Winter 2017 – Final Thoughts

This might be a bit obvious, but spoiler warning.

So we have finally arrived at the end of the season! Well sort of. Most of the winter anime ended last week and we’ve already had some premieres so this post is more than a little late. The reason I postponed the post until today was because of Maid Dragon. I wanted to put all my final thoughts in a single post and since Maid Dragon was one of few shows that I really enjoyed this season, I figured that it’d be worth it to push this post back. And so that brings us to today!

Before I get to the meat of this post, I have to say, watching anime critically every week for the sake of the posts really changed the way I felt about almost every show. There’s a couple shows that fell flat for me because I was trying to get something more out of the show than it could really offer and others just felt better with a more critical perspective (i.e. probably due to my overthinking the crap out of it). So after watching the rest of the season with a pretty laid back attitude, my overall impressions of a lot of shows ended up kind of different from my impressions in my weekly posts. Weird how things end up, huh?

Finally, I’ll be adding in a section for each show dedicated to my favorite moment in that show for the season. Part of the reason why I wanted to do these impressions posts was to archive the anime that I’ve watched and preserve my feelings about them, so this’ll help for that goal. Plus, there were more than a couple shows that I had issues with and I didn’t want to give off the impression that I completely hated any of them.

Anyways, for the last time this season (and the first time in a while), let’s talk anime.

KonoSuba – God’s blessing on this wonderful world! 2

KonoSuba retained its KonoSuba-ness from start to end. The slapstick comedy and ridiculous main cast kept the laughs coming for a good portion of the show. But in the end, my feelings for the show were mostly lukewarm. The novelty of the show wore off pretty quickly after its hyperactive start and it left me a little tired nearing the end of the season. The final ‘arc’ with the axis cult church felt pretty repetitive with its jokes (which was probably the joke), but I wasn’t impressed. The finale however ended off the series with a bang. It was explosive, amazingly animated (which basically confirms that the ‘crappy’ art and animation earlier in the series was intentional), and thoroughly enjoyable. I’m a sucker for a good ending so I’d be willing to say that it was an enjoyable show, but there were definitely some low points.

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Heard you was talkin’ shit.

On that note, the moment I chose for KonoSuba was the introduction and peaceful end of the arch wizard Keele. Throughout Keele’s introduction and interactions with our two bumbling heroes, I was extremely suspicious. There was no way in my mind that this sketchy skeletal dude was not going to betray the two by the end but the show showed otherwise. Keele’s backstory was hilarious and his request to pass on was weirdly heartwarming. And his story also had the side-effect of making Aqua look a lot more goddess-ly than usual. The subversion of my expectation for both his character and Aqua’s (for a couple minutes at least), along with his satisfying end made this moment one of my favorites of the series.

Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga

So yes, in a feverish stupor I decided to catch up and finish Blue Exorcist out of curiosity and boredom. And well, it was surprisingly okay. There were a couple scenes in the second episode that honestly drew me into the story of some of the characters. But after the second episode, the show returned to its weirdly paced “character development” moments and general lack of grace. A lot of the conflicts that came up felt random and were resolved extremely quickly. And as a person who has largely forgotten the happenings of the first season and has lost any and all care for the characters, these moments were just really ineffective.

The show should have thrown in some moments of development between the characters before the main plot of the arc to get us re-attached. There were a few moments like this in the last episode after all the conflict finished, which made sense in the context of the plot, but I can’t help but think that this kind of thing was needed right at the start. In the end, Blue Exorcist was an alright “popcorn” show, but it wasn’t anything spectacular.

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I did really enjoy the random Sawano drop during the final fight though.

For Blue exorcist, I decided to choose the aforementioned “development moments” after the end of the main conflict. It’s not an exact moment or even just one scene, but I did really enjoy these closing parts in the series. As I said, this bit gave me exactly what I wanted in the first couple episodes: a reminder of the character chemistries, a silly and peaceful atmosphere (compared to the stifling beginning), and some heartwarming conversations. It was a nice send off to an otherwise mediocre show.

Interviews with Monster Girls

I really don’t know what to say about Demi-chan. Throughout my weekly posts, I complained a lot about the show, but I realize now that I probably placed far too many expectations on this adaptation. Don’t get me wrong, the awkward conversational pacing and the uncomfortable harem-y vibes were real things that really took away from my enjoyment of the series, but the latter at least was present in the manga. The manga gave off a different atmosphere than the show and this was definitely because of the art style differences. The manga looks weird. And this made the weird parts of the series less prominent. With the cutesy aesthetic and actual animation, the pacing and atmosphere that I expected from the series was non-existent.

That being said, the show has its flaws but does well for anyone looking for another (albeit weird) entry in the cute-girls-doing-cute-things genre. The show touches on some interesting topics, but doesn’t elaborate or stick onto those topics for very long and the end result is a show that is much shallower than it makes itself out to be.

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At least Hikari was great right?!

For Demi-chan I decided to choose the final scene of episode 10, “The Dullahan Surpasses Space-Time”. In this scene, we get to see Takahashi’s imagination of Machi living life as a regular girl. I liked this part in manga and I have to admit, this was one of the few scenes that worked even better in the anime. The scenes of Machi with the old camera filter, overlaid with Takahashi’s narration elevated the emotional heights of the scene. This showed off what Demi-chan was capable of by crafting a genuinely pleasant scene with a somewhat melancholy atmosphere. If Demi-chan pulled this off consistently through the season it would have been one of my favorites.

March Comes in Like a Lion

Sangatsu was quite the show and ended up as one of my top shows for the season. The show displayed a remarkable capacity for understanding emotion and showed this off in a spectacular way. With Shinbo at the helm of this one, the spectacle probably a surprise to exactly nobody. The show at times felt extremely warm and the characters in it were some of the most likeable characters that I’ve seen in a long time. I could even empathize with Kyouko, one of the more abrasive characters in the show.

I’m a fan of slice of life and a sucker for quiet character drama so Sangatsu was right up my alley. Some of the middle parts of the series as a whole felt a little same-y, but it could have been intentional for showing the cycle of depression. Also the cat-based shogi tutorial was a little unnecessary. Otherwise the show was pretty fantastic and I looked forward to it every week. For anyone looking for an excellent slice-of-life show with some drama and a whole lot of warmth, this is the show for you.

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It was pretty hard to decide on one scene for Sangatsu but after way too much deliberation, I decided on the scene between Rei and Kyouko in Rei’s apartment in episode 17. Right before this scene Akari and the girls found Rei by the river arguing with the beautiful Kyouko. Shocked as they should be, as they couldn’t have known that the girl he was talking to was his sister, Akari decided that they should leave them alone. Hina however, couldn’t stand the way that Rei looked and decided to give him the inari sushi that they had made, as planned. This gift turned out to be more important than you’d think.

At the apartment, after the Rei and Kyouko finished eating the inari sushi, the conversational tone and general atmosphere between the two flips on its head. They argue with each other and chat with a closeness that only siblings can have. Then immediately after this, Kyouko phones home and as they prepare for bed, we get a glimpse of her weakness. All of the interactions previously between Rei and Kyouko were toxic and uncomfortable but right here we’re shown a different relationship from an older time. They were siblings and this was proof of it. This was a revival of a time long passed, stemming from a simple gift from an overwhelmingly warm family. Moments like these were relatable to me and made me fall harder for the show.

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Scum’s Wish

As some of you may know, Scum’s Wish was one of my favorite anime from this season. My feelings for the show are still very positive, but the series did hit some speed bumps close to the end so I can’t say that it was perfect. My gripes for the series came from the compression of Ecchan’s character arcs and what felt like a completely missing part of Hanabi’s story. I’ve mentioned before that Ecchan’s introductory arc felt really short, concluding in a single episode, but her arc at the end felt similarly rushed and that took a lot of power away from the emotional ending to her story.

Another consequence to the rushed final Ecchan arc was the feeling of missed development for Hanabi. I expected some kind of emotional fallout or a depressive spiral after Hanabi discovered that Akane and Narumi had sex, but Hanabi’s story proceed straight into Ecchan’s arc and sped right through it. I can’t blame the adaptation too much since it seemed as if they prioritized Akane’s development over Ecchan’s, and there’s only so much time, but it did detract from the experience.

 

Despite all the problems I had with the series, I still found it enthralling and looked forward to it every week. The show understood its characters very well and painted an, often ugly, but true-to-life picture of their love and lives. I was actually really impressed with how Akane’s story panned out. The parallels they made between her and Hanabi helped fill in the blanks in her story and made it that much easier to understand and empathize. All-in-all, Scum’s Wish was a deeply uncomfortable but highly interesting series and I’m glad that I got to watch it.

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Fun fact: I almost typo’d ‘speed bumps’ as ‘speed humps’… twice. 

There weren’t a lot of one off scenes that really stood out to me, so I chose the ending as my favorite moment of the series. With everything coming to a close, the only loose end left was the fate of our two main characters, Hanabi and Mugi. The lead up to their conclusion was wonderfully put together and I was at the edge of my seat hoping for a satisfying ending – and the show gave me just that. Mugi and Hanabi decide to separate by the end of the series and I have to say, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. Their relationship was one of convenience and even though there were genuine feelings shared between the two, the foundation of their relationship and choices they made while they were together were undeniably toxic. These two teenagers decided to move forward separately and this decision felt just right.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans 2nd Season

IBO was one of the two fall leftover shows that I was watching, with the other being Sangatsu. For those familiar with the series, the second season of IBO felt very similar to the second half of the first, but contained a lot more of what now feels like unnecessary material. By the end of the season, things like the Earth-bound politics, Almiria’s relationship with McGillis, and the Mobile Armor resurrection felt almost extraneous. I didn’t care much about the politics or the history, I liked the characters and wanted to see them succeed. I can’t say that IBO didn’t care about its characters or anything but there really was a lot of needless death. Every 4-5 episodes, someone would raise a death flag and by the end of the next one, they were 6 feet under. Now normally I wouldn’t attribute the ‘death flag’ troupe to anything but the number of times that this happened was almost laughable. Death of recurring or main characters in any narrative is a big deal. Making these deaths meaningful in some way is the least you could do, and to me, IBO didn’t really do that.

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*Raise your flag plays quietly in the distance*

I had a couple other problems with the show, mostly dealing with its heavy-handedness and oddly vindictive atmosphere, but I did like the show overall. Like with Blue Exorcist, this was a good popcorn show with some good action sequences and surprisingly emotional heights (despite all the unsurprisingly death).

The moment I chose for IBO was the final confrontation between Genji and Hanzo Gaelio and McGillis. Unlike the fight between Mikazuki and Julieta (plus the endless fodder Gjallarhorn pilots), this fight felt like a real fight. As Super Eyepatch Wolf put it in his fight scene video, the fight scenes that resonate with viewers are those that meaningful in their purpose and their execution. Gaelio and McGillis’ fight was a literal dialogue between the two and a clash of ideals. McGillis’ style was brute force, a kind of power he believed would solve all of his problems in life and give him what he deserved. Gaelio on the other hand was tactical and emotional, a display of his want to overcome McGillis, his buried feelings for his past friend, as well as a showing of the inhuman power he was borrowing from Ein. What I liked about this scene was that it showed the part of McGillis that paralleled Tekkadan completely. He was still a kid inside as his ideals clearly showed. His blind pursuit of power and complete disregard for everything else was what led to his fall as well as the fall of Tekkadan, Orga, and Mikazuki.

Miss Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon

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So today was the end of Maid Dragon and with the finale fresh in my mind, I’m feeling a little disappointed with both the episode and the series as a whole. To quickly run through my impressions on the final episode, I felt that the pacing and emotional climax were pretty lack luster and although there were good atmospheric moments in the episode, overall the ending felt pretty weak. AND THAT SUCKS. I value endings for anime a lot since the ending is what I usually remember the most about the show. Other than finale, I also had some other issues with the show. The comedy was never my cup of tea (outside the hilarious social commentary) and so a lot of the show was lost on me. Especially the Lucoa-Shouta jokes, those were highly unfunny. I also didn’t care much for all the Kanna-service; at some point I thought, “I get it, she’s cute. Stop.” The show overplays a lot of these elements and this kind of thing really put me off.

The show’s saving grace was its delightfully well done family moments and serious character moments. Conversations like the one between Kobayashi and Touru at the beach or Kobayashi’s reaction to the dragons’ play were things that melted my heart and made me really feel for these characters. Going into the season, I didn’t expect to like this show and near the middle I loved it. Despite its lousy ending, I’ll keep a warm memory of Maid Dragon for a long while.

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And so, the moment I chose for Maid Dragon was once again, one from my weekly posts. This ‘moment’ is the entire third, third of episode 6. This bit featured my favorite cursed dragon Fafnir and his daily life with our resident Otaku Takiya. I’ve gushed over this scene before, so I won’t go over it too much (although that hasn’t stopped me from doing so in the other wrap ups), but the thing I enjoyed the most out of this scene was the unexpected closeness that developed between the two. Fafnir’s not the type to get close and Takiya sees and respects his distance. His awareness and care for Fafnir and Fafnir’s inevitable resignation was something that I related to a lot and it was extremely heartwarming. They’re just two dudes bonding over games and it was weirdly nice to see.


…And that just about wraps us up! Just a note, I was going to finish up Gabriel Drop-out and write about it (I only had one episode to go), but I really couldn’t find any motivation to finish it. So sorry if you were looking forward to it.

Jeez, I ended up finishing more shows than I had in my weekly posts. I have to say, I kind of missed writing up these things. As evidenced by the sheer size of this damn post, I thought about the shows a lot and didn’t really have a place to dump my thoughts. Although writing this now does remind me how much of a pain it is to actual publish these pieces.

Next up are my first impressions post(s) for the new season and then I’m back to writing some other random things. I am definitely not going to do another set of weekly impressions posts as it takes a lot of time away from other, more interesting posts. So look forward to the next couple posts for seasonal stuff and hopefully something cool afterwards.

Thank you very much for sticking with me though this gigantic post and for keeping up with my work.

And until next time,

Carriage.

6 thoughts on “Winter 2017 – Final Thoughts

  1. You’re not the only one running late… I held up my last batch of weeklies so I could include the Maid Dragon finale, and won’t get my summary out until Sat if I’m lucky. (Though that’s also because practically all of Friday will be taken up with going to see Your Name.)

    Some good thoughts there on Scum’s… Though the finale felt a bit flat to me. In a show that specialized in character moments and interpersonal relationships, it was a bit odd that the final ep spent it’s entire time downplaying both. (And the confusing time-skipping/flashback narrative structure didn’t help.) And why didn’t Mugi get any closure? Ecchan and Noriko got more than he did…

    Like

    • It seems like quite a few of us waited until Maid Dragon ended for wrap ups, actually!

      And take all the time you need. I kind of regret rushing this one out after reading yatahaze’s great post.
      On the topic of Scum’s wish, you do raise a good point about the structure and I did find it a bit jarring but I guess the emotional payoff of the ending was enough to make he episode for me.

      As for mugi… You could argue that his closure came with his confession to Akane, but even then his development would seem less than some others. As bad as it sounds, I personally didn’t pay much attention to mugi since I didn’t like his character very much.

      Hope you enjoy Your Name! I’ll be watching it too, but on Saturday. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know yatahaze, drop me a link?

        I wish we could have seen it on Saturday, that way we wouldn’t have to deal with Seattle weekday traffic… But if we were going to see it in sub, Friday was our only workable choice.

        Like

      • That was a long read, but so worth worth it. Definitely following them, thanks!

        Afternoon show… It’s a hour-and-half drive, so afternoon show then dinner at conveyor sushi place across the way while we wait out rush hour. That way we’re home at a reasonable hour. I’m planning on writing on it, but there’s so much else on my writing plate at the moment… But I’m going to try.

        Liked by 1 person

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