Looking back on the Fall 2018 anime season

March 9, 2019

It's well past 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. This past fall season was unusual because I passed on Bloom Into You during the season and then became very taken with it when I watched it all just after the end of the year. Since I watched it so close to the season (and before I started the Winter 2019 season), I'm declaring it a Fall 2018 show for the purpose of this retrospective (and my eventual 'best N in 2018' entry).

(This entry has been delayed mostly because of laziness.)

Somewhere between excellent and amazing:

  • SSSS.Gridman: The show started out being decently good and only got better from there, climaxing as an excellent if not amazing show. I had things to say in the aftermath of the last episode. Although Gridman starts out looking like a giant robot/kaiju show, it almost immediately becomes really an increasingly good character drama (interspersed with kaiju fights, which become necessary for the character drama). And as a character drama, it's excellent and affecting all through. The presentation is top-notch, with great directing and very interesting sound design.

    SSSS.Gridman is not flawless, but despite its flaws it's quite a lot my thing.

Excellent but effectively unfinished:

  • Bloom Into You: This is a great show, beautiful, dramatic, full of small touches, and many other things that drew me into it. It's that rare thing, a high school romance that wholeheartedly works for me; it's almost become my new gold standard for that (taking over from Toradora). It only has one unfortunate flaw, which is that the story is in no way finished and the show has to just stop abruptly. Bloom is adopting an ongoing manga and apparently there is just no good pause point so far; the show picks an okay one, one that shows off character growth and so on, but it is forced to leave all of its big plot threads just dangling. I finished the show very much wanting a a second season (or perhaps to read the manga).

    That Bloom Into You has to stop so abruptly means that it really isn't a standalone work in the way that SSSS.Gridman is. In my opinion Bloom is better and less flawed than Gridman, but Gridman tells a whole story and Bloom does not, and it turns out that I care about that too.

Good fun entertainment:

  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: Above all, Slime is a cheerful, good-hearted show that is out to make us smile. If you want conflict and challenged characters and so on, this is not for you; it's all about Rimuru solving a succession of problems and running over a succession of obstacles as they build a home and make friends with people and various great character interactions go on. The show fundamentally likes pretty much everyone, and almost every enemy gets a chance at redemption. In an ocean of grim shows where terrible things happen to people and certain sorts of characters are walking cliches that are used only as the butt of jokes, Slime is a breath of fresh air.

    Slime is not flawless, and in a certain way it's boring. But I always enjoyed it and it reliably brought a smile to my face when I watched a new episode.

Not as good as the first season:

  • Thunderbolt Fantasy S2: This was a good wuxia puppet show with various sorts of interesting things going on (and one stinger in the ending), but I'm not entirely taken with some of the things that Urobuchi wrote into the story (cf) and it can't (and doesn't) measure up to the first season. The original Thunderbolt Fantasy was amazing; this is merely a good adventure show with fun dialog and some amusing things going on.

    Looking back at the story structure in retrospect, I can't say that I'm entirely surprised by this; it would be very hard to duplicate the things that made the first season so special. We're unlikely to get that sort of revelations and twists and character developments again, because we've already had them once.

I feel satisfied with this season as a whole. Two shows were basically amazing (counting Bloom and ignoring the non-ending), one was solidly pleasant, and one was at least reasonably entertaining.

Written on 09 March 2019.
« Brief impressions of the Winter 2019 anime season so far
My (Twitter) reactions to the first episodes of the Spring 2019 anime season »

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Last modified: Sat Mar 9 17:49:39 2019
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