Best and Worst Shows of 2017!

As the new year comes around the corner, we must adhere to tradition and sing the praises of the great shows we’ve encountered over the past year. And also spank the shows that we hated one last time.
Speaking of, let’s get those Worst shows out of the way first…

 

Top 3 Worst Shows of 2017

 

#3 – Hanasakeru Seishonen

hanasakeru_seishounen_ostThe political elements of this anime were actually decently interesting. Sadly the romance aspect was pretty horrid. Not just because it was slow, but also because I pitied the guy who ended up with her. The heroine is one of the most selfish creatures I’ve seen in anime without being a full on tsundere (those characters are a whole other can of hate for me) in a long time. The pendulum swing between her being strangely wise and insanely stupid was enraging to witness and I’m happy to leave this show behind me…

 

#2 – 18if

20150316chu_18p002_cs1e1_480xI don’t often watch entire shows and then land them in a WZ, but this is one of those titles that decided to wait until the second half to slap me in the face with excessive sexuality and violence. Not that I liked it before then either, mind you. This is one of the obnoxious shows where the villains are all women and a single guy, who is so average it hurts, comes along and they all fall in love with him while he “saves” them. Is it the worst show I’ve had to WZ? No, but it certainly wasted a lot of my time. Forgive me if I’m a bit bitter about that…

 

#1 Worst Show of 2017 – Your Lie in April

yourlie

This show made me see red. Each episode made me more mad than the last. But I still held out hope until the last, especially as the lead was really amazing and I really did want to see him rise from the ashes. But this show isn’t a romance. It’s a painful look into domestic abuse. The fact that not the show itself, but many of its viewers, see this title as a wonderfully sweet romance only made it all the more painful to witness for me. Hitting people for your own convenience, tsundere personality or not, is just straight up not ok. And when that person had a extremely abusive mother and deep guilt complex? Yeah, no. This show hurt to see and it never got any better. Definitely the worst show I watched in 2017.

 

Top 5 Best Shows of 2017

 

#5 – Tiger and Bunny

tiger_bunny_posterThis show is a bit on the older side now, but this year was the first time I finally got around to giving it a shot. And it really surprised me. Not only were the leads mostly adults, but the main lead is a wash out hero with a wasting relationship with his daughter. And those are elements of the show that do indeed get addressed. While the overall plot wasn’t very impressive, the characters themselves and their relationships with one another were pretty fresh and fun to watch. It was an entertaining show and had some truly heartwarming scenes between the lead and his daughter. It’s an easy top title of the year from me, although I’m not sure I agree with Japan that it deserves to be in the top anime slot of all time…

 

#4 – Voices of a Distant Star

hoshinokoe_8597_7851This is a stand alone animated movie that was crafted single handedly. And while the rough animation and movement might be telling of this, the elegant way emotion is conveyed is pretty stunning. It’s rare to see this level of detail in characters in science fiction, but it’s something I wish we saw more often. The pace is slow, but all the more powerful for it. And what beauty pushes through the older, rougher animation is truly amazing. It’s easy to see how this work landed its artist a more permanent job in the animation industry. It’s an amazing first piece that many studios today could learn from.

 

#3 – Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

moribitoAnother older title (I see a trend here), this show never got half the hype it deserves. Not only is the lead character well written and deep, but the world itself is crafted expertly. The blend of feudal and mythological elements is so tightly woven it feels natural and makes sense. We also see logical character progression and growth, which makes the ending that much more bittersweet and powerful. If there hadn’t been a strange out-of-character bump in the middle of the story’s script, I’d likely have rated this show even higher.
Seriously, if you still haven’t given this show a try, I highly recommend it.

 

#2 – March Comes in Like a Lion

march-comes-inThis show was beautiful to watch and moved like fictional literature put to screen, something we don’t often see in TV series (and is even becoming less common in OVA and film formats). And while this kind of story telling isn’t always my thing, this particular series was just amazing. It was a perfect example of showing, not telling. We are not told how to feel about anyone, but must come to our conclusions ourselves. There’s also no true villain. There are only obstacles for the hero to overcome, the biggest often being himself. It’s powerful and yet gently told. This was a show I loved every step of the way and recommend to anyone who loves literary fiction or is needing a break from typical genre shows.

 

#1 Best Show of 2017 – The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Those Awaiting a Star

magus-bride

The full series that continues the story of this mini-series is just now wrapping up, but the three episode prequel is good enough to stand on its own. While not quite as artsy as March Comes in Like a Lion, it still follows the wonderful rule to show, don’t tell. It also takes its time showing the soft and slow healing of the emotionally scarred lead character. And while truly horrible and dark things happen to her in these episodes, the hope seen at the end is strong enough to make one leave this mini-series with a smile. It also creates a well deserved amount of hype for the full series. The strong world building and unique blend of various mythological creatures are just the cherry on top. If you like magic, mythology/folklore and don’t mind a few tears, this is a great show to jump into. And this mini-series is a great taste test for what to expect in the full series.

 

Well, that’s a wrap for 2017, folks! Thank you all for keeping faith in my blog and I look forward to another year of anime with you! 

Merry Christmas! (+the “lost potential” shows of 2017)

christmas2It’s not often that this blog’s schedule lines up perfectly with Christmas, but here we are! And as this time of year is always scary busy, you’ll have to excuse my slightly lazy ideas for our last two posts of the season being recaps.
This year has been a crazy one for me. I got a new job, moved and made some very important life decisions that I can’t reveal quite yet. It’s hard to fit shows in these days. But I still enjoy analyzing and, occasionally, ripping the anime industry apart bit by bit, so thank you all for sticking it out with me this year!

As we get ready to finish up some shows for early 2018, let’s look back at some of this year’s biggest lost potentials… Because nothing says “Christmas” like a bag full of regret!

 

a18936-1382072408-1497548231Missed Opportunity #3 – Chronos Ruler 

I swear, it’s like this show was intentionally trying to fail. It had the most amazing set up for a great father/son dynamic. The two LEADS were a father and son. And they just…. ignored it. The show plays up their relationship as if they were classmates in high school more than a parent and their child. Which is a real shame as father/son relationships in anime are petty rare to see, where as the high schoolers getting on each others’ nerves thing? Yeah. That’s sadly common. Really common.

 

6f23cba5886611b854a147890757cdfa1475754586_largeMissed Opportunity #2 – Flip Flappers

This show was beautiful. There’s no way around that. The art was unusual, but lovely and some of the movement was great. Sadly this is one of those shows that had no idea what it wanted out of life until halfway through its run. And that’s sad as once it found what it wanted, it had a few good messages on sexuality. Buuuut, of course, we can’t have nice things in anime very much these days so even while we get those good messages we still got smacked in the face with the female characters being sexualized for an obviously male gaze half the time. It’s such as waste of potential as this series’ very setting of dream worlds was a perfect place to show, rather than tell, female and queer sexuality in a tasteful and deep manor. Sadly, that’s just not what we got…

 

yurionice-pngMissed Opportunity #1 – Yuri on Ice

Before you stone me to death, give me some time to explain. This anime was not bad (the top best and worst of the year post is at the end of this week), but it certainly could have been better. And by quite a bit. And it’s something that could have been fixed in the first ten minutes of the very first episode.
I’ll prove it.

What’s the very first scene we see with Yuri? He’s crying in the bathroom, right? While this is an interesting way to start a series, it also leaves a very unfortunate impression of Yuri as a character. Our first interaction with the lead shows him as an immature crybaby. Of course, this doesn’t prove to be true. We later find out that his dog, who had been with him for years and one of his few companions, had died while he was on tour skating. He never got to say goodbye. While it isn’t said right out that this causes Yuri to fall during his first world’s series (and thus end up in a bathroom crying), it’s heavily implied. And who could blame Yuri for being distracted? He lost someone special to him. But he had to keep skating anyway. He had to at least try. And THAT’S the important bit we didn’t get to see. Him going back on the ice, despite his pain and fear. We don’t see that extremely strong side of Yuri. So his failure and crying in those first ten minutes? The vast unfairness and frustration he feels? They feel pretty empty at best. At worst, they paint a very weak image of our lead, an image that doesn’t fit with his strong imitation of Victor’s skate only a few scenes later.
Considering this show is named after Yuri, it would have been far more fitting, and more engaging, to get a bit more of Yuri himself and his true struggles in those first few minutes. It would have given us a clearer image of both his strength and how painful his fall really was.

Of course, as always, the anime industry is a rough one and having the time (and staff) to go over scripts and scenes to make the most of every minute is a tall order. Still… I would have gladly sacrificed a few minutes of Victor’s naked butt to get a better picture of our hero. Though, as per usual, anime does have to think about what sells… and let me tell ya… the butt sells… It really does…

 

Well, anyway… HAPPY HOLIDAYS ALL!! Hope it’s bright and full of wonderful food and amazing anime! See you at the end of the week for the Best and Worst of the year!!!

Digital Fusion TIFF File

 

Sakura Quest Review

sakura questStory:
Yoshino has failed countless job applications for the entertainment industry. So when she gets a call to be a town’s queen for promoting tourism, she jumps at the opportunity. But the town she ends up in is far from what she expected… It’s small, country and slower than the fast life she envisioned for herself.

Violence:
Besides characters getting scratches from falls and the occasional rare nose bleed, nothing to put here.

Language:
Very low. There’s one character that can have a foul mouth, but even then actual cursing isn’t common.

Nudity:
Occasionally we hear an old man say something creepy, but nothing much beyond that. Even outfits remain pretty conservative. Not much to worry about here, thankfully.

Theology/mythology:
We don’t see anything mythical, but this show does have a decent amount of folklore and shrines in it. As this show focuses on cultural traditions being passed on and respected, this isn’t unusual. So if Japanese folklore makes you squirm, this isn’t a show for you.

Personal impression:
This show was surprisingly good, especially how it ends. It’s for sure a bit of a slow burner, but the entire adult cast and good message about pursuing one’s ambitions and finding joy in your work make up for that. Mostly.
Again, this show takes quite a long time to pick up speed. Around 12 episodes of mediocre, actually. It’s only in the second half that things pick up and we see significant character growth and the stronger messages of the show shine through. When it does kick in, it’s a pretty good run. But due to how long it takes to gear up… I wouldn’t be quick to recommend this one.
The animation and story are nothing unique either. The music is also… pretty forgettable, honestly. I can’t recall it at all right now.
But I gotta say the messages of ending up in jobs you might not like, but have to do to pay rent and yet finding joy where you can- of not being in your industry, but continuing to work towards it despite constant failure- of moving onward with your ambitions, even when it’s hard to leave those you love behind – these are all great messages, especially for adults. We’re often told as kids that we need to find our industry and get into it right away. But that’s just not often possible. It can take years to get where you really want to be. The reality of being an adult is that you often have to keep moving onward and upward, sometimes zig-zagging quite a lot, to eventually get to where you want to be. And this show’s second half was a great presentation of this reality.
But still… it’s slow… So it’s probably nothing to jump into if you like fast paced content.

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 25
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Slice of Life, drama, comedy
Studio: P.A. Works
Company: Toho
Official streaming: crunchyroll

The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Those Awaiting a Star Review

[this is the continuation of my earlier review for the first episode of the promo 3 part special: Those Awaiting a Star. See the first episode review HERE. Review of series coming soon]

magus-bride

Episode 2

Warnings:
Remember how episode one didn’t really have any violence in it? Throw that right out of the window. A character gets, well, bitten pretty badly in this one (and dies. Be warned) and the way it’s done, while not showing much actual blood, is rather graphic. Think FMA: Brotherhood levels. Lots of fear and anxiety in the lead throughout keep the feeling very dark and tense as well, so I really don’t recommend this for anyone under the age of 10. And even some ten year olds will get scared… The tension is done very well.

Thoughts:
If you were looking for a cup of depressing, this episode provides. We get to see why books are important to our lead, specifically one special one. We also see some more positive, or at least less dangerous, encounters with youkai. And also some very dangerous ones.
This said, the violence near the end gave me a bit of whiplash I don’t feel often these days in anime. I was unsure about the sudden change until I saw the final part in this side story/prequel thing…

 

Episode 3

Warnings:
Same as the last one, though the violence is coming to a close. Episode 2 was more graphic overall… As an aside, language and nudity don’t come into play in this mini-series so have no fears there.

Thoughts:
This is why this show is such a big deal. Why the hype got so huge online. This mini-series closes out beautifully. We don’t see an obvious “happy ending” for the hero, but we do get gentle glimpses of things getting better. Of actual healing from mental trauma in the lead. Small acts of kindness given to her are handled in a soft, almost delicate, manner, making you feel and experience deeply just how unusual kindness is to our heroine. It’s a well thought out and executed story and one I’m looking forward to seeing in greater depth in the current streaming series.

Overall
If you’re curious about the hype around this show, this 3 parter does its job very well. You get a taste for the lead characters as well as the tone of the story itself and the world it takes place in. Nothing is overwhelming and, in fact, the story slows very intentionally. I could see a story like this easily running in a short story literary journal as a stand alone, making it a great bite sized series for people curious to try this one out.

Knight’s & Magic Review

main-4-450x320Story:
Ernesti used to be a robot otaku shut in. Until he suddenly dies and ends up reborn in a world where magic and robots are common place. Eager to build and pilot his own, he joins the academy and quickly begins making waves with his wild new mech designs.

Violence:
The only thing that kept this show for a gentler rating was this section. It’s not too bad, but some characters get injured and we do see them bleeding. The screen doesn’t fixate on it, but I wouldn’t recommend this for super young ages.

Language:
We’re pretty clear here. We get a few d-mns and sh-ts, but not too often.

Nudity:
I was surprised to see the only issue here was one big chested character who’s top is a bit small. Some shots show quite a lot of cleavage. But interestingly, the camera rarely takes advantage of this. In fact, fanservice is by and large not a thing for this show. Which I am 100% on board for.

Theology/mythology:
Even though a character is reborn, we never get a discussion on this or God(s) or anything about the afterlife. The lead (and a few others) exaggerate about mechs being “life itself” and such, but it’s nothing serious. Reincarnation is just used in this story as an excuse for dropping an otaku into a fantasy world. That’s about it.

Personal impression:
The fights scenes in this show really are great. As someone who was raised watching giant robots clobbering each other (Robot Wars, anyone?), I can really appreciate how much love went into these shots. Not only are some of the maneuvers unusual and well done, but the different mech designs make for some interesting fights (unlike so many mech shows where it doesn’t seem to change much half the time *cough*Gundam*cough*).
Buuuut I can also safely say this show doesn’t have anything else going for it. The characters are pretty standard (well, aside from the lead who really does like mechs and nothing else. Odd as usually these characters are still pervs but this one 100% doesn’t care unless it’s a robot) and the conflicts in the story are pretty lame and too easily overcome to give any weight to the story. Or provide a lick of character growth. In fact, the only character that changes at all is a side character. And he changes so early on that… I’m not sure how much that counts…
Overall, this show isn’t the worst mech title I’ve seen. In fact, it’s one of the better ones as of late. But that tells you far more about the state of this genre of anime than it does about the show itself…

(ps – who do I blame for the title being a mess? Crunchyroll or Japan? Just saying….)

Personal rating: 10+

Episodes: 13
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genres: Mech, action, fantasy
Company: Showgate
Studio: 8-bit
Official streaming: Crunchyroll