We knew last week that the twins, Joji and Jota, were starting to wonder what their goal was and fortunately Run With The Wind isn’t interesting in dragging out any other drama unnecessarily (Kakeru’s story went on long enough). This week we see that come to a head and while the answers aren’t clear what is clear is that each member of this team is looking within to find their own reason to run and be a part of the team.
That doesn’t mean it is all smooth sailing with the twins acting particularly childishly leading to some discord within the group. Kakeru is particularly affected feeling guilty for not answering the twins after the qualifier about why they were running as he feels this is what has set them off. Still, that also leads to some fairly funny moments including Kakeru chasing down the twins when they ditch a road trip to view the course to go play soccer. The reaction of the other team members at the idea of outrunning Kakeru is pretty amusing.
Really this is the audience’s first view of the course they are going to run and while we move from site to site fairly quickly it looks like a mammoth ask for the team to complete the track, let alone actually get any kind of position. I was honestly blown away by the scale of this undertaking and I really do get why Kakeru said the entire thing was impossible way back in the beginning after seeing that.
Of course, it isn’t all team mates and finding reasons. The episode ends on Haiji back at the doctors and I wonder just when we’ll be let in on what has happened to him in the past, what has driven him to run, and whether this race is going to do some serious harm to him. I don’t think that would make him back down but I’m curious as to his story in all of this. Despite having a lot of screen time, Haiji is very good at revealing information about others while playing his own cards incredibly close to his chest.
As usual, this was visually a feast, the characterisation was on point, and this show just continues to be a delight to watch. It doesn’t demand much from its audience with its straight forward plot, but it does manage consistent entertainment.
With a lot of shows very strongly into their mid-season and some of the shine coming off those that started strongly and some of the weaker shows rallying and finding their feet, I decided it was probably time to take a look at the shows on my watch list this season and see how they were going. Unlike some seasons during 2018, there’s nothing on my watch list I actually actively dislike, which means even the anime vying for the bottom rung of my watch list are actually relatively decent shows even if they aren’t to my personal tastes.
That isn’t to say I’ve got nothing but golden shows on my list. In as much as there’s not a lot I really dislike, there’s not a lot that is making me sit up and take notice. Most shows this season I could watch or not and while I’m having fun part of me feels that as a viewer I was spoiled for choice last season with so many really great anime.
Right now I am following 15 anime and I’m going to count them down from the weakest on my watch list to the anime that might make it to the top for the end of the season. For each anime I’m going to give a brief impression so far and then my prediction for the rest of the season. These are all just my opinions and some of these anime are only 4 or so episodes in, so I’d love to know your take on the Winter Anime so far.
If you don’t want to read the whole post I’m going to try linking to the individual titles so you can check out the ones you are interested in. Hopefully it works.
There’s not much to say about this one. It isn’t a particularly good anime and the narrative so far has been told out of order for no reason that I can figure out other than to be annoying. The characters are pretty shallow and so far the exploration of the premise has been woefully underdeveloped.
I know, I said that I wasn’t watching anything really bad. And Grimms Notes isn’t. Watching it is kind of just numbing really. What kept it in my line-up at all is the fact that there is a potentially interesting premise at the core of this anime and if they get around to exploring it and the characters develop a bit and their motives are made clear, this has the potential to be really interesting. At the moment it isn’t, but it also isn’t unwatchable, so for now it can sit at the bottom of my watch list.
Prediction: This probably won’t improve and I’ll ask at the end of the season why I didn’t drop it.
Images from: Grimms Notes. Dir. S Shizutaka. Brain’s Base. 2019.
Number 14: Endro
This one was recommended to me by Cactus Matt. I’d actually passed on the first episode based on the art work and the basic write up as it didn’t seem like it was something I’d enjoy. In honesty, it isn’t really my kind of thing, but there are enough interesting points that I don’t dislike watching it, and I actually feel like it is getting more interesting as it progresses.
The main cast here are actually reasonably fun to spend time with when they are doing something (I’ll pass on anymore pyjama parties though) and the quests they go on are amusing enough. The fantasy elements are kind of fun and the comedy isn’t too eye-roll worthy. All and all, this one is actually just kind of pleasant but for me fairly forgettable.
Prediction: Either this will continue to be pleasant enough but unremarkable or we may take a downward turn if they up the comedy and slice of life aspects but minimise the adventuring. I guess we’ll see.
Images from: Endro! Dir. Kaori. Studio Gokumi. 2019.
Number 13: Boogiepop wa Warawanai
Frankly, Boogiepop wa Warawanai is a mess of frustrating narrative and bland visuals. But from a core concept point of view this one is something I should enjoy. Which is probably what makes it so frustrating is you can actually see a really interesting story bubbling underneath dull conversations and forgettable characters.
I’d really like to like this one more but at the moment I’m watching more out of hope for improvement than any expectation of it. Then again, even if it doesn’t improve noticeably, it is an interesting idea and one that I’m not going to regret watching (at least I hope not).
Prediction: I’ll be an optimist and hope this one makes my top ten by the end of the season because it just got that little bit better and utilised its strengths.
Images from: Boogipop wa Warawanai (2019). Dir. S Natsume. Madhouse. 2019.
Number 12: Kaguya-Sama Love is War
This one, I’m not loving the concept of. It is a beautifully produced anime, visually impressive, with a great score, but I’m just not feeling it. It doesn’t help that I’m not a comedy fan in the first place and that I find the central conceit of this anime ridiculous, nor does it help that so far most of the schemes have either been predictable or ludicrous.
Still, this one is actually getting a little better as it goes (something readers of the source have been insisting would happen since the start) and there’s a possibility of continued improvement. My main hope would be that the two main characters actually start to feel like characters and not caricatures and that would increase my enjoyment of this a lot more or less instantly.
Prediction: Again, I’ll be optimistic and hope that this one continues slowly getting better and maybe it will end up in the top ten by the end of the season.
Images from: Kaguya Sama: Love Is War. Dir. S Omata. A-1 Pictures. 2019.
Number 11: Meiji Tokyo Renka
Meiji Tokyo Renka has actually been rather surprising so far. I honestly expected something like Sengoku Night Blood or Libra of Nil Admirari neither or which was particularly noteworthy but both were watchable. However, Meiji Tokyo Renka has so far managed to make Mei, the protagonist, relatively interesting for a harem protagonist and I’m liking that they seem to be doing something with the premise.
Certainly this anime has its share of generic harem tropes and it isn’t exactly jumping to the top of my list, but I’m certainly actually enjoying watching it so far and it has the potential to get better as the season progresses.
Prediction: I think this one will sit right about here on the list. Even if it uses all its narrative potential the central premise here isn’t as interesting as some others and the overall production isn’t amazing. That said, I think it will stay entertaining.
Images from: Meiji Tokyo Renka. Dir. A Daichi. TMS Entertainment. 2019.
Number 10: Sword Art Online Alicization
I’m a little disappointed that this one is placing so low but realistically after a lot of set up in the first arc, this second arc has been trying to bury us under exposition and honestly the plot doesn’t seem to be moving anywhere very quickly and I’m not entirely sure I like a Kirito who sermonises more than hits things with his sword. All and all, Alicization isn’t really working for me.
There are certainly still moments of cool to be found in this series and that is what has kept it in the top ten (even if it is scraping the bottom). However we’ve come a long way from the Aincrad Arc and at this point I’m really convinced Aincrad was where Sword Art Online should have begun and ended. I really enjoy that story and while I like these characters, they’ve been suffering from increasing diminished returns ever since. Except Asuna who shone in the Mother Rosaria arc but she’s all but vanished from sight at this point.
Prediction: Disappointment? I think this will slide further down the list before it gets better. I’ll happily be wrong though.
Images from: Sword Art Online Alicization. Dir. M Ono. A-1 Pictures. 2018.
Number 9: My Roommate is a Cat
I do not believe I went in to this one with any expectations but for a slice of life story about a socially awkward author adopting a cat because he’s inspired to write a story despite no knowing how to look after a cat, this one is pretty adorable. The central gimmick of the cat getting to narrate the events of the episode from its perspective at the end each week works well enough and while this one isn’t exactly amazing, I’ve kind of found my relaxation viewing each week.
Alright, a lot of the draw for me is actually the author, Subaru. For some people they just find him rude and off-putting in the first couple of episodes but I actually kind of related to him fairly quickly and kind of saw his point when he was annoyed at his editor for dragging him out to a noisy place to talk when there really wasn’t any need to do so.
Prediction: This one is cute and relaxing but that’s about all so I’m doubting this will move any higher up the list unless something else seriously falls apart. That said, I’m not expecting this to really move down the list either as it has been pretty consistent so far.
Images from: My Roommate is a Cat. Dir. K Suzuki. Zero-G. 2019.
Number 8: The Morose Mononokean
Season one of The Morose Mononokean was kind of happy nothingness. I like yokai stories so I enjoyed it well enough but it wasn’t overly remarkable. Still there were a lot of potential plot points left unexplored and it has been an absolute delight seeing them being explored and expanded upon so far in season two. It is everything I could have hoped for from a follow up to this series.
I also think it looks a bit better this season though that might just be the distance between season one and two talking. Either way, so far season two of this has done an excellent job at looking at the characters and the lore of the underworld and I’m really curious to learn more about how everything works. Plus, more fuzzy.
Prediction: I wouldn’t have picked this one as a potential season favourite prior to watching it – more casual nothingness. However, if things continue to develop the way they are… This one has a lot of potential to rise up this list.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime has been up and down for me since the beginning. I wasn’t a huge fan of it but it slowly won me over and built on its strengths. The mid-season point, so the start of Winter 2019, was actually really solid. But we’ve since had a lot of talking and meetings and its been awhile since anything really exciting has happened.
Realistically, this one isn’t going to be topping my must watches any time soon, but on balance it has remained pretty fun to watch and given the absolute lack of stakes or tension it is pretty relaxing to tune into each week. That said, it is also hard to really care about where it is going.
Prediction: This will hover around here for the remainder of the season and whether or not it manages another emotional highlight, like Shizu’s death or the defeat of the orc lord, may determine whether it goes up a few spots before the end.
Really wasn’t expecting this one to place so high on the list and yes it is full of teen melodrama, enough to rival any soap opera, and no it isn’t overly logical and it does rely heavily on coincidence. What it does right though is make me actually care about the central trio (or at least two out of three) and want them to find some way to be happy at the end of all of this.
It kind of helped this along that it was nowhere near as trashy as the title and promo images made it look which automatically made me more favourable toward it (low expectations always help a show along). That and some of the characters have actually made some good decisions in amongst the melodrama that have surprised me. All and all, hardly a perfect anime but one that I’m kind of hooked on this season.
Prediction: One of two things will happen. Either this show will manage a beautiful emotional ending or it will completely implode. I’d love the former but I suspect the latter.
Images from: Domestic Girlfriend. Dir. S Ibata. Diomedea. 2019.
Number 5: The Price of Smiles
Of all the anime titles this season, this is the one I’m probably the least sure about. The first episode was interesting enough but relatively unimpressive. Since then, it has managed to really make me care about the characters despite the limited screen time some have had, and I’m interested in the conflict, but the anime as a whole is still a little bit rocky.
I think this one has a lot of potential but it all depends on where they take the story and if they actually get around to doing anything with the questions they are raising. Also, whether or not these characters actually learn anything at all from their experiences. It’s really hard to tell at this point if this anime has the strength of writing to get this right or not.
Prediction: I’d like to be hopeful but I suspect we may just have a show that kills off its characters toward the end in order to make for a tragic ‘war is bad’ kind of message rather than any actual narrative depth.
Images from: Egao no Daika. Dir. T Suzuki. Tatsunoko Production. 2019.
Number 4: The Rising of the Shield Hero
Well, this one certainly made a contentious start to the season. For me The Rising of the Shield Hero has done exactly what I expected having read the light novels. It isn’t great but it isn’t bad and so far the adaptation has it all the notes it has needed to even if it isn’t exactly the same as the source – though given how many versions the story has gone through all ready it would next be the question of which one.
Where Shield Hero is succeeding for me and why it is so high on my list is that it seems to have made Naofumi’s character a little more tolerable even in the early stages of the story, while still making him flawed enough that a redemption story is needed. Plus, Raphtalia is just kind of awesome. I’m having a lot of fun watching this one and looking forward to more.
Prediction: Not sure how much material they will cover in 25 episodes or whether we’ll end on a good resting point, but I do know that the novels meander a bit so this one may very well sink a little on this list despite generally thinking I’ll enjoy it.
I suspect already that this one is not going to last in the top 5 by the end, however I’m leaving it here for now for the simple reason that I’m glad an anime that is deciding to put teenage girls through trauma is then actually interested in examining how trauma affects people. Some of the things anime characters go through and just kind of shrug off with no lingering impact is kind of insane so dealing with the real ongoing trauma as Asuka tries to integrate into a normal life, was actually kind of great.
Though a single concept within a story can’t keep it as a must watch unless it does something else. Visually, this one is a bit hit and miss but there are some beautiful sequences. The characters have so far been the strength of the show but the villains are a little weakly developed at this point. There’s a lot that might be amazing about this and a lot that could go wrong so we’ll see where it ends up at the end of the season.
Prediction: I don’t think this will stay in the top 5 but I do think I’ll be glad I gave it a watch this season.
Images from: Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka. Dir. H Yamamoto. LIDENFILMS. 2019.
Number 2: The Promised Neverland
Such a promising, suspenseful and beautifully directed start to the Promised Neverland. While I will admit we’ve gradually been winding back the praise on this one, it was still a first episode well worth watching because so few anime manage that much characterisation, world building and intrigue in twenty minutes. Plus, the directions of this series has so far been really interesting though even that aspect seems to be winding down.
I’m definitely with this one for the season and in terms of genre it is doing a great job of keeping my interest. Now that the anime is far enough ahead I’ve read the first volume of the manga and my interest is even more piqued by the potential for this plot. Still, there’s been some shaky characterisation in the last couple of episodes and that gorgeous direction seems to be giving way to more pedestrian approaches. It will be interesting to see if this one can hold its nerve to the end.
Prediction: This one may not stay quite so high on my list but it would have to make a serious downward turn to leave my top 5. Very much recommend trying this one.
Images from: The Promised Neverland. Dir. M Kanbe. CloverWorks. 2019.
Number 1: Run With The Wind
I do not think I ever believed that a sports anime (other than Yuri On Ice) would be topping my watch list and yet Run With The Wind has managed to build from strength to strength over its season. I doubt it is going to derail now and it has been exception at building up the cast of characters despite the large number of them. Add in great sound design and some interesting visual choices and we have a very solid anime.
I like that this anime doesn’t seem willing to bite off more than it can chew. It knows what it is and it isn’t trying to be anything more than that. But it is working hard to deliver the story of these boys coming together as a team in an interesting manner and so far it has largely succeeded (though Kakeru’s back story dragged on a little too long). I’m very much caught up in this story at this point and hopefully it will nail the ending.
Prediction: This may not finish number one but it will definitely be up the top of my list. Consistent delivery of quality character work and competent narrative makes this an easy recommend.
This is it, the qualifier. The team will either make it to the next level or their dream will end right here. There’s plenty of drama to be had in an episode that shows off many of this anime’s excellent qualities. After last week of Run With The Wind made me realise just how much I cared whether they advanced or not, this episode made me realise that there’s been a lot of thought and craft put into this anime.
I kind of knew that already having previously commented on the visuals and the use of sound in this anime as well as how well realised such a large cast became. However, this episode brought all of its best elements together and delivered a suspenseful and dramatic episode that was still incredibly fun to watch. Basically, it invited us into the role of the spectators and made us love every minute of it (which given I probably would hate watching a real foot race is kind of surprising just how much fun they made this). Yet underpinning all that enjoyment of seeing characters putting all their training into practice, there was this knot in my stomach hoping Haiji would make it to the end and hoping that Prince managed to make a reasonable time.
While the outcome is certainly predictable, it doesn’t matter. They still manage to build up the drama beautifully in this episode and couple that with great use of sound and some great visuals throughout the race. The perspective switching from the different runners to the news crews to the fan club watching on the side lines keeps things from becoming stale and before you know it the episode is coming to an end.
Of course, they couldn’t just let us end on a high note. The twins have to raise a fairly pointed question right before the credits and clearly that is travelling over into the next episode. It makes sense that having accomplished one of the major goals that it would be time to reflect on what you are doing and why but the anime could have let us enjoy the moment for just a little bit longer before dropping the tone like that. It works from a dramatic point of view but it was a little bit a of a buzz kill to my mood.
I am very rarely invested in sports anime and in the notion of who wins an event or not. Emotionally I just don’t think it matters though the characters certainly give it their all and try hard to carry me on their journey. Yuri managed it in Yuri on Ice because victory, while certainly a goal, wasn’t what really carried the story. It was more his personal success at finding his confidence on the ice and being able to skate the way he wanted to skate without nerves sabotaging him. That I found to be a truly triumphant journey.
So as I watched the ten boys line up at the start of the qualifier here I had to wonder why I was tense and holding my breath as the count down started? Why every drop of rain made me worry for falls and injuries that might doom their attempt? Why did I even care and when did that start?
For an episode that mostly sat in a holding patter with Haiji reviewing training schedules and fretting that he hadn’t pushed hard enough, and the majority of the boys getting excited over minor achievements and some publicity, it was almost as if Run With The Wind itself was holding its breath and waiting for the moment to release it. We’re reminded once again that none of these boys outside of Haiji and Kakeru are runners and yet what they’ve already accomplished just by being able to participate in the qualifier is astounding (and a little far-fetched in the case of Prince but that personal triumph was television gold and I won’t let reality mess with that).
I can’t remember half their names and individually each character isn’t exactly compelling. But, much like the theme the anime has been hitting us over the head with for some time, these characters aren’t individuals. They are a team. And the team, collectively is a fascinatingly odd bunch of boys that compensate for the weaknesses of the others and collectively they’ve overcome so much. It would feel somewhat cheap for their journey to end here and the thing is, I don’t think it matters if we ever get to the real race. Just having this team ultimately being able to compete in it would be the triumphant finish I need for this story.
So whether or not I want to admit it, I do care. Haiji, the most arrogant manipulator on the planet as I once called him, has persisted and worked hard and brought the team together even if sometimes through under-handed means, but has cared deeply for each individual he dragged into his dream and all of them have gained from the experience.
As the episode drew to a close my heart nearly stopped at the cliff-hanger and while I know exactly what the show is doing and I don’t much like emotional manipulation part of me wants to shake the monitor and scream ‘why’ at it as the closing credits play. Maybe the problem is, I started caring a little too much.
In typical fashion the training camp has come to an end but not without another gag as Haiji tries to inspire the team by showing them an edited video of the relay, seeing some more montages of the boys training in the summer, firework hijinx and finally a shot of the team standing side by side and staring off into the horizon.
It’s all very functional and necessary though nothing particularly unexpected at this juncture and little risk taken visually or with the sound which is a bit of a shame given how some moments in this series have really taken off because of how they’ve been presented. There’s nothing wrong with this sequence but it also feels like we’ve seen all this before and so ultimately it serves its narrative purpose but is forgettable as we transition into the final races leading up to the qualifying one.
We see the last team members getting their official times until only Prince is left. He marks off the calendar and we can see he has only one chance left before the qualifier and if he can’t get a time they can’t even try to qualify. It’s one of those forced tension moments that sports anime do so well, but here the thirteen episodes of build-up and Prince’s growth as a runner kind of warrant this sort of attention and so it is actually reasonably satisfying.
By the same token, there’s little doubt what the outcome will be and while Run With The Wind takes another opportunity to drive home its teamwork and supporting each other mentality with sweet and charming results, there’s not a lot of suspense. The joy here is in knowing the outcome and feeling the characters have earned it.
Looking forward to next episode which I assume will be the qualifier. Unless the anime wants to throw another road block in the way first just to up the emotional stakes. I’m hoping not.
The episode begins with a punch but not the one we expect after last week. Instead, we see Kakeru punching his high school coach. Then, after the OP, we return to the present where Kakeru’s punch is brought up short by his teammates.
It is a powerful start to what is a fairly well directed episode even if the overall subject matter ends up being less impressive. I’m going to be honest, Kakeru’s drama has dragged on so long and ends up being able to be boiled down to angry teenage boy acted impulsively after not doing anything about regulating his emotions over a long period and then had to deal with consequences that came down across the whole track team. For people who were directly involved I guess it would be a big issue but as an audience member at this stage I’m kind of indifferent to Kakeru’s issues and mostly just wanted him to get over them so we could get on with the rest of the characters who’ve proven to be delightful.
That said, despite the story itself not being all that great, the cuts back and forth between Kakeru’s high school days and his present moments training with the team build up a sense of a climatic reveal regardless of how you feel about the reveal. The use of static over the flash backs, with more interference and noise the closer we get to the punch, is highly effective at conveying Kakeru’s mental state.
Why we needed a sit down with the whole team to ‘confess’ everything is something I’ll never quite understand but the team’s reactions are predictable and suitably amusing. It does feel though like the end of this episode has brought a breath of fresh air with this whole Kakeru’s mysterious past finally being out there and so I’m very much looking forward to next week. Particularly when the preview at the end of this episode shows we are going to get some more time with Prince.
Run With The Wind continues to be surprisingly compelling despite being a show about ten guys running around in circles. Okay, I’m not into watching marathons or track. What continues to sell this story are the characters and the way their progress is being handled. While not as overt emotional development as we are seeing in Tsurune, Run With The Wind excels at small moments and small triumphs. While Kakeru and Haiji continue to get the lion’s share of the focus each team member is given enough smaller moments scattered throughout episodes that we don’t forget them and they all feel like they are going on this journey.
After the gap between episode 11 and 12 we have a new OP and ED. I’m not sold on the OP at all but the ED is pretty great. The rest of the sound remains on point and this is one anime where the sound direction continues to need to be applauded.
Takashi and Yuki get a moment to shine and celebrate early in this episode and it was nice to see this small moment. They didn’t win the race but they both managed a qualifying time and it feels like a very natural development given how close both of these characters have been to this previously. I also loved that the team dynamic is still very much in tact with the twins stealing a lot of dialogue but each character having their moment. The one disappointment from this episode was the decided absence of Prince quips and his only real contribution was getting travel sick on the way to the camp.
However, by the end of the episode all the earlier moments may fade from memory as the episode veers very much into another round of Kakeru has issues and the red-haired guy from the other school whose name I won’t ever remember is still being a jerk. It kind of leaves a sour taste as it feels like this whole plot line has lingered far too long without either being addressed or resolving and at this point I’d really like it to as almost everything else in the anime is more interesting.
Still, Run With The Wind remains a compelling viewing experience and one that I’m still pleasantly surprised by. Looking forward to where it goes during its second cour.
So it turns out Run With The Wind is going to have a gap between this episode and the next so this is likely my last episode review for the year. Therefore it is kind of fitting that this episode so clearly demonstrated one element of this anime that has been amazing from episode 1, because I really haven’t talked much about it: the sound.
Before I get into that though, I want to address the character focus this week Takahashi. Now he has been in all the team scenes and working away in the background since the beginning, but like many of his team mates, I’d kind of overlooked him as a character despite his contribution.
However, this episode really brings his contribution and his strengths to the forefront and I absolutely loved it. As Kakeru points out, Takahashi was the first of the reluctant housemates to embrace running, he’s been to every training without skipping and a tireless worker at recruiting supporters. This is a character who well and truly deserves more time and attention, and yet I’m going to leave him here and get back to the sound design of this episode and why it is the real star (sorry Takshashi).
Throughout this whole episode the external scenes are filled with rain. It is a persistent down pour and visually this makes the episode quite dark but it also means that each of these scenes is filled with the background sound of rain. Unlike so many other shows, Run With The Wind finds the perfect balance of sound levels that the rain is pervasive but it doesn’t drown out the dialogue or other sounds. It is all beautifully executed.
What also works is the fantastic contrasts. The episode cuts back and forth between running or training in the rain and that heavy downpour, and interior scenes where the rain is muted or absent and the audience and the characters find relief. In these scenes other incidental noises (the bathhouse sounds or the sound of the treadmill, the clicking of keys on the computer) take centre stage and manage to fill the void while not being over-whelming.
All of this leads to the final scene of the episode where the rain has ended and we see the dog playing in the yard with the bird chirping in the background. It is a relief from the sound and carries the audience to the perfect emotion for the ending.
However, this episode wasn’t the first where the sound was masterfully done. This is a consistent positive in a series that is just getting better as it goes. Still, I’m glad that I had the chance to focus on this aspect this week as I really do believe it is a reason to watch the anime.
I kind of thought it last week, with my episode review focusing on Kakeru having to take a step back to see things. This week we see the full fruit of his observations as with Haiji out of the picture it falls on Kakeru to keep the team together. Only not really. After a brief moment of panic and some breakfast making hi-jinks (cause of course none of the guys can cook – breathing the cliche right there) the only one Kakeru ends up really working with is Prince.
Of course, given the friction between Kakeru and Prince, this is kind of a completely necessary step so you can almost forgive Run With The Wind for the cheesy and overused ‘Haiji collapses from exhaustion’ story-line in order to orchestrate this moment. I’ve said it before, but being trite or generic isn’t a problem provided you do it well and Run With The Wind fully committed to this plot line and made it work.
From the mirroring between Kakeru and Prince in the kitchen to Haiji working with Prince and his manga obsession to improve his form, this episode was full of happy surprise moments that just nailed exactly what they needed to. By the time we see Prince and Kakeru back on the track for real, the audience will feel like they’ve been on this journey with the characters and it is absolutely rewarding. You’ll also want to be apart of the team cheer at the end.
Still, while it might be seen as Prince getting better at running, which he is, something else has fundamentally changed that is going to impact the entire dynamic of the anime. And that is, Kakeru is no longer only obsessed with winning or being fast. His slowing down to run alongside Prince and encourage him briefly is an incredible character shift and if it hadn’t had the focus it got it would have felt really unearned. Instead though, it feels like the audience has had plenty of time hoping Kakeru would get his head together and finally we’re seeing some payoff in the form of the most adorable scenes in the anime so far.
Hopefully this series continues to grow its characters and take full advantage of moments like these because if it can do that it will end up being a very solid anime and one that I’d happily recommend despite being a sports anime.
Continuing my lists of anime from 2018, I am now looking at the most visually interesting anime. Notice it does not claim the best visuals or animation. To be honest, as long as something is watchable I generally don’t pay a huge amount of attention other than to decide something looks pretty or not. For instance, Angolmois managed to have me complaining about how ugly it looked almost every episode so I knew it had to be pretty bad for me to pay that much attention to it (that and Devils’ Line – what was it with weird filters this year).
Still, there are some requirements for an anime to be on my radar for visuals. I need to like the look it is going for. It needs to feel slightly different from the other shows I’ve been watching. Some good choices in direction usually help. And, let’s be honest, the animation needs to be pretty smooth. Now, some of my choices on the list won’t have all of those things, but that’s kind of what I’m going for. And that term ‘interesting’ is in the title for a reason. I need to have found the visuals interesting, as in I thought they were worth mentioning and discussing on more than one occasion because they grabbed my interest.
Which is kind of how 18if made it onto the top of the list for 2017 and March Comes in Like a Lion took out second place in 2017 and top place in 2016. These anime demanded that I pay attention to their visuals and gave me imagery that stayed with me well after the episodes had ended. So what made my list in 2018?
This year I’m giving an honourable mention to Run With The Wind and Darling in the Franxx. Franxx’s animation was gorgeous and the character designs were really cute. Even if I’m not a big fan of Trigger in general, it is hard to argue with those visuals. Run With The Wind has moments of spectacular direction and aesthetics and then large stretches where it feels pretty ordinary. If it could harness those moments where visually it just nails the scene, it would definitely have made it on the official list.
While there were many parts of this reboot/sequel that didn’t quite work out as well as I would have liked, visually this was everything I could have ever wanted. Cardcaptor had always been beautiful but the update to the look of the show was spectacular. The magical moments sparkled and did everything they needed to, but it was the attention to detail on the everyday aspects, trees, leaves, flowers, cooking, background characters, that really sold me on the visuals of this one. While the story ended up being kind of meh, there is no denying how pretty this anime turned out.
I will admit, this one has some wavering quality with some sequences being outstandingly pretty and others being more ordinary, but it never looks bad. The archery has so far been beautifully animated, the characters are lovely to look at and differentiated enough that you don’t get confused, and there’s just a general care and attention to detail here that is truly pleasurable to watch. I accept that some of what makes this work is how the visuals and sounds are paired together, but ultimately this is one very pretty sports anime.
Right, it would have been just plain wrong to leave this one off of the list. For all that I didn’t find season three as enticing as seasons one and two, this season really did bring some spectacular animation to the mix of the already fairly amazing character designs and general distinct look of the show. For all that My Hero Academia is pretty classic shounen, everything about the look of the show has managed to make itself feel unique and the ongoing impressive quality of the action sequences where it never feels like lazy or reused imagery means this anime remains one that should be praised for just how good it manages to look.
So, yeah, this one is on the list for the third year in a row (because it is awesome). I’m kind of sad that once again it has lost out on first place given it is still a truly amazingly beautiful anime to watch. Even in its most mundane moments, March Comes in Like a Lion manages to use an impressive combination of visual symbolism and interesting direction to draw the viewer’s eye to whatever they wish us to focus on. They are crafting an amazing character journey and the reason it works so well is very much because of how they present each stage. However, what really impressed in 2018 was the scene where Rei returned to his foster parents’ house. The awkwardness of that scene and the emotions both characters were feeling came through beautifully. It was something really simple and yet it worked spectacularly well. Wait, why didn’t I put this at number one again?
Oh right, March Comes in Like a Lion couldn’t quite beat this one for direction in its second half of season two (which is all that aired in 2018). Now, if you want to see something that feels like it has been carefully constructed with love and attention to detail in every single frame, Bloom Into You is the anime for you. I love the direction, the use of colour and contrasts, the character designs, quite literally everything about this anime is beautiful and it works to construct a story that emotionally takes the audience on a ride. It is a truly amazing thing to see in action and there isn’t a single sequence that isn’t worth rewatching just to think about how it has been put together and why it is so amazing.
And that brings us to the end of my list of visually interesting anime for 2018. However, as always, I am dying to know what the rest of you thought this year. Please share your favourites in the comments below.
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.