So this is a little different, a short summary of my thoughts on all the shows I watched over the Fall season. It probably won’t become a regular thing, as it’s rare for an anime season to give me that many shows I want to pick up in the first place; in fact, as of writing this I only have two shows on my list for the Winter season. I’m usually more of an oldtaku, and prefer catching up on all the classics of anime’s past over being part of the conversation of the hot new fad, so seasonal viewing has never been a priority. But this one has been exceptional in that, not only did I finish 4 series, I’m disappointed that I didn’t get around to more. So without further ado, my Fall season reflections.
Flip Flappers:This series turned out a mix of cute-girls action/fantasy fun and excitement, and disappointment.
In terms of visuals and tone, it absolutely delivered on exactly what you’d want from it going in, with some of the most engaging and attractive action sequences of the season, particularly in its early episodes.
Those early episode are important to the show because I honestly had no idea what the story was really about until about episode 6, but despite that the fantasy worlds and colourful visuals were enough to keep me looking forward to each new episode.
Unfortunately, Pure Fun or Pure Fantasy, while a great potential name for any one of these episodes, may not be sufficient to fill a full length series, and once I did rely on the story for entertainment I found myself much less enthralled.
It’s not bad. None of Flip Flappers is bad. But it’s not good. The story is predictable, and cliché. The final episodes, while still fun, felt like they were taken straight from a how-to guide on magical girl anime. Needless to say, friendship won, and while other recent magical girl shows have become equally generic in their “subversion” of this trope, it doesn’t excuse the fact that, once you get past the sheer vibrancy and fun of it, Flip Flappers has little to offer that’s new.
While watching it I started making comparisons to Dragon Ball Z. Initially this was because of the fight scenes, and hair colour changing transformations, but I think the comparison goes further. DBZ, these days, has little new to offer the shounen genre, but still works because it’s still, for the most part, fun, and can build upon a well-established franchise of fun. I want Flip Flappers to have a second season because I think it can get to this same point. I think it can continue to build a rich world of fun characters to the point where it doesn’t matter if the story is always on point. All it needs it’s it’s own Freeza arc, and after that it can coast on Pure Fanservice.
It’s odd to say but I like the franchise Flip Flappers even though I’m rather middling on the only season of it yet aired.
Keijo!(*8) jumped the shark. I’m tired of critics getting swept up in the hype and forgetting that this is a real problem with shows that try so hard to be over the top and in your face. Yes it was fun, and not just for the fanservice, but at some point in the latter episodes is just got to be too much. I’m sorry, but when you can make me yawn at the line, “Peirce her, my nipple!” you’ve done fucked something up.Yes, thank you K-On! character that I still can’t identify, but that’s the issue. Keijo!(+7) wasn’t fun anymore when it finished. The fun of a series like Keijo!!!!?!& comes from the sense of humour generated when you see something ridiculous and absurd beyond expectation. But once Keijoxoxoxox became comfortable showing it’s female characters naked (censored by magical anime light beams), it removed itself of all potential limitations. When its characters stopped being ashamed of being naked, it lost all sense of stake in those limitations. It could show basically anything, and it wasn’t surprising anymore.
The absurdity of its attacks didn’t get old until near the end, but after this…Yeah, you can’t really top that.
What this left us with was the fanservice aspect, which is fine, and the strength of the narrative, thematic force, and characters. Ha! Ha-ha! Ha!
This annoys me about a lot of anime critics these days. They say, “Keijo!!!!i!!! isn’t just a fanservice series, it has a compelling story and likeable characters.” No, it doesn’t. Sure, it’s a step above most hentai in terms of character and story. But Queen’s Blade has deeper themes, and a more developed and complex world, and better defined and varied characters than this wannabe sports anime.
Any time a critic wants to defend a show like Keijo!@#$%^&* on this basis, I want them to try something. Take the characters and plotlines, and put them in a show that isn’t about girls in swimsuits smacking their butts together. If you suddenly realize it is boring, good work, you now understand what I see in this show.
Also, not nearly enough respect paid to the greatness of pettanko!!!!!!!!!
Ninja Girl and Samurai Master:
In keeping with the show, I’ll keep this brief.
It’s got a cuet art style!
Yuri!!! on Ice:For many people, this was the stand-out show at the start of the season, and for me it will remain just that, the anime that will for years remind me of Fall 2016.
The comparisons to Free! are obvious, but having not watched a Kyoto Animation series in years, it’s lost on me. It doesn’t matter. Yuri!!! on Ice is not a trope or cliché, it’s not “just another” anything. It is its own work, original and wonderful.
As for what it’s actually about, it is an enticing and inspiring sports anime, and a romance that makes me feel sad and lonely. The best kind of romance. Also it’s about some gay dudes figure skating. I don’t want to imply for a second that it’s perfect. Its technical and structural flaws, while few, don’t go unnoticed.
But damn did it ever make me feel. It gave me all the feels of Beck, Toradora, Gurren Lagann combined! And then some!
Not a character is wasted. Each skater has their own backstory, their own reason to skate, which get fully developed to satisfying conclusions. Even the “villain,” a self-obsessed Canadian rockstar who skates to his own theme song he wrong himself about how great he is, is at least a little sympathetic and likeable by the end.
There’s too much to unpack it in this simple retrospective, from the supporting cast, the romantic leads, the elements to their love, the rivalry, the progress of anime recognizing not just the L in LGBT, and the damn Canadian! So instead, I simply hope to some day review this new masterpiece.
It’s elegant, beautiful, and I love it.
The Dropped list:
Magical Girl Raising Project:
Magical Girl Raising Project is yet another in the getting old and tiresome trend of supposedly “subversive” dark and edgy magical girl shows. This initially caught my interest because I only recently watched Madoka Magica and haven’t seen much magical girl stuff since then.
What made Anime Titles are Getting too Damn Long Raising Project stand out was a handful of small elements introduced in the first few episodes that had the potential to develop into thematically interesting twists in the genre. Transsexualism, for instance, could be very interesting in the genre literally called Magical Girl.
Unfortunately, as of episode 7, where I finally gave up on any hope of this being not shit, none of those opportunities materialized into anything worth my time or attention. And don’t take that to mean it didn’t suck long before that. By episode two it was clearly bad, I’m just an optimistic idiot.
It’s frustrating, in the era of One-Punch Man and Re: Zero, to see a show that clearly understands its genre and the current developments in said genre, but fails this hard at subversion.
Personally, I’ve started to shy away from any supposedly “subversive” anime. It’s too easy. Make a protagonist who’s a fat loser, give on a body pillow, and people will praise it for shining a mirror on the fandom. I’m not that kind of masochist; I don’t like being generalized and called a loser because I enjoy cartoons; I have too much self-respect, and too much respect for this art form, for that.
That’s why I never got into Re: Zero. Genshiken dodges this by portraying a diverse set of otaku characters, in a mostly positively light, while separately critiquing larger trends in otaku culture. But I’ve gotten off track.
What I want from anime right now is just something good. Not something “subversive” that may or may not succeed. Enough has been said about the anime industry and fandom. Enough navel gazing has been done. Give me something new, something different, something beautiful.
March Comes like a Lion:
It’s unfortunate that the hype for this died so early on, because, at least until halfway through the season it was pretty good. It started pretty down in the dumps without much direction, but picked up if you stuck it out it was well worth the time.
I was probably enjoying this the most at the time I stopped watching, and I think it’s because I didn’t think the payoff would be worth finishing it for. It was obvious where the story was going, and that was kind of dull. I didn’t want to stick around for it. Instead, I enjoyed some of the emotional highs and lows it offered, then moved on.
Disappointment of the season right here. What started as a bitter mockery of moe culture and VA idols turned into a bland slice of life drama. The only humour that it kept up, as far as I watched, was that it was the perfect How-To guide to fucking up anime production and marketing.
The final nail in the coffin, for me, was when main character (I can’t even be bothered to remember her name anymore) got all depressed when people posted mean comments about her on the internet. For crisps’ sake! Most of why I liked her in the first place was because she seemed like she had her stuff together, and poked fun at idiots who got in over their head. This is the most obvious new-celebrity character struggle out there, and it’s one I had hoped not to see with her.
Izetta: The Last Witch:
I already sprayed salt on this in my midseason thoughts, and I stopped watching just after that, so this will be brief. The characters suck. The direction is lazy. The story is dumb. The setting is one of the most baffling decisions I’ve ever seen in anime. It’s tasteless fanservice, with the occasional cool action scene.
Dragon Ball Super:
While Dragon Ball is one of those long running series that can scoff at seasonal charts, it still ran throughout Fall with perhaps the most turbulent stretch of episodes the franchise has ever seen. We ended the divisive Zamasu arc (divisive in the sense that it divide viewers from anything good), and ran into some surprising and unique filler. Usually we see shows hit peeks at the climax of arcs, and valleys during the filler. This has been the opposite.
Zamasu was terrible, and got worse as it went on. I don’t think they’ll be much disagreement about that. There was nothing wrong with the premise, and I don’t think religious themes are too deep for Dragon Ball, considering Z was extensively and fulfillingly about fatherhood in a way most shows that actually try to be deep can’t match.
It was executed poorly. Zamasu was a dull villain who said nothing about godhood. At least, nothing coherent. The fights, while decently animated for the series standards, were not directed well. Characters’ strengths were inconsistent, and abilities were sparsely explored. How did Trunks learn the Mafuba like that? What was the point of Black’s cloning ability when he just stopped doing it after a few minutes? What was that blue aura? The fanservice of seeing Trunks us the Maseko and the Gallick Gun just isn’t enough to fix this things!
Then came the filler. The first episode, Goku trying to wish King Kai back and everyone else getting in the way, was good for a laugh, but wasn’t anything special. Goku vs Arale was the most bizarre thought when that came around, and was funny but ultimately a little too silly to endure. Then there was the baseball episode. I liked the baseball episode. This is my new phone wall paper.
Then, Goku vs Hit! These episodes, and the anticipation leading up to them, have secured Hit! as one of the great Dragon Ball villains. He doesn’t seem to be making the full good-guy transition that Piccolo and Vegeta did… and Yamcha… and Tien… and Buu… and Beerus (wow, we do not give Toryama nearly enough shit for this shit), and I hope he doesn’t. He’s imposing, and dangerous, and works a villain. The key is that Hit! is a Hit!man- err, hitman, and can be maintained as a villain without always being a problem for the good guys. He’s not something the good guys have to go out of their way to fix, and he’s not someone who trains alongside Goku like Vegeta does. He’s a whole new type of rival, one that can bring out surprises every time he shows up.
And that’s what the two recent Hit! episodes showed us. Hit has a large variety of creative moves and is continuing to learn more. I wonder if this is even his final form!
And that’s it for the Fall season. I know a lot of this sounded negative, but this was actually a good season for me. Part of why I don’t watch many simulcasts is because of disappointments like some of the shows on this list. I prefer to wait and see what people say to get a sense of what’s worth my time. And one of the best parts of this season is all the shows I didn’t see.
Despite dropping it after one episode, I’ve heard good things about Drifters and look forward to giving it a second chance. I still need to watch Tiger Mask. And I’m halfway through season 2 of Ajin and loving it.
I’ve long subscribed to the view that most anime is crap. I’m a bit of a cynic, and a lot of my harsh words for the shows on this list are just because I expected better. I enjoyed all of them, to a point, and some of them till the end. For me, based on what I happened to pick up, this was a good season.
And even if they do end up disappointing me, I hope to soon be getting hyped up over a couple Winter 2017 shows. Konosuba 2, I’m watching you!