Winter 2017 Final List

As the title says, this is my final list for the Winter 2017 season. This was not an amazing season of anime for me. Lots of rom-coms and slice of life shows that just didn’t do much for me (though I’ve enjoyed shows in both of these genres previously), a few sequels that didn’t manage to hold up to the first seasons, and then just some passably entertaining shows. Still, I’ve enjoyed discussing these shows with the blogging community and I’m certainly looking forward to the Spring 2017 season. And while I know a couple of shows have yet to close for the season, this is my final list for Winter 2017.

As always, I would love to know your thoughts on the shows so let me know what ended up being your best and worst for the season.

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Must Watch

  • ACCA (Finished)
  • March Comes in Like a Lion (Finished)

I think ACCA is going to stay on top (at least while they are both so fresh in my mind) simply because it has decidely resolved its story whereas March Comes in Like a Lion is still a work in progress, despite having twice as many episodes. That said, while ACCA is the show I’m choosing as more entertaining now, I get the distinct impression that in the long term, March is going to be the one I end up watching more times and enjoying more. Still, ACCA was pretty amazing to watch through.

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Usually Entertaining

  • Spiritpact (Finished)
  • Chain Chronicle (Finished)

Chain Chronicle never rose above what it started out as but that is fine. Fans of straight fantasy won’t have anything to complain about other than a lack of anything to distinguish this from any other sword and sorcery story. Looking forward to that moment in a few months where I just binge this in one day.

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Okay, I Guess

  • Iron Blooded Orphans (Episode 48)
  • Blue Exorcist (Finished)
  • Super Lovers (Finished)
  • elDLIVE (Finished)
  • Tales of Zestiria the X Season 2 (Episode 12)

Iron Blooded Orphans actually kind of reconnected with me this week. It isn’t really enough to make up for the last however long where I’ve just kind of been waiting for the inevitable end, but I genuinely felt for a character for the first time in awhile. Of course, I’m also looking forward to what comes next because I’m thinking this is going to explode now.

elDLIVE remained pretty ordinary until the end. It was never unwatchable but never rose beyond being kind of tolerable. A shame for a show with an interesting concept but it just never really rises above watchable.

Tales of Zestiria the X continues to just kind of meander along. Despite how difficult armatization with Dezel was, apparently Rose can now just armatize given she did it with Mikleo without any kind of discussion mid-battle. And now we’re going for a ‘by our powers combined’ kind of ending, which I guess I expected from the beginning but at this late stage just seems kind of like a tacked on power up given it wasn’t previously discussed as a possibility.

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They Made This

  • Hand Shakers (Finished)

Seriously, I need my head examined for not dropping Hand Shakers. That is all I have to say on the fact that I got through 12 episodes of that.

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Tried and Dropped

  • Interviews with Monster Girls (Episode 10)
  • Akiba’s Trip (Episode 6)
  • Fuuka (Episode 5)
  • Trickster (Episode 13)
  • Gabriel DropOut (Episode 1)
  • Masamune-Kun’s Revenge (Episode 1)
  • Schoolgirl Strikers (Episode 1)
  • Seiren (Episode 1)
  • Saga of Tanya the Evil (Episode 1)
  • Chaos;Child (Episode 1 – five minutes in)

Winter 2017 done. Let’s see what Spring brings us.


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Tales of Zestiria the X Series Review

Overview:

Alisha (a Princess) wants to end fighting. Sorey wants Seraphim and humans to be able to live together peacefully. When Sorey follows Alisha to the human city of Lady Lake he pulls a sword out of rock and becomes a Shepherd and has to try to purify malevolence (and save the world or whatever).

I did review this week to week so if you want to know individual episode thoughts click here.

Review:

For an anime based on a game I’ve never played, I was strangely hooked by this show (after we got over the 00 episode that just seemed to exist to show off special effects and to confuse people who had no clue what was going on. That said, while I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching, looking back this show has a lot of issues as a stand alone anime.

Let’s start with the negative and then we can look at some of the good things this show offered.

01. Running a two episode advertisement in the middle of a 12 episode series (not counting 00) kind of killed any kind of pacing or momentum and also seriously hampered plot development. Also, for those of us who haven’t played the games and don’t really want to, while the two episodes were cool, all they really made me want to do was ditch the characters from the main anime and follow the ones from the prequel and call it a day. That doesn’t really add much to your story if you show us a potentially more interesting story we could have been watching.

02. Character development is lacking. Sorey is nice and idealistic. That’s about it for him. Occasionally he get’s mad or learns something about the world but that core of idealistic and nice isn’t going anywhere and except when he is in the middle of a fight he seems to just default back to happy-go-lucky. The same can be said for most of the other characters. They have a default character and then they have the occasional emotional moment before defaulting back.

03. From a plot point of view, it’s based on a game. These are the villains, these are the heroes. There are going to be a whole bunch of smaller bad guys and side quests but mostly just go beat this thing up and everything will be fine. By the way, we’ll show you stronger bad guys early on (so that you know that we’re serious about some evil stuff coming) but we won’t let them kill you until you’ve progressed so many levels. While games can be immersive and tell compelling stories, by nature they can’t really throw the main bad guy at you too early because that would be the end of the story. Not to mention, odds of a main character dying early (while not impossible) are pretty low. We also have characters appear seemingly for no reason other than they existed in the game (okay, maybe they serve a purpose later but at the moment it was more like they just dropped in to give their name and walk away).

However, if you put up with those negatives there are some real positives to the story.

01. The characters might be a little lacking in development but the combination of characters and personalities works really well and lead to some really entertaining interactions. While most of the relationships are directed toward Sorey and the way he interacts with each of the other characters is interesting, some of the more interesting relationships happen between characters around him. Rose and Alisha had some great interactions in those final episodes (admittedly it was all kind of cliché but well done). And Mikleo and Edna have been amusing ever since they met. However, it is Sorey and Mikleo’s relationship and interactions that I most looked forward to seeing. This was a really great friendship and while the final episodes sort of sidelined that relationship (there were bigger things occurring) it was probably one of my favourite parts of the show.

02. Good fantasy is hard to come by and Zestiria throws magic, purification, spirits, dragons, and everything else into the mix and for the most part succeeds (I’m still questioning the English subtitles where they called a not yet formed dragon a drake but I’m pretty sure that’s a translation issue more than anything else).

03. Good drama. We have characters trying their hardest, we have awesome fight sequences, we have political intrigue. Okay, sometimes you can’t really take the conflict all that seriously but the characters do and do so consistently. It is nice to see that they aren’t taking the challenges facing them lightly or trying to be self-aware and smug about the situation which is a tone that is saturating so much of the fantasy genre these days. Characters who are just earnestly facing their own difficulties are great to watch and you just want to get behind them, even when they are a little inept at times.

I’m not going too much into the visuals. If you read my week to week you know I didn’t much like the initial presentation. While I stopped being distracted by the way the characters seemed pasted onto their backgrounds (or I stopped caring) I never felt that all of the visual elements of the show came together. Each part is really pretty but the whole just didn’t feel right.

From a music point of view I kind of felt there was a bit of overkill at times (particularly in the 2 episode advertisement). I get that in games you get different music for different scenes but some of the transitions in the show are jarring. Like the visuals though, each bit of music on its own is actually quite good.

Do I recommend watching this? If you are a fantasy fan and you are starved for a decent anime with sword fights, magic and dragons, definitely check it out. However, as it is an unfinished story and there are definitely some issues with the pacing if you aren’t that into fantasy maybe give it a skip.

Summer 2016 Week 13

This is my last overview for Summer 2016. I know some shows still haven’t finished but next week I’ll be posting my first thoughts on the Autumn season shows as they start rolling out (though from the looks of Crunchyroll and AnimeLab I may be a little short of shows this season – I say that now but will have to reconsider once I see what actually gets released). That said, I will begin whole season reviews of the Summer shows in a few weeks (once I’ve had some time to gather my overall thoughts).

No real surprises in the order this week but some interesting conclusions (and non-conclusions) to some highly entertaining shows. I think that’s my main take-away from Summer. I enjoyed watching more shows than I did during the Spring season.

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 13)
  • Alderamin on the Sky (Ep 12)
  • Tales of Zestiria (Ep 12)
  • Days (Ep 12 – No episode this week)

And D Gray Man was awesome until the end. I’ve loved being back in this world and now all I can say is I want more because we are still left without resolution. Let’s hope it isn’t 8 years this time.

Alderamin was not finished yet but with one episode to go it is fairly safe to say that this series needs a follow up. While watching Ikta manage a tactical retreat has been fun, it would be excellent to see how he follows this up. Admittedly they could still kill him off but that would seem to defy any of the narration we’ve had throughout the series about how amazing he was going to become.

Tales of Zestiria the X delivered a stunning lack of resolution but did bring the current battle to an end (of sorts). Objectively I know there are a lot of issues with this show however, I am really enjoying watching it week to week even when I’m being critical. I’m actually kind of looking forward to another season with these characters.

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Still On My Radar

  • The Morose Mononokean (Ep 13)
  • Momokuri (Ep 26)
  • 91 Days (Ep 11)
  • Food Wars (Ep 13)
  • Cheer Boys (Ep 12)
  • Orange (Ep 13)

The Morose Mononokean continued right to the end at showing us an alright show but never tipped the scales toward becoming a great show. And while not every show needs to be great, this one just continued to feel lacking even while what it delivered was perfectly watchable entertainment.

Momokuri finished the way it started. Creepy but adorable simultaneously. This one is going to be hard to write a full review about but I’m kind of looking forward to reading over my impressions from the season and finalising my thoughts.

91 Days gave us a great second last episode. If the series had maintained its momentum from start to finish it would have been a must watch. Unfortunately all the ending is doing is making me wonder why it took so long for them to kick the story into gear.

Food Wars gave us a conclusion to the placement and all the characters came back to school but really this whole series has just been a bit of a let down after the manic energy of season 1. Still, it was worth watching the continuation of the cooking journey.

Cheer Boys left us on a fairly flat note but the series as a whole has been a delightfully empty piece of entertainment and other than an episode 5 recap I haven’t really got any complaints.

At last Orange is done. I feel this show would fair better with a binge watch rather than week to week, though even that may not remove some of the more frustrating aspects of watching the show. I guess the real issue is I’m not much for touching emotional teen drama and that is what this show drips with from start to finish.

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Not Dropped But Close

  • Hitorinoshita (Ep 12)
  • Taboo Tattoo (Ep 12 – Finished last week)

MAL tells me Hitorinoshita is finished but you wouldn’t know it from watching the episode. After leaving us with questions all series they are going to finish it without really revealing anything (odd after two episodes of nearly continuous flashback that we still know almost nothing that we couldn’t have kind of figured out).

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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)

And now we’re done with Summer. Bring on Autumn and let’s hope we find some more shows worth watching.

Tales of Zestiria the X Episode 12

Review:

Well, aren’t we all glad of second season announcements. Except that it leaves us with pretty much no resolution. Okay, Alisha is fine. A bit too fine given how much blood she lost. You would think it would take her longer to be up and bouncing around but at least she didn’t die.

Actually, my main complaint coming out of this will be the Lord of Calamity. Clearly he has never read a story in his life because otherwise he would know that any villain that lets the hero go (in order for them to become hope before being crushed) has just raised their own death flag. To be honest, it is a lame reason to let someone live and doesn’t make any sense from a self-preservation point of view no matter how arrogant a villain is supposed to be. The only purpose of such declarations is to delay a confrontation the hero can’t yet win and why would any self-respecting villain give the hero a chance to win?

Tales of Zestiria the X is available on AnimeLab.

Tales of Zestiria the X Episode 11

Review:

Somewhere along the line Sorey became ridiculously competent as a Shepherd because I don’t remember him being able to use that many attacks consecutively prior to this episode. Alishia is still ridiculously idealistic and it seems that even the writers realised that it was time for her to face the consequences of that. And then the situation got worse.

Mostly, this episode felt rushed. It’s been a problem all along with this series that we jump from scene to scene and event to event but this episode takes us from leaving the plague town, to meeting some random soldiers that are apparently all friendly with the Princess, to Sorey and the Princess taking their separate paths and then we get two separate fight sequences. It’s all just a lot packed into a short space of time and while everything works, none of it feels like it is actually having the impact it could have had.

Tales of Zestiria the X is available on AnimeLab.

Summer 2016 Week 10

Are you excited for the end of the season? So I know Days is continuing on, haven’t heard about the others but most things should start wrapping up soon. Let’s see what they can deliver in their final episodes.

Meanwhile, most of the shows I’ve been enjoying throughout this season delivered okay but not awesome episodes which meant viewing this week was a bit of a downer. Hoping they all pull up again next week and don’t crash and burn in the final.

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 10)
  • Alderamin on the Sky (Ep 9)
  • Tales of Zestiria (Ep 9)
  • Days (Ep 10)

D Gray Man Hallow has continued to work really well for me. I know that some fans of the original have been disappointed and while there are changes (particularly in appearance) this show has consistently delivered a story that hits the right notes and reminds me why I loved this series in the first place. This week was no exception.

Alderamin actually wasn’t that great this week. Overall, the sereis is still quite strong but this last episode left me fairly indifferent. Hoping it picks up again next episode or I may need to start re-evaluating where it is sitting in the list.

Tales of Zestiria the X was okay but I just kept feeling like they wanted me to be more excited about the battles this week than I was. This wasn’t a bad episode by any means, but it just wasn’t amazing.

Days also delivered a ho-hum kind of episode as we continue the final game between Seiseki and Saku. Not enough to drop categories but enough that I’m putting it on notice. I don’t much like sports anime in the first place so I’m really not going to leave this in the must keep watching category if we are going to watch a single game over multiple episodes.

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Still On My Radar

  • The Morose Mononokean (Ep 10)
  • Momokuri (Ep 20)
  • Cheer Boys (Ep 9)
  • Orange (Ep 10)
  • Food Wars (Ep 10)
  • 91 Days (Ep 8)

While the Morose Mononokean was a bit stronger this week, the plot is definitely not in a hurry to go anywhere. Which is fine and all but it means it is becoming one of those shows I can watch or not. This would definitely probably go better as a binge watch on a rainy afternoon than in week to week increments.

Momokuri seems to be getting serious about the main relationship and managed to pull of a fairly decent episode. While the series as a whole has a lot of padding, it’s those touching moments, or the moments when the characters respond genuinely to a situation, that keep drawing me back into this show.

Cheer Boys got around to Kazu’s inner pain, only we saw that one coming a mile away so it didn’t quite have the impact they might have wanted. It was a very ordinary kind of episode really.

At last Orange got to the relay but now it really feels like they are setting up the happiness before the disaster. I think I really disengaged from caring about the characters about four episodes ago and since then it’s been hard to really care about where they are going.

Food Wars finally completed the Autumn Election and it is about time. Now I’m hoping we can get some more screen time with some of the less talented but more interesting cast members.

91 Days wasn’t bad this week, and the end of the episode was kind of awesome, but I just can’t help thinking that the show is lacking something.

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Not Dropped But Close

  • Hitorinoshita (Ep 9)
  • Taboo Tattoo (Ep 10)

Hitorinoshita delivered another fairly ordinary episode this week. Mostly because we spent the entire time still trying to rescue Soran who was more or less on his way out the door anyway. Oh well.

And Taboo Tattoo has officially become the train wreck I just haven’t stopped watching for this season. There is always one show I hold onto for too long, hoping it get’s better.

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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)

Wow, so close now. I still haven’t tried some of the shows this season. Your opinion: New Game or Amanchu? I get the feeling neither is right for me but I should probably give one or the other a shot.

Tales of Zestiria the X Episode 8

Review:

And then we got another dragon fight? Okay, we introduced some new characters and realised that Sorey is completely idealistic and they set up some new dark thing for our characters to confront next week but mostly this episode has us watching a dragon fly around and various characters discussing whether it should (or can) be killed, purified or left alone. Visually this dragon fight was actually better than the previous one, though it was probably aided a great deal by the fog that permeated every scene where the dragon was flying. It was a fun enough episode but it didn’t really move the story along any further so we’ll see what next week brings. I do get the feeling I’m going to like Edna.

Tales of Zestiria is available on AnimeLab.