    • something says:

      Two Car I dropped like it was on fire 13 minutes into ep 1 (oh guess I forgot to add that to the list – fixed). Fun side pairings wouldn’t make up for the leads’ coach obsession for me, from what I’ve seen.

      2017 has been… mixed. The huge surge in titles going to Amazon/Netflix alone has been a depressing trend, and overall my viewing will be down from 2016:

      2016: 23 full, 0 short series finished, 6 rated 9+, 1 rated 10
      2017: 20 full, 3 short series finished, 6 rated 9+, 0 rated 10 [tentative]

      The fact that I’m down at all, considering I only watched 2 shows in Winter 2016 (Fall completely saved that year) seems directly attributable to Sentai/Strike. If you added in Pripri, Shoshuryo, Yuyuyu s2, and possibly Abyss I’d be slightly up on 2016. Though, I may have skipped some borderline shows to watch those instead, so the overall number might not have raised.

      (Mahoyome, if I stick with it, will count as a 2018 show since I go by when they end.)

      Of course, 2016 had Flip Flappers, so it’s naturally going to be the better year overall for that fact alone, regardless of how many shows I watched.

    • steenspring says:

      Weird thing about two car is that they’ve focused more on the side characters than the mains (as of epsode 3). I’m assuming they’ll probably change that later in the show but I hoping that they don’t cause I like the side characters.

      fyi, the coach doesn’t die but he does the next best thing and gtfos to another country.

      • something says:

        Yeah but I also saw tweets about them competing do they can go see him again etc etc. Just fundamentally not what I’d be signing up for in a show like this.

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