Brief impressions of the Spring 2017 anime season so far
We're somewhere between three and five episodes into everything I'm watching, which is long enough for most shows to show their cards and my opinions to firm up (and for me to drop some things). So, as usual, here's how my views of this season have shaken out, to follow up on my first episode reactions.
- Eccentric Family second season: This doesn't have as explosive a start as I remember the first season having, but then we know a lot more of the background this time around. It's still great, with all of the good stuff from the first season and more things being thrown into the pot. I like that we're sort of seeing a different side of Yasaboru this time around, and he's certainly getting to sparkle.
- WorldEnd (aka SukaSuka): I refuse to use the show's
gigantic full name,
which is very light novel (which it is). To my surprise, I've wound
up feeling that the show is unreasonably good, much better than I
expected, and it's ended up as my current second favorite show of
the season. It has ordinary looks (in terms of character designs,
background, colours, and so on) and some straightforward LN elements, but its characters and writing are surprisingly deep
and good and it's convincingly sold me on its actual drama. It's also
quite well directed and storyboarded, which really helps hold my
interest despite its generally ordinary looks.
- Alice & Zoroku: While the action isn't bad, it's the character
interactions that continue to make this show, especially anything
involving Zoroku. The show is sufficiently well written and directed
to have given what could have been an over the top villain an affecting
back-story that made her basically a tragic character (still a villain,
- Rage of Bahamut - Virgin Soul: This is not as great as the start of
the original Bahamut was, but it's pretty good. It helps that Nina is
a solid, interesting character with a lot of appealing elements, plus
there's Rita. Unfortunately the show has not sold me on the actual plot
going on, partly because it feels a bit too crazy and so I've wound up
feeling detached from it.
- Re:Creators: This has an interesting concept but a concept is nothing if a show can't execute it well. The good news is that RC has been executing pretty well so far, not just with good action but also with good characters and good character and story interaction. It's not perfect, and in particular it has leaned a bit too much on exposition in sections. Of the shows I'm watching, this is the one that I feel is most balanced on an edge where it could easily tip over into merely okay or tolerable.
Same as it ever was:
- My Hero Academia: This continues the original's frustrating mix of
excellent work and slow, padded pacing that robs that work of a lot
of its impact. I enjoy watching it but it's always frustrating to see
how it could be better if only it would stop with all of the delaying
In short, this is probably a great shonen show dragged down to being okay by its pacing. I'll still miss it when the season is over, though, just as I did the first installment.
- Grimoire of Zero: The characters and their interactions were very nice, but they couldn't make up for the bland, cookie cutter overall story writing. The second episode was especially painful for me, as it plodded through entirely predictable story elements without any particular spark, so I dropped the show.
- Granblue Fantasy: Far, far too generic, as I tweeted. Unlike Grimoire of Zero, this didn't even have interesting characters to make up for its painfully generic storyline.
Not considered for fuzzy reasons:
- Atom The Beginning: This might ordinarily be my kind of thing, but
the ANN preview guide
failed to make it sound appealing enough to sample.
- Eromanga Sensei: Despite Author's praise,
I have various reasons for giving this a pass, including the setting.
- Seven Mortal Sins: Not my kind of thing in general (I generally don't
wind up liking fanservice-heavy shows even if they throw in action
as well), and like last season's Gabriel Dropout it's probably more
entertaining to sometimes watch people watching it on Twitter rather
than actually watch it myself.
- KADO: The Right Answer
- Frame Arms Girl
- Clockwork Planet
- Twin Angels Break
As seems to have become my pattern, I'm not watching any popcorn shows, by which I mean merely okay or passable shows that I watch primarily to pass the time while I have some coffee or whatever. There are such shows airing this season (Grimoire of Zero probably qualifies, for example), but I'm just not interested these days. If I'm not actively enjoying it, I appear to drop it aggressively or not even consider it.
I continue to not look at Sakura Quest, as covered earlier here. Some commentary suggests that the fourth episode is a significant step down, so I feel justified in this so far. There are some fairly acclaimed shows airing in this season that are just not in my area of interest as far as plot and setting go, such as Tsuki ga Kirei (see eg Nick Creamer's writing on it).
My (Twitter) reactions to the first episodes of the Spring 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).
- My Hero Academia episode 14 is just the same as always; I like the
characters but the pacing is still really slow and hurting the show.
- Granblue Fantasy episode 1 is not interesting enough for me to
even finish the episode; I made it 15 minutes before quitting.
- Alice & Zouroku episode 1 was fun, interesting, and intriguing,
but the character interactions really made it. I especially like
- Rage of Bahamut - Virgin Soul episode 1 was slower and not as
exciting as ep 1 of the original, but the ending portion made
up for it.
- Re:Creators ep 1 was interesting & well done, but so far it just
sets up the premise; it doesn't tell us what the show'll be like or
- Eccentric Family S2 episode 1: The tanuki are back, Kyoto is
beautiful, and things are spooky & quietly tense. It's everything
I could want.
- SukaSuka episode 1: Now that's how you start a slow-build show.
There's nothing new here but it's very well assembled & pretty
- Grimoire of Zero ep 1 was very light novel but also surprisingly appealing and well done. The characters are cliches, but interesting ones. →
These are all the first episodes I've felt energized enough to watch so far and I'm probably not interested in adding more so I'm going to call it here, even with a few potentially interesting ones unwatched. Notably missing is Sakura Quest, which is frequently praised but has a setting that usually doesn't work for me, and I'm not certain the premise sounds like my thing either. Perhaps I will get around to it later, but so far I've felt like watching Kemono Friends instead.
Watching Kemono Friends benefits from knowing some general spoilers
Kemono Friends was a series that didn't even make my radar for the winter season, but it's been steadily picking up buzz and good press and I recently started watching it. This experience very much benefits from knowing some general spoilers due to what I'm going to call the Symphogear effect.
Much like Symphogear but more so, the opening episodes of Kemono Friends are not particularly attractive on their surface. The CGI is frankly janky (although I can get used to it and I even find it kind of charming now) and the general plot of each episode is not particularly deep. While the show is laced through with mysteries and allusions, it's all too easy for a show to drop lots of hints that amount to absolutely nothing and plenty of shows fumble their ending this way. Which is where the general spoilers come in, because they do the crucial work of letting me know that Kemono Friends is not one of these.
For example, those mysteries and allusions are in fact our old friend incluing at work doing subtle worldbuilding. Those uneasy feelings I get when I watch the show and see things in the background are entirely intentional, and paying attention is thus actively rewarding; I'll pick up things and have fun theorizing. And things like Nick Creamer's review of Kemono Friends lets me know that the smart writing I think I'm seeing is not an illusion and the show has a real and satisfactory payoff in the end.
All of this elevates the show well above its relatively modest surface appeal. When watching Kemono Friends with this advance knowledge, I can both enjoy the surface, which is decently entertaining in a lightweight way, and amuse myself by thinking about all of the things in the background. I'll also admit that seeing all the memes and artworks of various characters on Twitter has helped to prime me for their actual appearances in the show. If I'd tried to watch Kemono Friends cold without this general background, I suspect that I'd have bounced off the show entirely on the grounds that it was very little more than it appeared to be and didn't have enough promise.
(The surface show of Kemono Friends is okay but it's not deep; it's goofy friendship slice of life and learning experiences, mixed with lectures on animals and ecologies and so on. I might have watched it for that alone if I was sufficiently bored, which I actually might have been last season.)