Spring 2019 Anime Mid-Season Thoughts

Right, I’m still playing catch-up with some shows this season and other shows I’m only able to watch a week after they air so while it is the mid-season there’s still a few shows I’m in the early stages of. That said, I’ve kind of got a rough idea of each of the shows I’m following, at least enough to do my current impressions of the season.

There’s a lot of talk about Spring being a weak season and to be honest it isn’t as though that is wrong. The biggest titles this season are all follow up seasons to shows that you are either already a fan of or not, or a reboot of an old show, and most of the new shows are either on the average side or very niche titles. That said, while there’s nothing really blowing me away I’ve certainly ended up with plenty on my watch list that I am enjoying.

So here are the anime I’m following from weakest to strongest for the season as they stand right now based on what I’ve seen so far.

Number 15: Amazing Stranger

I’m actually more amazed that I’m still watching, though I have made it to episode 6 (reviews of the episodes 5 + 6 coming next week). The short length of the episodes helps but really this anime isn’t very good even in terms of being fan-service or a silly comedy. It just doesn’t commit to being anything and so we have something that is barely average in almost every sense of the word. Still, it does follow one fantasy of your favourite figure coming to life so I guess there is still an audience for this and it isn’t as though it is unwatchable even if there is little to recommend it.

Number 14: Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu

Hitoribocchi is actually a pretty cute anime and a lot of people are really enjoying it and have really connected with Bocchi, the shy and timid protagonist on a mission to make friends. It is one of those anime that if you really like slice of life and cute girls making friends will probably work really well for you. For me, this one is a swing and a miss. I actually like Bocchi, the central character, and Nako, her first friend in the class, but almost every other member of the cast annoys me to no end and the drawn out nature of each situation to the full twenty minutes just makes me want to watch the clock. Still, there are a lot of people who are pretty positive about this one so depending on your preferences, it might be worth checking out.

Number 13: Fairy Gone

One of the anime I’ve seen hitting a lot of viewer’s dropped lists this season, Fairy Gone hasn’t done itself many favours in how it has presented its narrative so far. Couple that with the visuals that just aren’t all that appealing and it is easy to see why people are walking away. For me, this one has the minor advantage of being squarely based around subject matter I’m interested in and having two cours so I’m willing to give it a little longer to get its set-up in order but it is starting to wear out that grace period. There’s potential here but it isn’t hitting yet so I’m not exactly saying you should get on board with this one, but it is one I’m still waiting to make a final decision about.

Number 12: Afterlost

I feel like I could repeat a lot of what I just said about Fairy Gone, though the visuals are a bit better in Afterlost and there’s been less random flashbacks. Still, there’s a lot in Afterlost that hasn’t quite come together yet and while I get the reason why they are delaying explanations, it is becoming more and more important that when we finally get those explanations they make a lot of sense because if they don’t tie things together we’re just going to be left with a mess. Still, there’s a lot of potential in this story and if they’ve actually thought it through it could be worth the time, but I won’t recommend it until I see what they do with all their ideas.

Number 11: Senryuu Shoujo

I actually feel a little bad about placing this one so far down the list because it is working very well for what it is. This cute short anime is a slice of life that focuses on Nanako, a girl who doesn’t speak but communicates by writing poems, and Eiji, a misunderstood member of her club. The two of the are adorable together but not a lot happens in this one. It really is just slice of life and while I can appreciate this one, it isn’t exactly the kind of anime I get super excited about. Still, this one is definitely a relaxing viewing experience and for those who like this type of anime there’s plenty to appeal.

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Number 10: RobiHachi

I’m only a few episodes into this one and it isn’t my usual kind of story but I will admit I’m having a lot of fun with the random space hi-jinx on offer here. Robi is not a character I can usually get behind but despite his brash attitude he’s actually kind of charming in how he’s presented here and he pairs well with Hachi’s personality. Whether I find this entertaining for the duration of a season remains to be seen but so far this one is making me laugh and I’m enjoying the absurdity of it as well as the bright colour palette.

Number 9: One Punch Man Season 2

Considering I was not looking forward to a second season, having felt the first season more or less ran the joke into the ground, season 2 has actually been surprisingly decent. I know the criticisms about the change in studio and quality and music which have soured some viewers are valid criticisms and certainly this one doesn’t have the grab and appeal that season one did. Yet, for me, when I focus more on characters and story in what I look for anyway, One Punch Man Season 2 has been setting up some things quite nicely and while it may not end up delivering on them, I’m not unhappy with how this season has started. It isn’t amazing but it is competent and interesting enough and I’m enjoying it each week even if I am a week behind.

Number 8: The Rising of the Shield Hero

I’m mostly reviewing this one over on patreon for my patrons but it continues to roll along. It is easy viewing with some good moments and a lot of just kind of average moments. It makes sense this one remains in the middle of my viewing list mostly because for every good character moment or interesting plot point there’s something that just kind of drags it down. It very much is average but entertaining enough in almost every way. While the controversy around this one has finally died down, those who have stuck with it are being rewarded with a story that keeps moving forward even if the pace is still a little all over the place.

Number 7: Wise Man’s Grandchild

Alright, this one isn’t a great anime by any means, in fact average is the best description you could give this production. Yet, for those who have watched and generally enjoyed copious amounts of isekai stories, while this one isn’t treading new ground, it is providing an amusing and entertaining viewing experience. It reminds me a lot of In Another World With My Smart Phone in that it isn’t that it does anything different from other anime in the genre, but it remembers to be entertaining while it does it. So far Shin has been a decent enough protagonist and the story they are setting up is interesting enough. I enjoy the magic they are using and the fights have been decent. This one won’t remake the world or change your mind if you don’t like isekai stories, but for those who do it will be fun viewing this season.

Number 6: Bungo Stray Dogs Season 3

This is another one I’m reviewing over on Patreon mostly because Irina is going to cover the episodes here on the blog. That said, this is more Bungo Stray Dogs. If you’ve enjoyed the previous two season, you’ll still enjoy. If you haven’t, you won’t. For me there are a lot of good things about Bungo Stray Dogs and some episodes that really make me pay attention (such as episode 4) but then there are things I find tiresome about it. Still, it’s a decent story and the music and visuals are always a treat with a large cast of colourful characters. if you haven’t tried Bungo Stray Dogs, don’t jump into season 3, but it might be worth giving a go.

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Number 5: Midnight Occult Civil Servants

I know, how can I put this one ahead of Bungo Stray Dogs? Visually there’s no comparison and certainly the animation isn’t even close. Yet, Midnight Occult Civil Servants is one of the anime that if you are part of the niche audience that really likes the kind of slow story that’s unfolding here as Arata learns more about the Anothers and they investigate various supernatural situations, then Midnight Occult Civil Servants will be more than enough. I look forward to each new episode and while there are plenty of points I could nit-pick, overall I’m having fun with it and I’m curious as to where it will go. Whether it stays in my top 5 will entirely depend on where they take this story in the second half.

Number 4: Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2

Attack on Titan Season Three Part Two Episode 1

Season 3 Part 1 really got me back into this story and Part 2 has so far been doing an excellent job keeping my attention. I’m still not sold on the pace that this narrative has been told over these three seasons and certainly there’s still this need for characters to shout or make everything more or less the end of the world, but that’s Attack on Titan and you’ve either signed up for it or not at this point. Visually I’ve been impressed with this latest entry and I really feel some of the characters have stepped up in these first few episodes. Hopefully the season continues to develop the characters and fill in some plot points while giving us some great action.

Number 3: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 4

Not sure if this will stay so high on the list but I will say I’m enjoying the rapid pace this shounen story has gone through during its set up and the characters are interesting enough. I’m also kind of interested in learning more about demons and the demon slayers. There’s plenty to explore in the world they’ve set up, the fights so far have been fantastic to watch and over quickly enough that they haven’t dragged. Tanjiro has grown more as a shounen protagonist in 6 episodes than some shounen characters do in an entire series and all and all there’s little to complain about other than a few narrative choice and the fact that they feel they need to hit the audience over the head with important plot points rather than trusting us to pick them up. Still, having a lot of fun with this one so far.

Number 2: Kono Oto Tomare

Really not sure if this will stay so high up the list but really I’ve enjoyed it so far. While there are standard narrative developments (like the vice-principal trying to shut down the club) that aren’t particularly well done, the relationships between club members and the overall feel of the anime has so far really drawn me into the story. I’m enjoying the visuals and the music, but it has been the characters who have really sold this so far. Hoping it continues to be as compelling to watch right to the end.

Number 1: Fruits Basket

Fruits Basket - Tohru and Kyoko

I’m actually surprised this one is so high up my list. I really did enjoy the original Fruits Basket anime but wanted a reboot to see the story finished. That said, after Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor, I was keeping my expectations low because nostalgia is lovely but it also makes you more critical of anime that come along trying to duplicate the effect. Still, Fruits Basket 2019 has so far hit all the right notes and been a lovely, cathartic viewing experience giving me everything I would have ever wanted from a retelling of the story. Really hoping it manages to be consistent in its quality right through because this one is a lovely anime to watch.

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Kenja no Mago Review Episodes 1 + 2

Cliche and yet kind of fun.

Kenja no Mago Episode 1

Episode 1

Be prepared for the new self-aware cliché driven title as Spring 2019 delivers Wise Man’s Grandchild or Kenja no Mago. Shin is reincarnated after a close encounter with every isekai anime’s favourite traffic related death and is raised by Merlin in a forest. There he learns magic, combat and more or less everything except life skills and becomes the single most overpowered being ever. Then they enrol him in magic school just to throw yet another trope in.

Kenja no Mago Episode 1
Look, another anime character without parents.

Despite the trite and been-there-done-that subject matter, it is difficult to dislike this first episode. As a protagonist, Shin isn’t doing anything new, but nor is he annoying or particularly obnoxious. The magic has so far been pretty cool to see, and they aren’t exactly wanting you to take it overly seriously. I’m getting serious In Another World With My Smartphone vibes here where provided you didn’t try to take it too seriously or expect much from it, what you ended up with was moderately entertaining and occasionally amusing.

Whether this succeeds or not depends on whether they can keep it fun or whether they’ll start taking themselves too seriously, or if they just roll out tired trope after tired trope and hope that it somehow sticks. Still, there’s certainly some interesting potential here with demons, famous ‘grandparents’, knowledge from another world, and magic and combat skills. Whether they do anything with the ingredients remains to be seen.

Kenja no Mago Episode 1

That said, after one episode, I’m pretty happy with what is on display here and I’m kind of hoping for something relaxing to watch. I’ll see what the next couple of episodes have to offer before I make up my mind though.

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Episode 2

The cliché continues in episode two of Wise Man’s Grandchild. This week Shin takes the test for the magic school and in the process makes enemies with an over the top noble, friends with a Prince, and continues to win the affection of the cute girl he previously met. There’s nothing really out of the ordinary here and yet it still works well enough.

Kenja no Mago Episode 2

Most of the characters we’ve met so far are pleasant enough if fairly unremarkable. Though, the handling of the bully character has been pretty lacking in anything resembling subtlety. He’s self-entitled and selfish and has more or less decided to fight Shin because the show needs someone to make some sort of conflict in the story in the early stages or else nothing would be happening outside of Shin being awesome. That said, it seems likely that they are setting him up to later become a demon or an actual threat but it is really hard to take that seriously as a future problem.

The other thing that the anime keeps coming back to is that other nations will either declare war or try to get Shin on their side. Part of me wonders if these are empty lines just to make things seem like a big-deal or if they are actually foreshadowing future conflicts. I’m kind of hoping it is the latter and that they do look into the political situation between countries, though at this stage it is hard to tell whether that would make for an interesting plot line or not given Shin is incredibly over-powered.

There were some amusing moments in this episode of Kenja no Mago with my favourite being the practical magic test. Watching the other kids chanting for all they were worth for very little magic was highly entertaining as was Shin’s overly embarrassed reaction. While it isn’t an original idea by any means it was executed well enough to be worth a smile.

Two episodes in an this remains entertaining enough and will hopefully continue to be enjoyable.

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Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Kaiba Review Episodes 1 + 2

Demonic sisters and ufotable action.

Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 1

Episode 1

Ufotable are continuing their trend of really pretty set piece anime where at times the characters don’t quite blend into the backgrounds. I have this issue with a lot of their anime where I love the backgrounds, love the character designs, but find some scenes really jarring where the characters seem totally disconnected from those backgrounds. That said, Demon Slayer has so far managed to minimise how often that happens and mostly this is a pretty gorgeous first episode, provided of course you find blood splattered snow and simple fight sequences gorgeous.

Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 1
Cute family, I hope nothing tragic happens to them.

I’ve read a lot of reviews about this first episode and it seems the hype before the show started really hurt this anime as it failed to reach the high expectations place upon it. I had watched the promotional video but was a little on the fence about it so went in expecting it to be okay, and as a result really quite enjoyed this first episode. It is definitely all set-up and the main character has little to distinguish himself except perhaps the scar/burn on his head, but there’s nothing really to complain about in terms of setting up a story.

Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 1

There is however the matter of the anime clearly not really trusting the audience. They go out of their way to give us multiple messages about Tanjiro’s sense of smell and while it hasn’t really done much yet I’m guessing this is going to be important given how many references they made including someone in town asking him to solve a case of who broke the plate by sniffing it. I’m mostly guessing he’s going to use this to track down the demon who killed his family, but it still felt excessively referenced within twenty minutes. The invitation to stay the night in the old guy’s house was also pretty clumsily handled as a way to introduce the idea of demons and demon slayers right before they became important to the story.

Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 1
Gee, I wonder if his sense of smell will be important.

Still, I had fun with this first episode and I’m looking forward to more of this story. It might not end up paying off and maybe the clumsy handling of pivotal plot points will ultimately weigh it down, but right now it is visually impressive, the characters have a lot of potential, and the set up makes enough sense and gives a fairly clear direction for the story to travel in. As a first episode, Demon Slayer does a lot right at hopefully it manages to do something with that set-up.

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Episode 2

Visually, Demon Slayer continues to impress and the second half of this episode we get a sequence of Tanjiro running down a mountain covered in traps that is fluid to watch and despite the darkness of the scene manages to contrast just right so that you are never left wondering what is happening on screen. It is an impressive display for a second episode and it would be lovely if this anime could keep up this standard for the entire run.

Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 2

In terms of story, episode 2 is still fairly much set-up with Tanjiro figuring out how to travel with his sister when she can’t go into sunlight before encountering a demon at a temple. The following fight shows Tanjiro’s inexperience nicely while also showing off his more brazen nature when push comes to shove. That said, when it comes to ending the demon’s life Tanjiro hesitates and the old guy he has met who is the one who will probably end up training him is not impressed.

Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 2

The old guy trainer cliché is in full force here but despite it not being a particularly original development, it is kind of needed. Without some drastic training you can’t imagine Tanjiro surviving all that much longer while trying to protect his demon sister. The only real hope is that maybe they’ll do something to make this particular old mentor memorable, though so far the mask wearing man has had very little in the way of presence.

Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 2

Despite the episode seeming to move along at a good pace, on reflection very little actually happens and we’re left at the end of the episode barely a step further along. Still, while watching it is entertaining and doesn’t feel like it is dragging at all, and I’m so far enjoying what they are setting up so hopefully this one continues to entertain. I’ve got reasonably high hopes for this one being fairly solidly entertaining this season.

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Top 5 Anime I’m Anticipating For The Spring Season

Tuesday's Top 5

I was asked by DMWonder on Twitter whether I was going to do a anime I’m looking forward to post for the Spring season. As a general rule I just kind of wait until the season starts because when I do look ahead, I get excited about an anime and then realise it didn’t come out somewhere I could watch it anyway which leads to disappointment. That or I get hyped for something that then fails to deliver and again, disappointment.

So to avoid disappointment, I have taken the bury head in sand approach to seasonal viewing and while it is impossible to avoid hearing some of the titles coming out as other bloggers and anime fans on twitter share their thoughts on the upcoming season, I don’t go digging for more information until the season starts. Still, after I was asked this question, I got curious.

To make a not so thrilling story shorter, I went and had a look at MAL’s list of what was coming out in the spring and so here we are with me listing the top 5 anime I’m anticipating. If they don’t come out on services I use or they suck, I never made this list. Just saying.

However, though a lot of my readers have already shared their lists on their blogs, I’d love to know what Spring titles you are looking forward to, so be sure to leave us a comment below.

Honourable Mentions:

There are a few. These are titles that I kind of thought might be interesting but until you see how the first episode goes there’s really no way to tell. On this list I’ll add: Kimetsu no Yaiba and Fairy Gone. Both look like they could be really interesting, but they could also both fall completely flat depending on how the ideas come together.

Fairy Gone

Number 5: Shoumetsu Toshi

I don’t know what it is that is really grabbing my attention about this one. Maybe it’s just the opening line of the synopsis where it says a city just disappeared. Whichever way, something about this one kept grabbing my attention. That said, it lists a game as its source and that may or may not be a problem, but I’m still going to be hopeful about this one.

Shuometsu Toshi

Number 4: Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin

Alright, this one is just asking for it to flog big time, but the write up on this one looks interesting and that supernatural label always gets my attention even if I sometimes regret it after the fact. Throw in youkai and potential exorcists and you at least have me looking for your first episode ready to enjoy. Whether I will or not remains to be seen but this one seems like it should be right up my alley.

Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin

Number 3: Bungo Stray Dogs Season 3

While this isn’t one of my favourite franchises, Bungo Stray Dogs has enough fairly awesome moments (particularly the start of season 2) to keep my attention. Visually it is always a spectacle and the powers are really cool. While I’d like a bit more from the story some times and find the focus on Atsushi a little less than thrilling when there are so many better characters in the show, I must say I still had a bit of a smile when I saw this was coming back.

Bungo Stray Dogs Season 3

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Number 2: Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2

Weird that I thought I’d be dropping Attack on Titan when season 3 started. But part one of this managed to get me really excited for the story again and even made me appreciate a lot of the characters more and so here I am getting hyped for a part two. Let’s hope it holds up because this one has got a lot of hype around it and just being okay won’t really be enough to stave off disappointment.

Attack on Titan Season 3

Number 1: Fruits Basket

I was completely in love with the original series of this, though always found the art style and the incomplete nature of the story a little frustrating. This was one that I looked up the manga online because I had to know what happened next but ended up realising there were quite a few changes. With all of that said, this one had been on my list of anime I wanted a reboot for, for a very long time and finally getting a reboot is incredibly exciting. I will definitely be watching this anime during Spring.

Fruits Basket

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Here It Is! The Results of the Best of Spring 2018 Reader Poll!

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

Tada4d

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

Franxx20j

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

Steins8d

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)

FMP4b

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

Biyori1d

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.

And now…

Best Anime of the Spring 2018 Season – Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS

Wixoss12a

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.

Best of Spring 2018.JPG

And the winner is… Hinamatsuri!

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.


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Karandi James

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