Looking back at the Fall 2017 anime season
Once again it's time for my traditional look back at what I watched in this past Fall season, to follow up on my early impressions and my midway views. In general this has been a very good season for anime for me, with a couple of amazing shows.
(None of these shows changed what they were from my midway report, so I'll refer you there for fuller descriptions of all of the shows rather than trying to paraphrase them here.)
Excellent to amazing:
- Land of the Lustrous: The show was many things, but above all it
was stunning. It didn't have a conclusion or an ending or really a
climax, but as a story about how Phos changed it was a complete
success, including the generally contemplative last episode. I'll hope
for more some day, and if not there's the manga.
(I'm glad that Land of the Lustrous didn't try to sail off on an anime-original tangent to try to deliver an ending or a climax, because I honestly can't see how it could have delivered on everything LoL had built up.)
- Girls' Last Tour: The show did not give us a conclusion but it did
give us basically the perfect ending. We got as many answers
as we needed and a confirmation of what we already knew
about what happens next; the girls will continue their
last tour, because there is nothing else. To quote myself, the show
as a whole was a quiet, beautiful, and sometimes heartbreaking gem.
(Girls' Last Tour is what Kino's Journey (2017) should have been but it was also very much more.)
Excellent but wrenching:
- March comes in like a Lion: March has been very good lately but
also kind of oppressive, because it keeps coming back to Hina being
bullied. I'm honestly reaching the point where I'm not sure I want to
keep watching because it's just so painfully real and the emotional
doom and pressure is unrelenting. Rei wallowing in depression was a
lot easier to watch than Hina metaphorically getting kicked repeatedly,
and anyway we got to watch him emerge from that, grow, and learn life
lessons. No such thing seems to be on offer for Hina's situation,
which is extremely realistic but not exactly comfortable watching.
(You can see how much of an impact the Hina story has had on my impressions of March given that the episodes since my midway views have only lightly touched on it, yet I'm still spooked at the idea of a full chapter (aka half episode) putting us back in the middle of that oppressive environment.)
- The Ancient Magus' Bride: I continue to be unable to evaluate this
objectively. The anime hasn't surpassed the manga version in general,
but the manga version is extremely good (and the anime just doesn't
have the capabilities of, say, Made in Abyss's production). I think
the anime is starting to show the spots where it can shine over the
manga, and also to do things a little bit differently.
(On the not entirely great side, it also continues to periodically be awfully anime in conventional ways I don't think the story needed.)
A not good show that I still watched all of:
- Kino's Journey (2017): This certainly went out with a bang in its
last episode, which basically exemplified all of the overall failures
of the show. But even before then it was underwhelming in multiple
ways. Despite that, I finished watching the show and in a perverse
way I don't regret it, because thinking about all of its failures was
interesting and informative (eg).
I'm willing to believe that the basic stories here can be done in versions with genuine depth, feeling, and resonance (partly because Girls' Last Tour did it), but this incarnation of the show was almost never capable of delivering any of that.
- Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond (#10): This turned out to be a late season drop. To condense a bunch more words, I discovered that I needed this show to have an overall story and it didn't; it was just episodic meanderings around Hellsalem's Lot. That it ended with a Leo-focused two episode story didn't change this enough to make me want to watch the last two episodes.
I watched the first episode of Just Because! but it didn't hook me and I wound up not watching any more. I think ultimately this was because all of the people in it were regular high school kids, which basically made them too ordinary for me even with very good execution. I can see why people love it so much, though.
My top two shows of this season are something else entirely, and March and AMB are quite good (in my biased opinion about the latter). As for the rest, well, things happen. I'm starting to expect it; my tastes have apparently shifted to watching fewer shows that I'm completely happy with, and there generally just aren't that many of them in any given season.
PS: Looking back, it's clear that my views of a season are now mostly driven by the best shows that I watched, not the number of shows that I found worth following. In past years I'd probably have considered this season decidedly mixed, what with a number of promising shows ending up being subpar.
Sidebar: My reading of the manga for some of these shows
I'm well ahead of the anime in The Ancient Magus' Bride and I intend to keep on going with that, partly because that's how I started and partly because comparing and contrasting the two versions has been part of my enjoyment of the anime version. If the anime goes as far into the manga as I think it's hinted it will, it's going to be a wild ride; I look forward to seeing how anime-only people react.
While Girls' Last Tour has an ongoing manga, I'm not sure I want to read any more of the story, at least right now. To put it one way, the ending we got allows me to maintain the illusion of a non-tragic conclusion to things. The manga may be heading toward its own ending, so once we know how it finishes I may re-evaluate this.
I believe that the Land of the Lustrous manga is currently about to catch up to and pass the show (in the fourth translated volume that came out last week). In theory I could read onward to follow the story; in practice, I'm going to wait both to give it time and to see if the show gets a second season. If the show does, I'm going to sit on reading the manga until after the second season.
(I've picked up the first three Land of the Lustrous manga volumes, although I haven't done more than look at small portions of them, and I intend to continue doing so with future volumes. Even if I don't read them right away, I'm going to do it sooner or later.)
Written on 02 January 2018.