Brief impressions of the Summer 2019 anime season so far
As before it's time for my relatively early views of how this season has shaken out so far, following up on my first episode reactions. At this point I've seen three episodes of everything I'm watching, so it feels like things are starting to stabilize (although maybe not).
A great Symphogear experience:
- Symphogear XV: This season builds on everything that's come before (and is in many ways the second half of AXZ), so it's not a good place to start, but after three episodes it's a pretty great season of Symphogear. Everyone is being themselves and we're getting sustained epic things, melodramatic twists, ancient secrets, and so on.
- Granbelm: I'm a minority that finds the giant robot fights to be not
so impressive, but
fortunately the characters and their interactions more than make up for
that. This is really a character piece hiding inside what is nominally
an action show, and it's pretty good at that.
- Astra Lost in Space: The show is more or less written for kids and
it shows, but I've wound up sucked into its charms despite that. I like
watching it, even though bits of writing and other twists irritate me
from time to time.
- Lord El-Melloi II's Case Files: So far, this is basically a series
of fun romps that use the Fate/* world as a background setting.
People snark at each other, interesting things happen, a problem gets
solved, and it all wraps up neatly by the end of the episode. That
makes it an enjoyable watch for me, one that I'm willing to continue
for as long as the charm and novelty holds up.
(I refuse to use the show's gigantic full official name.)
Cannot evaluation fairly:
- Fire Force: This had a very impressive first two episodes and then
the horrifying Kyoto Animation tragedy happened. While
I can still watch the show, I don't
know if I really want to and the KyoAnime tragedy has unquestionably
changed my reaction to it. I was much less taken with the third episode
and its flaws and irritations stood out much more. Some of those flaws
and irritations were present even in the first two episodes; did they
get worse in the third episode, or have I become more sensitive because
I'm now less enthused about something involving fire? I don't know.
I will probably keep watching Fire Force, but it's now very much on the edge in a way that it wasn't before and probably wouldn't have been without the KyoAnime tragedy.
- Cop Craft: I really liked the first episode, although even then its
limited animation was noticeable, but I'm afraid that the
wheels have started coming off by the third episode. There is
the core of a compelling story and show in here, but it is not being
realized so far; things are too rushed and abbreviated, and the great
characters are not being given enough of a chance to interact with
each other naturally. That it cannot really animate what should be
exciting fight scenes is just the unsatisfying icing on the cake.
However, there is still enough good stuff here that I'm willing to keep watching, partly in the hopes that everything will improve again. There are flashes of excellence in the show, even in the third episode.
- Isekai Cheat Magician: I have no excuses; this is a terribly bland
show that somehow makes what should be an exciting, enthusiastic
situation into a boring one. There have been far better shows with
the same fundamental premise. But so far apparently I want to watch
a popcorn isekai show with vastly overpowered protagonists.
I expect to drop this sooner or later.
- To the abandoned Sacred Beasts: The second episode opened with a charming orphanage, and nothing good ever happens to those in a show like this so I decided that I didn't want to watch any more.
I've also dropped last season's Demon Slayer, which basically wore out its charm. Zenitsu very strongly pushed me to drop it, but even without his presence I probably would have given up. I'm just not very interested in watching a long parade of shonen fights any more, and that was what Demon Slayer has transitioned into.
My (Twitter) reactions to the first episodes of the Summer 2019 anime 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).
- To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts episode 1: That was a whole lot of setup
and backstory, but it was okay overall and has some flashes of
interest. We're not getting anything stunning but it might be competent
and watchable, which is sadly rare.
- Astra Lost in Space episode #1: That wasn't bad for what it was, and
it had a decent amount of subtlety (not huge amounts, but). But it had
some irritating things, and it doesn't have enough characterization
to entirely cover for them.
- Fire Force episode 1: Wow. What a feat of visuals and direction, and
the story itself wasn't bad either. I'm pretty stunned with just how
good this was & how much I enjoyed it. It gets points for being subtle,
and many points for making me really want to see more.
- Granbelm episode 1: That was certainly trying, but it doesn't feel
like any of what it could manage lived up to what it aimed for. The
result was a bit underwhelming, although still okay. It really needs
better writing, though. Please.
- Symphogear XV episode 1: Symphogear is back in all its glory and it
is very Symphogear, in a good way. I can't have asked for more from
this first episode (okay, better songs, I know that I'm a heathen
here). We even got some good stuff with Miku. (They are so married.)
- Cop Craft episode #1: Pretty much everything here was spot on
for me, especially the writing, and the show's doing all sorts of things
I like (including being subtle and having good characters). And then
that final scene.
- Lord El-Melloi II's Case Files episode 1: This was an okay
re-introduction to how Waver got here, but it probably doesn't say
anything about what the show is actually going to be like. I have
enough lingering affection to give it another episode so I can find out.
- Isekai Cheat Magician episode 1: This is a trifling confection of
nothing much, partly because it was all setup; we'll get to interesting
things next episode. But I'm okay with another run at a popcorn show
like this while my interest lasts.
- Dr Stone episode 1: That was essentially okay and it certainly has a mood, but the mood is one that involves a lot of shouting and dumbass energy, which is not really my thing in shows. And I'm sure there's going to be fighting sooner or later. →
There's a number of other shows that I've been on the edge of trying out, but this season is already busy enough. If my gut thinks that a show's premise, setup, and early reviews are too marginal, I should probably listen to it.
(O Maidens in Your Savage Season is getting very good reviews, but it's almost certainly not a show that's going to work for me. Vinland Saga, while getting quite good reviews, but I think it falls into the same category as Golden Kamuy, which didn't work for me. I may try the manga instead.)
Looking back on the Spring 2019 anime season
- Fairy Gone: This cour of the show wasn't flawless but it was interesting and generally well done, and it's certainly enough to get me to watch the next cour (which will air in the Fall season, starting in October). Marlya basically carried the show for me, and in general it was at its best when she and her compatriots in Dorothea were on the screen and doing things. As always, I enjoyed it partly because it was doing something different from the run of the mill shows that we usually get.
Decent except for Zenitsu:
- Demon Slayer: The show is generally pretty good as a shonen action
show (although it sometimes stumbles) and I continue to like Nezuko
and her interactions with Tanjiro. Unfortunately it is less successful
elsewhere, such as in its non-fight writing, and in particular Zenitsu
is extremely terrible; he embodies a great deal of shonen character
cliches that I hate and find extremely grating. It also looks like
it's about to settle down into basically a series of 'monster of the
time interval' fights, now that the initial setup has been done.
Due to both of these factors (but primarily Zenitsu), I expect to drop
the show soon.
(I read spoilers for Zenitsu's future developments and he does not improve the things that irritate me. If anything, he gets worse.)
Dropped (unless I get very bored):
- Wise Man's Grandchild (#9): It slowed down so that it was basically leaning on reaction faces to keep my interest, and that wasn't enough. I skimmed episode 10 very briefly, and apparently a lot of it was trying to give the main villain a vaguely sympathetic background and, well, I'll pass; Wise Man's Grandchild does not have writing that is anywhere near good enough to succeed at that. Probably further episodes pick up with some fighting, which would be popcorn entertainment if I decided I wanted that and can't get it from new shows in the Summer season.
I did not continue Sarazanmai. Various reactions from people with opinions that generally agree with mine make me feel that I made the right decision, however much I feel like I should watch an Ikuhara show.
Although this was a slow season, I feel satisfied with what I watched. I enjoyed Fairy Gone and Demon Slayer was entertaining and well done for what it was.