Another terrific season of anime has just wrapped up, with one of my favorite anime of all time finally reaching it’s conclusion. This was a season full of unexpected quality. Danmachi proved to be about much more than girls in dungeons. Snafu became a recent favorite of mine after marathoning the first season just to see what the fuss was about. And Food Wars has been able to make a stand as an actual good anime without the shock value of foodgasms. Let’s line them all up. From worst to best!
Okay, Fairy Tail. This is where I tell you that you’re not fulfilling your end of our long-lasting relationship. I devote to you dozens of hours of my time to log over 200 episodes, meaning…for the sake of all that time, I am never, ever going to drop you. I say that because once I do, I will never feel like catching up, and I feel accomplished in being caught up with one of the longest-running anime on air.
But, you really have to do something for me. This Tartarus arc was hyped to me by the manga readers, but even then my expectation weren’t impossible to fulfill. You just had to be good, but you’re not. Natsu is still the wild bundle of energy and enthusiasm I love, but his fighting is just as mindless as ever. These new curse-wielding villains are hardly intimidating, For a while I was impressed. These villains are responsible for the most surprising deaths in the series, but now that they become more pronounced, I’m not liking what I’m seeing.
Fairy Tail, for those that don’t know the story, isn’t really like One Piece where there’s this “goal” that all these episodes are eventually heading towards. Fairy Tail simply follows the chummy mates of the magic guild, Fairy Tail, as they deal with one world-threatening force after another. What usually makes Fairy Tail stand out is that each of these major story arcs ends up delivering some really resounding, emotional scenes due to the extremely strong bonds between it’s members, and what happens when those bonds are put to the test.
It’s been a long time since the last Fairy Tail “feels” moment, and that’s what I think Fairy Tail does best. Not creating action-drama, or coming up with memorable villains. I appreciate the step up in effort on that front, but it’s not doing the trick. And I’m still liking the new art style, but the obvious over-sexualization of Erza and Lucy are still a constant headache. Fairy Tail is feeling very sub-par, as if it was on a filler break, but this is 100% plot-relevant material. I can only hope for better in the future.
Blood Blockade Battlefront
The next Cowboy Bebop, was what this anime showed potential in being. An episodic action drama with a unique setting, and plenty of jazz-spiced style. Well. we didn’t quite make it to the same echelon folks, but it was still a heck of a ride. See, when it comes to pseudo-episodic anime like Cowboy Bebop, the key is that while the singular episodes are great, the one story thread that ties everything together has to be even better. With Blood Blockade Battlefront, the singular episodes were indeed great, but the overarching thread is honestly nothing too special for me. Sure it’s “bigger” just because it’s a story connected by multiple episodes, but I feel like it wasn’t enough to unify everything that’s happened in the series, as well as make it’s grand stance on “THIS is the story we want to tell.”
Blood Blockade Battlefront was a stylish, restless action anime that had a fine layer of “cool” woven through everything. The character designs, abilities, music, and setting were all lavish with that effortlessly striking style. The characters look like something from a Blazblue game, with a subtle mid 1900’s style mixed with straight up dark fantasy. Each episode varied wildly from the last making this one of the most enjoyable anime to come back to every week. Some episodes were sad, and introspective, while others were wacky and full of comic relief.
Unfortunately, as the main plot started to take over, the feeling that I was watching something one of a kind faded away, being replaced by something that was simply above average. The directing style and energy never went away, but the ingenuity of what was actually transpiring on the screen story-wise did a bit. It’s not a big disappointment, but it basically solidified the fact that I got my fill of Blood Blockade Battlefront. It’s almost like I can’t really relive the whole series, rather than just reminisce on the individual episodes.
In the end, I will probably forget about the story of Blood Blockade Battlefront, and only remember that the episodes themselves were all wholly enjoyable. Hellsalem’s Lot and all that reside in it didn’t imprint themselves into my mind, but I would always love to take a stroll down it’s zany streets. That’s the kind of anime it was to me.
I can’t say a roller coaster of emotions because that kind of implies that it’s GOOD because of the ups and downs. Plastic Memories is more like a metronome clicking between great and mediocre at a constant pace. Plastic Memories juggles you between an amazing, heartfelt scenario about the death of androids, and a sometimes not-so-heartfelt romance between our main character, and a particular android, Isla.
Our main character works at an office who travels to the houses of owners who have expiring androids. They relieve them from their owners, which is very much like taking a member of their family away. The range, and dramatic potential of this is well developed in this anime, and is easily it’s hallmark. Some are truly sad, while others are more reasonable and thought-provoking. One of them, which is also the best one, about the Wanderers is the most impactful story of the anime.
But unfortunately, this is put more into the background, because the biggest part of the story is the romance between our main character and another android that works with him. This romance never really clicks because…well, he falls in love with her at first sight, but I don’t get why. Even now I still don’t really get why he likes her. Afterwards their romance drifts between cute, and boring. Of course, the oncoming notion that everyone knows she’s about to expire keeps everyone on tenterhooks, but that’s no excuse for a poorly represented relationship to me.
Thankfully, because this anime can bounce back into a truly evocative from very quickly, the final moments of their relationship were genuinely sad. So much so that I did have that feeling of hollow emptiness in me. The emptiness that only happens if I truly do feel like a character was written off perfectly. This dark pit I’m referring to is a good thing by the way. I never say an anime is good, but it’s sad. I say an anime is good BECAUSE it’s sad. Anyways, this anime is good because it’s sad, but it’s also bad because it’s uneven with it’s quality. Catch my drift?
Bloggers are really liking this one, huh? I feel like it’s better than what most people who dropped it after the first episode are making it out to be, but I also don’t think it’s as good as what I’ve been reading about it. On the plus side, Sound Euphonium is VERY good at communicating with every single aspect of it’s presentation. It’s oddly realistic dialogue plays equal part to the well-drawn facial expressions, camera framing, and sound design.
Most of it’s praise probably comes from how natural everything feels. This is one of the most effortlessly accurate representations of high school I’ve come across. But…that’s not quite enough for me. It’s enough to get me to appreciate, but not fall in love with it. The story wasn’t as captivating as I wanted it to be, even if every single scene captured my attention with it’s detail and directing style. The story is ultimately about a girl discovering a new side of herself through her experiences with her high school band. Seeing her go from being apathetic, and uninspired to having breakdowns over not being good enough was quite a treat to see.
Overall, this is primarily a good looking, confident anime that had a small thematic story to tell, and told it well. The story never really amounted up to anything to me, so it’s also kind of pointless in that respect, but something this well-produced hardly deserves to be called pointless, so maybe it’s more like the plot exists simply just to move things along. It’s not disappointing, but it’s clear that this anime wasn’t hear to tell any type of ground breaking story…and well…I like my ground broken.
The Heroic Legend of Arslan
A fundamentally solid anime is hard to come by. Typically, in favor of spectacle and innovation, anime these days are starting to exceed expectations in certain areas by sacrificing others. The Heroic Legend of Arslan is a fantastic return to form for adventure anime, but because of this, it also may feel dated to some. It has a deliberately slow pace, but it’s only slow compared to what we’re treated to these days. I like to say that it’s pace is more traditional, rather than slow.
The Heroic Legend of Arslan had a bit of expectancy behind it due to the property having a manga version written by the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist. So let’s get this out of the way. This is not quite on the same level, having only the military focus and the character design aesthetics being the only thing of noteworthy resemblance. But now that we have that comparison out of the way, I can say that this is a truly well-grounded story that moves each pawn slowly but purposefully. No episode feels like a waste, and you get a feeling that all of the set up is leading to something that only a slow burn like this can pay off in.
This anime is still ongoing, so as such, we don’t even have a conclusion, but I’m here to give it a score off of a season’s worth of episodes. The anime follows a young boy, named Arslan, on a perspective-changing adventure. He has been brought up as a royal prince, knowing little of the true nature of the world, and after a battle goes very unfortunately, he is stranded outside of his kingdom. From here, the story primarily revolves around Arslan gathering a loyal group of followers, each a truly formidable combatant in their own way, as they rally around him to return to his kingdom, and usher them into a new era.
Everything about the story is grand, but it’s the small pieces being lined up perfectly that allow such an epic quest to truly come into form. Arslan hasn’t done a complete 180 yet, but he’s definitely on a slowly, but surely trajectory to becoming the King we all await him to be. What isn’t as grand is the animation, and is probably the weakest aspect of this anime. Basically, I feel like if this same story was redrawn, complete with the same tone and style, but by a more luxurious studio, this would catch a lot more attention.
While the story is slow, but confident and sound, and the design of the world and the characters are striking, and befitting of this time era, the action scenes trail behind thanks to CG soldiers who take all the personality out of most of the battle scenes, as well as very basic cinematic flair to the fights in general. I was actually hoping the anime would take a seasonal break and maybe reinforce the animation efforts for round two, but it looks like we’re going right into the second season. If the animation remained as is, it would be slightly disappointing, but I can deal with it because everything else is great.
It just keeps getting better. HOW is it doing this? Well, okay, I can easily pinpoint how. It’s because, as the story starts getting more intricate, and the detail that goes into these cook-offs get’s more brilliantly obsessive, the fan-service food porn aspect is slowly disappearing. Some of it is due to desensitization, where I know to expect these things, but most of it is really because they dialed back on the weird erotic stuff.
So what is Food Wars? It’s the most intense anime about cooking, that’s what. If Silver Spoon is a terrific food anime about exploring life, Food Wars is a terrific food anime about..well…food. It doesn’t explore much else. Sure, it’s about the hero discovering himself, and about the bonds you make, yadda yadda. It’s got all the cake fluff that makes a shounen series emotional every once and a while, but man, it really REALLY sells it on this food stuff.
Every episode leaves me starving unless I eat during the episode itself. The dishes prepared are so extravagant that I would literally drop money on any of these if they were advertised to me this way. I have no idea about the science or accuracy behind what it portrays, but the anime sure knows how to make it seem like it’s creating the most blessed food in the universe. As the anime progressed, the situations in which the main character has to do a Food War become more natural, and engrossing. This isn’t a random tournament of people just going from one round to the next. This is an entire competitive college life told with much exaggeration, and relayed through the medium of food.
I can definitely say that you can expect a major tone-down from the first episode which made this anime infamous for being borderline pornographic. But that other quality, the addicting, “how good can this guy cook?” archetype constantly keeps you coming back for more. I’m glad this anime is continuing into this season, and while I had my problems with it before, they are more or less scraps, thrown in the trash at this point.
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
Well, well, well, now what do we have here? A true case of “Don’t judge an anime by it’s mind-boggingly long, and seemingly perverse title.” Dungeon Girls is not an anime about getting girls, despite what the title, and the first episode makes it seem to be. This is a true hero’s adventure, and believe it or not, it’s actually a really good one. How good? Well, that’s what I’m here to describe because people can be picky about their action anime. I’m picky as well, but I can say that I’m nearly, almost, completely on board the hype train for this anime.
If it wasn’t for effing Hestia.
Dungeon Girls is like a video-game anime, except nobody is stuck in a video game here. This fantasy world just happens to feature a leveling up system. The whole point of this anime is our young hero, Bell, trying his best to present himself as a true, worthy warrior in front of the woman who saved him from near-death in a dungeon. It’s a nice little premise that carries enough weight with the main character to make him believable.
The general atmosphere of this anime is what really drives the immersion The town Bell lives in is cozy, and the characters in it can be very pleasant people. It all lends itself to being the type of place you’d want to live in. The battles are the other aspect that sells this anime as having wonderful action. These battles are fierce in the classical shounen sense. The main character narrating his ideals as he screams satisfyingly loud, jumping around with excellent camera work following him, makes for several memorable action scenes.
Now here’s my complaints. Hestia is a migraine in fan-service form and Bell is spoiled rotten. Hestia is Bell’s goddess. In this anime, Goddess’ are the ones who grant the leveling up abilities, and they live on earth with the humans. Well, Bell is the only one working for Hestia, and Hestia is this pin-up doll of a woman who constantly instigates him with perverted remarks and cock-blocks. She’s annoying both in and out of context. There are a few times where she almost redeems herself, but never going all the way. Bell, on the other hand is probably the most spoiled main character I’ve seen in perhaps…all of anime? He gets ALL the girls, who have ALL the connections to get him ALL the best loot, and he is rewarded with ALL the best abilities. Keep in mind that I’m not saying “spoiled rotten,” just “spoiled. All of these rewards aren’t making him a worse character, and that’s what’s nice about him. He gets all these things, but he still tries as hard as he can, so you know with or without this help, he’d get there eventually.
The best animated series of the season has two definitions to me, and this, for both good and bad, only fits one of them. I’m talking about the fact that this was the series with the best animation, but it definitely wasn’t the best animated series. See, I thought after Fate/Zero, the Fate series in general was going to get a straight up steroid shot in the writing department. Fate/Zero was phenomenal with ruthless, calculating participants and their interplay with each other. As such with the Master Servant pairings.
In Fate/Stay Night, a remake of the completely forgettable original, we did get a bit more…evolution in the way the anime was handled. The cinematography, music, and tone were all on point every second of the way. However, the source material is simply too aimless and both mature yet immature at the same time. Sure the vocabulary is eloquent and everyone speaks as if they give speeches every day of their life, but it became painfully apparent that what they were beautifully spouting, was rather trite, and boring.
Fate/Stay Night is a remake of the original, meaning this is where everyone should start. I would easily recommend this version over the original, because there’s nothing that got worse, just some things, like the writing, that stayed the same. However, I will always appreciate action anime like Fate/Stay Night way more than other action anime who don’t put any effort to be smart at all. That’s why I still am always eager to see more Fate because every once in a while, the show will appear truly clever and philosophical at times.
If you like action, and action only, then god damn is this a beauty. What we have here is the best visual action directing of all time. Ufotable are gods at what they do, and it’s just as evident here. Every swing, every little particle effect, just pops and dazzles with astounding detail. It’s because of this industry elevating animation that I can’t just set this anime down with all the other unsuccessful try-hards. This is still a feat, an anime that must be watched because it really is the best in something important to the anime industry. Just don’t expect the best in everything. Archer’s monologues last too long, and the plot is very dense and murky for those who aren’t fully engrossed in this universe. Despite all that, the animation can literally make you not give a shit about the story. Here’s some pics ya’ll.
My Love Story
If Clannad is among the saddest romance anime amongst my favorites, then I guess My Love Story is the equivalent happiest romance anime. I didn’t think it was possible. I was sure all my romance had to be tragic or sad, but Kimi ni Todoke did it first, and My Love Story did it again. You can be completely romantic, and relatable, without making your audience contemplate emotional suicide. You just have to have someone like Takeo. Just thinking about this man makes me laugh. I must be Suna at heart. He’s the best friend who also finds Takeo hilarious.
My Love Story is one of the most subtly atypical romance anime out there. If anyone were to walk into your room, catch a minute or two on your screen, and then walk out. They would surely think that you are watching some conventional, stereotypical garbage. It takes a full episode, as well as an open mind, to realize that this really is something different. It just looks like the same old thing on the surface. Because what’s really going on is that we have a hot guy stuck in a “being single” rut, a cute girl attracted to the guy no other girl likes, and the nice guy not finishing last. Everything is flipped on it’s side. Not to mention, there’s this other relationship that’s just as genuine, which is the bromance between Takeo and Suna. Suna easily has the most tragic perspective.
On top of that, we have the mannerisms of Takeo making everything so damn extreme and humurous. He’s a huge guy, and his facial expressions and reactions to everything are shocking in the best way every time. He’s naive, and we have the privilege of seeing him grow. His scenes with Yamato are roughly over 9,000 on the Kawaii scouter rating. (That joke is relevant again now because Dragonball is finally back on air with new episodes, but that’s for another blog post.)
My Love Story is based on an award-winning manga. The writing doesn’t just coincidentally seem good. It actually is good. This anime is much more clever than it lets on, and it’s moments like the mini-arc with Suna’s Father that really demonstrate that. A harrowing scene that is as sad as the clannads and anohanas out there. However, it has been a while since Takeo has had anything serious happen to him, so we can’t stay in lala land forever. I think if this anime tackles one more big situation, it will go down in history as one of the most well balanced romance anime out there. Until then, I can only grade it on it’s fantastic first season, and thank god it’s continuing straight into the next season.
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU
Ahhhhhh a cliffhanger. Well that’s tantalizing. I am desperate for a conclusion because SNAFU is the best high school anime since Toradora. And nothing before Toradora is as good as Toradora to me. However, I can only say that with 99% certainty because it simply hasn’t ended yet. Either way, this is one thought-provoking, exploratory character drama.
SNAFU is a humble little story about Hachiman, a man with twisted, corrupted ideals and confidence in his off-putting persona. He constantly states the benign futility of his existence as a fact, but because of this, he’s put together one crucial skill, and it’s the one thing that communicates the entirety of his character. It’s that he knows how to read people, and he knows how to help them.
Unfortunately for him, the ways he knows how to help people always involve some sort of negative consequence for him. A social martyr who solidifies his role as the most hated guy in order to aid those who come to him for help. And they only ask him for help because he was forced into a sort-of community service club. It’s here he makes two really close friends that start to see the wrongfulness of Hachiman’s lifestyle.
Seeing these three together is where all the chemistry just explodes from the drawing board. This second season contained a more romantic undertone between our three characters and I love how naturally it came about. This anime doesn’t ever shove a characters motive down your throat, nor does it ever paint them as one obsolete shade. Hachiman and company have troubled minds, and we as an audience tend to understand only vague hints at what each character is feeling. That speaks to the huge effort put into the character interactions when they communicate things like this without having to outright say it.
While the overall story isn’t anything to write home about, as in there are no supernatural hooks, or that one unique quirk that separates it from the rest of the rom-coms, the writing, charismatic maturity, and dark humor make this feel like an aged beauty. This friendship between these three main characters is something truly precious to behold for the anime community, and the strain on it is drama-material gold. I absolutely love the main character, even if he still hasn’t had the big character change that he needs to do in order to stop effing things up.
The final season of the full Kuroko’s Basketball story has come to a close, and man these 13 spring episodes were downright masterful. I say this all the time, but Kuroko’s Basketball isn’t just one of the best sports anime, or best action anime. It’s one of the best anime period. An anime that’s both heart-pounding and heart-resonating thanks to it’s borderline perfect animation and music, and it’s amazing portrayal of it’s characters and teams.
It’s the one sports anime that transcends its own subgenre and starts showing anime of all types how it’s done. Action scenes that leave you with chills, dramatic scenes that leave you in tears, and comic relief work hand in hand to make these characters truly unforgettable. This Spring season also features the best arc in the series, the flashback to Kuroko’s origins. That arc alone would have made a phenomenal anime, but it was just part of something bigger, and I feel very lucky to have been able to see Kuroko’s journey from start to finish now.
The standout characters this season were definitely Aomine, Akashi and Kuroko, but since Aomine is my favorite character, I’m going to embellish on him a bit. He started off as the most relentless, and unstoppable force of nature in the series. A fact that I still feel even with Akashi on the loose. However, what made me like him even more was his tragic “I’m so good that I’m becoming a monster” motif that gave him a gut-wrenching tragedy that echoed just as strongly as Kuroko’s other heart melting moments. Aomine is my personal favorite thing about this anime. Almost to the point where this could be an anime with him as the main character, or even Akashi for that matter.
I can’t speak enough about it’s aesthetics either. I thought I’d seen the best in season two when Aomine and Kagami were battling in the zone, but that visually arresting scene of what I can only describe as basketball within the cosmos, was one of the most excruciatingly well-animated scenes in anime history. Sure people have preferences when it comes to sports anime, and because of that, Kuroko’s Basketball may not fly for everyone. It’s not unrealistic, but that doesn’t mean it’s the opposite. It’s highly exaggerated making it somewhere in the middle, but there are people who want what’s as close to authentic as possible. But for me, this anime has done more than just impress me. It has taken a spot as one of the dominant anime of its time and is now waiting, as a testament to how excellent sports anime can be, for another anime to take it’s spot. Can you do it, Haikyuu?
We’ve already got premieres dropping for the summer season so look forward to a post about that VERY soon. Until then, thanks to everyone who reads this blog, and I’m always glad to help you waste your time reading what I waste my time writing! Next season is looking good folks so stay tuned, and if you have thoughts on this season, please comment!