I often point out I have a love-hate relationship with the Gundam franchise in general. Some series I love and others I really hate and can’t get into at all. I kind of have that same relationship with most mecha anime. Some I get right into and others, even though the storyline is ostensibly the same, I just can’t like or enjoy.
Maybe I’m just a bit contrary or maybe there’s something more driving my overall interest and engagement when I’m watching giant robots duking it out with impossible weapons while defying the laws of physics.
Why do so many mecha anime not click for me?
In a moment of clarity, back in 2016, I finally came to realise what at least one of my issues with mecha anime was.
It was the fact that the robots themselves dehumanize the conflict and remove my emotional connection from the characters. Clearly that doesn’t happen in all of the series featuring giant robots fighting one another, given the number of series I have enjoyed, but ultimately it is the mecha themselves that cause my disconnect and as a direct result, can make a mecha anime series not necessarily work for me.
Let’s be honest, the vast majority of mecha anime set up conflicts between groups of people who have developed these fantastic machines (either mainstream or as a highly experimental and new kind of weapon) and the show then finds some way to spark that conflict into a full on battle whereby the various pilots get into their machines and we then spend a few episodes zooming past one another and blowing things up.
I’m severely oversimplifying given the vast array or real world political issues (including environmental management, balance of powers, and various ideologies) that appear in these sorts of anime, but that’s the basic set up when you boil it right down.
During these fights we sometimes get to see the pilots and their internal dialogue or their conversations through the comms with other pilots, but the action is seen from outside. The robot with its big gun or sword thrashing another robot that then explodes or smokes while the pilot may or may not eject.
Very occasionally (if the character is someone the show wants us to care about) we see the damage to the human pilot, but more often we get a scream over the comms and then the bang and we move on to the next part of the conflict. Unless for some short span of time the anime has decided that this death (out of the dozens during the battle) is important and we’re actually going to mourn this pilot, then we’ll get right inside the cockpit for a tear jerking farewell.
Therein lies the problem. When there are a large number of combatants, we know little about anyone other than the main group so have little reason to care. Most of these stories set up governments that are all equally despicable and so we aren’t really standing behind any one groups ideals more than any other. So we don’t know the individuals particularly well and we have no reason to rally behind any one political stance, why do we care about the outcome of the battle?
And I get that we’re usually meant to like the ‘heroes’ side but regularly they are just as bad as the people they are fighting and their side is usually as tainted with underhanded tactics, ignoring treaties, or the various other transgressions, as the other side.
When we see an anime set in a more medieval setting we often have vast armies confronting one another and getting mowed down by a hail of arrows, and that is more affective to me than a giant robot going bang, flash. Why? Because of the human element. There is nothing between me and my view of the human combatants being mercilessly slaughtered. That scene affects me and makes me feel sorry for them or happy that the other army is winning, or gives me some emotional impact.
One robot hitting another? That might be cool and visually awesome but the human aspect is gone, at least for me in so many of these stories.
So which mecha anime do I like?
I love Code Geass. Why? Because of Lelouch, Suzaku and Kallen. They are the human element for me even if the vast majority of soldiers I don’t care about.
Gundam Seed (and more recently Iron Blooded Orphans) won me over with the human characters at the core of the story even while the greater political agenda within the story kind of rolled past me in a haze of grey morals.
Even Aldnoah Zero worked for me, though Slaine kind of went off the rails in the second season making it a bit harder to care about the outcome.
Then I also loved Full Metal Panic with Sagara and Chidori. They were great characters and the contrast between the military fight sequences and the high school daily life was well done.
Of course, my favourite mecha anime is Evangelion, mostly because it gives you the cool and awesome giant robot fighting monstrous (and bizarre) angels but is almost totally focussed on the human elements of its story.
I’d love to know your thoughts on mecha anime. Do you watch it? Do you like it? What works for you and what doesn’t when watching giant robots fight?
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime. Join the discussion in the comments. Karandi James
When it came to movies, I was always wary of sequels growing up. It was more or less universally accepted that the sequel would be weaker than the original with a few exceptions (which of course proved the rule). I was less aware of prequels until the Star Wars franchise essentially hacked the heart out of their own series by delivering 3 very underwhelming movies that pretty much told us nothing that we hadn’t already figured out from watching the original series.
Since then we’ve had plenty of other examples in movies of prequels and sequels just not quite hitting the mark.
So how does this translate when watching anime sequels?
Well it doesn’t really because anime sometimes wraps up the story in one season, but often it doesn’t. What we usually call a sequel in anime is regularly just an ongoing continuation of a story that wasn’t finished. Which means that sometimes that second part is awesome (or third, or fourth, or whatever in the case of very long running series).
However, sometimes even if the story isn’t finished it feels like the characters have said everything they needed to and we’re just getting put through the motions of yet more fights and battles for the sake of it.
That said, some anime sequels are amazing. Higurashi’s second season is fantastic, and totally necessary if you ever want to know why everyone keeps dying in that story. Meanwhile, Black Butler 2 I probably could have done without (and Darker Than Black 2 and quite a few others).
What it comes down to is while I will watch a sequel to a series I enjoyed, I always watch with the assumption that there’s a good chance it will go downhill fast, that way if they manage to pull off something decent I’m always pleasantly surprised. And I know some people are screaming Endless Eight right now which is probably another reason to be wary of some sequels.
The occasional prequel that shows up (such as Handa-kun) doesn’t really register given how infrequent they are. Generally, any backstory that is needed is told through flashbacks and prequels just aren’t needed. That hasn’t stopped various ‘young’ insert character name stories cropping up but they aren’t exactly flooding the market (and please don’t).
Then, we’ve also got spin-off series which are extremely hit and miss. Some manage to surpass the original where others just end up looking like a watered down imitation. A Certain Scientific Railgun is an excellent example of a spin-off that kind of left the original material in the dust.
While I like A Certain Magical Index, the need to explain magic, esper abilities, and Touma’s weird ability which falls into neither category, meant the whole thing was very crowded. Also, Touma regularly faced magical villains which meant despite the show being set in a city of espers, esper abilities sat more as a background setting than a focus.
Railgun deals pretty much exclusively with the espers and esper issues and as a direct result the world building is significantly stronger and the conflicts are far easier to convey and explain.
This season we’ve got Sword Oratoria giving us a different view of the world from DanMachi (Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?). Where Sword Oratoria concerned me even from its announcement was in the focus character. See, Railgun took the most interesting character out of Index and gave her a chance to shine.
Sword Oratoria takes the least interesting character out of DanMachi and so far hasn’t done much with her. That isn’t to say it can’t pick up, but you have to wonder why we didn’t just get a continuation of DanMachi given Bell’s story wasn’t yet done.
What it means is, there’s no hard and fast rule in anime (or in movies really) as to whether an anime sequel, prequel, or spin-off will work or not which leaves a lot of fans wading through poor follow up seasons in the hope of stumbling across a good one.
Winter 2017 gave us a number of anime sequels to consider and to be honest I found them all lacking. Tales of Zestiria the X had been reasonable in season 1, but season 2 lost all focus and forward momentum before rushing to a conclusion that made very little sense to those who hadn’t played the game because so many things happened just because.
It was kind of a let down even for those of us with minimal expectations of it. Iron Blooded Orphans similarly kind of faded during its second season. While it maintained a reasonable storyline, it just lacked the punch of the original. Meanwhile, Super Lovers 2 just left me wondering if the characters actually had made any headway at all and Blue Exorcist just felt like they thought they could just throw any random villain at the characters because the audience would be happy with whatever.
Then we got to Spring 2017 and while I’m watching the spin-off Sword Oratoria, in terms of anime sequels the load is heavy. My Hero Academia, Attack on Titan, The Eccentric Family and Natsume Yuujinchou are all trying to draw me back into their worlds. Natsume has the advantage in that it’s up to season 6 (and I’ll come back to Natsume in a little bit). The Eccentric Family made a strong start.
Both My Hero Academia and Attack on Titan have done a reasonable job (and I’ll admit My Hero Academia seems to be getting stronger by the episode), but at this point neither has really convinced me they can surpass the first season (I’d love to be proven wrong and for both to end well).
For me, the main issue always seems to be that unlike a new series, an anime sequel is stuck with all the expectations of the audience and preconceived notions. We’ve watched part 1, we know these characters and this setting. It limits where the story can go but it can still be very good if there is character development to be found or more story to be told.
More importantly, long running series like My Hero Academia ultimately suffer diminishing returns in entertainment. As they try to one-up the danger they ultimately fall into feeling pretty formulaic and repetitive.
There are three series that I want to discuss in regards to sequels.
Starting with Full Metal Panic, this series had a season 1 and then we got its anime sequel: Second Raid. There’s also a filler comedy season which should be regarded in its own way (its hilarious) but I’m not discussing that here. Arguably, you can stop watching at the end of season 1.
You can. Chidori realises she’s got all this stuff in her head and she uses it to save the submarine. Sousuke beats the guy he’s been wanting to beat. They celebrate and then they go back to school. Yeah, Chidori is still going to be targeted and Sousuke still knows nothing about living in the real world, but essentially, it’s a good stopping point.
So why Second Raid?
Because what does Chidori want to do now that she knows she has this knowledge in her head? Is Sousuke actually just going to play the good soldier forever? And what is their relationship? There were plenty of character points still open that had more than enough points of interest to explore and certainly more than enough villains in the world to get the plot moving again.
The reason Second Raid works though is Chidori and Sousuke both get pushed to their limit. Chidori is forced to fight for her own life because Sousuke doesn’t instantly save her. He’s too busy going through his own little mental break down which is spectacular to see given everything he’s been through. And while he recovers just a little too fast, it is a mecha series and mental health was never supposed to be the main focus (it isn’t Evangelion).
It kind of needed an anime sequel in order to continue this journey and all of the characters and the plot still had more to give that was worth seeing. It didn’t feel like anyone was contriving reasons for these characters to still be around just to create an anime sequel.
But then this anime announced yet another continuation, Invisible Victory. The original question I had was whether or not this anime sequel could fit with the prior seasons, considering the time gap, and whether it was even needed. I’m thinking yes it was needed from a story point of view but the execution was not great.
But all of this contrasts with my view of SAO in terms of anime sequels. Sword Art Online was fantastic when it came out (some will argue against that but let’s put that aside). The entire first arc, playing Sword Art Online, was good (I know some people have issues with it but it works). I loved it. Then Kirito beats the game and they all wake up. That’s great. We’re trapped in a game that can kill us and someone finally let us out. Whoo-hoo.
So why isn’t that the end of season 1?
Because some people didn’t wake up. Okay. Fine. Why not?
Technically, this could have worked as a continuation. It could have. But most people will agree that Fairy Dance is the weakest of the SAO stories. While it does tie up a loose end or 2 from SAO, it isn’t necessary. The story could have ended with them waking up and being reunited.
They added an additional complication for no reason other then to force a continuation that wasn’t needed, turned a reasonably capable female character into a damsel in distress, and introduced a villain who was so immature and cartoonish in his villainy you couldn’t have taken him seriously if you tried.
Then we have GGO and the Mother Rosario arcs before the most recent Aliciztion, all of which I kind of regard more as Spin-offs given how little in common they have with the original story at this point. And they work as anime sequels that develop the supporting cast but Kirito pretty much stops developing as a character (and I know some people will argue he didn’t develop in the original, but we’ll save that argument for later).
Essentially, he freezes at the end of Fairy Dance. There’s nothing more to say about him. He does stuff, but he no longer changes as a result of his actions or decisions.
The last series I want to touch on is Natsume Yuujinchou which is 6 seasons along and has kind of nailed how to do an anime sequel right. Natsume in terms of story has never really felt like it is driving toward anything. The conflict has always been Natsume dealing with how to live. That isn’t something that can be ‘solved’ or ‘overcome’ and it isn’t something that ends.
And it is a conflict that continually sees the main character reflect and grow (admittedly in very slow and small steps). What that ultimately means is that despite the number of sequels, this story still doesn’t feel finished and this character is still evolving. Spending more time with him on his journey is always fun.
Basically, anime sequels (or prequels or spin-offs) all need to be considered in the light of the series they are attached to. For me if they actually are needed or are adding something of value to the character or the story then I will usually find them highly enjoyable. But if I’m just expected to swallow lack luster story telling because someone slapped a name on it I recognise, I’m going to move on.
How do you feel about anime sequels and prequels?
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime. Join the discussion in the comments. Karandi James
This week I want to look at characters who are just completely inappropriate occupations. I’m going to be honest, keeping the list to 5 was challenging given how many anime characters are just ill suited for their job, so I really look forward to seeing who you guys would have added to the list.
Please Note – There are spoilers below. You have been warned.
Honourable mentions this week go to Kuroko Shirai as a Judgement Officer in A Certain Magical Index, Naoya Touhara as a Toy is Astarotte No Omocha and Mephisto as a Principal in Ao No Exorcist. But as I said before, I had a really long list to start with, so there are plenty of other characters that probably should have been mentioned.
Which characters did I think have completely inappropriate occupations?
How did I make my selection? I really thought about which character’s job bugged me the whole time I watched their show. If it was intruding into my thoughts regularly and I was questioning why they were doing what they were doing, they probably ended up on my final list.
Number 5: Ayako Matsuzaki as a Shrine Maiden in Ghost Hunt
Even the other characters in Ghost Hunt laugh when Ayako introduces herself as a Shrine Maiden and it becomes obvious throughout the series that even though she knows a lot about being a Shrine Maiden she isn’t one.
Even the monk (the rock band member monk who also should be mentioned in this list for inappropriate occupations) explains to Mai (and the audience) that Ayako just doesn’t operate the way Shrine Maiden’s should. That and her attitude toward anything that seems like work earned her a place on the list as she seems to be in a completely inappropriate occupation.
Number 4: Kisuke Urahara as a Shopkeeper in Bleach
This one is more just because it seems like there is no reason why Urahara’s shop in Bleach hasn’t just gone bankrupt. He is a lousy shop keeper and his pretense that that is all he is is blatantly ridiculous, particularly when you see what is underneath the shop. Now, admittedly, he is kind of in retirement after a fairly eventful life so he can do whatever he wants, but if he wanted to run a shop surely he should show just a little more interest in doing it well.
I’ll admit that this was probably a cheap shot but if you can’t bake, don’t be a baker. That kind of makes sense to the rest of us but Sanae Furukawa is persistent if nothing else. As much as there are moments in Clannad I really enjoyed, seeing Sanae’s reactions to honest responses to her bread was not one of them. What bugs me is that she still bursts into tears at the slightest criticism when you would think she would either get over it or learn to bake. And how does she manage to not get any better if she is doing it every single day?
Number 2: Teletha Testarossa as a Captain in Full Metal Panic
While there is nothing wrong with Tessa’s intelligence and her dedication to her crew, temperamentally she is not suited to command and there are a myriad of other characters in Full Metal Panic who could. This comes across so often in the series. She struggles making the tough calls when her crew are in danger, she is a teenage girl and at times feels the need to act that way, and she is also unreasonably stubborn on certain issues. None of these would make her a very effective captain and assuming that an entire crew would just loyally fall behind her because she’s cute is just a little insane.
Number 1: Sadao Maou as a MgRonalds Employee in The Devil is a Part Timer
Kind of an obvious choice given the occupation is the entire joke but The Devil is a Part-Timer was made for this list. It isn’t right that Satan would be flipping hamburgers in a fast food shop and yet here he is, planning his world conquest as he works his way up the managerial ranks. I love that he’s ambitious and hard working but it is still a totally inappropriate profession for his character (even if he is apparently amazing at it).
What are your thoughts? Which other characters are completing jobs they probably shouldn’t be?
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime. Join the discussion in the comments. Karandi James
I’m not the biggest fan of military movies or war focused stories (at least not realistic ones). I find them a little bit depressing to be honest. There are exceptions, usually science fiction or fantasy is enough of a hook (such as Starship Troopers), and I’ve definitely noticed a soft spot for anime that brings in the military (though being told something is military focused isn’t the draw).
Today I’m looking at my favourite military focused anime. Authenticity isn’t a concern. I don’t care whether the ranks and positions are wrong, whether characters would actually be able to behave in certain manners in a real army, or whether the military exists or is part of an entirely fictional setting. I’m just concerned with anime that I really ended up enjoying that had a strong military focus. As such, I’m sure there are many great military anime that aren’t going to get a mention and I’d love to know your favourites so feel free to give them a shout out in the comments below.
Honourable mentions this time around go to the entire Gundam Franchise, which I continue to have a love/hate relationship with as the various entries either really grab me and pull me in or I end up abandoning fairly early on, and Heavy Object. Now Heavy Object is an anime in general that doesn’t get enough conversation so I really wanted it on my top 5 list, but the numerous flaws with the show prevented me from putting it above anything on the list. That said, I really liked Heavy Object, a lot more than I expected.
Now, I won’t deny that season two of Attack on Titan saw my patience wearing thin after a fairly big slow down in the second half of season one. But, the early episodes of season one really grabbed me and while the titan at the wall was a big part of that, so was Eren and crew’s original military training. It is such an integral part of the show and the characters and those early episodes were really good. Season three also picked up a lot of things and part of it is the power structure of the world including where the military fits into that. All and all, while this isn’t one of my favourite of all time anime, the military influence is quite strong and some of the better moments comes when the story focuses on these elements.
Whether it is FMA or FMA Brotherhood, the military focus of Armestris is pretty clear. Love the uniforms, as impractical as they appear, and a lot of the drama in the show comes from the higher ups withholding information from subordinates. Also, characters are regularly compelled to act against their own nature because being in the military does mean following orders. Both versions of Full Metal Alchemist really do an excellent job of showcasing both the problems of large military organisations as well as the camaraderie and loyalty that can grow between soldiers working for a common cause. All and all, a solid anime with a military focus to sink your teeth into.
Right, so we’re really moving away from realistic here, but I love Code Geass. The ongoing war, the terrorist tactics, the military responses and escalation of weapons of mass destruction… despite the mechs and the fantastical political scenario so much in terms of the themes and ideas are incredibly relatable but it ends up being over dramatised and becomes pure entertainment. From Lelouche’s flamboyant persona as Zero to the amazing feats Suzaku pulls off, everything about this story is great entertainment, even if a little tragic if linked back to reality.
This one had to be on the list. In fact, this was where I started and I felt for sure GATE would end up being number one. Alas, I remembered something better, but for now I’ll just go through why I love GATE. It reminded me a lot of the early Stargate episodes with the military going through to other worlds and Daniel Jackson trying to talk with the populations why they looked for resources and the like. Yet, it had all the crazy anime trapping we’ve come to expect from isekai with elf-girls and magicians, and of course Rory Mercury… Want to see the Japanese military face off against a fire-breathing dragon? Helicopters taking on bandits storming a fortress? GATE was great fun to just strap in and watch.
Lastly, we get to my number one entry on this list. When thinking of military focus of course I thought of the number one military maniac himself, Sousuke Sagara. I absolutely loved Full Metal Panic’s ability to balance a fairly serious military style story with hired mercenaries and various agencies as well as the high school comedy aspects. It doesn’t make a huge amount of sense if you stop and think about it, but it absolutely gets the fun factor right and some of the fight sequences and the tactics they come up with are incredibly impressive.
And there you have it, my top 5 military focused anime. As I said, I’d love to know yours so leave me a comment.
Tuesday’s Top 5 and this week we are counting down the Top 5 hero characters from 2018. There’s a few criteria as normal and to prevent this from becoming a My Hero Academia list, only one character from each show could take a spot on the official list. So, who would you have included on your list?
So what makes a hero? All kinds of things but I’ll be honest, my list this week focuses very much on heroes who fight for their version of justice and as such it ended up being a fairly action heavy list. There’s some great heroes out there who have saved others emotionally and deserve a spot but unfortunately I need to narrow down the list somehow.
Also, apparently this is my first top 5 hero list and I don’t know why I didn’t do one for 2017, but I guess that means we’ll have to see how we go from here.
Honourable mentions this week go to Sakura from Cardcaptor Sakura who is awesome, and tragically the only female I ended up short listing because the shows I watched this year were fairly short on female heroes I could really get behind. I had high expectations for Release the Spyce but to be honest none of the cast there have really stuck with me. The other honourable mention goes to Diablo from How Not To Summon A Demon Lord. Seriously awesome character but hard to argue that he’s a good hero when he’s working at portraying a demon lord persona for most of the series. That, and he really doesn’t fight for justice so much as protecting those he’s decided are his friends.
David was a great character in Record of Grancrest War. One of the many mysteries of the anime was why he was so subservient to Theo for most of the run time given he was a great leader in his own right and incredible on the battlefield. Thinking back through the majority of the battles, he played a pivotal role in so many of them and Theo should be really thankful that David was on-board. Outside of that, he took down a cyclops that apparently took a troop of mages to take down in the past and he did it with about four people. And, it wasn’t blind luck. He actually decided to take on the monster, asked the right questions about how to beat it, put a plan together and then executed it with the hindrance of weird animation. Still, fairly epic moment for the show and for David.
There’s a lot of nostalgia at play in this choice, I will admit. I loved Sousuke as a hero from before this year and while Invisible Victory ultimately left me wanting a bit more than it was willing to offer, what it did do beautifully was showcase why Sousuke is amazing. No weapons, no back-up, no real clue where the enemy is? Not a problem. Sousuke makes and executes plans to equip himself as needed and find those responsible for taking Chidori. In the meantime he’s going to look great doing it and if you thin a few bullet wounds are going to stop him in his tracks you really haven’t paid attention to this franchise.
Another choice that is probably heavily nostalgia fuelled given I’m not entirely sure I am sold just yet on the Kirito we are seeing in Alicization. Certainly he’s had his shining moments. Defending Asuna in real life was fairly noble, if stupid (try running away first before you take on a murderer with an umbrella) and the fight against the goblins was just fantastic. However, since Kirito hasn’t really got a target to take down just yet the actual heroic aspects of his character aren’t really shining through. Still, there’s been enough promising signs that I still gave him the number 3 spot on the list. Hopefully the rest of Alicization next year brings him back to number 1.
Number 2: Goblin Slayer from Goblin Slayer
This one shouldn’t be a surprise. You want a faceless hero who fights against an evil even though he won’t get any real credit for his contribution to the safety of the villagers? Goblin Slayer is your guy. He doesn’t fight for glory or fame or even wealth. He just wants to kill goblins and ensure that others aren’t hurt by goblins. He’s kind of a pure force of nature in his single minded approach to goblin slaying and while that probably doesn’t make him the most mentally healthy character, it certainly makes him a strong hero.
However, the number 1 place on this list was more or less determined months ago. Was any character going to have a moment as heroic or as epic as All Might giving the last of his power to hold back All For One while the students rescued Bakugou and the other heroes kept civilian casualties down. Even as his power broke and his weakness was exposed for all the world to see, All Might didn’t falter. He looked clearly at the camera and passed the torch to Midoriya who he has now dedicated himself to preparing for the future. All Might has worked to define what being a hero is and even without his quirk he’s working to prepare the next generation. All Might really is Plus Ultra!
One day to go for the 12 Days of Anime. Yesterday we looked at a support character who deserved his own series (Goro from Darling in the Franxx) and today we’re going to turn our attention to a girl who did an amazing job in the original series but in the most recent iteration – Invisible Victory – got completely sidelined. Yes, we’re looking at Kaname Chidori from Full Metal Panic and one of my all time favourite female characters.
Kaname Chidori starts out as your ordinary high school girl. Then a new student comes along who is a little bit weird. For Kaname, Sousuke is just a little unbalanced, doesn’t really get how things works, and over-reacts to everything. He’s a pain but one she can’t leave alone as she works to ‘correct’ his behaviour in a Japanese school. All too soon though she realises the military maniac is actually trying to protect her from various militia forces that would like to kidnap her because of some knowledge she has in her head.
It’s a lot to take in.
During the first season of Full Metal Panic, Kaname is very much trying to just live her normal life however when push comes to shove, Kaname is ultimately the one who saves the day. Admittedly with some help from Tessa.
Fumoffu gives us more of an inside look at Kaname and Sousuke’s daily lives as high school students and here is where Kaname shines. While she might be out of her element on the battlefield, in a high school setting Kaname has her feet very solidly on the ground and everyone, including Sousuke better watch out if they cross her.
And then we had Second Raid. Second Raid gave Kaname a chance to rise to a military challenge and while she understandably ended up in tears, Kaname’s bravery, endurance and resilience were amazing to behold. To be perfectly franks she came out of Second Raid as the best character in the series.
All of this would have been fine, except that Full Metal Panic felt a need to bring us Invisible Victory. While I wasn’t upset to see more of these characters, the experience was ultimately underwhelming, more so because Kaname gets kidnapped at the end of episode 4 and that’s it for her character essentially for the remainder of the run time. Sousuke is great and all but the show works best when the two are kept together. Still, I won’t turn down the scene with Sousuke and Kaname at the shrine. If Invisible Victory did one thing right, it was definitely that scene.
So here is to Kaname and hoping that if they continue Full Metal Panic beyond this that her character gets back in the spot light where it belongs.
While these two episodes certainly do a better job of bringing the season to a resting point, this remains pretty much not concluded with no real indication of a follow up any time soon.
After a couple of weeks off we finally get the last two episodes of this season and it is the big and dramatic rescue attempt of Chidori (or abduction attempt depending on which faction attacking the one mansion you are). These two episodes bring us all our favourite characters into one location, we’ve got some great fight sequences, an accidental shooting, and a radio message from Chidori to Sousuke that would have tugged at the heartstrings even without the soundtrack kicking into gear in the background.
Like most of the season, these two episodes were nostalgic fun and just good at doing what they set out to do. There was very little time wasted and yet the pacing didn’t feel too extreme. I did like that even after the main team reunited it wasn’t as though the months of separation and the fact that they were currently operating separately disappeared. Sure they helped each other out but they all stayed on their mission.
Of course, what sours these two episodes and the season as a whole is the fact that we don’t know if we’ll ever get anymore and we are still undeniably not finished. At least Second Raid had the courtesy of bringing us to a very solid end point (even though the story would continue) with the characters all back together and doing their thing. But it is hard to feel too hard done by here. There was very little more I could have asked from a follow up season to Full Metal Panic other than an actual ending and I absolutely love the journey Sousuke has been on over the course of this season. Fingers crossed we do eventually get another part to this.
After a thirteen year gap, two recap episodes, we now have a ten episode season with a totally incomplete story. If this were any other franchise I’d be dropping it for good and never looking back and yet Full Metal Panic still makes me desperately want more of this story.
There comes a point where a franchise knows that its core audience isn’t going anywhere and so they realise they don’t need to worry about a big season finish or even attempting to tie up their story. It is dissatisfying to say the least and makes Invisible Victory more or less impossible to recommend to anyone except die-hard fans of this franchise given you can’t start the story without knowing the history of the characters and events and then it just leaves us all hanging.
This final episode is clearly setting up the next phase of the story, but we haven’t really done anything with the current phase. The best way to describe Invisible Victory is a bridge between the previous seasons’ events and whatever they are moving toward but we don’t know what that is.
Still, Sousuke gets to do a cool take down even from a hospital bed, we get Kaname sighing and then swimming in her underwear, Tessa also has a changing sequences because the anime couldn’t possibly ignore the fans of Tessa, and we get a Sousuke training sequence before they reveal who some villain is and the story just stops. Kind of something for every fan of the series in this episode and yet nothing for anyone because we don’t have an announced follow up yet and by itself this story went nowhere. I don’t think I’m going to do a series review of Invisible Victory at this point because basically it isn’t a full series and other than complaining about that and being all happy about seeing Sousuke and Kaname again, there isn’t a lot to say. You are either already a fan of this franchise or you never touched this season of it.
Welcome to the Best of Spring 2018 and while we might say there were slightly leaner pickings this time around, as always it has been fun following the shows with others in the blogosphere and discussing from week to week. Whether that is the discussions around Wixoss, the laughing at Devils’ Line, or just being perplexed by what Grancrest planned to do next, there’s certainly been entertainment to be had this season. But now, even though some shows are yet to complete, it is time to reveal our choices for best of the season.
To my awards…
Best Story – Tada Doesn’t Fall in Love
I realise this is a really odd choice, but to be perfectly frank the story is what failed on so many of the shows I watched this season so Tada Doesn’t Fall in Love might be a fairly ordinary story, but it was at least competently handled from beginning to end. I nearly went with Wixoss, but unfortunately that story makes no sense unless you’ve watched the three prior seasons, so Tada it is.
Best Visuals – Darling in the Franxx
This is another category I struggled with more than I should but this season nothing has really visually grabbed me or made me want to discuss it (outside of the anime that have been pretty terrible). Even Full Metal Panic isn’t exactly a visual masterpiece as it is trying to reconcile a look with its predecessor from 13 years ago. While Franxx may have its issues, it does at least have an interesting and memorable look about it.
Best Opening – Steins;Gate 0
Finally, an easy question. The opening here is distinct and really does set the tone of the story, while also being reminiscent of the original series. I really enjoy this OP each week. The only other one that really grabbed my attention was Space Battleship Tiramisu but that’s mostly because it got stuck in my head for hours after watching.
Best Character – Sousuke (Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory)
Okay, he had the advantage of already being one of my favourite characters from way back when and his return was greatly appreciated. Most so when I realised that the character progress he made during season 2, even if he had to break apart a bit to get there, was going to continue into this season. Sousuke is a dynamic character who might seem static at times but each event he goes through definitely leaves its mark and it is really rewarding seeing those small advances even if they are interspersed with some backsliding at times.
Best Slice of Life (First Time I’ve Ever Included This Category) – Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori
I don’t normally get to the end of anything that would actually be described as a slice of life and I got to the end of my awards and realised that this consistent sweetness and relaxation in my week had come up dry. Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori isn’t a masterpiece or an unforgettable anything, but the number of times it gave me that moment of pure mental relaxation during the Spring anime season meant it deserved a mention here.
Best Anime of the Spring 2018 Season – Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS
This season there was probably plenty of doubt given so many shows were very hit and miss. But with Full Metal Panic giving us two recap episodes and then not finishing in time because of needlessly dragging out its run, My Hero Academia having another cour to go, and not much else that really made sit up and take note (though plenty of light entertainment shows this season), WIXOSS kind of won by default.
That isn’t to say it doesn’t deserve the victory. The culmination of four seasons of build up is a hard thing to pull off in a manner that satisfies and doesn’t feel anti-climatic and yet WIXOSS more or less accomplishes this with only a handful of minor areas where criticism could be laid. It isn’t the single most exciting thing ever, but nor does it need to be. It is a fairly solid work delivering a compelling conclusion that feels like it is giving the audience some closure.
Finally, Reader’s Choice
Voting this time round was scattered as it was clear there wasn’t one single title that people were getting behind. However two titles ended up gaining quite the lead and kept it most of the way with My Hero Academia only really gaining ground toward the end of the vote. Interestingly enough, I haven’t seen either of the top voted anime and will have to rectify that for one of them soon as it is available. The other I won’t be able to see unless it gets a DVD release or ends up going onto a different streaming service.
And the winner is… Hinamatsuri!
Normally I would write something about the show and what I liked or didn’t about the reader’s choice, but I still haven’t actually seen this one so other than noting that it is on my watch list, I really don’t have a lot to say about it.
Wotakoi narrowly edged out My Hero Academia to take the third spot and Megalo Box is sitting in a comfortable second. These two along with Hinamatsuri will go into the poll in December for anime of the year. Interestingly enough, I watched none of these this season which could account for why I had a pretty slow season.
Thanks to everyone who voted and shared the poll. Be sure to check back for the worst of the season coming out later.
I normally try and keep the top 5 posts pretty upbeat, but I can’t deny I’m a little disappointed with the last season of anime. No, it isn’t a sign that modern anime are dreadful or that seasonal watching is the problem. It is just that there were a lot of anime that just didn’t live up to their potential or deliver. As the season comes to an end, I’m reflecting on reasons why I was so disappointed this season.
Whether you liked the season or not, I’d love to know your thoughts on the anime from Spring 2018 so be sure to leave me a comment below.
Please note, there will be spoilers below.
Number 5: Sequels and Spin-offs That Just Didn’t Land
Whether it was the debacle that was the continuation of Tokyo Ghoul (reverting to the story in the manga without providing explanation for anime viewers) or the disappointment of SAO Alternative: GGO where viewers were asked to watch a pink bunny girl play a game without much in the way of stakes and were expected to care, the Spring 2018 season has definitely had its share of mis-fires with sequels and spin-offs. Even if we look at the ending of Cardcaptors, most people are expressing a general sense that it just didn’t manage to live up to its predecessors and My Hero Academia took a fair while to get going (though fortunately it has now gotten going and it has certainly stepped up).
Number 4: Scattered Viewership
Normally with seasonal viewing there’s the couple of shows that everyone is watching. Spring 2018 hasn’t had one of those unifying shows that has ignited the entire community. Instead we have small groups of people proclaiming a love for Megalo Box while older mecha fans have been rejoicing over the return of Full Metal Panic, some people praising SAO Alternative: GGO for not being SAO and a few who have gone for one romance or another. But there’s been no single show that has gotten everyone really excited. With so many big titles out that would seem really odd and yet nothing has really captured the masses this season.
Number 3: Controversy and Fan Idiocy
While I like to avoid the fandoms are toxic debates, some of the stories going around this season really do emphasise that sometimes people just go too far. Death threats to writers and voice actors just should not be a thing. I know I don’t want someone coming into my workplace and threatening my life just because they disagree with how I go about doing my job, or spamming my email or twitter feed for the same. And then of course we have the issue of post plagiarism sweeping the blogosphere with quite a number of bloggers impacted. The last few months have not been great for community spirit and like it or not, it does impact on the enjoyment of the medium when the community is very much focused on some of these more negative aspects.
Number 2: Recaps, Fillers and Gaps
How many shows this season have done recap episodes or fillers? And how many have skipped airing one week or another due to some event of the like? It has made following shows more challenging than normal as episodes are delayed or skip a week, or worse they put out a recap episode four episodes in as if the entire community suffers from short term memory loss. While I get production delays happen and that sometimes schedules do go awry with broadcasting, the Spring 2018 season feels like it has just been one interruption to the schedule after another making it even harder to get into some of the shows on offer.
Number 1: Broken Narratives
Whether it is Record of Grancrest War, Darling in the Franxx, or even the abomination that is Devils’ Line, there are so many anime this season that just make no sense in terms of how they have structured and delivered their story. Maybe they are trying to avoid the label of generic but we’ve got time skips, random characters dropping in and out, reveals that make no sense, themes that get built up and then abandoned, and all and all its just a mess. This hardly makes for a satisfying viewing experience. There’s a reason narrative structure is almost identical in every culture, and that’s because people figured out a long time ago how to deliver a story in a way that made it interesting. A lot of these shows need to go back to basics and just figure out what they wanted to be because honestly Spring 2018 has definitely been a bit of a miss in terms of delivering anything resembling a compelling story line.
So those are my reasons for feeling a bit disappointed. I’d love to know if you were disappointed with the season and why, or whether you ended up loving the season and why. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Also you can vote for your favourite and least favourite anime of the season below.
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