2017 Fall Anime Season In Review – Evil Anime-tion
Well, folks, the 2017 Fall Anime Season has come to a close, at last. And with the year coming to an end, what better time to do a quick recap of our thoughts on it? What were our favorites? Our least favorites? What do we wish we’d watched? Find out here!
CVoyage: I hate you…
EvilBob: What? What’d I do?
CVoyage: You know what you did.
EvilBob: It was all luck, I swear!
EvilBob: How was I supposed to know I’d end up with all the good ones?!
CVoyage: So you didn’t know about Mahousukai no Yome, ahead of time?
EvilBob: I… well… you see, what had happened was…
CVoyage: Let’s just talk about the stupid list.
1. Mahoutsukai no Yome (Super Villain)
EvilBob: Technically not a seasonal anime, but Mahoutsukai no Yome was… interesting. For a romance, it was actually pretty dark.
CVoyage: Oh, you sweet, innocent child…
EvilBob: Shut up, Chris. Chise has so much emotional baggage that it would be really easy for it to just become depressing or melodramatic. But they balance that tone with humor and saccharine moments really well. So it doesn’t become emotionally draining to watch. I mean, Chise carries the disappearance of her parents around with her, all the way to the midway point. She’s just now starting to have good memories of them, and she’s finally starting to smile a bit more. I like the correlation between her magical power and her emotional problems, and how they’re having her abilities improve as she lets go of her past.
It’s also interesting seeing them adding what seems to be a main villain. I like how much of a statement he makes, even though he only appears in the one episode. He shows up and you know exactly what he wants. It’s refreshing for a villain to be that direct, and not mask everything behind overly convoluted schemes and stupid internal logic. Heck, he’s even pretty smart. He actually retreated when he knew he couldn’t win.
EvilBob: Right? Oh, another thing. The art is amazing. Mahoutsukai no Yome isn’t just beautiful. It’s a perfect example of how to use the artwork to tell the story. It sets the mood perfectly, no matter what the situation. Early on, when things are bleak, the colors are all washed out and dingy. But whenever we’re seeing the more fantastical side of things, the colors are bright and vivid. When things get serious, the colors turn really dark. And it also helps with the worldbuilding. It uses a lot of earthy tones – greens, browns, etc. But it also has brighter colors that stand out against that classic fantasy backdrop, like Chise’s bright red hair. So both the characters and the world really stand out. And the animation isn’t half bad, either. But I can go on about this all day. What was your favorite one, this season, Chris?
CVoyage: …Net-juu no Susume.
EvilBob: Wait, but that’s not one of the ones you-
CVoyage: I know, Bob…
EvilBob: Oh… well… speaking of that one…
CVoyage: Just go.
2. Net-juu no Susume (Super Villain)
EvilBob: I mean, whoever thought that a romantic comedy about a bunch of MMO-players would be this funny?
CVoyage: Probably whoever decided it’d be a comedy, Bob… but it works. The characters are what sell the entire thing, after all. From the adorably awkward pair of Moriko and Yuuta-
EvilBob: To their devil of a friend, Homare, the characters just click.
CVoyage: I like how the characters are adults, for a change, not confused teenagers. It shows off how adults don’t necessarily have it all figured out, and they can be just as awkward. But at the same time, they go about resolving their problems like an adult would try to resolve them, not like oversized kids, like a lot of these types of anime do things.
EvilBob: Yeah. And the animation really highlighted those awkward moments by contorting their faces and distorting their backgrounds. Actually, in general, the art really let us get inside the heads of the characters.
CVoyage: Helped along by the internal monologues, which were some of the most charming bits about the show. Actually, the ironic thing is that the “weakest” part of the show, if you can really call it that, was the MMO aspect itself. Not that it was bad at all. It was basically just a plot device. Now, this is a fresh take on the angle. As opposed to them spending the majority of their time in the game world or them being sucked into the game world and conveniently falling in love.
EvilBob: Speaking of conveniently falling in love…
3. Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ (Killer Robot Army)
EvilBob: You know… I get wary of an anime that begins with the line “I’m going to steal your heart.” But when Lupin actually succeeded… I guess I’ll give the man credit.
CVoyage: Oh. This the part where you talk about how you teared up at the ending?
EvilBob: No… maybe… shut up, Chris.
CVoyage: I admit. It was friggin’ cute.
EvilBob: Yeah, but, um… I have a question. How’d they survive that?
CVoyage: Weren’t you paying attention? The power of lo- okay, yeah, no. I’m not finishing that. I have no idea.
EvilBob: I mean… I’m glad they didn’t die. But I wish their surviving made more sense!
CVoyage: At least they didn’t die at the wedding…
EvilBob: Samurai Jack…
CVoyage: Gurren Lagann…
EvilBob: I was happy to see that Cardia wasn’t a damsel in distress for the entire series. Actually, it was just for about the first half of the series. Even when she was weak, she still tried to help out how she could. She really only even gets captured in episode 10. And even then, she actually managed to break her way out of that situation, somewhat. She didn’t have anywhere to go, but I appreciate that she actually tried.
CVoyage: That’s usually the cardinal sin of Damsels in Distress – they typically don’t actually try to do anything about their situation. They just get caught and sulk about it. Cardia didn’t. She might not’ve been able to power her way out of things or out-strategize her enemies, but she made an effort. That’s what really matters most.
EvilBob: I also really liked the sort of steampunk world they established. The artwork was really pretty to look at. It’s just too bad the world, itself, actually kinda sucked.
EvilBob: Okay, it really sucked. Still. It was a cute little series that did its job and was a consistently sweet watch, throughout. Also, surprisingly funny. Seriously. Two words. Helsing Cannon. The action was fun and all, but… if we’re gonna talk about action…
4. Infini-T Force (Politician)
EvilBob: Stupid name, cool show, awesome action.
CVoyage: All compiled into one hot mess of a show.
EvilBob: And I love it for that. At least it knew it was a hot mess. It was cheesy, the plot’s nothing to write home about, but those action sequences. Good god those action sequences. That’s how ya do a fight.
CVoyage: Amusingly also a series where a “damsel in distress” becomes… well… not.
EvilBob: Interestingly… Emi still has her powers for the same reason Cardia’s not dead.
CVoyage: The power of love?
EvilBob: No. The power of lazy writing and plot convenience. Also, this was a totally CG show. Normally, that’d be concerning. But this show actually did it pretty well! I watched every episode several times, in fact. Even slowed it down to see if I could find any problems with the animation, and it was actually pretty solid. I mean, I didn’t go frame-by-frame, but it was pretty immaculate from what I saw. Unlike some… other CG experiences, this season.
CVoyage: Oh. You too, huh?
CVoyage: Nothin’. But speaking of impressive action, let’s just talk about one of the most explosively stylistic action pieces of the season.
5. Kekkai Sensen & Beyond (Harmless)
CVoyage: I had fairly mixed opinions of the first season of this show. Visually, it was absolutely gorgeous. Storytelling-wise, on the other hand… eeeh. It had a strong emotional core but skimped on character, sacrificing that angle for an emphasis on plot that you could argue was to its benefit or its detriment, depending on what you were looking for. Kekkai Sensen & Beyond, however, suffers from the exact opposite problem. In its dedication to being an ensemble show, it throws out any attempt at developing any consistent throughlines to tie things together even a little bit. Characters get their time to shine (for the most part), but the audience character, Leo, is so pathetic that it borders on annoying, which isn’t what we want in a character we’re supposed to be experiencing the world through.
Still, the show manages to keep up its knack for being vibrantly stylistic in everything from the color palette to the music selection. Some of the episodes are absolutely wonderful, giving us more on characters who weren’t really all that interesting in the previous season. I can’t sing the praises of the K.K. episode enough, for example. Though it still has its fair share of issues in storytelling as well, with a lot of weird inconsistencies and dumb decisions, as well as its tendency to try being insightful, only to lead to a lot of unwanted head-scratching moments.
EvilBob: What, it gave you lice?
CVoyage: …next is Inuyashiki.
6. Inuyashiki (The Dark Side)
EvilBob: The show that proves even old men can be heroes. Definitely one of the strangest origin stories I’ve seen – run over by aliens. Don’t… don’t really see that one, every day. And they even played it for humor, too.
CVoyage: At least it beats dying of cancer.
EvilBob: That’s… one way of looking at it. It was interesting to see Inuyashiki becoming a hero because it made him feel human again, and made him feel useful when his family around him basically just wrote him off as a waste of space. Aaand then you have Hiro, going on a murder spree for pretty much the same initial reason – wanting to feel alive.
CVoyage: Tch. Widowmaker you ain’t, dude.
EvilBob: Seriously, though. He’d murder an entire family, one second, then just go off to talk about manga with one of his victims the next. And that was just the second episode.
CVoyage: Seems like a bit of a hamfisted way to beat it into us that he’s gonna go bad. “Hey. Let’s just have him murder an entire family for the lulz, first thing!” That’s not character development. That’s just lazy.
EvilBob: It also introduces the core pattern of the series. Every time he said he was going to quit, they found some way of putting him in a position where he went right back to it. And, of course, it usually involved the cops.
CVoyage: Of course…
EvilBob: But… let’s move on to talk about those last three episodes. Episode 9 was fine. The animation was great, the action was sleek… and then Episode 10 happens and… what happened? The animation. What… how… why… I have so many-
CVoyage: Already used that joke twice, recently. Something else, please.
EvilBob: Sorry. Well, the point was that the final fight seemed like it didn’t fully render. So maybe they rushed it?
CVoyage: Given how anime production works, that wouldn’t surprise me, even a little bit. Especially for a CG fight, like this. Things like Sailor Moon Crystal and Dragon Ball Super recently had to deal with backlash over… we’ll call it less than stellar animation. But then when they came out on home release, the animation got a bump. So this could be one of those situations.
EvilBob: Here’s hoping.
7. Anime-Gataris (What The Heck Did I Just Watch?)
CVoyage: Oookay… time for this… lunacy. I’ll be brief since I literally just got through talking about it. But the first half of this show is a funny, charming little slice-of-nerd-life. Then things just start getting weird.
EvilBob: I’d hate to see what you call tame.
CVoyage: Ignoring that. Anime-Gataris has a weird relationship with the concept of metaness. It’d be easy for it to be just a big collection of references, but it isn’t. And while it does delve into a lot of the creative process that goes into creating anime, it never really goes especially far into that aspect. Then the last third of the show happens and things just get bizarre. And that’s putting it lightly. The problem is that the series has this disconnect, by that point, with the idea of making any kind of sense. There’s no real direction. So while the intentional chaos of the series devolving into complete lunacy is present, it’s joined by the unintentional chaos of a series that just doesn’t know what on Earth it’s doing. And as much as I can theorize about what it all “means” (as I did in my review of the finale), whatever meaning it has is overshadowed by how much of a mess the finale actually is.
The series, as a whole, has plenty of charm. Even after the show becomes absurd to the point of folly. It’s genuinely funny, the animation is fun, and the art is simply a treat to behold. But the series is really difficult to grasp as a whole. It’s reasonably enjoyable for certain, but by the end, you’re just left asking-
EvilBob: What the heck did I just watch?
CVoyage: Oh. He finally got around to it. Nice. Anyway… wait… oh… All right, let’s just get this over with…
8. Black Clover (Harmless)
CVoyage: Black Clover… What can I possibly say about this that I haven’t already?
EvilBob: Buy earplugs, first?
CVoyage: Zip it. But yes. Asta’s annoying. The collective of the internet, barring people half my age and a third Bob’s age-
CVoyage: You know I’m right.
CVoyage: Point is, if you’re older than 10, you find Asta annoying. If you don’t, you have the patience of a saint at the DMV. And that video… is the first episode. Of a 50-something-episode show. And surprisingly… that’s not the biggest problem. The show’s pacing is just awful. Everything is sooo slow. And it shouldn’t be! I’ve done my research! This manga moves. At blazing speed. The anime, though, somehow manages to indulge in filler… and it’s barely a fourth of a way to the end. For crying out loud, they’ve only actually gotten through two story arcs. This is not how you start an anime.
To make matters worse, the hype built it up as the new “King of Shounen.” Aha…ahahaha… HA. Yeah, no. Especially not in a world where Boku no Hero Academia is a thing. And no, I’m still not going to shut up about that. Deal with it. My point is that if you’re going to make that claim, you better be able to back it up. And Black Clover doesn’t even try to be anything but generic. Complete with paper-thin caricatures, weak humor, and questionable artwork and animation. At its worst, it’s an extreme exercise of one’s patience. During the episodes that do show promise, it manages to be… adequate. There’s the odd joke that does work. It does know how to develop characters, it just seems to choose not to. It has the potential to be far better than it has been. For many, it’ll wind up being too little, too late. And I wouldn’t blame them at all.
The one thing the series has going for it is its variety of magic. But up until now the show’s neglect to give us any real action has hampered its ability to show off that variety. And I’m not saying Asta needs to get new weapons and spells like candy. But think back to Boku no Hero Academia. Deku has a fairly straightforward Quirk. We spent an entire season and a half of Deku breaking a limb whenever he used it. But we were seeing him apply his quirk in new, creative ways. We didn’t get a new application of his power until Full Cowling came along, halfway through season 2. Asta’s power is very similar. It’s straightforward and does more or less the same thing, just without the crushing drawback. The handling of Asta’s power progression has been… less than stellar, however. Because all he’s been allowed to do is lunge at things and swing his sword at them. He never really applies the sword that differently, aside from the one time he basically used it as a baseball bat… which was admittedly kind of amusing. But that was about it. I want to see some more creativity with Asta’s abilities. But I do also want to see some more unique powers in and of themselves. And so far the series has delivered on that a bit. Plant magic that can track people and make people tell the truth, sheep magic that can… just see for yourself, even Magna’s fire magic has the amusing quirk of being baseball-themed. If Black Clover can just hone in on this little niche, it can probably find itself a place in the Shounen world. But for now, it’s just… mediocre.
EvilBob: Mediocre seems to sum up most of your list, this season, huh?
EvilBob: Shutting up.
CVoyage: Unfortunately, he’s not wrong. Case in point…
9. Konohana Kitan (Harmless)
CVoyage: How much more must I say that this show squandered what potential it had? It managed to be serviceable. Never quite reaching the point of being annoying, but also never really becoming all that enthralling. And part of the problem was just a lingering identity crisis. An inability to dedicate its attention to being one type of show or another. Does it want to just be a “healing” experience that shows us all of these ways the cast (mostly Yuzu) helps troubled guests with their problems? Or does it want to be a character piece, detailing the way in which Yuzu grows as a result of working at the hotel? Its inability to really dedicate itself to either means it doesn’t do either thing particularly well.
Yuzu is a character repeatedly stated to have “grown” as a result of her time at the hotel, but she never struggles with anything aside from being a bit clumsy. Most of the Aesops are things that she comes up with on her own after a little bit of thought and not much difficulty at all. So that supposed “growth” comes across as hollow. Because she doesn’t grow. She magically has new knowledge and decides to share it when convenient to whatever the plot is that the guests are dealing with. Other characters, Satsuki, Ren, Natsuko, and so-on are all more interesting than her in that regard. But Ren and Natsuko aren’t really afforded the opportunity to grow a terrible lot. Satsuki gets the most shine, by far, and the best episode in the show, towards the end.
The show does have a relaxing quality. And it manages to be entertaining largely due to the antics of characters like Sakura and Okiku… also, just to reiterate, Kiri is the devil. She needs her own show. Seriously. She and Homare need to meet. I’m sure they can exchange stories. Alas, even Kiri can’t keep this show from being pretty mediocre in the long run. It seldom breaches past the realm of being Harmless. Pity.
10. Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World (Pass)
Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World – The Animated Series
Studio: EGG Firm
Genre: Adventure, Slice of Life
EvilBob: It’s all right, man. Let it out.
CVoyage: So… much… potential…
EvilBob: Need a hug, man? I’m here for ya.
CVoyage: I just… I just don’t get it. It started off so good! It was so engaging! So interesting! What the heck happened? It got over the three-episode rule. Everything checked out. How did it go so… so wrong?
EvilBob: Oh, that’s easy. “Clever” writing.
CVoyage: *shudders* Look, there was a lot to like in this series. The artwork was gorgeous. The music was soothing. Some of the ideas were intriguing…
CVoyage: The signs were there. Kino started showing up less and less… in her own show. But I actually wasn’t too bothered by it. Heck, episode 6 only had her in it for a few seconds. But I genuinely liked it. But after that things just started going downhill. The ideas posed by the episodes gradually became less interesting. We still hadn’t learned anything, really, about the characters we were following. And then episode 10 happened and just pissed me off at the awful writing immensely, to the point where I intentionally didn’t review it.
It all culminated in a very poorly paced eleventh-hour episode on Kino’s backstory (coincidentally enough at episode 11) that just wasn’t satisfying. Then the finale was just plain lame in context. Overall, the first few episodes and one or two episodes around the middle were really engaging. But beyond that, I’ll be more than happy to not be bothered with this series again, as it’s just not worth the time. Pass.
EvilBob: Huh. Weird. You didn’t drop it?
CVoyage: Oh, I got real close. Believe me. It only hung around because I was already too far into the series to drop it by the time I wanted to.
EvilBob: Wait, but didn’t you drop something else?
11. Urahara (Pass)
CVoyage: All right, point blank. I dropped it because it wasn’t engaging at all. That’s it. That’s the whole of it. It’s a visual mess. While I know that’s the point, it just isn’t a style I could really get used to. The animation was stiff. The humor didn’t land. Nothing about it was anything other than “meh.” It didn’t really have a particular handle on storytelling, either. I have absolutely no problems with having let this one go.
EvilBob: Wow. No mercy.
CVoyage: But. I will say that the series isn’t completely without merit. It’s admittedly something I hadn’t thought of, but the subtext of the series was really onto something. The series is basically an allegory for the creative process and the pains that artists go through in striving for originality and such. In that regard, the series is actually a fairly apt mouthpiece for that subject.
EvilBob: Wait, there’s something you liked about it?
CVoyage: I swear, you people think I’m some sort of despot. But even having figured that out after dropping it, I’m standing by dropping it.
EvilBob: But… you just said-
CVoyage: Look, Theme is important and all, but enjoying anything is about priorities. And my priority in watching or reading anything isn’t in it having some profound deeper meaning. At the end of it all, I just wanna be entertained. Thought-provoking themes are a welcomed bonus. After all, you still have to manage to keep me engaged in order to get me to pay attention long enough to be bothered dissecting your theme in the first place. The theme, itself, as Kino no Tabi certainly proves, isn’t going to win you any points with me unless you’ve done the rest of your job – telling a good story – effectively. And Urahara simply didn’t do the job. Interesting theme, lame execution. Pass.
EvilBob: Ouch. Well, looks like that’s all of them!
CVoyage: Hm? Actually, Bob… speaking of dropping things…
EvilBob: Can we not?
12. Dies Irae (Superhero)
EvilBob: Well… speaking of incoherent messes…
CVoyage: Hey. My mess was coherent. Just boring.
EvilBob: Well, mine was… infuriating. So the show begins with an OVA Prequel that left me asking one question.
CVoyage: “What the heck did I just watch?”
EvilBob: Yes. That one. Naturally, I assumed this would get cleared up once the show began, proper… it wasn’t. Truthfully, I still don’t fully understand everything that was going on in this series. But based on what people have been saying about it to clarify, it still doesn’t make any sense. The only thing I really know is that the Nazis are the bad guys.
EvilBob: …Shut up, Chris. All right, so while I can’t make much-
EvilBob: …of the story, I can at least talk about the art and animation. It was pretty good. Even the parts that made no sense looked cool. Especially the flying skeleton…train… thing. Seriously, what was that? I think the show’s main problem was a gross lack of editing.
CVoyage: Oh. So it was like the finale of Anime-Gataris, stretched across a full show.
EvilBob: I… huh?
CVoyage: Yeah. Throwing all the ideas out there and using all of them, not editing out that stuff they could probably do without.
EvilBob: Oh my god, that does sound like what they were going for. And the prologue didn’t help…
CVoyage: Well, at least you got one good show based on a visual novel, this season.
EvilBob: True that. Though after this one, I was pretty nervous about the other one.
CVoyage: Understandable. Anyway, let’s wrap this up.
EvilBob: Oh, thank god it’s ov-
CVoyage: With the shows we regret not covering, this season.
EvilBob: Oh. So most of my list, for you, right?
CVoyage: …Anyway, full disclosure, I am going to be covering Yuuki Yuna wa Yuusha de Aru: Yuusha no Sho… well… probably. Depends on how it ends. I just didn’t feel like the episode-by-episode treatment would really suit it. Especially given how the show was broken down. But what do you regret not covering, Bob?
EvilBob: I dunno. Maybe Sengoku Night Blood? It’s another Otome game, and if Code: Realize has taught me anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. I definitely regret not covering Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou (Girls’ Last Tour). I’ve been watching it a bit and it has some good humor in there, despite being pretty dark, and some thought-provoking ideas to boot. I also regret not covering Houseki no Kuni.
CVoyage: Oh yeah. Especially after seeing so many other people talking about it. And seeing all the memes comparing it to Steven Universe. Personally, I’d have liked to see that, but I think I’d also have liked to take a look at Blend-S. At least to see the show that all the memes came from. Also, if nothing else, it might’ve been able to get consistent chuckles out of me, and subbed in for Konohana Kitan as my token “cute” series, had I dropped it when I probably should’ve. I had pretty well-managed expectations of it, so I’m sure it would’ve have been much of a disappointment, if at all.
EvilBob: Welp… that’s all we have for you to- holy god this is long.
CVoyage: So it is. Well, that’s it. Good warm-up for next year, when we’ll have to cover every season.
EvilBob: Wait… warm-up? How… how many are we covering next season?
CVoyage: Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to. Anyway, thanks for reading, folks. As always, Keep Up the Awesome.
EvilBob: And keep it classy.
CVoyage: Take care.