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! 

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Your Lie in April Review

yourlieStory:
Kousei Arima was a child prodigy. His piano playing was perfect, allowing him to easily win competitions around Japan. Until his sickly mother passed away, leaving him traumatized and unable to hear the notes he’s playing. Years later, Arima is pulled back into the realm of music thanks to an energetic female violinist.

Violence:
We have a classic tsundere on our hands so expect her to beat on our lead for no reason at all. We also have an abusive parent and those scenes are pretty scary to see. She beats her son until he bleeds. This show doesn’t show blood every episode, but when it comes up, it doesn’t shy away. Be well warned.

Language:
D-mns and sh-ts are usually the worst this show sees. And it’s not a frequent issue.

Nudity:
We don’t deal with this too much either. Aside from a painfully stereotypical meeting between leads where he “accidentally” takes a picture when her skirt blows up, (because anime) we avoid nudity all together.

Theology/mythology:
There’s some dark talk about suicide and death near the end concerning a character with a terminal disease. Nothing about God(s) or the afterlife though.

Personal impression:
This is a show that might have been near perfect if it hadn’t fallen for a few horrendous anime cliches along the way. Our lead is an abuse victim. And the feelings he has towards his abuser are complex, further confused by the fact that she had a painful illness, which may or may not have furthered her violence. As an aside: I do not endorse this as an excuse but simply something that may explain why she became so vicious later in life. An important distinction as this anime almost uses it as a straight up “get out of jail free” card to “clear” the mother from wrong and get the audience to feel sorry for her. This is a position I do not agree with at all and am extremely uncomfortable with. However, I can understand how the victim is confused over this, as most are. Abuse is often layered with love, making it difficult for the victims to seek help and leave the situation.
This is important to note as two aspects of this show made this abuse story increasingly hard to bare. One was the fact that another family member (and many other people) actually witness an episode of the mother’s abuse, to the point of drawing blood. Nothing is done. Everyone in the scene simply watches. The family member even watches with sympathy as the abuser cries after the fact, as if this should make us feel as if her beating of another was simply a sad mistake.
Another painful aspect was our tsundere female lead. She often beats on our abuse victim simply for her own enjoyment/because she has zero control. She often takes out frustration on him, mirroring his mother’s earlier abuse. It hurts to see, especially as the show tries to make it look like typical anime love interest ooze. It’s not. It’s straight up abuse. The fact that this leading lady is also very ill simply complicates matters. While it is true that having a terminal/painful illness can bring out the worst in people at times, the show often used this as a way to excuse this violent behavior, rather than explain where it came from. This is obvious because she has this horrendous behavior even when not feeling sick. It’s typical tsundere trash and I’ve never been more disgusted with this trend as I do in this show. If they had made her a normal character, with her violence only appearing during times of pain and extreme stress, it would have been a more powerful window into the lives of those who fight terminal illnesses. Instead, her illness is a sick play for drama and sympathy towards her abusive behavior, just as it was towards the early mother abuser.
Add all of that sludge to the side story of girl next door falling for the lead and picking up the tsundere role while the usual female is too sick to punch people for no reason. Oh but we should feel sorry for her because falling in love is so very painful and goodness life is so hard and tragic.
If it hasn’t become obvious already, I was not at all a fan of this anime. Which is sad as I truly do believe it might have been a good show without these issues. Abuse is real and what victims feel towards their abusers is not a simple matter, especially when the abuser is a parent. And the trauma felt by artists does impact their work in various ways. If this anime hadn’t felt so compelled to take on every nasty cliche it could find in the female cast, this show could have seriously addressed some really strong topics. As it was, it just felt more like it was blaming victims for “being weak” when they have episodes of trauma and excuses terminal illness patients from all wrong doing because, well, they will die soon so it’s not really their fault.
I will admit that finding out what the “lie” was at the end was nice, as was the unexpected apology by the lead for her behavior. Even so, the way this series handled itself was just painful for me to watch overall.
If drama is your jam, you’ll probably love this. It has great art and the music is wonderful. But if you, like me, have a vendetta against the tsundere trend… skip this. I’m serious. You won’t like this one. I sure didn’t.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 22
Language: Sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Drama
Production: A – 1 Pictures
Company: Kodansha USA
Official streaming: Crunchyroll