Ok, so I know I said last month that I was going to have this up by the end of November, but then I actually looked at the seasonal chart a second time and was struck dead on the spot, so having only just recently revived, I can now actually set about torturing myself with the fare of this season. It became clear as early as the seasonal chart that this was going to be a deluge of sequels and shoveled out garbage, and picking through all that to find even three shows worth watching took some time, bearing in mind that I never cover direct sequels/prequels to existing anime (though self contained stories in an existing universe are still allowable). So, once again, I can only talk about three shows this time around, but I’ll try and make the most of that.
There are times when my love of the mystery genre ends up getting me into trouble by compelling me to watch something terrible because I love the genre and am constantly looking for a metaphorical diamond in the rough, and this unfortunate tendency has struck again this season with Kabuki-cho Sherlock, an anime loosely based on the Sherlock Holmes mythos. While on its face, this series fits as a proper mystery, it largely follows Knox’s Decalogue and Van Dine’s Rules (except arguably Knox’s fifth, though instead of stereotypical racial minorities it’s extremely tasteless depictions of gay-coded men), but the actual execution of it as a mystery is piss poor at best. In his video “Sherlock is Garbage and Here’s Why”, Hbomberguy talked at length about how the BBC series Sherlock suffers from its approach to describing analytical scenes because of its tendency of showing very little of the actual clues until Sherlock explains them when he describes how he solved the case, and this show has an extremely nasty case of that. What’s sad is, the first episode actually did have interesting clues once explained that could lead to the audience drawing the same conclusions that Holmes does, but the scene they’re introduced in does a piss poor job of showing them off because it’s more interested in showing off Holmes himself and how he looks while examining them. Indeed, it would appear that this show suffers from all the problems that the BBC Sherlock did, except noticeably worse because it starts off in the bin and has absolutely none of the entertainment value that that show did. Between being horribly unfunny, and also an extremely poor outing of a mystery show, this show utterly failed to impress me and I dropped it like a lead balloon after one episode. Good voice cast though, I can at least compliment that much.
Anime has a bit of a reputation for being… weird, or at least having a much higher proportion of weirdness than most other forms of media, and every once in a while, a show comes along and reminds me that this reputation is not undeserved. This season, the show that did this for me was No Guns Life, a show about a guy with a gun for a face that works crime cases involving other people with weapon parts. Because the show has all the subtlety of a brick through your window, it’s also very blatant about how it holds anti-corporate, anti-war economy, and arguably anti-augmentation themes, not exactly uncommon fare among cyberpunk stories. In so far as the content of the story goes, it’s fairly standard “megacorp conducts illegal experiments, kick their asses” fare, generally inoffensive but lacking in any sort of unique appeal as a result. The only thing that really kept me watching was my enjoyment of the character Mary and how consistently entertaining I found her dialogue to be. I’ll probably watch a bit more, though my interest in the show was definitely wavering by the third episode. Likely a strong 5 to light 6, nothing special but also not particularly bad.
Finally, we have Hoshiai no Sora, or Stars Align, and I’m just gonna come out and say it right now, this is the best show I have seen all year, it is an excellent drama disguised as a sports anime. While not all of it is done well, even the weaker elements (such as the cliche’d behavior of the main character’s abusive father) are accented with extremely strong elements (such as how the main character reacts to and processes what happens to him whenever his father shows back up), which make it easier to overlook the show’s weaknesses. While, based on the early episodes, I would not call this a knockout hit the way I did for Bloom Into You last year, I will say that this show has (unless it fucks up later on) all but clinched the top spot for best anime this year, and from what I know of the later episodes, it will continue to improve. A real diamond in the rough of this season.