The Best of Winter 2017

Earlier today, I shared the Worst of Winter 2017 (both my opinion and the view of the readers). If you didn’t check it out, make sure you have a look later and let me know your view. Meanwhile, this post is celebrating all the good things that happened during the 2017 Winter season.

My Favourite Show

Pretty straight forward category. I had to have watched the show all the way through and I had to have loved watching it. There are only 2 shows this season that I nominated as being a must watch in my weekly overviews and choosing between them is really hard at the moment and I reserve the right to change my mind later in the year after I rewatch both as to which is actually my favourite. But for now I’m giving the award to…

ACCA.

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I really had a lot of fun with this show, though there is definitely a fear that it won’t hold up under a rewatch because a lot of the fun came from never knowing quite where it was going next.

My Favourite Character

This was a really hard choice because there were quite a few characters that I really loved spending time with this season, even if the show they were in wasn’t doing much for me. I did notice going through my notes from all the shows I watched this season that there are very few female characters of note from the season. Possibly that’s because of the shows I ended up following but even those that had female characters didn’t really seem to do much with them.

Anyway, not the point. My favourite character from Winter 2017 was…

Rei Kiriyama from March Comes in Like a Lion.

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I loved Rei and found him almost instantly relatable and I really loved watching him struggle and slowly grow but remain true to who he was (again, I had a hard time deciding between Rei and Jean from ACCA but Rei had quite a bit more development and twice as many episodes to win me over).

My Favourite Story

Obviously ACCA but given I gave that best anime I’m going to look at my next favourite story from the season. And I know this one is going to make some people raise an eyebrow but my next favourite story from the season came from…

Chain Chronicle.

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Possibly this is a sad criticism on the quality of the narratives this season (or my taste in stories depending on how you view it) but Chain Chronicle managed to build from a pretty good opening, through some basic world building, a couple of obvious twists, to a final conflict without tripping itself up, losing momentum, or doing anything that might make you question the story (though plenty of questions about the originality and execution at times). The other show I considered here was Spiritpact but the beginning of that story was far too rocky for it to be seriously nominated even if the end of the show was pretty magnificent.

My Favourite Opening Theme

Boy I’m glad I didn’t exclude it because it was my choice for best show…

Definitely ACCA.

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This opening theme is a fantastic fit for the show and just fun to listen to, accompanied by highly relevant and interesting visuals. Not once did I skip the opening and I certainly went back and watched it a couple of times after I was finished some episodes.

My Favourite Visuals

Winter 2017 didn’t have quite the plethora of visually appealing shows that previous season have had so the choice here is pretty obvious…

March Comes in Like a Lion.

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While there are certainly shows with better character designs and better animation, March consistently delivered interesting and memorable visuals that added to the overall depth of the viewing experience. Couldn’t ask for much more from a story.

Reader’s Choice – Best Anime of 2017

Here it is:

Best Winter 2017

And yep,  March Comes in Like a Lion won. Possibly because I forgot to include Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju a fact which has been pointed out to me a number of times (that was actually an honest mistake as I thought I’d covered most of the anime people had been talking about whether I’d watched them through or not but I missed one). However, from the choices available March won.

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Of course Dragon Maid and Scum’s Wish both made a decent showing here and I knew before I started this that ACCA wouldn’t win a popularity poll given it really isn’t the kind of show that everyone is going to love.

Okay, these were my choices for favourite of the season so now I’d love to know yours. Feel free to share in the comments below and I’d love to know the reasons for your choices.

With that I’m leaving Winter 2017 behind and I’m now ready to face the Spring 2017 anime season.


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The Worst of Winter 2017

Later today my Best of Winter post will come out and I’ll celebrate all those wonderful moments that got people talking (or at least entertained me during the past three months). But that is not his post. This post shares the worst and the lowest moments of the season as well as the reader’s choice for worst anime of Winter 2017.

My Least Favourite Show

Chosen only from shows that I watched from beginning to end during the Winter 2017 season (or completed in 2017 if they carried over from the previous season), this is the show that I cringed at the thoughts of watching but still managed to string me along with the faintest of hopes that eventually it would reveal something of note.

Yep, Hand Shakers.

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And no, it never did produce anything of note other than just how awful it was. Then again, anyone who has been following my blog is not even remotely surprised by this.

It should probably be noted that I literally hated everything about this show, however, in order not to let Hand Shakers get a big head by letting it take out every worst of category, I’ve pretty much excluded it from this point forward.

My Least Favourite Character

So, this had to be someone I bothered to remember but I actively disliked them as a character (so not just because they were a villain). And once again, I had to have finished watching the show so all the characters from Fuuka were removed from potential nomination because otherwise my decision would have been easily made.

I’m kind of going to have to go with Chuta from elDLIVE.

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I really wanted to see him grow as a character and I did enjoy the few kind of moments of growth he got, but he pretty much instantly regressed right after and given they are playing his insecurities for laughs it really doesn’t have quite the same appeal as some other emotionally damaged characters this season.

My Least Favourite Story

Again, I had to have finished the story to make this decision so Iron Blooded Orphans Season 2 and Zestiria are momentarily given a reprieve as neither of them have actually finished, though both would have been contenders given their season 2 plots have mostly just gone through the motions and added little of significance. And on that theme we have the winning anime:

Blue Exorcist Season 2

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All build up and hints at later plot threads but the plot delivered in this season is strictly side-story material and the final villain is all but inconsequential (and treated as such). Basically, if you have been reading the source material, you might get a lot out of this in terms of the set up for later events, but if you view this just as an anime season and ask it to stand on its own two feet in terms of plot, its going to fail miserably.

My Least Favourite Opening Theme and Visuals

Okay, these categories are only combined because the answer was one and the same. Not a lot to explain about the category other than this is an opening theme I couldn’t stomach listening to and visuals that were just hideous to look at (and I already excluded Hand Shakers from nomination).

I give this dubious honour to Spiritpact.

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As much as I ended up enjoying the show by the mid-season point, the opening was terrible as were the visuals. While the visuals improved in the second half, there were still some really questionable choices and to be honest the whole show would benefit from a total remake as the story is actually kind of good once you get into it.

Reader’s Choice – Worst Anime of 2017

Here it is:

Hand Shakers, you did it again.

Admittedly, there was a pretty short time frame on this poll and Fuuka was definitely rallying there at the end so maybe if I’d left the poll open a bit longer we’d have a slightly different result.

Now, I’ve had my say on the worst of Winter 2017. What do you think? Who would you have nominated for worst character? Which show had the worst opening, visuals, or storyline? Share your opinion in the comments below and be sure to check out the best of post later today.


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Male Characters With Gorgeous Long Hair

While I try not to write too many posts about the physical characteristics of characters, this was a list I’ve wanted to write for awhile. Long hair on guys is just kind of amazing (or at least I think so). And when it billows in the wind and invites you to run your fingers through it, there’s just something really magical about that. Here are my top 5 characters with gorgeous long hair who I would absolutely love to spend some time with. Yes, this list is entirely my own personal preference and uses no criteria worth mentioning.

And then for patrons, be sure to check out my lesser top 5 list. This week focussing on male characters who have long hair but still don’t really impress and I’d rather not get too near.

Please Note – There will be spoilers below (particularly number 4).

Honourable mentions this week go to: Edward Elric (Full Metal Alchemist) and Malachite (Sailor Moon).

Number 5: Kanda (D Gray Man)

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I’ll admit there is very little chance of Kanda actually letting me touch his hair even if he wasn’t an anime character and if I happened to meet him, but that doesn’t stop me very much wanting too. That glossy shine, the way it moves when he fights, his hair is amazing and completely sold this character even early on in D Gray Man when he was a bit of a jerk (okay, he’s regularly a jerk but he kind of grows on you).

Number 4: Weismann (K Project)

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This one is an odd choice I’ll admit given we barely get to meet this character in his actual body (which would be the long haired version). A few flashbacks are really all we get and the next time we meet this character with memories he’s in Yashiro’s undeniably short haired (not too short) body. Still, you have to admit his hair is just kind of inviting you to touch it.

Number 3: Tomoe (Kamisama Kiss)

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Another character who doesn’t usually have long hair but the few times he does, it is unbelievably gorgeous. It almost makes you wish for more flashback episodes just so you could see more of Tomoe with this hair. Plus the ears kind of work. Then again, he was pretty violent then so maybe we should just stick to present day Tomoe.

Number 2: Shichika Yasuri (Katanagatari)

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He may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but Shichika is honest, earnest, and deadly. Combine that with some odd but strangely compelling fashion sense and a great hairstyle (albeit one that cannot really exist outside of an anime) and you have a character that is going to fascinate from minute one.

Number 1: Zangetsu (Bleach)

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I know, so many characters in Bleach with long hair, and so many anime characters, so why choose Zangetsu? Because his hair matches the torn and scrappy edges of his outfit, because its almost always windy when we see him, because of all the characters on the list his would be the closest to a hairstyle you might be able to encounter in the real world… Mostly just because I really love his hair.

Okay, and a total cheat bonus addition to the list. Victor from Yuri On Ice (from when his hair was actually long).

So that is my list this week. Which anime male with long hair would you have had on your list? Or female if you prefer.


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Female Characters with Blonde Hair

This was a seriously hard list to narrow down and even then I’m still torn over some of the decisions. The issue is unlike with red-heads and the blue-haired ladies, there are so many different types of blonde characters that it gets hard to decide who your favourite is. I did finally make a decision and unfortunately that mean some really excellent characters got the chop (as well as a lot of cliché ones). As always, feel free to tell me your favourites in the comments below.

And for patrons there is my lesser top 5 list. This week I just went with blonde girls who irritate me to no end.

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions go to: Lucy (Fairy Tail), Serena (Sailor Moon), Annie (Attack on Titan) and Lizzy (Black Butler).

Number 5: Triela from Gunslinger Girl

Triela is my choice for being both tragic and incredibly amazing. ALl of the girls in Gunslinger Girl are tragic characters. Suffering sever injuries before being brought back more machine than girl and then being trained to be a killer. While Triela is the oldest of the girls, she also goes through a lot and she’s one of my favourite characters from the show as we see more of her involved in direct combat than some of the other characters. Determined and deadly, this blonde character means business.

Number 4: Amber from Darker Than Black

Amber is a bit of an enigma because she’s only really in flashbacks until the second half and even then she is in and out of the show. That said, I like her character. She plays everything very casually even while she’s probably the only character with the full picture of what is really going on. And she makes some really hard choices and pays the price for them. While I still feel she might have clued some of the other characters in a bit earlier, she has sound reasoning for her actions in the end and she seems to genuinely respect Hei’s final decision in the series. Amber, for taking on everyone and doing it with a smile, you have taken the fourth position on this list.

Number 3: Riza Hawkeye from Full Metal Alchemist

What’s not to love about Riza no matter which version of Full Metal Alchemist you are watching? She likes dogs, she’s the only one who can really deal with Colonel Mustang, she’s a crack shot, and she’s a hard worker. Add to that she’s also a voice of reason and logic and occasionally a motherly figure to the younger characters, and she’s just all kinds of amazing. If I ever do a best supporting character list, Riza is going to be on it.

Number 2: Utau Hoshina from Shugo Chara

She’s an idol with not one, but two guardian characters that take the form of an angel and a devil. Early on in the series, Utau works against our protagonists and only uses Iru (the devil guardian). Later on she accepts Eru (the angel) and she begins building herself up from scratch as an idol and a person. Other than her brother complex, Utau is a fascinating character and a good rival for Amu early in the series. She’s also pretty awesome as an idol even if she does use her powers for evil early on. As a character, Utau experiences the best growth and development in this series.

Number 1: Maka Albarn from Soul Eater

It had to be Maka. She’s one of my all time favourite characters and she’s just plain awesome. She hits the books, fights with a scythe, and is still a genuinely nice person who is able to make a real connection with Crona who is need of human contact. Unlike so many heroes, Maka isn’t just strong because she is. She’s actually probably the weakest in the group we follow, but she is an incredibly hard worker and very determined to succeed. Even Maka going crazy is highly entertaining.  Oh, and don’t make her mad when she’s carrying a book or you will get hit with the dread Maka chop.

And that’s my list this week. As I said at the start, feel free to add your own suggestions to the list in the comments below and let me know what you think of my selections.


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Male Characters from 2016

Last week I looked at the female characters from 2016 that left an impression. This week I turn my attention to the guys. I’m going to be honest; this was a much harder list to write. The reason being that female characters still tend to play a lot of support roles and still tend to have very generic personalities (with some exceptions). There are more leading male characters and more personality types (though still some basic archetypes) out there to choose from.

So how did I choose my top 5 male characters? Pretty much they played a significant role in their anime, were entertaining to watch, and, for whatever reason, memorable. They also had to be in an anime that aired at some point during 2016 (either continuing on from 2015, completely in 2016, or at least started before the end of 2016).

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions go to: Natsume (Natsume Yuujinchou Go), Mikleo (Tales of Zestiria the X), and weirdly to Matsumi Asuma (Kiss Him, Not Me).

Number 5: Dazai (Bungo Stray Dogs Season 2)

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There were times in season 1 when Dazai drove me absolutely crazy. He was hilarious and intriguing for the first 2 episodes and then his character went into one note comedy mode for most the rest of the season. Season 2 Dazai became a much more interesting character. First we spent four episodes getting his back story and then even after that while we still had the odd goofy moment and suicide joke, Dazai kind of left the playful facade behind and started actually being a character. It made him far more intriguing and made me far more interested in him. Is Dazai the best character? Not really, but I certainly remember him.

Number 4: Karma Akabane (Assassination Classroom Season 2)

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Okay, this one should come as no surprise given he topped out my list of favourite red haired male characters last year. I find Karma fantastic value as a character. Why isn’t he higher up my list? Because season 1 of Assassination Classroom did not air in 2016 and looking at Karma’s contributions to season 2, I just couldn’t justify it. His character decidely takes a back seat with the exception of the conflict between him and Nagisa and even that plays out relatively quickly. He is still one scary teenager and what I like is that he isn’t just a hoodlum, he is smart, manipulative and motivated.

Number 3: Yuuri Katsuki (Yuri on Ice)

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It would have surprised me more if I hadn’t added a character from Yuri on Ice and it had to be Yuri himself. The character transformation he underwent and how natural it felt was one of the highlights of the whole year for me. I liked that this wasn’t a show about someone who was bad at skating getting suddenly amazing. Yuri was always good but lacked confidence. This story really just focussed on him overcoming himself rather than a skills deficit and it was a much stronger character story because of it.

Number 2: Obi (Snow White with the Red Hair)

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Obi was always my favourite character from Show White with the Red Hair and season 2 we got more Obi. When Shirayuki leaves the kingdom to visit Prince Raj it is Obi who goes with her as a bodyguard so when she get’s kidnapped, Obi kind of loses it in the best possible way. It’s probably the first time we ever see Obi anything less than laid back and completely in control and that he then spends the rest of the season working to save her and then in ensuring that Zen and Shirayuki are going to get their happily ever after (despite the fact it’s pretty clear he’d really like Shirayuki to look at him) just makes Obi an even better character. He’s still stealing every scene he shows up in and I would love more of this character. Note to self: Do not get on Obi’s bad side.

Number 1: Allen Walker (D Gray Man Hallow)

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Okay, I know a lot of this placement is due my overall love of this franchise but Hallow did an amazing job of progressing Allen’s story as the fourteenth is slowly but surely taking over. Allen has come along way from the naive want to be exorcist we met back in episode 1 of D Gray Man and is now a very competent exorcist however he is continuously doubted and mistreated by the Order and ultimately is forced to make the decision to leave (which gave us an incredibly heartbreaking farewell between Allen and Lenalee). Allen is a character I always want more of because he is incredibly interesting and I would love for him to eventually find out everything and be able to make his own informed choices about his life. Seems unlikely and far more likely he will continue to flounder along, but he does keep moving. Not even certain death keeps him out of the action.

That’s my list so now its time to share yours. Who were your favourite male characters in 2016?

March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 11.5

Review:

Well, you should know I hate recap episodes by now so 11.5 isn’t exactly going to do much for me. That said, at least the timing on this makes sense. If you didn’t pick up this show in Autumn but are considering it (given it is continuing on in the Winter season), 11.5 does an excellent job of catching you upon the pertinent plot points and characters so you would be right to just continue on from this point. What it also does, however, is point out how much this show relies on atmosphere over substance given this one 25 minute recap actually did cover all of the major plot points. There isn’t very much happening in this show in terms of plot. The recap fails at capturing the spirit of any of the characters though, and that is perhaps the more charming part of the show. Pretty much watch it if you are wanting to start this show and haven’t or skip it if you’ve been watching the show.

March Comes in Like a Lion is available on Crunchyroll.

Kiss Him, Not Me Episode 12

Review:

This one I am happy to see to see finish. I’m going to take the positive from this series. She didn’t change. Her fundamental character stayed completely stagnant so at least it isn’t one of those stories where the girl utterly transforms herself because of the guy/s in her life. Of course, that means we watched 12 episodes with absolutely no character development from our fairly one dimensional protagonist while the other characters around her at times looked like they were making progress before they also regressed to their basic natures’. Oh well. This final episode at least has all the characters confess and they all get to go on a date before Serinuma turns the lot of them down because she realises her true love is the anime character she liked before any of this happened. Great. Done. Just need to review the series now and I can move on.

Kiss Him, Not Me is available on Crunchyroll.

Tuesday’s Top 5: Boring Title Characters

My lists are always entirely my opinion and highly subjective (which is why I’m always happy for people to comment on who they would have added to the list). This week is no exception as I look at anime that are named after a character who then turns out to be the least interesting thing about the show (in my opinion at least). As always, feel free to add your own views in the comments.

Please Note – There are spoilers below. You have been warned.

Honourable mention this week goes to Astarotte from Astarotte no Omocha.

Number 5: Akame (Akame Ga Kill)

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Other than the fact that she survives until the end, why is the show named after her? Okay, first episode she pulls a very cool and scary assassination entrance and looks completely amazing and then… well then we watch her hunt for food, wring her hands over her friends and generally not ever change her facial expression. Even when Akame is dealing with her sister being part of the team hunting them down she barely bats an eye and while stoic can be a good character trait Akame doesn’t have anything to really make her interesting. You can count the things we learn about her as a person (not things she’s done but what she’s actually like) on one hand and in honesty if they’d killed Akame off I wouldn’t have cared in the slightest.

Number 4: Haruhi Suzumiya (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)

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Haruhi suffers from an excess of personality but she’s still actually kind of boring. The characters around her are fascinating and the set up of the show is interesting, but Haruhi is just a bully who nobody ever slaps sense into. Frantically running from one thing to the next, Haruhi is bored with her own existence because she has nothing inside of her that defines her. She seeks external events to find a reason to exist and as such is always empty and that pretty much sums up who and what Haruhi is and its the driving force behind everything that happens in the show. So, Haruhi is an excellent plot point and as the force that gets Kyon moving and actually paying attention to anything (given he’s the narrator and kind of needs to pay attention) Haruhi works. As a character, she’s still number 4 on my list of most boring title characters.

Number 3: Nozaki (Gekkan Shojo Nozaki Kun)

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I know I’ve said this on other people’s posts but my least favourite character in this comedy is Nozaki. He’s just so bland. And I know it is deliberate. He’s the observer of human nature. He internalizes things for use in his writing. But it means that everyone around him is vibrant and dynamic and he’s just this stagnant rock around which events revolve.

Number 2: Aria (Aria the Scarlet Ammo)

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Aria, how I wish you had a personality above and beyond the cliché angry girl with trust issues. I actually really liked the concept of the world crafted in this anime and some of the side characters are quite entertaining (if you can deal with fan service and violence), but mostly I just disliked Aria and kept wanting her to stop snarling and shrieking and insisting on having everything her way and then acting like it didn’t matter one bit to her. She was an irritating character and one we’ve seen before.

Number 1: Tatsuya Shiba (The Irregular at Magic High School)

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Here I’m cheating a bit because his name isn’t actually in the title but he is the irregular so I’m going with this. And while I actually really like Tatsuya and the anime, I couldn’t honestly say that he isn’t boring. Why? Because Tatsuya defines overpowered protagonist. Normally I don’t mind overpowered characters and as I said, I quite liked Tatsuya, but there is never even vague tension in this show because you know that Tatsuya will solve the problem. Even more so once you realise he can effectively undo life-threatening damage to himself or others (at a cost but not enough of a cost that it puts him out of commission or allows his enemies any chance to win). So other than taking tests for the school, Tatsuya is pretty much perfect at everything and while that makes him awesome it also makes him boring and that is why he took out the number one spot.

I will point out that when it comes to Tatsuya I’m a little bit up and down. One minute I think he’s incredibly dull the next I think he’s the most amazing person ever. Objectively I know he’s boring. Emotionally I can’t get enough of watching him in action.

That’s my list done. Who would you have put on yours?

Friday’s Feature – Beneath the Squeals What Is Driving Yuri On Ice Fans?

Wow, it’s a Yuri on Ice post. How original. By the way if you aren’t up to at least episode 10, maybe pass on this for now but come back. Of course, if you’ve watched episode 11 things have changed again but I’m not touching that until I’ve had a bit more time to think it through.

Okay, I’m done making fun of myself but I actually kind of had to write this. I was asked by someone in the real world whether Yuri on Ice was any good and found myself gushing (something I avoid doing in the real world, not because people don’t already know I’m a massive anime fan but just because I don’t like to make people feel trapped listening to me blather about things they are only vaguely interested in). But I wasn’t gushing about Yuri and Victor or the maybe kiss or the airport scene or even the ring (though those points did come up), what I found myself gushing about was the way that the characters in this show feel like real people.

By the way, this isn’t a post that is trying to convince you to fall in love with Yuri On Ice. If you aren’t already on board then you’ll probably stay that way. Mostly, this post is just looking at what is beneath all of that pretty animation that is keeping fans up as they anxiously await the next episode.

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You mean this ring?

For me the number 1 take away from Yuri On Ice since the initial episodes where the beauty of the animation swept me away has been the treatment of these characters. Pretty animation aside, without a story or characters worth following I’m not really willing to invest all that much time and thought into something. Yet, Yuri On Ice is a coming of age or a general weakest becomes strongest (maybe) story that we’ve seen a thousand times before (though the second half of this series is definitely starting along a full blown romance pathway). So if it isn’t the plot and while the animation is appreciated and maybe the first draw but that isn’t what is making us hang around, then what we are left with are the characters.

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And while there are definitely the fan girls out there who are happily eating up a dose of mainstream shounen ai and then the fans of Victor in the hot tub, what we are mostly seeing through Twitter is that fans have really taken to these characters and it isn’t really hard to see why.

Leaving aside Victor and Yuri for the time-being, the support cast of Yuri On Ice have been fabulous in the way they’ve been presented. While one of the criticisms I’ve heard of the show is the lack of screen time these characters have had and if you watch some episodes you will know that these characters get minutes at most, and yet they pack so much into those minutes.

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I’m going to use Kenjirou Minami as an example. He’s a Japanese skater who appears in episode 5 and looks up to Yuri a lot. While you might see him as existing only to serve as a point of contention between Yuri and Victor and as part of Yuri’s character growth, in one episode Minami manages to establish himself as a person. He’s young and idealistic but still desires victory. He’s under his own form of pressure from the expectations placed on him by others though he deals with it a great deal better than Yuri does. We also see his performance. Unlike Yuri’s beauty, Minami is a high energy performer and his personality is clearly shown in his routine. This character was on screen at most for ten minutes and I feel I know more about them than some characters I’ve watched for 24 episodes.

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If we then shift to a crowd favourite, Phichit, we get a character who was spoken about long before he even made a real appearance in the show. We knew he was Yuri’s rink mate and we know that Yuri consulted with him in order to get in touch with the person who wrote his music but it wasn’t until episode 6 that this character really appeared in the anime. By then we already had a sense of who this person was and he is definitely a likeable character. One of his persistent character traits is his ongoing use of social media and this is something that really has brought him to life. Not saying that to exist you must be obsessed with selfies, but it is one of many details that makes Phichit feel like he is living in the real world and isn’t simply a scripted being. Episode 10 really highlights that Phichit is more than just moral support and friend though. He is the first to notice the rings and offer congratulations to Yuri and Victor but he is also the first to react when Victor claims Yuri is going to win gold. While this doesn’t form an actual rift between these characters it does show that beneath the smiles Phichit is definitely a competitor.

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It’s kind of the same for all of the skaters. Yeah, there’s still heaps we don’t know about them but what we do know is painting a picture of a real person with real goals and desires and approaches to getting through things. While they each might start from a simple archetypal character there have been enough details layered onto these characters to make them feel like they are a person in their own right. Those details are everything from the music and costume choices while performing to their small interactions with the other skaters. Even how they hold themselves and what they are doing before and after performing. It all adds to the rich detail making up the characters of Yuri On Ice and there have been very few moments where this element of the show have slipped.

And that is what, beneath all the fan baiting and obvious lures this show has going for it, is keeping fans hooked and coming back for more. There are plenty of shows out there featuring a cast of supposed good looking guys and while people do tweet their images and the like I’ve certainly not seen anything like the Yuri fever that has happened every week after every episode. While a lot of the attention has been on the kiss, the hand holding, the rings, the sleeping, a lot of the tweets have focussed on those more character driven moments and the moments where we learn something more about one of our favourites in the support cast. What really makes this special though is that all of these moments build on one another. That’s why this was a slow burn at the start where you might think pretty but aren’t seeing all that much more but all of those small moments and details have a snowball effect as the series goes on.

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But let’s get back to Yuri and Victor. The are they/aren’t they arguments have raged, the fan art has gone crazy (and is incredibly beautiful given the short time frames some people have worked on) and both of these characters have been analysed to within an inch of their animated lives at this point. For me these characters became amazing at episode 7. Up until then I’d enjoyed watching them grow closer and how Victor had learned how far he could push Yuri before he would have to draw back and how Yuri was starting to take steps toward Victor, but they were still just two good characters in an anime I was enjoying. At episode 7  they crossed some sort of line as they showed such an incredible depth of human emotion and their relationship became something that felt genuine. It is in that sincere expression of emotion that the audience is completely blown away. These characters have real conversations, real conflict, they don’t understand each other sometimes, they try to understand each other, they dither, they hesitate, they act impulsively; they just feel real.

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It’s really odd for me to say because normally when I talk about seeing genuine emotion or human expression it is relation to a psychological thriller or a moment in something that’s fairly dark. To talk about two characters in a reasonably feel good, rom-com, sports anime (not trying to be condescending to any of these genres) in this way is a fairly unique experience for me as generally I don’t connect with the characters in these stories the way Yuri On Ice has achieved.

I’m honestly going to say that I do not care if Yuri wins the competition. I don’t care if Victor and Yuri get married or whatever. I am watching this show to watch all of these characters grow and show us what they will do and what choices they will make. While I would be delighted if Yuri get’s a fairytale happy ending I will also be really satisfied with him coming to a sound realisation about who he is and where he stands in the world.

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When I come to review this series as a whole I have no idea what I will have left to talk about but I’m certain I will talk at length anyway given I just never get bored of these characters at the moment. But now I’ll turn it over to you; why do you think Yuri On Ice has appealed?


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Draws When Deciding What To Watch

Every three months we get another round of shows to consider and while I’d love to try them all it just isn’t possible without a time machine (quick, someone get on that). It’s almost impossible to know what is going to be good or not from the synopsis (and fan comments) prior to watching a show but there are certain things that will make you really want to give a show a go. Even after you’ve tried it and you know it isn’t that great, there are some things that will make you hold on and just keep hoping.

This list is 100% subjective but it is my top 5 draws. Those things where if you tell me they are in an anime I will definitely try at least one episode. Feel free to add your own in the comments below.

Please Note – Pretty sure no spoilers this week.

Honourable mentions this week go to: romances that progress in an interesting manner, over the top action that is fun to watch, and dry humour.

Number 5: Classic Horror Elements

Vampires, ghosts, creepy old houses, you name it and I’m in for at least the set up. The problem being that too many of these shows max out on the atmosphere in episode 1 and you are left with sub-par writing, 2 dimensional characters, and usually a resolution that feels like it got plucked at random from a hat. That said, when they get it right, I enjoy a good classic horror, so I will continue to wade through ever B Grade (and even C and D grade) horror that appears on our screens in search of the one that just makes me smile.

Number 4: Well Rounded Female Characters

I’m not one of those people who insists every show should have equal numbers of male and female characters and that every female character needs to be sassy and fiercely independent. That said, I do like a show that presents females in a more well-rounded way than mainstream entertainment usually give them a chance to be represented. It isn’t about being a strong character. They can be weak and cry a lot, as long as they have more depth beyond being the crier who needs rescuing.

Number 3: Explores the Supernatural

Having gone through my teen years living on a diet of Buffy, Charmed and similar fare (not to mention a massive collection of fantasy novels) I really do enjoy a story that deals with the supernatural (not in a horror manner but just as another facet of life). I find a lot of these stories charming and entertaining. That doesn’t mean everything that throws in a few gods and the like is gold but I’m usually up for at least trying an episode of something that deals with the supernatural.

Number 2: It has a dragon in it.

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Terrible picture but you get the point.

Okay, this really should have been my number 1, because I have sat through some terrible stories due to a lifelong fascination with dragons. Of course the terrible story thing isn’t exclusive to anime (Dungeons and Dragons movie anyone?). More than any other magical feat or creature I’m going to at least start a story filled with dragons. Will I continue the story? That entirely depends. Dragon Zot from Cerberus didn’t even manage to hold my interest in the show beyond episode 2 (although it didn’t help that the entire rest of the cast drove me crazy and the dragon wasn’t even that great looking).

Number 1: Well Written Character Dialogue

The rarest of rare finds. The show that just makes you sit up and pay attention. Characters who are talking in a way that makes them feel like people instead of character archetypes. Characters who aren’t just voicing every random thought in their heads, providing exposition in order to progress the story, or being silent because they can’t reveal any more of the plot because we’re only in episode 3. So should you find such a gem, please let me know.

Okay, as you may have picked up from my list I definitely have a soft spot for fantasy. No matter how many times I am burned I still watch as many shows with these elements as I can because just every now and then I find something that can make all of the other shows seem worth it.

What are your top 5 draws when choosing an anime (even if you know that you are likely to end up disappointed).