HELLO ALL YOU EAGER MCBEAVERS! It is that time once again, to round up the year of being dweebish and dorkly in the world of animu. It’s been one hell of a year, and unlike last time, I’ve got a mega favorite for each season. Like last time, I’ll be splitting up the articles between the first half and second half of the year, along with providing short summations of what I liked or disliked about each show. I wasn’t able to watch every show to come out this year, so I might be skipping a few favorites, and I also won’t be mentioning shows I watched one episode of and dropped. With that said, let’s send the year off right with a celebration of how fantastic 2017 was to anime!
Blessings on this Wonderful World! Season 2 (Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2)
I’ve actually already written an article on the comedic Isekai parody, so if you want an in-depth look at the show, click here to read. KonoSuba is a brilliantly written show about 4 characters stumbling through an unforgiving fantasy world. Season 2 brings a lot of what was great in the first and amplifies it. Only this time the show doesn’t have the job of introducing the characters, so it starts immediately with what everyone’s come to love about the show. There’s been some critical notices about season 2’s supposed drop in animation, but when I was watching, I hardly noticed anything. If anything at all, the lower quality keys that allow more fluent character expressions and reactions is something I would highly prefer for the sake of comedy. So all in all, I found season 2 of KonoSuba just more of what we all came to expect: Four assholes getting what’s coming to them.
Kobayashi-san’s Dragon Maid (Kobayashi-san chi no Maid Dragon)
So every season obviously has the trashy show with boobles and multiple grils for hikkikomori consumption. That’s what I thought Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid was. Until I saw that good ol’ KyoAni name attached to the project and proceeded to watch all episodes in a fervor to feed my Animation wiener. After all that, I can conclude that Dragon Maid is a fun little comedy with that KyoAni polish to put it a step above the rest. You can’t really do a whole lot with Tohru, an actual Dragon, who turns into a cute maid to serve her object of infatuation Kobayashi. While most would take this in a harem direction, Kobayashi is actually more concerned with how utterly incompetent all her new fantastical visitors are at hiding themselves and she is always at the brunt end of their antics. Fanservice is used almost exclusively as an avenue for comedy, of which this anime is a strong provider of. The animation is…well, it’s KyoAni, what do you expect? Even though the designs don’t seem as detailed as their other works, it helps to make even more fluent animation to deliver the jokes on perfect timing and delivery. Even the episode titles have a little fun with themselves. So in conclusion, Dragon Maid is a hell of a great comedy with a lot of heart and a lot of…other things, and I give it a huge recommendation.
Masamune-kun’s Revenge (Masamune-kun no Revenge)
I’ve been a long time follower of the Masamune-kun’s Revenge manga, and I’ll tell you what. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. How is it possible that this cliche-ridden plot has completely smitten me to the point where I eagerly await every update? At one point it’s the most stereotypical dreg to ever grace the romcom manga medium. At another point, it’s hitting me with plot twists and character developments that I found impossible to see coming (in a good way). Unfortunately, when it comes to the anime, I can tell you it’s very sub-par. The animation is rainbow-flared and ugly, it seems to speed through most of the plot, and the comedic delivery from the manga is lacking. To be fair, both the manga and anime tend to under-utilize the joke of how ex-fat boy Masamune became super hot to make Adagaki, a childhood love who rejected him, fall in love with him for the sole purpose of rejecting her and shattering her heart like she did to him. However, despite that, the anime has an odd issue with pacing as it bullets through about 30 chapters to get to one of the major climaxes of the manga plot. I never got past the halfway point of the anime, so I can only guess how that turned out. Considering half the OP is straight episode footage, I don’t expect anything super incredible happened. So for the anime, I can say skip. As for the manga, for the love of God, I can’t stop reading it, so join with me and understand what I’m talking about.
Saga of Tanya the Evil (Youjo Senki)
Saga of Tanya the Evil is half of what I want anime to become. By that I mean it half achieved the nail-biting and protagonist-twisting plot direction I long strive for. The other half is…I mean it’s alright, but not really as good. Here we have a strange take on isekai, as the world the atheist and pessimistic salaryman is summoned to is a World War II style life where magic exists. Born again as a girl named Tanya, she seeks to disapprove of God, called “Being X” by Tanya because she’s “that” type of person, by joining the ranks and fighting for the Empire. Now what I mean by what I want anime to become, I mean that a wholly evil person is the focus, evil to the point where she will put those who disapprove of her methods in a highly-dangerous war zone and label their deaths as an “accident” to get what she wants. I adore the shit out of actually evil protagonists, because I can’t see where the story is going to go, and it excites me to the point where I can’t help but smile when they’re destroying lives and eating organs. That last part may say something about me. The problem is later in the show, when Tanya’s evil-doings are labelled as “Psh, that wacky Tanya.” An evil protagonist is only interesting when their labelled as evil by their contemporaries, or at the very least not good. With later events, Tanya is just a dick. The design style, especially compared to the manga’s art, is very bizarre and awkward to look at. So the anime almost got what I want right. But as far as anyone else’s enjoyment, you’ll like it, I’m just an ass.
Interview with Monster Girls (Demi-chan wa Kataritai)
This one is a bit difficult to talk about, seeing as I didn’t get past the 4th or 5th episode. But I have seen enough to give a general opinion (and to shy away from the fact that I didn’t really watch a whole lot for Winter 2017). Interview with Monster Girls is odd, as it has some redeeming qualities, but some that fall flat. Essentially, monsters of the past, such as vampires and dullahans, are accepted into Japan’s standard education system. But seemingly that’s about it. Takahashi-sensei is the one who’s obsessed about finding out little intricacies in the different monster races and is considerate to the girls as well, but for some reason I found it lacking. Maybe because in the last few episodes I watched, it started relying heavily on boob jokes. Now I’m not one to shy away from a good set of bahookalahs, but a joke can run its course. So the anime isn’t bad persay, I just didn’t find it as interesting as I thought it would be, which is why I dropped it. I have heard good things, so maybe I’ll pick it up again in the future, but for now I didn’t find much to grab my interest.
You thought I was kidding, I didn’t really watch much for Winter. Well it’s perfectly fine, because for Spring, I watched a whole onslaught of stuff, and this was mostly the start for the great year. So without further ado, let’s start with-!
Attack on Titan Season 2 (Shingeki no Kyojin 2)
I’ve listed my feelings on the first Attack on Titan season a long time ago in an old article, which you can read here if you’re curious. But despite my noticing of its shortcomings, I can’t deny the mega hit it became, and was a crazy landmark for localization and intrigue in the western market. Unfortunately the gap between these seasons was a large one, a whole 4 years and only 12 episodes to supplement. But as far as I can tell, these 12 episodes surpassed all original 25, as Season 2 is where Attack on Titan starts getting really good. Season 2 thrives more in the mystery and intrigue of the world that Eren and friends live in, and seeks to answer questions at the same rate as raising more, which will come to a head next year with the anime’s 3rd season. There’s a bigger focus on multiple characters, which means less screen-time of Eren screaming his head off. The animation is mostly superb, but there are a few instances of really ugly keying and coloring. But the presentation matches the first season, and to top it all off, it has a killer soundtrack. The composition is less the awkward mix of techno and choir of the first and is a damn near perfect composition of electronic, orchestra, rock, and whatever the hell else the composer got his hands on. And those vocal tracks. AND THOSE VOCAL TRACKS. If you haven’t heard the song “Barricades”, stop reading and go listen to it. Do it, I’ll wait. I KNOW RIGHT?! Bonus points for one of the most eerily directed ED’s of all time while simultaneously confusing anime-only watchers and ball-teasing the manga-readers. So Season 2 does a lot right that the first season tripped up on, and with Season 3 teasing the biggest reveal in the manga, I’m optimistic. I just hope they skip a certain arc so I don’t shoot myself. Manga-readers probably know which one I’m talking about.
Love Tyrant (Renai Boukun)
I was very split when an anime adaptation for Love Tyrant was announced. Most comedy-centric manga that get put into animation lose their flare because the director can’t get the timing for each joke down. It’s doubly so for harem and ecchi-esque manga, because most of the time it’ll default to fanservice humor and shy away from the actual comedic setup. Thankfully I can report that Love Tyrant on the silver screen is as f***ing weird as it was on paper. The timing of each joke, the inherent oddity of the premise, and the moments of self-parody, everything is on point in this anime. The only problem is that it starts very slow and cliche. It takes an episode or two before it conveys to the viewer that it’s just a weird and funny show and they should just roll with whatever they’re saying. Not to say that it doesn’t have cliche moments, but it does try to offset a lot of them with not taking itself seriously. The only time it starts to wane is near the end when it does start to change up its format and try to be a little more serious. Because of this, I never actually finished watching the show, just shy of a few episodes and never found an opportunity to jump back on. So of what I watched, I really enjoyed it up until the end and haven’t really gone back. So uh…I’m not really sure what to make of it…uh…alright, next show.
WorldEnd: What are you Doing at the End of the World? Are you Busy? Will you Save Us? (Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka?)
Yay Light Novel Titles! Yay another anime I didn’t finish! WorldEnd, unlike the other shows that I gradually just stopped watching for nothing too poignant, I stopped watching because I didn’t really know what to make of it. It had some interesting aspects and takes on fantasy, along with some interesting cityscape designs and cultures, but the characters really didn’t hold any weight for me. There’s a lot of death talk and death flags and death death, but at no point did I really care about the characters affected. Their personalities are very typical and bland, and their designs are SAO-esque and uninspired. The anime screams for a bigger budget and a different character designer, because there were a few instances where I was genuinely intrigued about the world. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep my interest, so this anime fell into my pile of unfinished shows.
Alright I’m gonna be breaking my own rule for this one occasion because I have a god damn bone to pick with this anime. I got two episodes in and my god, I had never seen a premise this interesting be produced this horribly. Earth being re-crafted entirely out of gears after the biological end of the planet, a protagonist whose hearing can pick up on the smallest of mechanical defects and ticks, and a machine girl with scythes popping out of her back. That sounds f***ing cool. In execution, however, the animation is horrid, the shading is goofy, and even some of the character design is laughable. Granted, the manga’s original art wasn’t that great either, but it could pull off dynamic backgrounds and fantastic cinematic shots. From what I saw of the first two episodes, it just looked poorly put together. I also didn’t need that “DNA identification imprint” scene from the episode to be about a minute long. I ended up giving up on the manga as well before the anime was even conceived, and it looks like the show will be following suit for me.
Alice and Zouroku (Alice to Zouroku)
Okay this is the last anime I ditched halfway for this season, I swear. Alice and Zouroku actually did start off a bit interesting. Well, technically, it didn’t start interesting, the initial premise is actually kinda bland, which was the reason I ended up ditching the show. However, the key factor in what makes the anime is Zouroku, an old man who don’t give a shit what you think. His reactions to Alice’s magic and him disciplining her without a second thought is such a great contrast. The whimsical nature of the premise surrounding Alice capable of magic and the, albeit unconvincing, broody idea that she is part of a dark testing facility for more magical kids feel like are completely shattered when Zouroku steps in and tells her to knock it off. Maybe it’s because Zouroku mirrors myself in a lot of ways, an old rickety man (despite me being 23) who doesn’t have time in the day to care about whatever poof of magic comes our way. Unfortunately, it seems like the anime was really keen on keeping the initial premise in the forefront of the story, and so it naturally just became less interesting. I will however praise this anime for one thing I would’ve never seen coming in a million years in an anime. A god-damn Hardy’s product placement.
The Royal Tutor (Oushitsu Kyoushi Heine)
This is actually an intriguing one, as it does a lot very well, uses literary and developmental tricks to engage the audience, but poots its final climax with a half-hearted reveal. The Royal Tutor’s initial premise is a personal tutor coming to teach 4 naughty and trouble-making princes to be prepared to ascend the throne in case anything happens to the first son of the King. Professor Heine already has his work cut out for him when they all reject his aid because of how useless the previous royal tutors have been. Surprisingly, however, it becomes more about learning the prince’s true nature, like the supposed upstart and brash prince is actually extremely self-conscious and is inferiorly pessimistic. The central theme of the show is then apparent and the anime tells the story very well, which is to not only not to judge a book by its cover nor by its first chapter. The problem comes in when they start really teasing Heine’s secret past as something dire and detrimental to his character. What this amounts to is a misunderstanding of a situation a long time ago and it really doesn’t make sense. It’s especially disappointing because this anime clearly knows how to tell a story right and keep its central moral on lockdown. But despite its lackluster finale, this show surprisingly got a lot right than I expected. Except the animation, that could’ve used some extra work.
The Laughing Salesman NEW (Warau Salesman NEW)
Okay I lied, there was one more anime I didn’t finish. And it’s especially a shame because I really liked it initially despite it receiving heavy backlash. The Laughing Salesman was originally an anime from the 70’s about a fat guy named Moguro with a briefcase and a wide smile offering his aid to people in need. However, he always gave them a strict rule to never break, of which none of his clients ever took seriously. In comes their recompense and Moguro walks away with a hearty laugh. This is a simple tale of greed and corruption. NEW is a remake of the old anime with the magic of digital animation with the classic 70’s era character design. It’s a very cool mix, and gives off Osomatsu-san vibes. The lynch-pin of the whole series is that it was a careful tightrope walk of making the clients deserve their punishment. Moguro always helped them and gave a rule that was always pretty easy to follow. But each client would always try to cheat the blessing they were given, forcing Moguro to essentially repossess their blessing with a bit of a cancellation fee, for lack of a better term. It was great and fun to watch because each client broke the simple rule out of pure greed and carelessness, so they fully deserved whatever troubles came their way. At first. Later episodes became sloppier, with Moguro pushing his deals onto clients who never actually agree to them and the rules being harder and harder to not break given their circumstances. It transformed from a cheeky little tale of deals with the devil and more about a fat dickhead running around and forcing magical bargains on people. So it really hurt me, but I just didn’t like it anymore. First 8-9 episodes are pretty good though. Also it gets best OP of the year from me and I will fight you to the death on that one.
My Hero Academia Season 2 (Boku no Hero Academia 2)
J’OU REALLY THINK I’D FORGET ABOUT THIS ONE? Last year, I wrote a standalone article about Izuku Midoriya and included the anime recap in my 2016 anime list. I mentioned that if Bones tweaked up the pacing and put a bit more into the action, then we’d have ourselves a Mega-Hit. Well guess what, Bones did just that and even more. Season 2 is a whopping 25 episodes, covering the UA Sports Festival and Hero Killer Stain arcs. Each arc is not only some of the best that Jump has had to offer in anime as of late, but some of the craziest action scenes relating to Jump. The musical score, the animation, the character development, the plot pacing, everything could not be more on point. The year gap in between seasons is letting Bones really do the manga right, and mangaka Horikoshi’s vision is clarified loud and clear. The duel between Midoriya and Todoroki is one of the most satisfying fights I’ve seen in years, and the emotional weight of each action is strangely realistic, despite Jump’s shoddy record with character types and flaws. As I said before in my “Izuku is the Best Jump Hero” article, Izuku’s progression as a hero and as a character are earned through diligence and hard work, which is why it’s so satisfying to see him fly around and punch the living piss out of things. I’ve been eager to see how Bones would follow through on the adaptation, and I was not disappointed. Now to wait for Season 3 where the story gets even more hype.
And that’s about it for Winter and Spring! So I got a few awesome anime in this part of the year, but unfortunately I ended up just not finishing a lot. Stay tuned for the next article soon where I talk about Summer and Fall! And unlike last year, Fall was probably the best season!