Some shows that didn't work out for me in 2017

December 18, 2017

Every year, there are a certain number of shows that I start with high expectations and hopes, fully expecting to enjoy them, and then things don't work out. I'm always sad when this happens; I want to enjoy shows, especially shows that I'm looking forward to, but every year there are times when this just doesn't happen, and not because the show turned out to be a disaster in some way or is clearly a 'not for me' show. These are the shows that by all rights should work for me, but for various reasons the show and I never connected. Often it's hard for me to drop these shows, because I feel like I should like them but I just don't. Somehow the magic that should be there has leaked out.

(Shows that are actively bad or that are clearly not my kind of thing are much easier to let go of, partly because it's a lot more clearcut. It's still disappointing but it's a mild disappointment. It's also easier to let go of shows that I had no particular expectations for in the first place, ones that just had some initial promise but I wound up deciding that I didn't like them enough.)

Today, for my own reasons, I want to look back at my collection of such shows from this year (or at least the ones that stand out to me), not to condemn them but to create a little memorial to them and to what could have been. That these shows didn't work out for me can say as much about me as it does about the shows.

In the order that they aired and I sadly walked away from them:

  • Blue Exorcist - Kyoto Saga: I quite liked the original Blue Exorcist back in the day, but this version didn't catch fire with me. I don't feel as sad as I might, because it's been so long and I never really expected another season from Blue Exorcist (and we did get a decent movie); also, I didn't entirely feel that this was really a continuation of the original because it had to reset a number of things from the anime-original ending of the first show. In a way you could say that this is a different show than I thought I was getting, one that just happens to sort of use the same setting and some of the same characters as the Blue Exorcist that I watched. And who knows, maybe my tastes have changed since 2011.

    I think the show was competently made and I've heard that it followed the manga fairly well, so I suspect that manga readers are pleased by this season.

  • Little Witch Academia: Oh, this one hurts. I lost interest after five episodes of this much heralded Trigger TV series version of a couple of quite good OVAs. There were a number of specific things, but in the end it basically turned out the way I'd been afraid of since I heard it was being turned into a TV series, which I'll summarize as 'the pacing and feel changed a lot'. The first OVA had only so much time and it had to cram a great deal in; as a result, everything moved at a rapid clip and there wasn't time to look very deeply into anything, which made it a madcap ride. With far more time to fill and the natural expectation that it would go into much deeper detail on the characters, character growth, and so on, the TV series could never have managed the same feel.

    (The second OVA was somewhat closer to the feel of the TV series, since it was an additional story invented after the first OVA was successful, but it was still far denser and more condensed than the show.)

    I wound up labeling LWA as 'not for me' instead of dropped because I think it not working for me is mostly about my tastes in pacing, characters, and so on.

  • Rage of Bahamut - Virgin Soul: The original Rage of Bahamut was a flawed but generally very good show that really got the cinematic Hollywood action-adventure feel and important things like how to have awesome moments. Virgin Soul had a great premise, the same director, and more running time (and hopefully plenty of production time), all of which gave me great expectations for it. Perhaps what happened is something similar to what happened with Little Witch Academia, where adding time (and focusing more on characters) required slowing the pacing down and coming up with more elaborate and complex plots.

    (With that said, the show has its own serious issues in how it handles Charioce; for one discussion of this, see here.)

  • Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond: This is a regrettable late addition (not just this season, but late in the season at that). It's actually been useful at showing me another thing about my tastes, because there's absolutely nothing wrong about BBB & Beyond as such; it's delivering exactly what's on the can, and in quite good quality as far as animation, story, and so on is concerned. It's just that BBB & Beyond is not going anywhere in particular and it turns out that I want more than that, even from my popcorn watching. But for people who like to see these characters ramble around Hellsalem's Lot and find out bits about their background and day to day life, well, I can see the appeal. My understanding is that this season is very much like the manga in that respect, so manga fans are probably quite fond of it (and irritated that the first season apparently pruned back so much from the sections of the manga that it covered).

    (The first season of BBB did have an ongoing story working its way through the episodes, with Black and White and everything they were tied in to. It also had the advantage that it was introducing us to Hellsalem's Lot.)

    (A confession: there's a part of me that wants to keep on watching BBB & Beyond, although I'm pretty convinced I'd just wind up disgruntled if I did. After all, I'm only two episodes away from the end of this season; surely I can just finish it out. But no. That's a combination of the sunk cost fallacy and my completionist nature.)

Then there's some shows that I'm more mildly let down and sad about, where it doesn't hurt as much that I and the show didn't work out.

  • Re:Creators: I didn't have high expectations for this at the start of the season, but the initial stuff was cool and the high concept was interesting. It kept me interested for 14 episodes, which is at least ten more than many shows manage, and there are any number of nice bits and characters that still stick in my mind. Also, the OP music remains excellent (I prefer the first OP's music to the second, but they're both good).

    In retrospect, Re:Creators had a good line on 'cool'. Perhaps this is partly because many of its characters were consciously supposed to be fictional (plucked into 'reality') and so did not have to be given feet of clay in order to feel more realistic; they could mostly run on the rule of cool and nothing else. For example, Mamika is almost too perfect in the show itself; in a work where she was intended to be a real character, she'd probably have been made more tangled and ambiguous and less appealing as a result. But I wave my hands here.

    (Sometimes this didn't work in the favour of the character and the show. Yes, I'm still sore about Magane.)

  • Fate/Apocrypha: I have a mixed relationship with Fate as a whole and I did drop and then un-drop this after the first episode, but I still keep hoping for a Fate series that delivers all of the cool stuff (including but not limited to fight action) but without the other things that are probably inevitable given that this is both Fate and a TV series (with a TV series' production limits). Some aspects of F/A were great, too, but for me they wound up as too little in too much of an ocean of stuff I was too indifferent to.

    (Overall I feel I got what I wanted from the show, since I went in with modest expectations and stopped watching when I felt I was about done. But I still feel sad that it wasn't more. I'll probably always feel this sadness every time I watch a Fate work and it doesn't knock me out of the park.)

  • A Centaur's Life: It feels like a miracle that such a peculiar and far-out manga got animated in the first place, so I'm only mildly sad that various aspects of the actual implementation didn't work for me. Perhaps the interesting bits in the show will have persuaded some people to check out the manga and gotten them hooked on it.

    (The manga really is far more out there than you might expect just from the premise. It gets really weird in places, especially as it goes on.)

Perhaps it's silly to go into new shows with expectations at all, since any long-term anime watcher knows that anything can happen with a new show (for bad or good), but it's also entirely human. People aren't perfectly logical robots; we're always influenced by emotional factors and our knowledge. Even if you deliberately shield yourself from hearing anything about a new season, you know that some shows are successors to shows that you liked (or adopt a manga you know something about), and that builds up inevitable expectations.

PS: I'm deliberately not considering shows that I actually finished even if I wasn't as taken with them as I expected and wanted to be. This is for shows that didn't work out to such an extent that I stopped watching them, not shows that merely disappointed me for various reasons or that turned out to be less than I'd hoped for or expected.

(This is part of the 12 Days of Anime for 2017.)

Written on 18 December 2017.
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Last modified: Mon Dec 18 12:38:23 2017
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