Tuesdays Top 5: Disappointments from 2016

Having covered some of the best from 2016 I kind of felt I should look at the shows that weren’t necessarily bad but ended up being disappointing before I move on to non-2016 specific lists. Actually, this was probably the hardest list to write because there were just so many shows that had so much potential and they just never delivered. My selection criteria this week was that the show still had to be functional as a show (so probably not one of my worst of the year shows) but due to execution it just hasn’t pulled off what it might have aspired to be. Some of these shows are actually pretty good as they are, but they had the potential to be better. Obviously this is a highly subjective list so feel free to list your disappointments in the comments below.

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions go to: Trickster, 91 Days and Joker Game.

Number 5: Food Wars Season 2

Okay, I already know some people are going to dislike this choice but honestly I found this second season a severe let down. Individual moments in season 2 still capture some of the fun energy of season 1 but the competition just drags on and on and to be honest I’m just not that interested in watching continuous cook offs with some of my least favourite characters from the show. It would have been great to spend more time with the support cast and more time just having character moments rather than watching an endless array of food preparation (which I know is a petty complaint given it is a show about cooking).

Number 4: The Morose Mononokean

I’ll admit, my disappointment with this show was entirely my fault. Right from the start it reminded me of Natsume but never quite captured the magic Natsume had and the comparison didn’t do this show any favours. Going forward though this show didn’t really manage to create its own identity and seemed content with being watchable rather than ever really striving for more. Key moments of tension were deliberately wasted and the characters never really got fleshed out beyond a few hints that there were other stories to be told. All and all, this show has a cool premise, is really pretty, is perfectly pleasant and watchable but is equally pretty forgettable.

Number 3: Flip Flappers

I’m surprised as well that this is only number 3 but I guess the reason this didn’t disappoint me more on reflection is because I kind of predicted from the start that unless this show managed to pull everything together it was kind of going to be pretty but not a lot else. When that ultimately happened I was still disappointed but not surprised. Flip Flappers, the early episodes, is fun, energetic and visually stunning. Unfortunately, eventually they have to try to explain why anything is happening and then they feel the need to introduce an antagonist who serves no real purpose and seems to undermine a lot of what they had built in the series. While there are definitely worse shows out there, the way this ends I just don’t see the point in watching it.

Number 2: Izetta: The Last Witch

This one took me by surprise. I really expected this to be one of the shows I would recommend from 2016 after the first 2 episodes. Unfortunately from that point forward the show continued to slide into deep mediocrity. It wouldn’t be fair to say it actually becomes bad because if you compare it to something like Big Order or Taboo Tattoo, Izetta works as a narrative, is visually appealing, and has a range of semi-interesting characters who mostly serve their function. My disappointment again comes from my own expectations on the show but these were built by the first two episodes. It promised one thing and then stripped that away and gave us a watered down version of it. Also, I really didn’t like the introduced antagonist late in the series (so it has that in common with Flip Flappers).

Number 1: Kiznaiver

I really, really wanted to like Kiznaiver. A medical experiment on students to force them to share each others’ pain sounded like a great premise for a story. And there are some really good moments in Kiznaiver but the overall narrative kind of devolves into we should all make friends kind of thing and the experiment itself is mostly nonsense and serves no real purpose. Again, this anime is perfectly watchable and some people really enjoyed it, but I just kept wanting more from it than it was willing to give and so I finished this series deeply disappointed.

Those are my 5 biggest disappointments from 2016.


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Chain Chronicles – The Light of Haecceitas Episode 4

Review:

Darkness is spreading, the Princess is in mourning after Burckhardt turned into a demon, and Phoena can’t seem to even slow the spread of darkness in Yuuri’s arm anymore. Again, no deviation from your standard fantasy plot and  while a lot of things might feel depressing this episode the characters keep returning to the idea of hope or at least trying to overcome their current situation.

I am going to thank them from sparing us a whole pile of meaningless technobabble to explain things but this explanation could have used some work:

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Seriously?

Anyway, the sages turned out to be less than helpful but we’ve swapped out some characters and the new additions to the party seem kind of interesting so looking forward to next week.

Chain Chronicle is available on Crunchyroll.


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Blue Exorcist Episode 29

Review:

After three episodes of mostly teen angst, we finally get back to the whole someone stealing the eye thing and of course it’s the girl who got told one thing one time and decides it is an absolute regardless of evidence of lack of it. It’s amazing how easy it is to convince yourself of something when you perceive every event through the lens that what you think is true and you find a way to distort all the facts to fit that truth. I mean, she might be right, it isn’t like I think the superiors in the church are actually trustworthy given they all seem to have their own agendas, but it just seems that trusting Todo is a terrible idea.

Rin of course finaly figures out some basic flame control (thank goodness because I’m sick of sitting on the roof with him watching him destroy candles).

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And then of course loses control when confronting Bon about his father issues. It’s great that we’re reminded that Fujimoto was important to Rin and Rin is still harbouring guilt around his death, but when he interprets everyone else’s relationship through that lens it becomes irritating. Just because you’ve been through trauma does not give you the right to dictate the actions of others and while superficially the circumstances between Bon and his father seem similar, Rin is seriously butting in where he’s not needed. This is one of my pet hate character traits when watching anime. In honesty, I was happy when he got knocked out cold.

Blue Exorcist is available on AnimeLab.


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March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 15

Review:

For a show where little happens from a plot point of view, they manage to keep the audience guessing anyway. After Rei lost his match I assumed that was the end of us watching the tournament, maybe the characters would discuss who won later. However, March once again proves that it is committed to the world they are building and not just Rei’s character by having the matches between Gotou and Shimada take up a fair portion of the episode. Admittedly, we don’t spend a lot of time at the board with them but rather we see the match through the other players who are observing and discussing the match.

Kyouko also returns early in the episode and we continue to see what her relationship with Rei is and what her relationship with Gotou is actually like. It’s interesting that Kyouko is being set up as a tragic figure who genuinely doesn’t seem to want the pity of others and yet she is so incredibly pitiful (although she’s also nasty and manipulative). Rei’s descriptions of her early in the episode and the accompanying visuals are striking and really make you consider what we know about her character.

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Of course, we also have the sisters and their grandfather who are worrying about Rei because he hasn’t been to see them since before his match and we also get a lot of school stuff because Rei is really on the edge of having to repeat a year. It’s an episode that is just packed with moments and each one is essential to the ongoing drama and they are all connected but its a lot to take in and yet at the same time very little actually progresses this episode.

March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchyroll.


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Nazotokine Series Review

Overview:

This is a short anime that I picked up during the Autumn 2016 season. It follows Tokine who is an office worker who occasionally gets transported into a parallel dimension thing and generates energy by solving quizzes. I reviewed this week to week here.

Review:

There’s not a lot left to say about this snore worthy anime that I didn’t cover in my weekly impressions. I picked this up because I love quizzes and riddles and while week one gave us a ridiculously obvious puzzle I kind of hoped that each week I’d have something to try and solve. Unfortunately, after week 1 we either didn’t get a riddles because every second episode seemed to follow Tokine and her friends around the real world, or the riddle required massive leaps in logic in order to solve them so either way not exactly a show to play along at home to.

Even that would have been fine if the characters had occasionally risen above lackluster but tragically Tokine and friends are a vapid and personality devoid bunch and as a direct result their interactions are about as fascinating as watching paint dry.

Toward the end of the series we meet someone else who, like Tokine, is able to solve the riddles but other than one brief moment of rivalry she then disappears from the show to never be seen again which leaves you wondering why they even bothered to introduce her.

All and all, this is an incredibly dull anime.


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In Case You Missed It

Week 3 of Winter 2017 is done and while some people are loving this season there’s others struggling to decide what they want to keep watching. Despite that potential dilemma, there have still been a plethora of excellent anime related blog posts out there and I’m sharing a few of those below. As always, you are welcome to add a link in the comments to an anime (manga or gaming) related post that you think deserves a shout out.

Shameless self-promotion of the week: My thoughts on Scum’s Wish volume 2 are available on my Patreon page but it is available to the public so you don’t need to be a patron to read this post. End shameless self-promotion.

Jill, from Jill’s Writings on Anime, explains why Migiwa Kizuki is the worst mother in anime. Now that’s a fair call given how many terrible parents there are, but this is actually a fairly well made case.

Schizoidmouse brings us a great character piece on Iok Kujan from Iron Blooded Orphans and just why he is such a hated character. If you are watching the show, this is a post worth reading. If you haven’t watched the show but are okay with spoilers, it’s a post worth reading.

Weebtopia explores the music of Your Lie in April but their post covers a wide ranging discusison about the characters and the strengths and weaknesses of this anime (it also dives heavily into spoiler territory for anyone who still wants to be surprised by the ‘twist’).

Nice Job Breaking It, Hero has a list of their Top 6 Sadistic Megane. It’s a fun list if you enjoy seeing really good looking anime guys in glasses with some truly warped personalities on display.

Kevin Pennyfeather delivers a great discussion about ACCA and how the show is using the characters and visuals to build suspense. As this is the anime I’m most enjoying this season (that isn’t a sequel or continuation) reading this was a lot of fun and for those who haven’t picked up ACCA it is a great read about why ACCA is working (at least at the moment).

I think it’s time I just admit that as long as people are writing posts about Yuri on Ice I’m going to keep reading and enjoying them. Elisabeth over on Little Anime Blog posted some excellent videos of real skaters doing the routines from Yuri on Ice including  History Maker. I had a great time watching these and am still smiling at the thought.

Another Yuri On Ice post though this one from Caffeinated Telescope which looks at The Power of Delivering To Your Audience. It’s an interesting look at the creative process and the kinds of stories that are seeing success and maybe why. This one is quite a thought provoking post and whether you are a Yuri On Ice fan or not it makes you think about why it gained all those fans.

And that’s it from me this week.


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Fuuka Episode 5

Review:

I’m officially dropping Fuuka at episode 5. To be fair to this episode, it isn’t any worse than anything we’ve watched before but I’m tired of this show and these characters and the contrived situations they find themselves in and the inanity that stretches between the contrivances. There are plenty of other reasons to drop this show and I’m thinking I might write these into a feature but for now, Fuuka and I are going our separate ways.

By the way – learn instrument first, then attempt to play song. Don’t attempt to play, then try to learn.

Fuuka is available on Crunchyroll.


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Akiba’s Trip Episode 4

Review:

Akiba’s Trip was never going to be my kind of anime but the first episode was entertaining, bright, there were some genuinely funny lines, and the pace kept things moving along so you never felt like you just waiting for the next bad gag to land. By episode 4 this show has definitely developed a pattern and unfortunately that means most of the energy and pace that were so appealing in episode 1 have now abandoned this show for greener pastures. Once again, Tamotsu picks up a hobby and obsesses over it, admittedly this time only for 6 minutes of the episode instead of 10. A bugged one shows up and how this (see picture below) is ever explained to the public just doesn’t make sense.

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Anyway, we then have a brainstorming session, a bit of a backstory for the professor, and then we use Tamotsu’s newly introduced hobby (but of course he’s been interested in radios for a long time) to get some cryptic clue that will apparently save the day.

The issue is there’s a lot of dialogue that exists only for expositions sake and having the blonde girl interject occasionally with something entirely asinine doesn’t actually make up for the slow pace or the lack of anything interesting happening. This isn’t unwatchable, it is just failing to be interesting at this point.

Akiba’s Trip is available on Crunchyroll.


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Hunter X Hunter Episodes 6 + 7

Review Episode 6:

This exam just keeps getting weirder. I’m with the guys complaining that they’ve been challenged to a cooking contest. Admittedly, the do over exam where the challenge was ingredient collection makes sense because whether it is food or something else being able to get places no one else can would be a useful skill. I think what really bugged me about this episode was that in both challenges no one other than Gon really accomplished anything. He found the pigs, found the weak spot, was the one who first jumped off the cliff (after the examiner) and was the one who knew when the wind was coming. Everyone else was just kind of there. And am I wrong in assuming that we just had characters fall to their deaths and not a single person seemed to care?

Review Episode 7:

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This is probably the most fun I’ve had with an episode of this show yet. I genuinely like Gon and Killua when they are together and this episode which had them exploring the ship and then chasing the ball was really entertaining to watch. Obviously there’s still quite a bit more to learn about Killua but so far he’s got to be my favourite of the characters we’ve met. Still, other than a fairly weak ploy by Tonpa to get under Leorio and Kurapika’s skin, not a lot really happened with any of the other characters.

Hunter X Hunter is available on Crunchyroll.


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Winter 2017 Week 3

We’ve hit the end of week 3 and for a lot of people this is where they will decide whether they are sticking with a show or cutting it loose. It also means I’ve mostly committed to the shows still on my list though I have dropped shows later in the season before. By the way, I finally dropped one of the shows that made it through the first few episodes but it probably isn’t the first one you think of.

For patrons, there’s my highlight of the week on patreon as well as my lesser top 5 list. And for everyone, whether they are a patron or not, I am reviewing the manga for Scum’s Wish (though not being very consistent with reading it at this point).

As always feel free to share your thoughts on this season in the comments below.

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Must Watch

  • March Comes in Like a Lion (Episode 14)
  • ACCA (Episode 3)

March continues to play to its strengths of solid characterisation and interesting visualisation of emotions. The story is incredibly slow but the human element of this show is amazing.

If ACCA had come out at the same time as March Comes in Like a Lion and they were both at episode 3, I’d almost definitely say ACCA was the more enjoyable story. However, the characters in March have had time to develop and grow and ACCA is still setting up its world and slowly revealing its’s characters so it will stay here for now. Still, whilc March has solid characterisation, the story of ACCA is far more intriguing and grand in scale. If it can hold on to what it is doing when these finish it is going to be seriously hard to decide which one I enjoyed watching more. Then again, ACCA is at episode 3. It could go downhill from here.

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Usually Entertaining

  • Tales of Zestiria the X Season 2 (Episode 3)
  • Chain Chronicle (Episode 3)
  • Iron Blooded Orphans (Episode 39)
  • Blue Exorcist (Episode 29)

Tales of Zestiria kind of does some things really well but others are just kind of awkward. At this point I think I want to like this show more than I actually do, but it is still good fun. The fight sequence between the seraphim was a highlight this episode but most of the rest of the episode was pretty ordinary. Well, I guess we’ll see what next week brings.

Chain Chronicle is pretty much stock-standard fantasy at this point and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It does make it hard to recommend to anyone who isn’t already a fan of straight fantasy though because it isn’t particularly exceptional for the genre and doesn’t really cross into any other territory either.

Iron Blooded Orphans returned but this episode was pretty flat. Lots of set-up, lots of reminding us about relationships that exist, and mostly just waiting to see if they are going to kill off mainish characters this episode or next. Still, I’ve enjoyed it this far so we’ll see where they go next and whether we can get a big finish.

Blue Exorcist stays in this category but its dropped a bit. First the slow start to the season and now we get to focus on Rin’s father issues. It hasn’t exactly been compelling, though it isn’t broken either. All and all, I’m still just waiting on this one.

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Okay, I Guess

  • Super Lovers (Episode 3)
  • Interviews with Monster Girls (Episode 3)

Episode 2 review of Super Lovers is available on my patreon site. It just didn’t fit into my review schedule with Iron Blooded Orphans airing this week. Next week a review of episode 3 will come out. This series is pretty much only for those who got through the first season and is not getting any better or worse at this point.

Interviews with Monster Girls is definitely going the harem route but its still kind of fun to watch for now and it looks like the next episode will bring us more on the snow girl so looking forward to that.

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They Made This

  • Spiritpact (Episode 3)
  • Akiba’s Trip (Episode 4)
  • elDLIVE (Episode 3)
  • Hand Shakers (Episode 3)

So episode 3 of Spiritpact hasn’t convinced me to move this show out of this category. As much as some elements of the show are improving, others are still pretty dodgy so while it is entertaining and all, it really kind of belongs in this category at the moment.

Akiba’s Trip dropped down here because after an actually interesting opening episode this show has proved itself to be strictly formulaic generic humour with little other than bright visuals to really distinguish it (that and ripping clothes off of people). That said I haven’t dropped it yet though I’m thinking this one is pretty close.

elDLIVE very nearly hit the tried and dropped but was saved by the last few minutes of this week feeling like they were finally moving beyond introductions and that maybe it might get itself together next week. Still, not loving this so far.

Hand Shakers managed to improve absolutely nothing in the three episodes it has run and has revealed exactly nothing of consequence. Maybe there’s something coming and maybe there’s a point but so far its just kind of bland characters with a slightly sickening colour scheme and a lot of cliché set ups.

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Tried and Dropped

  • Fuuka (Episode 5)
  • Trickster (Episode 13)
  • Gabriel DropOut (Episode 1)
  • Masamune-Kun’s Revenge (Episode 1)
  • Schoolgirl Strikers (Episode 1)
  • Seiren (Episode 1)
  • Saga of Tanya the Evil (Episode 1)
  • Chaos;Child (Episode 1 – five minutes in)

Yeah, Fuuka is the first of the shows that I decided to watch that I will now drop so episode 5’s review will be its last. Will probably replace with one of my backups though now I have to decide which one.

Week 3 finished. What shows have you written off as unwatchable?


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