More Anime I Watched02 Jul 2018
About this time last year, I wrote a post giving my opinions about all the anime series I ever watched (15 of them). One year later, it's time to update the list and give you my always-so-important opinions on everything I watched this year. (And two things I watched before that I actually forgot to include in the previous post.)
Shows listed in roughly chronological viewing order.
I tried watching Accel World because it is based on light novels by the same author as the Sword Art Online light novels. It's not made by the same studio however.
It's fair to say I didn't like it. The graphical style and the universe is nice enough. But my god this protagonist. He's the reluctant kind. Think Shinji from Evangelion, except way way (way) worse — and without the psychological angle, nor all the other things that make Evangelion a cult classic.
Not recommended unless your tolerance to cringe is high. I dropped it after about 5-6 episodes.
A Certain Magical Index
Another show from before, another one I dropped.
The plot didn't manage to pull me in, or to convince me. Without spoiling, there is a major event happening early in the series, and it doesn't work at all because we haven't built enough rapport with the characters.
The titular Index (it's a character) is almost absent from the show, except as a poorly exploited plot device. I dropped the show after 5-6 episodes, so maybe it improves, but I'm not holding out my breath.
K-On! is a typical slice-of-life show, about a couple of girls forming a music club — essentially a rock band — in their high school.
I watched it because it's the favourite show of Digibro, an anime commentator I really like despite often disagreeing with him. The show also seemed nice enough.
And it was, I especially enjoyed the first season. The second one seemed a bit too long and dragging for me — it's almost twice as long as the first one. The show is very contemplative. I think slice-of-life shows might be like that in general. You have to watch it either like me, curled up in your sofa with a warm drink, enjoying the fuzzy warm glow without spending too much brain cycles on the action — or, like Digibro, over-analysing every small detail.
The show is solid though, if those things are for you. I definitely don't regret watching it, but I won't be seeking slice of life shows either. Especially since this is apparently the best one. I might already disagree with that though.
Attack on Titan Season 2
I reviewed the first season last time, but the second season is out, and it continues to kick ass, hard.
It is different though. The first season focused much on the grimness and sheer horror of the universe — showing how, in the process, the characters could become fucked up in the head. The second season, on the other hand, is more focused on the narrative, within this universe. And despite the fact many people said they preferred the first season, I think that's a good thing. I don't think repeating the first season would have worked past a certain point.
The plot works, the action (and animation thereof) continues to be the state-of-the-art for anime shows. The music rocks. It's just FUN to watch.
A few friends told me Angel Beats! was their favourite anime, so I went into it with high expectations... and was quite let down.
The show is about a place — a high school, of course — where young people go when they die a tragic death, and is focused on the antics of the Afterlife Battlefront who fights a super-powered character named Angel, who seems determined to not let them do whatever they want.
The show has some cute ideas, and it kinda works. I think the ropes are a bit too thick on this one, and I found the ending particularly offensive on account of forced sentimentality. But who knows, it might work for you. It's not bad anyway.
I'm officially a sucker for Isekai, and so it's logical I would give Overlord a shot. The plot is classico-classic: a MMO player gets trapped into the game. Except this player is almost the most powerful bar none, owns a massive guild hall that acts as his own personal dungeon, with his own NPC (non-player characters) lackeys.
Most of the first season revolves around this protagonist learning about the world, and having a couple brushes with the NPC geo-politics. Season 2 has a couple different arcs, some kinda meh (lizard men), some rather good (anything with Sebas).
All in all, while the universe is super intriguing, there is something about the show that is quite disappointing. It's a far cry from Log Horizon — a personal favorite that I reviewed last time. Log Horizon does the world building much more subtly and intricately. Everything in Overlord is over-explicated, over-acted, and there is very little of it.
Nevertheless, I'll probably continue watching if new seasons come out. But this is not a heartfelt recommendation.
Kill la Kill
Kill la Kill is made by the same people who made Gurren Lagann, perhaps my favorite anime. I'd heard plenty of good things about it, and so of course I was pumped when I started watching it. And I wasn't let down.
While Kill la Kill is a bit looser than Gurenn Lagann, it bursts with the same energy, and it is a joy to watch. It's full of great ideas, and it's a technical masterpiece besides.
There's no point in talking too much about it: just watch it.
And if you'd be tempted to think that it's just goofy anime, here's Digibro analyzing the very first scene of the anime and breaking down how brilliantly put together it actually is.
My Hero Academia
My Hero Academia is a pure shonen anime. In a universe where most people are born with a power or another, the show focuses on an elite school for heroes— future super-powered crime-fighter that engage similarly powerful villains. What could be more formulaic than that?
And yet, it works. The show is not about being incredibly original or novel, it's all about flawless execution. Just like Attack on Titan, this is a show that is just an absolute blast to watch. The plot is engaging, the action is cool, the varieties of powers and characters make some interesting plans and plots possible, and the characters are credible in their concerns and state of minds.
Obligatory analysis video by Gigguk (contains spoilers!) on the tournament arc, which really underscores my points — that is (a) that the show executes really well and (b) that it is something to get hyped about.
The third season is now airing, and it's as good as ever, it's impressive how steady the show's quality is.
Oh, and You Say Run.
Steins;Gate is this weird show about time-travel. I didn't really know what to expect, excepted that it was very highly regarded. In the first few episodes, you really get this sense of mystery and drama to come, but otherwise it seems to be just about this group of misfits goofing around pretending to do science.
As the show goes, it gets darker, and you also get to understand there was more going on under the surface. I really like that there is a real evolution in the show, it works its way up, increases the stakes without ever being boring or out-of-place.
It's an instant favorite, and it comes highly recommended.
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
This dubiously named anime, more often referred as DanMachi (an abbreviation of the Japanese name) is an isekai/harem anime that reminds me very much of Konosuba!. In a fashion typical of some harem anime, the hero (Bell) doesn't actually do any picking up (more like anti-picking-up). However, the story manages to be quite interesting, with a few touches of humor here and there.
The whole thing is probably less humor-focused, and less sharp than Konosuba!. But despite what people say, Konosuba! never really made me laugh, but rather made me smile. I'd put Danmachi in exactly the same basket, and I could almost copy the Konosuba! review. It's a comfortable show for me, and that's exactly how I enjoy it. Although it must be said it gets considerably more epic than Konosuba! ever does towards the end. I'm eager to see if it will continue on this trend — if we ever get a second season that is.
No Game No Life
This is another show that I heard mentioned repeatedly, and so had to watch. It's also sort-of an isekai, although the universe focuses on games whose rules are imagined by the protagonist and brought to life in the world.
The main protagonists (Sora and Shiro) are siblings who are incredibly talented at games, and are because of this summoned to an alternate universe (Disboard) by the god Tet.
The plot revolves around Sora and Shiro struggle for power in this world through high-stakes games. My main criticism here is that, as is often the case, the outcome of these games feel highly ex machina. There is no way to predict the winning actions the characters make with the information we have (or that they have, for that matter). Like in Code Geass and Death Note, the supposed genius of the protagonists feels fake and forced.
If you can get over this, it's not a bad show though.
I went intro Citrus expecting to find the next representative of the trash anime genre, after Eromanga Sensei (which I still haven't watched). Instead, I found a cute love story. A cute incestuous lesbian love story, but still.
And with that, almost everything is said. Frankly, it's a cute love story with girls and that's it. For what it's worth, I quite enjoyed it, but I don't really have a reference frame here.
A Place Further Than The Universe
This anime is about four girls striving to achieve a common goal: going to Antartica, and — spoiler alert (not) — their journey there.
I'm not exactly sure what this is — slice-of-life? — but who cares? The point is that it is tremendously cute, touching and inspiring. There is a sense of youthful possibilities and optimism that permeates the series.
The show has been critically very well received (exhibit a, exhibit b), I think with good reason. As a mentionned earlier, I'm not too experienced with this kind of anime, but I think this is what it should strive to be: something touching but not mushy, cute but not brainless, optimistic but not naive. It think it does well while definitely remaining in the light tone of the genre. No darkness will be found here.
Also, this song, doesn't it just sound like optimism?
Death Note is a huge classic. It's currently #1 in popularity on my anime list. And to be sure, it is enjoyable.
Buuut, my criticism of it is almost exactly the same as for Code Geass. Both shows are actually very close. In both of them an anti-hero lead character tries to assume dominion of the world through 3D mental chess, helped by a handy super-power. In this case the power is the nominal Death Note — a notebook in which writing people's name kills them. Same criticism then, which is that plot development is ex machina. It's not a fair playing field: characters in the show knows what the writer knows, but you don't.
But once again, aside from that, it's a solid show.
I've heard multiple people say that the second part is less good than the first, but I didn't feel this way, feeling the quality to be more or less constant. It is true that a big event happening around halfway through is a big letdown however. I found the ending to be relatively satisfying, if not exempt from the series' overall sins. Let's just say that it didn't feel inevitable at all, given what was previously shown.
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
It's another Isekai. But what an Isekai!
The protagonists are trapped inside a game — or an alternative reality, we don't really know — and lost their memory. So they get to work, painstakingly trying to kill some measly goblins to sustain their continued existance.
The show starts cute and slightly goofy, but soon things take a more dark turn. It's consistently poetic and thoughtful however. I like how the subtleties of the characters' personalities are explored through the prism of the inner monologue of the main character (Haruhiro).
If you've picked up my tastes a bit, you understand there is no way I could not love this show. And indeed, it's an instant favorite and I'm desperately hoping for a sequel.
Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online
This is a Sword Art Online spin-off set within the Gun Gale Online game (from SAO season 2). There is no Kirito, Asuna & co, but it's stil quintessentially Sword Art Online: an event in an online game (a tournament) has spillovers causing danger in real life. Hand-wavy but fun fights are also par for the course. There's even an Eir Aoi theme song.
There is nothing truly original or marvelous in GGO, but if you like Sword Art Online, you will find it enjoyable. For me, it's a comfy show.