Brief impressions of the Winter 2017 anime season so far
We're three episodes into everything I'm watching, which is long enough for shows to get at least a bit established and for my opinions to firm up (and for me to drop some things). So here's how my views of this season have shaken out, following up on my first episode reactions.
Good trending to excellent:
- ACCA - 13-Territory Inspection Department: The show has managed to
nail being stylishly cool and intriguing. Things have been developing
slowly, but it's clear that this is deliberate; the show is building
a particular mood, one where it's increasingly obvious that a lot is
going on underneath the surface.
- Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: This is the rare comedy that works for me, and on top of that it's charming and heart-warming. The addition of Kanna and the third episode as a whole made it more or less explicit that the show is partly about family and being family, in its own quiet way. Part of what makes the show work so well for me is that every so often the dragons are terrifying (and once upon a while, so is Miss Kobayashi).
As for my one ongoing show, March comes in like a Lion continues to be somewhere between good and excellent depending on the individual episodes (and even the segments within episodes).
- Little Witch Academia: This is basically just as charming as the OVAs. It's not particularly deep or complicated, but it's telling its story pretty well and it has very good (genre) characters.
- Blue Exorcist - Kyoto Saga: This has the leisurely progress of an adaptation that is going to faithfully follow a manga arc and then stop. It's okay, but either the original was not as good as I remembered or something has fallen off in this version. There are flashes of the old magic every so often in the character interactions, but I couldn't describe this as a quite good shonen fighting series. It's okay and I have enough affection for the whole thing to keep watching.
Holding on for now:
- Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2: KonoSuba is KonoSuba,
for better and for worse. People who've been watching know what to
expect and the second season is more or less delivering so far. Kazuma
grates on me more than he used to; I'm not sure whether he's just
getting more dialog this season or I'm more aware of his annoying
Darkness has been pleasantly absent for the last two episodes, but I don't expect that to last or for her to be any better than before.
- Chain Chronicle (TV version): There's nothing wrong with this but
it's uninspired and has a little bit too much emphasis on what are
clearly game mechanics. It just failed to make me care enough to
(I've decided that I refuse to use the show's ridiculously long full official name here, just because. You can see that on Crunchyroll.)
- Akiba's Trip The Animation: I realized that I didn't care about
either the characters or what was going on in the show.
- Interviews with Monster Girls: Too much emphasis on student romantic
feelings about the male teacher, too little Hikari being Hikari. There
are the bones of an interesting show underneath the harem setup that
this apparently has decided to be. I'm not interested in harem shows
in general, and student/teacher romantic yearnings make me grind my
teeth almost every time.
- Schoolgirl Strikers: This isn't so much bland as flavourless.
As I put it on Twitter:
It's striking how inoffensive it manages to be. It feels like the safest, most cautious take on this genre ever.
'Fighting Girls' shows usually manage to have some sort of spark, even if it's a bad idea carried through badly. SS has thoroughly drowned any such things that came near the show, just in case. See also Nick Creamer's one sentence summary.
I have been enjoying watching people watching Gabriel DropOut on Twitter more than I suspect I would enjoy watching the actual show. The same is sort of true of Saga of Tanya the Evil, but an increasing chorus of people like Nick Creamer may get me to give it a two episode audition at some point.
(Watching people watching shows on Twitter gets me a suitable diet of jokes and reactions and funny faces and moments from the shows and so on. It's not the same as the actual shows for good and bad, but it's a lot more lightweight.)
I'm not going to say anything about how I feel about this season because there's still a lot of ways that things could go wrong. ACCA is writing a lot of narrative cheques that it may not be able to actually cash, and Dragon Maid needs to stay fresh over its entire run. But I've certainly got my fingers crossed (as I do most seasons, to be honest).
Looking back at the Fall 2016 anime season
Once again it's time for my traditional look back at what I watched this past season, to follow up on my early impressions and my midway views. My overall summary is that this season was good but thin, with great highs but not much depth on the bench.
- Flip Flappers: Beyond everything else about it, this is very
much my kind of show and so I was
never really going to be able to judge it completely objectively. But
even so, I loved Flip Flappers, not just the way it told its story
but the story itself. It was a great ride and a lot of fun and I fully
endorse it, although how it told its story and how it ended will irritate
a certain number of people.
(I think it ended great, but then I have odd tastes.)
- March comes in like a Lion: This started off slow and quiet and then just built and built, creeping into my heart at every step. I can't say why specifically, but the whole of it very much works for me (and in a way that shows like this generally don't). Now that the show has started actively developing Rei's character and moving forward with him, it's become genuinely thrilling and suspenseful.
- Sound! Euphonium second season: I want to love this more than I do,
but in the end it doesn't feel either necessary or vitally important to
see these additional stories about the cast. They're very nice stories,
make no mistake, and generally quite affecting, and they add depth to
several characters. The last episode is beautiful and touching. But
the second season never felt on fire to me in the way that the first
season's overarching story about competition did.
(My views are undoubtedly influenced here because the show spent an entire episode on Reina's stupid crush on Taki-sense, which could have been great if it had been about her renouncing said crush but it turned out that it wasn't. I do not like that crush, and do not want the show to spend time paying attention to it, and I am a bit disgruntled here.)
- BBK/BRNK: The show didn't do anything deeply surprising in its overall plot and climax; it is the genre story it appears to be. But it gave us a fun ride on the way there, with plenty of nice moments and good action sequences (and a certain amount of more or less expected cheese and hand waving explanations). The final episode was an interesting coda, especially in light of some things Guy said in the second-last episode, but I suspect that some of the things I could read into it weren't intended by the creators.
- Brave Witches: This delivered the popcorn entertainment that I wanted
and very little more.
- Long Riders: I watched parts of this for the biking. The show loved biking and I like biking too,
so I enjoyed those bits. The other parts of the show were nothing
special and I mostly skipped them.
(Long Riders is technically not over yet; production issues mean that the final two episodes have been delayed until February.)
Towards the end of the season I got around to checking out some other shows, none of which really clicked with me.
- Vivid Strike: This is a perfectly decent 'fighting girls' show that
sometimes annoys me by teasing its connection to the much more
interesting Nanoha franchise that is just offscreen. It's a perfectly
acceptable and inoffensive thing to watch, but I don't feel the need
to see any more of it at the moment.
- Nobunaga no Shinobi: I checked out two episodes of this short for
reasons beyond the scope of this entry and they were okay children's
fare but not particularly compelling.
- Fune wo Amu aka The Great Passage: This is a perfectly good and perhaps great adult drama that I don't really feel any attraction to (cf). This is what I always expected but I felt like confirming that. So it goes.
Although the season felt a little bit lacking in how many shows I was interest in watching (as shown by how I wound up looking at Long Riders and others), the highs were excellent. Flip Flappers and March comes in like a Lion are both amazing shows, and Sound! Euphonium's second season is perfectly good in that KyoAni high quality way (and many people really loved it much more than I did).
My (Twitter) reactions to the first episodes of the Winter 2017 season
As before I'm collecting here all of my tweeted reactions to the first episodes I've seen (in the order that I saw them).
- Akiba's Trip episode 1: That was decent, even sometimes good,
which is well above what I expected. It has spark for an action genre
- Schoolgirl Strikers episode 1: That was a perfectly okay but
uninspiring. It could fill the Brave Witches popcorn watch niche
this season. →
- Blue Exorcist Kyoto Saga ep 1: I don't think this was particularly
good or compelling by itself, & it feels like characters got reset on me.
- Chain Chronicle episode 1: Perfectly competent with decent action,
but I found it flat and uncompelling. Nothing made me want to keep
- Little Witch Academia ep 1: It's not the OVAs but it's solid,
well done, and more relaxed; there's more time for development & fun here.
- ACCA episode 1 was a good stylish start & had a number of
interesting characters, but it didn't tell us much about where the
show is going.
- KonoSuba S2 episode 1: The best part of the episode was the little
mini-adventure in the ED. Otherwise it was all Kazuma-focused setup.
- Dragon Maid ep 1: That was quality work; nicely understated and
nicely done, and fun all the way through even when it wasn't being funny.
- Interviews with Monster Girls episode 1 was cute and nice, but I'm not sure it has staying power for me (it wasn't particularly funny). →
This covers the first episode of everything that seems reasonably promising for me. It's possible I'll look at Gabriel DropOut at some point, but it doesn't seem like my kind of thing despite its supernatural-tinged premise.
(From all reports, Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club simply doesn't have enough biking in it to attract me the way Long Riders did. Apparently the most interesting biking thing is how they're using real brands this time, instead of the usual changed-just-enough brand names and so on.)