Fall 2018 Anime Impressions

[Almost all of this was written in October, I went back afterwards to edit my opinion on Golden Kamuy because I forgot to keep up with the anime for a while and polish up everything else a little bit. Been struggling with personal demons that harshly delayed everything.]

 

The Summer season of this year was very difficult to talk about for me, so much so that I… didn’t. But the Fall season is very different, I was eagerly anticipating this one. So let’s not waste any time and get right into it. And no, I’m not fucking watching Goblin Slayer, so don’t expect any takes on it from me. To quote a very famous article on the reason why, “Unless you have a damn good reason to include rape in a story, you probably shouldn’t. Using sexual assault as a motivation-in-a-box or an equivalent trope will do nothing but steal credibility and respect from a really serious, really important subject. Plus, you’ll look like a twit.” Honestly, that sums up my thoughts on the show quite nicely.

First up, easily the most hyped show of this season, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Part 5: Vento Aureo. The fans were waiting 2 years for this, and it does not disappoint, for the most part. I love the recast voices, they fit extremely well. Special credit to Yuuichi Nakamura as Buccellati, I always enjoy his work. The redesigns are take or leave, I really dislike Pink Giorno, and giving Narancia a 6-pack kind of ruins the design. The pacing is, perhaps, much slower than I expected, although every season of JoJo except for Diamond is Unbreakable has this problem for me. It could just be that the manga feels a lot shorter to me than it really is, and as a result single events often take multiple episodes, but even so, I am often utterly shocked by just how many episodes it takes to get to certain milestones. Other than that, I can’t find much, if anything, to fault about it. It is absolutely excellent. The new art style is really good, though I do prefer Part 4’s, the animation and direction are top notch, the music is fabulous, just a wonderful adaptation in general.

Next up, the sequel to my favorite show of the Spring season, Golden Kamuy Season 2. This season is very much on the same level of quality as the last one, though the new ED is much much worse. But I am considerably less friendly towards the anime as a whole these days, because I’ve read the manga since the last time I discussed it, and a lot of the stuff they cut out, including two of my favorite arcs, really gets on my nerves. I am told that one of them appears in the OVA, but I can’t find it myself, so I can’t confirm that. Most of the praise from season 1 still applies, but I do want to praise the new OP in particular, I am amazed that Man With a Mission somehow ends up  being the lesser of the two OPs, but Sayuri/My First Story is an absolutely perfect duo for the second OP. The story is still fantastic, but distinctly weaker than its manga counterpart. Even with that said, it still ranks among the best in anime we’ve gotten this year, with twists, turns, betrayals, and excellent characterization. I will continue to enjoy the anime, but I will now recommend the manga infinitely more.

Next up is Yagate Kimi Ni Naru. Ok, so, I fucking love Yuri. Like, I am a die hard fan of the genre. But the only other one that came to my attention this year was Citrus, which, just… no. So I was hoping this show would fill that void, I haven’t gotten to see a good one in a while. Apparent from the first episode is that the direction in this show is very good, with a good use of color and great shot transitions that strongly enhance the mood of the scene. It still doesn’t even come close to Clannad, but it is at least very good. The character designs are nothing special, though the art style is very appealing. I enjoy the voice work, though it hasn’t really been amazing so far. I will say that the post credit scene of episode 1 is fucking obscenely long and the way it smash cuts from something as emotionally charged as the climax of that episode into a low stakes scene with flashbacks to what happened really kills the tension that was built up until that point. The OP is really good as well, though it’s nothing that special. The kiss scene in episode 2 is expertly handled, though the buildup made me think that Nanami was going to dive on Koito to save her from an oncoming train, which I suspect is the point, so what actually happens comes off as an unexpected event, and the direction of the moment itself is absolutely excellent. I love especially how they can move while the environment around them is completely frozen, it’s a very interesting creative choice, and the way everything resumes so suddenly is a very well handled payoff moment. The hand holding scene is also excellent, the use of visual effects to highlight how they are ultimately more different than Koito at first believed, and how isolated that makes her feel, is absolutely brilliant. Having not read the manga, I cannot confirm this impression, but I get the sense that this is a case of anime using its unique advantages to accentuate the storytelling of the original, such as color changes, the way time flow changes in certain scenes, and the pacing of dialogue/use of pauses. This continues throughout episode 3, and hopefully will throughout the series. Definitely a favorite for best of season, and possibly of the year.

Next up is the first of two dark horse shows I picked up this season, simply called “Bakumatsu”. As anyone who reads my last two sets of impressions would know, I always have a few lesser known shows from the MAL chart in there, in hopes of finding a hidden gem. And this show has the additional advantage of being about a part of Japanese history I am very interested in. Studio DEEN is one that I consistently like, and so I often give their shows a chance on principle, even if they look terrible in other respects. So this show had everything going for it, but did it live up to to expectations? Well, it’s certainly not especially bad. The idea of an alternate reality Boshin War wherein the Tokugawa were deposed and two Choshu from our version of history being transplanted into this alternate world could be used for some interesting stories. The animation is surprisingly conventional for Studio DEEN, who if nothing else are always at least a little weird. The characters so far range from okay to dull to rather interesting, though unfortunately the two protagonists are definitely on the weaker end. Still, I genuinely like some aspects of the show, enough to keep me watching for at least a little while longer.

Next up is Double Decker: Doug and Kirill. Another dark horse show, this one is a Sunrise animation, a studio that deserves more credit than it usually gets. The premise seems pretty interesting, so I at least expected a well made show. Was it? Well, it certainly looks good, it at least has that going for it. It has a ridiculous amount of CG in it, but Sunrise is very good at blending it with traditional animation to create an excellent visual aesthetic. The visuals are definitely the best part of the show, but everything else is at least okay. The story is kinda meh, but overall I do like the show more than I dislike it. Doug as a character is plenty entertaining and makes it worth checking out all on his own.

Last up for this season is the new show from Studio Trigger, SSSS.Gridman. Trigger is my favorite animation studio, and nobody else even comes close. But their last outing was a major disappointment, by their standards. I thought it was okay, but this is a studio where I expect no less than “Great”. Unlike last time, though, we don’t have A1 in there mucking it up, so my expectations were extremely high for this show, even if Imaishi isn’t directing this time. But this director has a history of working on a lot of the best shows in Imaishi’s career, as co-director of Kill la Kill, director of several episodes of Gurren Lagann, etc. And he was even the director of Inferno Cop, which speaks to his ability, seeing how that show was almost entirely built on the direction making the extremely limited animation into something utterly hilarious. As a result, this show basically needed to be good. It started off on a mixed note, with a strong atmospheric opening scene but overall an unengaging next few minutes, especially with the overused plot device of amnesia. I must say, the use of limited animation in the conversation in the computer room and cutting between different poses was executed very well and helped keep it interesting. Or maybe my computer was just bugged, could be either. It was very clear that this wouldn’t be the sort of show I preferred from this studio, and that it would lean a lot more on drama, something their last outing utterly failed at. That said, the actual writing is a hell of a lot better this time around, Rikka and Akane being the immediate standout characters for me, with Rikka being the one I found most compelling and Akane the most likable. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Hibiki. It’s very rare for the protagonist to be the least interesting character in a Trigger show, but I would argue that such is the case here. He’s okay as a protagonist, but he’s rather uninteresting, and honestly much more… basic than I would expect from a studio with such a pedigree. Overall, I would say the show is between okay and good, solid B so far, but since it’s Trigger, that qualifies as a disappointment. I can only hope that their next outing is more like their usual style.

Overall, I really liked this season, it produced several big frontrunners for best show of the year. Obviously I will need to keep going on these, make sure they stick the landing. As Megalo Box and Darling in the FranXX proved, that isn’t guaranteed. Stick around, I will announce the best show of the year in January.

 

…Huh? What? What do you mean, “Umineko is getting a dub”? No way, that’s impossible, it’s way too niche for that. Hold on, it’s real? And it’s for the novel? Now you’ve got my attention, I’m definitely keeping my eye on that.

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Author: WhenSomethingCriesAgain

Several years ago, I found myself positively brimming with opinions and insight, with no way to express them, so I began writing, and found that I liked it. I decided to start a page to keep records of my writing, and hopefully convince a few people to agree with my ideas.

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