My Anime List of 2016: Part 2

My Anime List of 2016: Part 2

This is the second part of a two-part article about my list of the anime I watched in 2016. If you’re curious about Winter and Spring, head over to the first part and then come back! So far, we’ve gotten a suspenseful drama from thin-air, a popular superhero show certain to be the next Jump Titan, and a show that showed torturing a protagonist can be a good thing. Winter and Spring have done really well, so how do Summer and Fall stack up? Summer was fantastic! Fall….eh, we’ll get to it. But for now, let’s move onto Summer!

FOOD WARS: THE SECOND PLATE

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Alright, let’s get the jokes out of the way. Food orgasms are pretty funny. Second Plate brings more of the same we know and love from Food Wars. By that I mean making really good food and having clothes explode. But while the first season was a hefty 25 episodes, Second Plate seems to be a shockingly paltry 13 episodes, which makes me worrisome for the possibility of continuation. I guess I don’t find it that odd though, considering that Food Wars seems to circulate around the same joke. There’s little in character development, story development, and it doesn’t really seem interested to go anywhere. But for what it’s worth, you still get decent humor and not-porn visuals.

AMAAMA TO INAZUMA

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Here’s one I actually didn’t know that much about. This was a casual case of noticing it in the lineup, reading the synopsis, getting interested, and then blazing through the manga. I don’t typically get a lot of stories having to do with a single father aspect, so I tend to jump at the chance whenever it comes. Once I was done, I was really surprised with how it was planned out. The adorableness of the daughter character Tsumugi and the listlessness of her father Kouhei are a great combination. Although I was terrified of the girl Kotori taking a romantic interest in her teacher, which happens way too much, it thankfully never goes past platonic admiration. Unfortunately, when the show finally aired, I got a bit of a mixed bag. It DID have the soft and sorrowful moments of a 4-year-old dealing with the fact that she lost her mother and the struggles of Kouhei while still trying to raise his daughter well, I feel like I got short-changed a bit. Most of the anime deals with episode plots that are solved with food and making it. Tsumugi is adorable and the subtle moments of Kouhei figuring out how to move on are definitely there. It’s just not that much. While anime like Sasakemi Koto nailed the soft atmosphere I imagine for this sort of thing, Amaama to Inazuma seems to struggle with balancing Tsumugi’s adorable antics with the softer touches of a tragic situation. It seems to go more towards the cuteness, since even the opening spares no expense at being ridiculous and cute. So while I appreciate the softer moments the anime gave me, I just don’t feel like it gave me enough. It’s by no means a bad show though, so I still give it a recommendation.

D.GRAY MAN: HALLOW

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Now this was something I wanted for a while. I read D.Gray Man back in my early teens, and it was one of the first mature manga I sunk my teeth into. The art was artfully grotesque, it had themes of questioning belief and pride without going overboard, and I really liked the action. Although the artwork got more and more frilly as time went on, I still have a soft-spot for the series. Unfortunately, with the artist’s fluctuating health, it’s been hard being a D.Gray Man fan, although the artist’s health undoubtedly comes first. But to make the wait a bit shorter, a seasonal continuation of the original anime was released this summer in the form of D.Gray Man Hallow. Unfortunately, it seems to have lost a bit of its flair, as action looks a bit bleaker and animation a bit more…”shoujo-y” put as best I can. Not to say that it tanked, it actually was pretty decent. It was great fun seeing Allen and friends taking on Akuma again, although it’s hard to ignore that the premise has gotten a bit silly. Despite that, it’s a lot of fun and even takes its first few episodes to recapture what made the original so damn fun. While it doesn’t do too much in the way of character development, outside of Kanda’s backstory being revealed, it was still very dramatic and lent itself to some good twists and turns. It’s not as good as I imagined, but it’s still something worth checking out if you’ve been dying for some more D.Gray Man action. But alas, I must wait longer for official Allen and Lenalee shipping…look, just because it’s a little dumb doesn’t mean I don’t want it to happen.

HANDA-KUN

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As some of you know, I’ve written a review on Barakamon, a very funny and dramatic tale of a calligrapher moving out into the sticks of Japan to find new inspiration. Handa-kun is a prequel story involving the main character Sei Handa and his exploits at high school. Despite being adored by everyone, he himself thinks everyone hates him. So this premise is pretty weak and a prequel manga of this nature was straight-up unnecessary. But against all odds, Handa-kun is even funnier than Barakamon, although I still prefer the latter for its dramatic plot points. Handa-kun is a born-and-bred comedy, taking the funniest parts of Barakamon and going full force with it. While I’m not a fan of the “misunderstanding” trope, the real humor comes from the fact that no matter what Handa says his classmates will spin it into something amazing and positive. Only make it vague enough for Handa to think that they’re doing it out of spite. Stemming from this is a cast of characters that are drop-dead hilarious, but it helps that there is a character who knows Handa is just a typical student and not the ultra-popular superstar everyone thinks he is. It really helps with the contrasting comedy. My only beef with the series is that, again, I don’t think a tie-back to the author’s previous work Barakamon was necessary, and the presentation is pretty wonky. While it’s not awfully animated, it’s not that great either. It’s also weird that the backgrounds are noticeably watercolor, something that’s giving me Grimgar flashbacks. It’s also really disturbing when extras don’t have eyes and the anime thinks it’s a good idea to do a close-up of it. Despite that, Handa-kun is drop-dead hilarious and a good comedy to enjoy. It’s not Barakamon levels of enjoyability, but Handa-kun makes up for it with fantastic humor.

KONO BIJUTSUBU NI WA MONDAI GA ARU!

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This is a bit of weird one. While this anime seems to take a focus on the female character Usami’s crush on one of the male characters Uchimaki, it’s not quite right. In this the anime tries to make it seem like the story was about something. I read the manga, and I can tell you, this story is about absolutely f***ing nothing. But it helps in the long run, because we have some more comedy gold. Kono Bijutsubu is more of a string of events concerning an art club, and their progressively weirder antics and characters. For instance, Colette, the supposed foreign cinnamon roll stereotype, is probably the most spontaneous and strange character in the year. Very rarely are you given an opportunity to breathe before she comes barreling in to derail any thought you had previously. Other characters are very funny as well, Uchimaki being the otaku who only draws potential waifus (Funnily enough, his first name is Subaru, and the voice actor is the same for the Subaru from Re:Zero), Usami being the realist but also prone to panic, and the Club President who will take any chance to slack off. This anime is a master-class at timing and punchlines, and even spontaneous comedy isn’t out of its reach. The only problem, again, is that the anime tends to focus a bit more on Usami’s crush on Uchimaki, which isn’t that funny. But when it’s not doing that, it really spares you the nuances and just makes you laugh and laugh hard.

MOB PSYCHO 100

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Here we go, the Kingpin of the season, and maybe of the whole year. Coming from the same brain as One-Punch Man, Mob Psycho looked to fill the space in-between the wait for OPM season 2. Although being animated from a different studio and them having no better artistic reference as Mad House did for One-Punch Man, we still expected some great action and comedy. Shockingly, what I got was a way more in-depth story than One-Punch Man. What I thought would be a dumb action/comedy mix actually became a good show with actual character development. I loved each and every character that came out of this, and not in a joking way as I did with OPM. For me, that really pushes this ahead of OPM, and Mob Psycho is actually the thing I’m looking more forward to. I really love the art direction, the embrace of the original manga’s style, however bad, and the action scenes were really well-animated. The story surprisingly hits a chord with a lot of people. What was a comedic premise of a kid gifted with the greatest powers not using them at all slowly becomes the driving force of the show. It also helps that Mob and his (fake) mentor Reigen spend some time apart, only for Reigen to come back and scold Mob for his more liberal use of powers he had gotten used to. This show is still really funny, but the style and plot direction really make it shine. With this, I was super excited for the Fall season!

NANBAKA

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…Starting the Fall season was this piece of work. Funnily enough, I just watched a chunk of this show yesterday. Long story short, it’s a story about 4 inmates trying to escape from the most secure prison in the world. Only take that premise and give it to the guy who designs new Yu-Gi-Oh protagonists and spill some glitter on the animation cells. I’m not kidding, I really, really hate this show’s character and environment design. It screams “shoujo” and the constant glitter effect is very distracting. Despite that, it actually starts out quite hilarious. There’s a lot of good jokes, and the attitude of the inmates being caught over and over again is great. Their guard is a hard-ass, but constantly falls prey to their antics while they try to escape. It starts out really good…STARTS out really good. Unfortunately, it falls prey to what I like to call Kagerou Days curse, and ditches its initial funny concept for getting weird and bad. There’s a tournament, transformations, and a full backstory episode on a character I forgot even existed. I didn’t watch this all the way through, and I am still a bit curious to its follow-through. Unfortunately, it felt like having a comedy about 4 inmates escaping wasn’t good enough and decided to become boring.

YURI!!! ON ICE

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…..*ahem*….well, let’s just get this out of the way. I don’t like Yuri on ICE. Yes, yes, that of course means I’m a monster, a homophobe and I hate everything progressive. But before you send anthrax in my mail and fire flaming arrows into my house, I’d like to elaborate. While I certainly don’t hate the show, I felt that it got weaker and weaker as time went on. From its first episode I was hooked. Admittedly, Katsuki’s star-gazing demeanor wasn’t original and Victor was clearly the pretty boy, but I still loved the animation and the concept. Unfortunately, it seemed to slowly fall apart. While some of it had to do with the animation turning from very good into just…just really bad, it also has to do with Katsuki and Victor. I actually wanted it to get MORE gay, I wanted some sort of payoff for that hyped-up kiss from episode 7. But ironically after that event, it seemed to get more and more dumb. I was still confused whether or not the two actually hooked up, and there wasn’t really any romantic acts for the two afterwards. That ring scene doesn’t count, because no matter what gender they are, that scene was f***ing stupid. It didn’t feel like the characters progressed at all, and the only characters that did didn’t do much of it. Even in my previous article on the anime, I did some bad-mouthing on Katsuki and openly stated I preferred his rival Plisetsky in the long-run. Plot points usually come out of nowhere and leave just as fast, there’s a struggle between overall flow, most characters are utterly pointless with mini-arcs that as far as I’m concerned just take up time, and the ending just felt like the anime wanted you to leave. But the anime does have a nail on atmosphere and the score is pretty alright, so there’s that…there’s just not much else…

KEIJO!!!!!!!

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Here’s something to make you even madder. I actually liked Keijo more than Yuri on Ice. To be fair, they are sort of different genres, but in the end I had a lot of fun with Keijo. It takes no time in using typical fanservice in literal full-force and it becomes hilarious as a result. Not only that, but the action and fights are really fun to watch. The main character Kaminashi being a gymnast lends itself to a lot of acrobatics and speed. The plot is just non-existant, which helps in the overall comedy and ridiculousness of the fights. Unfortunately this is a bit of a let-down, as there is a plot in the manga, a pretty decent one. But to be fair, if they started out with that semi-serious beginning only for it to end with some really weird battles, it would’ve ended up in its opposition. If you can get into the whole joke of the show, it being embracing fanservice and just going balls to the walls, there’s something really good here for you.

DRIFTERS

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Drifters is exactly what you think when you think typical action and gore-filled battle sequences. Just throw in a couple historical characters and you’re good. Coming from the same creator of Helsing, Drifters of course has some darker elements to it. It’s just a little harder to take seriously because at its heart, Drifters is just dumb fun. The premise is extremely silly, historical characters being thrown into a fantasy world to do battle against each other. While there are some interesting aspects, the legendary statistician Nobunaga teaching elves the grotesque field of conquest, the magical elements that the opposing historical figures have seem to be a touch too much. But one thing I appreciate as a stickler for characters is the commitment to keeping the historical figures realistic. What I mean is that they have beliefs that someone would be staunch to in that time period and it stays that way. Nothing irritates me more when someone in a historical story speaks in a manner of thought that does not match the time period. But at the end of the day, Drifters is just something fun to watch. It’s not perfect, the dusty visuals are either distracting or nauseating, and no way is it something to take that seriously. But if you just need some explosions and gore, it’s the perfect thing.

3-Gatsu no Lion

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Saving me from the onslaught of mediocre shows this season was 3-Gatsu no Lion, or March Comes in Like a Lion. I’ve actually made a full video about the show on my YouTube Channel, so if you want a more in-depth review of it, check the top of the page for the link. Once I found out about the anime, I figured it’d be the token slice-of-life anime of the season. But after Keijo and Yuri on Ice, I just needed something with some thought. 3-Gatsu did not disappoint, and its very subtle story-telling is something I just adore. It leaves most of its story in the shadows and continues with the tale of a high-school shogi player. Don’t get too excited, the story is at most quaint and at worst extremely depressing. But that’s what makes me love it. Not only is the animation amazing, the character design is fluid enough to be both happy and extremely sad. It sports a very calm atmosphere, which is filled either by comfortable fluff or sharp sadness. It never gets too out of line and maintains its soft look throughout. Although the show is only 12 episodes in to its 22 episode run, it seems to do little in deviating from its quality. The only thing is that it does delve into visual storytelling and symbolism. While that’s fine, it does it a bit much and is sometimes a bit distracting. Despite that, though, 3-Gatsu is a damn good show that showcases the struggles of an emotionless protagonist dealing with his grief and trying to open his heart to other people.

So with all that, those are my shows I watched this year! I watched a bit more, but not enough to give the shows a full report. 2016 was a fairly decent year of anime for me. I got a lot of great protagonists and even torture and tragedy that I thought was long dead. Animation is getting better and better, and in shows like Erased and 3-Gatsu, it really helps in the shows’ storytelling. I got great action like Hero Academia and Drifters. I got softer storytelling like Grimgar and Amaama to Inazuma. Overall, I say it was pretty decent. Only a handful of shows did I watch and feel like I wasted time that I’ll never get back. But in terms of possible avenues for protagonist and story development, color me excited for the next year! Then again, I did just watch the first episode of Masamune’s Revenge, a manga I liked, and got depressed at how bland it really was. But oh well, I shall wait for Little Witch Academia none-the-less! Thanks for reading this monster of a list and have a nice new anime year!

 

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