Quick disclaimer, this is by no means an impression of every show this season. I have not seen, nor will I see, every show of this season. I have not seen, nor am I likely to see, some of the more popular shows this season. That said, here are my thoughts on the shows which caught my attention this season.
First off is the Junji Itou Horror Collection. This show is absolutely excellent, as a fan of the author. Sadly, there is no Tomie in the show yet, but my hopes remain high for her to appear. Each story is paced brilliantly, with a thrilling and creepy atmosphere that really sells it as a horror show. Every episode is unnerving in a brand new way, and it’s a fantastic show overall. Not much more I can say, I don’t want to spoil it.
Ok, next is easily the weirdest show this season. The one, the only, the unmistakable Pop Team Epic. This was on my radar from the instant I saw it on the seasonal chart. My girlfriend is a huge fan of the manga, and ended up getting me into it as well. The (comparatively) normal sections of the show are very well handled, often recreating scenes from the manga perfectly. And then there’s… those sections. Anyone who’s seen the show knows exactly what I’m talking about. There’s a lot of sections in the show where it gets really weird and experimental feeling, especially in the animation. I honestly have no idea what to say about this, it almost defies words. Overall, I definitely like the show, but it feels like a fever dream induced by a pound of weed. Not really much else to be said.
Now we come to Violet Evergarden. To be honest, I don’t know what to think of this show. It looks beautiful, and sounds almost as good, but I legitimately cannot tell if I like it, or if I don’t, or even if I think it’s worthy of note or not. It’s a very bizarre feeling, and I think I’ll need to further address it when the show concludes. For now, I just don’t know.
Next is the show which really has me divided. Darling in the FranXX. There are parts of this show I really really like. Studio Trigger clearly has a very strong influence on many parts of the show, and those are the best parts of it. Especially the fight scenes. But at the same time, A1, who also worked on it, also clearly have a strong influence on it, and everything that feels so A1 about it is something I hate. I mean, this is a show that looks like a Trigger show, but the fucking A1 Face is there. AGAIN. I can’t help but have this show tainted by everything those elements remind me of, so I have trouble enjoying it as much as I probably should. Only time will tell if I can overcome this block, so perhaps I’ll also address this one in future.
And finally, my current darling show of the season: After the Rain. This show had my attention the moment I read the synopsis. It’s so rare to see a show try to do what this one does, and it’s a topic I’m very happy to see someone tackle. The art and animation is nothing short of wonderful, albeit not the greatest this season. Wit Studio clearly has a lot of talent, and this show is fantastic from a production standpoint. But it doesn’t stop there. The story thus far is paced excellently, and it actually moves forward at a good rate. It doesn’t excessively delay with stupid misunderstandings or other narrative padding, which is a good sign that it will actually go further into the subject than the typical fare for romance shows. I am positively glowing over this show so far, and I’m really hoping it continues at the same level of quality for the rest of the season. If it does, I may have a new addition to my favorites list.
Overall, from what I’ve seen of it, the Winter season has some very strong contenders, and appears to be continuing the trend I mentioned in my highlights of last year. I hope the rest of the year continues to impress, so I guess I’ll be back in a few months to see how the Spring fares. For now, solid start.