Tuesdays Top 5: Disappointments from 2016

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

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

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

Number 5: Food Wars Season 2

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

Number 4: The Morose Mononokean

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

Number 3: Flip Flappers

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

Number 2: Izetta: The Last Witch

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

Number 1: Kiznaiver

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

Those are my 5 biggest disappointments from 2016.


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The Morose Mononokean Series Review

Overview:

Ashiya Hanae picks up what he thinks is a bag on the side of the road, however it turns out to be a yokai who becomes attached to him (quite literally for awhile). Desperate to be free of it, Ashiya turns to an exorcist (who turns out to be a class mate). Now, Ashiya has to work to pay off his debt and in the meantime he is learning about the yokai who live in the world.

I reviewed this week to week so if you are after individual episode thoughts click here.

Review:

It’s never fair to judge a show by comparing it to others. Mostly because even if it is not as good as another show, that doesn’t stop it from being a good show. Unfortunately, right from the beginning this show reminded me of a cross between Natsume Yuujinchou and Ghost Hunt and it didn’t really do either of those shows justice.

So, other than my disappointment that The Morose Mononokean didn’t follow along with my predetermined view of what it should be, what is there to say about it?

Ashiya and Abeno are both kind of interesting characters. Ashiya’s a little shouty at times and suffers from that affliction that hits so many protagonists of having to have everything fit within their narrow view of the world or fight against it (leading to awkward apologies when they realise that not everyone who isn’t following their moral compass is actually doing something wrong). Abeno on the other hand is a little too stoic and needs to try communicating occasionally to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. That said, the two together kind of balance each other out nicely and if the show had only had one or the other it could have been a train-wreck right from the get-go. Both of these characters are needed.

The problem is that both of these characters keep being set up to have an interesting past or some sort of secret and none of this is ever dealt with. We get a little tiny bit of Abeno’s history but we are still missing a lot of pieces and any foreshadowing that Ashiya has some sort of hidden power comes to nothing (though would have been actually kind of cool). Admittedly, if the story continues in another season then there is plenty of places to go but if that is it (other then a read that manga kind of finish) then the characters really didn’t go far in terms of development.

The yokai that are introduced are all kind of entertaining in a monster of the week kind of way, however as the show is obsessed with not actually villainising anyone or anything there is little to no tension in the encounters no matter how bad they try to make a situation look early on. After the first two or three false alarms you just kind of expect that there is in fact no danger and that it will all solve itself no problem. That said, Fuzzy is one of the most adorable characters I’ve met for sometime.

There’s also a raft of support cast (including class mates, Ashiya’s mother, the Legislator, etc) who are introduced but have so little screen time that their overall impact is pretty negligible even though some of these characters might have been really interesting to learn a bit more about.

I know I said this a number of times during episode reviews but it always felt like this show was keeping us at a distance from the actual story. It was as though they wanted to give us a taste of this world but then wouldn’t really let us get into it.

From a plot point of view it is very monster of the week. There’s the overall relationship between Ashiya and Abeno and Ashiya working for Abeno but otherwise they take on a job, run around a bit, argue a bit, and then solve the case (usually making a friend) and then they move. This is a fairly standard plot structure for these type of shows and it works well enough but every now and then an actual sense of danger or drama might have helped.

Visually it isn’t anything special but I found it kind of pretty and I liked the character designs. The underworld particularly was quite striking and I enjoyed the scenes that took place there.

All and all, this is a watchable bit of entertainment but it isn’t particularly good or bad. My recommendation is to watch it on a rainy afternoon when you just want to relax and it will succeed at amusing you. That’s about it though.

 

The Morose Mononokean Episode 13

Review:

The episode is called ‘The End’ and while it certainly ended the crisis with Ashiya’s vision it didn’t really offer any other insight or resolution. That and they kind of just gathered every character together and used their emotions to solve the problem. Really? Anyway, the final episode ends much the way the show has gone all the way along. It’s as if we are just continuing to skim over the top of a much more interesting story but at the same time being given enough that we keep coming back. I haven’t heard any news of a season 2 at this stage so I guess we’ll just have to be satisfied with a ho-hum story of two human boys learning to find the balance between human and yokai.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 12

Review:

For the first time this series has decided to actually take a problem seriously and drag it out. While it almost seems certain that everything will be fine by the end of next episode, it was nice to see the characters we’ve met over the season rallying to solve Ashiya’s problem. And Fuzzy clinging to Ashiya toward the end was just kind of heart breaking.

What this series hasn’t done is given us any further information about either Ashiya or Abeno and maybe there isn’t anymore to these characters than what meets the eye but it hasn’t felt like that for most of the series so it really feels like we’re going to end this series barely scratching the surface of the mysteries that might have been. Not really fair to criticise a show for what it isn’t, but in this case the show just isn’t quite enough as it is. it is pleasant and enjoyable and the characters have been fun but there’s always something missing from the mix.

On a side note, I finally managed to spell the title right first go and now the show is about to end.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 11

Review:

I feel this episode would have had far more impact if my internet connection hadn’t continuously dropped while trying to watch it. As a result, I saw the episode in 2 – 5 minute blocks with a lot of frustrated waiting and reloading in between.

The episode picks up from last episode and we finally see Ashiya face a consequence for being an overly kind nit-wit. The question becomes will this lead to anything resembling a real conflict to be resolved or will they just wrap it up nicely in the first three minutes of the next episode (if there were any hints after the credits, I didn’t see them this week due to lack of loading). I enjoyed this episode more than the last couple despite the interruptions but I still feel this anime hasn’t quite managed to nail consistency or engage me with the characters as well as I would have liked to be.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 10

Review:

Once again the ‘problem’ set up in the previous episode turned out to be not much and while Ashiya and Abeno did succeed at exorcising a yokai (helped him move on from past regret), the reason they went to the farm was actually not addressed in the end. As much as I like the look and feel of this show, from the point of view of the plot it isn’t really going very far. I do like the addition of Zenko to the group as she provides a little bit of a buffer between the rounds of Ashiya and Abeno bickering but because she can’t really see the yokai she isn’t involved at critical moments. It makes her a nice supporting cast member and I hope she hangs around.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 9

Review:

Humans doubt exorcists. There’s a revelation for Ashiya. In what was probably the least interesting episode yet, Abeno and Ashiya are called to a house by a girl who thinks her room is possessed. Turns out she’s right, but her mother is not particularly thrilled at her spending her allowance on an exorcism. Anyway, little is learned or revealed through the episode but the end then sets up the next issue for next week. As you can tell, I didn’t much love this week’s episode.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.

Summer 2016 Week 8

Here’s week 8. Wow, I can’t believe how fast this season is flashing by. It really feels like it was just yesterday when I was trying out the first episode of so many anime and having to decide what to drop and what to follow. I can’t say I made the best choice in holding on to either Taboo Tattoo or Hitorinoshita this long, but that’s hindsight for you. What are you still watching that you should have dropped?

Apologies for earlier this week when I lost internet access. If I haven’t dropped by your blog, let me know and I’ll catch up.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the season below.

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I Must Keep Watching

  • D.Gray-Man Hallow (Ep 8)
  • Alderamin on the Sky (Ep 7)
  • Days (Ep 8)
  • Tales of Zestiria (Ep 7)
  • The Morose Mononokean (Ep 8)

D Gray Man Hallow is telling a compelling story and packing an emotional punch (at least for fans of the show who are already in love with the characters – hard to tell how anyone else would take the last three episodes). I’m loving it and while I don’t feel the wait was worth it (that was a long break), I am so happy this is back.

Alderamin is just a good anime. That’s really all there is to it. It isn’t flash and it isn’t trying to do anything particularly amazing but it is telling its story about its characters and it is doing it really well. For a military/fantasy anime it is one of the better ones in terms of not going for spectacle and just getting the fundamentals right. While I understand some people are finding it a bit slow, I’m genuinely loving watching this anime.

Days continues to charm and I just found out it’s hanging around for the Autumn season so I’ll get to see whether an anime about soccer (football) can actually keep me hooked that long. Seems like it so far.

Tales of Zestiria took us back to Sorey and friends and actually did a pretty good job of picking up where we left off. Honestly, as an anime there are a lot of issues here, and as I’m not a fan of the game when I do my overall review I will probably be pretty critical of some aspects, however, it is a lot of fun to watch.

Lastly, The Morose Mononokean delivered a so-so episode. Another one like this and I may drop this to the On My Radar group.

 

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Still On My Radar

  • Orange (Ep 8)
  • Food Wars (Ep 8)
  • 91 Days (Ep 7)
  • Cheer Boys (Ep 7)
  • Momokuri (Ep 16)

Yep, I dropped Orange down here. Sorry to the fans, but Naho is driving me crazy and the overly contrived plot this week was the final straw. While I am not tempted to drop this, I’m also not mad keen on waiting for the next episode any more.

Food Wars delivered a really strong episode but I’m still not moving this up to the Must Watch because too much of this season has been the Autumn Election with very little else happening. I loved this week though, as it gave us more interactions with other characters as we were preparing for the next match rather than straight into it.

91 Days continues to be watchable but not particularly impressive. I feel that without a substantial drive toward a climax this show will ultimately be very forgettable for me. That isn’t to say it isn’t good. The storyline is fine and so are the characters. But it just feels that after a very solid and impressive opening the anime has been content to go through the usual family conflicts and hasn’t really delivered anything particularly noteworthy. Should I discount a show because it didn’t live up to its first episode? Probably not, and I am still watching and enjoying 91 Days. However, it just isn’t going to move up on my list without something changing soon.

Cheer Boys went for some actual conflict this week and it didn’t really spoil the overall feel good atmosphere the show has gone for up until now. It kind of felt like the right time in the series for a serious break down in the team so as long as next week does something about it, this will be fine.

Momokuri ran into a small problem this week when I genuinely found myself criticising the animation rather than watching the show. This is not an anime built on a foundation of impressive animation and the animation didn’t get any worse. That indicates to me that I’m finally getting tired of cute couple getting awkwardly together. It’s kind of what happened with Rinne. The anime didn’t actually get worse, but I’d kind of found that my interest in it was done.

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Not Dropped But Close

  • Hitorinoshita (Ep 7)
  • Taboo Tattoo (Ep 8)

Hitorinoshita managed to surprise me with a not terrible 7th episode. Does that mean the anime is going to improve as we come to the end of the season? I actually kind of hope so because there are still some fascinating ideas hidden underneath the poor characterisation and storytelling we’ve had so far. Definite improvement during episode 7.

Lastly, Taboo Tattoo manages to be definitively the worst anime I am still watching this season. I’m actually looking forward to it ending so I can review the entire series and then never think about it ever again.

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Dropped

  • Cute High Earth Defence Club Love (Dropped at Ep 4)
  • The Highschool Life of a Fudanshi (Dropped at Ep 4)
  • Sweetness and Lightning (Dropped at Ep 4)
  • Danganronpa 3 (Dropped at Ep 1)
  • Mob Psycho 100 (Dropped at Ep 1 – Revisited to Ep 3)
  • Servamp (Dropped at Ep 2 – Revisited to Ep 3)
  • Rewrite (Dropped at Ep 2)
  • The Disasterous Life of Saiki K (Dropped at Ep 1)
  • Ozmafia (Dropped at Ep 1)
  • Scar-red Riders XechS (Dropped at Ep 1)
  • Qualidea Code (Dropped at Ep 1)
  • First Love Monster (Dropped at Ep 1)

What’s your pick for best show this season? What about the worst?

 

The Morose Mononokean Episode 8

Review:

This show has done this twice now. Set up a conflict at the end of one episode only to resolve it within minutes of the next making it more or less a non-issue. Abeno’s foul mood about the jobs this episode aside, very little happened after the issue with the fox was finalised. Yes, we did get to see a young Abeno (so cute) playing with the fox in what was probably a totally unnecessary flashback and we got to see Ashiya taking the initiative on a job, but really this episode felt like we were marking time.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 7

Review:

This episode brings back the girl Ashiya met at the temple and introduces a fox yokai that at first seems more annoying than anything else. I really enjoyed watching this episode as all the way through it there was a growing sense of unease. Shame the episode doesn’t resolve but it does leave off at an excellent spot if they want to make us wait for next week. Also, it’s kind of fun watching Abeno get flustered not once but twice this episode. Ashiya also get’s a moment where he actually uses his powers of observation. Anyway, great episode, a little darker than some of the previous ones, and now I need episode 8.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.