Tuesday’s Top 5: Disappointments 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

More Top 5 lists for 2018 and now we’re diving into shows that I, for whatever reason, had some kind of expectations of and for whatever reason they left me feeling a little disappointed. I started this sort of list in 2016 where Kiznaiver took my top spot and did my second list in 2017 where Sword Oratoria swept the floor (that one actually hurt a lot) and I’ve been wondering which titles would end up on the list in 2018 because there have been a number of shows I really was looking forward to this year.

Now, as always, this is a personal list. These are shows I started watching and I had expectations for them that they didn’t quite meet. In some cases, they are actually still reasonable anime in their own way, but they didn’t end up being as good as I hoped.

So, without further delay let us get into the shows that decide to crush my hopes under heel in 2018 and then I’d love to know what shows ended up disappointing you this year. What did you wait for with baited breath only to have the wind knocked out of your sails (and there is a mixed metaphor and a half)?

Please Note – Potential spoilers below.

Honourable mentions this week go to: Devils’ Line and Record of Grancrest War

Number 5: My Hero Academia Season 3

And yes, I know My Hero Academia season 3 is actually not a bad anime. I am well aware of that. However, season 2 was an amazing season. It kept me thrilled from start to finish even though it had a tournament arc for half its run time (which normally is something I can’t stand). Season 2 worked and blew me away and cemented a real fondness for this show inside of me. And then season 3 happened. It wasn’t bad, but a lot of the thrill and fun seemed to be missing as things came across more than a little flat. Season 3 had its moments. Certainly All Might’s final fight was one of the truly epic moments of any shounen anime (I say with authority despite not watching a lot of them). But looking at the season as a whole, there were definitely more episodes I walked away from wanting more and that’s why I’ve given My Hero Academia my number 5 spot on the list for disappointments.

Number 4: Junji Ito Collection

Maybe it is just that horror doesn’t translate very well from the manga to the screen, but really this one was talked up a lot and I even checked out a lot of the art behind some of these stories online before hand and I was really kind looking forward to a solid horror anime (something we get so few of). Instead I got a fairly weak viewing experience with a few oddities, a little bit of eye-brow raising, and a few grotesque moments, but nothing that really managed to hit me with a major horror vibe. It was all just a little ordinary to be honest and while some of the concepts were cool, the execution was lacking. This one gains a place simply because it is a genre I love, there was so much hype about the source, and ultimately it just didn’t deliver much of anything.

Number 3: Devilman Crybaby

Maybe it was just that the internet exploded with hype after the release of this one, and maybe it was because again the source was fairly well spoken of, but this Netflix release really underwhelmed. It wasn’t strictly speaking bad, but at the same time, after watching it I ended up fairly indifferent to it. I get that it was over the top violence and sex and the conclusion they were aiming for, it all works in its own way, but I just didn’t feel it. The characters weren’t developed enough and I felt like the show spent too long trying to tell me things that I was meant to be feeling rather than giving me a reason to believe they were true. Basically I ended up thinking ‘is that it’ rather than being blown away by this one and that’s probably a good reason why I shouldn’t pay attention to internet hype.

Number 2: Angels of Death

Really, this one shouldn’t be too much of a shocker. Again, fans of the source really talked this one right up and then it kind of went splat. It wasn’t the obvious game dialogue, the shifting tone, the characterisation that didn’t sit right or even the plot that just didn’t seem to be connecting that ended up killing this for me. Nope, what killed it was that episode one promised me one tone and idea and then it was all taken away and replaced by other elements that were nowhere near as good. What had been intriguing in episode one evaporated leaving me with only elements that bored and even the fans of the source seemed to go quiet once the anime started rolling out so I guess a lot of people found the adaptation a little less than amazing (that said I do know a number of people who made it through this one, well done). Also, another fine example of why I shouldn’t listen to internet hype because I might have low-key enjoyed this if I had gone in expecting nothing.

Number 1: SAO Alternative: Gun Gale online

This one should be no surprise to people who have followed my posts. I love SAO. I really do. I was a little wary when I found out this spin-off was going to be set in GGO, my least favourite of the SAO worlds. Then I started it and met the characters and discovered the lack of anything resembling a forward moving plot. While I appreciate there’s an audience for pink bunny girls with guns playing a game in a kind of slice of life style thing with a story slowly developing in the background but four episodes in I was bored, still didn’t know where it was going, and didn’t really have any reason to watch. SAO Alternative went the way of Sword Oratoria in 2017. A spin-off for a show I loved that just missed everything about the original that I loved.

And that is my list done but next week I’ll turn it around and look at the shows that caught me by surprise. Where my expectations were zero and I ended up having a great time. In the meantime, remember to let me know in the comments which shows left you disappointed in 2018?

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Karandi James
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Junji Ito Collection Series Review: Twisted Tales and Weird Delusions, But Something Is Not Quite Right

This horror anime collection was talked up a lot before the season started, but how did it go in the end? Be sure to share your thoughts on the series in the comments below.

Review:

There are many creepy moments in this animated horror collection. Some of these include body horror, disgusting imagery, blood, and just a general feeling of unease and that something is very, very wrong. Where Collection doesn’t quite succeed is in translated these into a memorable narrative that lasts beyond the initial viewing.

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Part of the issue is the format of the show itself. Trying to convey two separate tales per twenty minute episode where the cast and object of horror is completely separate from the previous story means that there is never any build up or connection made with these weird and strange events. While in written form perhaps there is more lasting impact, but in anime form, these stories simply feel like sketches or outlines of a much greater narrative we’ll never get to see.

Even the stories I quite enjoyed, such as Smashed in episode 12 or earlier stories about the doll disease or the weird neighbour, never left more than a momentary impression before they were forgotten. Other stories just never clicked in the first place because we had no reason to be invested. This was definitely the case with the circus story where mostly it just seemed random and stupid rather than in any way creepy or scary. And yet, if time were given to building up the characters and providing motives and actually fleshing out the horror (and spreading out the deaths so it wasn’t quite so in your face) there is still real potential here.

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I’ve read the argument that the point of this anime is to introduce people to Ito’s work and while it might do that the impression it leaves on those who have never read the original work is not a particularly favourable one. You would have to admit after watching this that it is neither a particularly impressive animated series or a particularly impressive advertisement for the source material, though I imagine the source material probably works quite well as some of the imagery in the anime is quite disturbing and in still images would probably be more affective.

Which leads us to the artistic choices for this series. It is very dark (visually, though the subject matter is also clearly dark), but that doesn’t really add much to the atmosphere as at times it is actually difficult to make out what we are supposed to be seeing on the screen. The characters are all very flat and dull to look at and I guess if they are standing in for Average Joe they have succeeded but you would be hard pressed to remember a one of them after the anime was done (except Souichi who most of us will just wish we didn’t remember because that giggle of his was really obnoxious).

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Where the art shines is in some of the moments of horror themselves. The creepy smile, the model, the slug emerging from the girl’s mouth, even the centipede/brain thing, are all really remarkable images that while the animation isn’t amazing, the image itself sticks. Given more time and possibly a larger budget, bringing these moments to life could have lead to something truly amazing and instead we get glimpses of genius underneath a smearing of the very ordinary.

There isn’t a lot more to say about this other than it is basically formulaic with each story setting up a character dealing with or walking into a weird situation which rapidly escalates before the story ends, sometimes without any kind of resolution. The very good thing about this is you are not compelled to watch the whole series. You really could just pick and choose individual tales to watch from the collection and enjoy them for what they are without sitting through a whole series.

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While I’m not really recommending this, I didn’t hate it. Okay, I hated one or two moments where they crossed the line from horror to disgusting for the sake of it, but for the most part I found the episodes worked well enough even if I always felt the series was somewhat lacking. If you really enjoy horror, there’s enough here to make it worth while checking out, but ultimately the potential of this show far outweighs what it delivers.

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Junji Ito Collection Episode 12: Not With A Bang But With A Whimper

I guess it kind of works that for its final story this anime returns to Souichi and to the creepy model giving us a sense of some kind of progress throughout the course of this series of disjointed tales. To be fair, both the stories this week were quite interesting in different ways, and while I would have liked the first story to be given a whole episode to be developed, and a slightly stronger ending, I actually quite enjoyed it.

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However, otherwise the same criticisms of this anime continue with characters we don’t much care about facing supernatural horrors we aren’t really scared by and aren’t really given long enough with to really get caught up in the story. Also, the music and animation remain pretty ordinary.

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Still, this episode does at least allow this series to end on a high-ish note which will perhaps make people slightly more generous in their overall series reviews.

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Karandi James

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Junji Ito Collection Episode 11: Return To Weird Stories

The first story this week was actually kind of fun in a weird tales kind of way. Random transfer student shows up in town and suddenly weird things start happening. However, it isn’t the transfer student who is truly the problem but his appearance acts as a catalyst for some of the tensions in the group from the supernatural club bubble to the surface.

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The second story is also just kind of weird but not necessarily horrific. It certainly could have been if it had been given longer and more development, particularly the revelation about the couple who had lost a child, but instead this story remains a ‘what if’ kind of pondering without really delivering much more. The combination of graveyards and scarecrows is certainly unsettling though so great choice of setting.

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And that was this week’s Junji Ito Collection. Better than the previous two episodes but still not really reaching to actually being more than a watch once and done kind of affair.

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Karandi James

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Junji Ito Collection Episode 10: And I Thought Last Week Was Gross?

I wonder if the Junji Ito Collection anime took it as a challenge when I called it gross last week in my review? This week seemed all about being as gross as possible with the kind of body horror that just leaves a sick taste in your mouth and feeling a little unsettled. The story doesn’t actually scare or leave you feeling happy you watched it, it is just disgusting.

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And after the vileness that is the first story this week we then get a fairly standard but incomplete ghost story as a follow up. It isn’t particularly bad but it isn’t particularly good and it is hard to focus on when you are wanting to go and wash the horrid taste out of your mouth from the first story.

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I’ve been wanting this show to do more and actually use some of its ideas to give us something actually horrific but instead it has gone for body horror and the gross out effect and there’s quite a difference in the appeal of a show that can affect you psychologically and a show that just makes you want to vomit. My tolerance of this one is fast disappearing and this episode is my new low point for the winter season.

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Karandi James

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Junji Ito Collection Episode 9: So, Gross?

Review:

There’s probably a better word to describe the events of the second story, but gross was the impression I walked away with. Not scary or creepy, because it didn’t succeed on either front, but just disgusting. And like all of these stories it lacked sufficient context or grounding of the circumstances to really have any more impact than that. And no I didn’t take a screen cap of the blood bush thing growing from people’s necks. If you are really curious, just watch it.

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The first story worked a little better but like all of these stories it escalated too quickly. We went from meeting the girl, to being obsessed, to bashing in someone else’s head, to strangling the girl in minutes and none of these moments were given the time they needed to have real impact.

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It is a shame, because there was a lot of potential in that first story and I might have really enjoyed it if it had been delivered differently.

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Karandi James

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Junji Ito Collection Episode 8: There Are No Words

Review:

Again two stories though this week I kind of watched both in more or less stunned silence. The first one because by the time you kind of really knew what the story was about it ended and the second one because it was just too weird. The audience sitting through all those deaths just pushed credibility too far. And neither story was particularly interesting.

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The biggest problem with the first story, like with so many others in this series, is a lack of development. We enter the story after it has already begun, we see a quick snap shot as the situation escalates, and then it ends, all before we’ve had a chance to care about anything that is going on. As weird as the concept might be it just doesn’t sink in.

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However, the circus story is perhaps the weakest so far in this series. While it is apparent the ring master is evil, the only way this is actually confirmed is through a plea by the girl to the guy she loves when she declares the ring master is a demon. Whether he is or not is never answered and answering that might have helped bridge the credibility gap as to why the audience hadn’t really reacted to the copious scenes of death.

This show continues to remain on my watch list but I’m not really expecting much from it any more so I wasn’t disappointed this week.

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Karandi James

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If you enjoyed this post and would like to see Patreon2more great content on this blog, consider becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month.

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Another way you can support the content here is by buying a copy of ‘Thoughts on Anime 2017‘ as an ebook. It contains a selection of reviews, features and top 5 lists from 2017 and while the content is available free on the site, this is a great way to give a one off show of support for the blog. It is available for $3.99.

Finally, you can use the affiliate link to shop at Play-Asia.com ifPlay-Asia.com - Play-Asia.com: Online Shopping for Digital Codes, Video Games, Toys, Music, Electronics & more you are interested in anime, soundtracks, figures or games. Should you use the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.