Looking back at the Spring 2016 anime season
Once again it's time for my usual look back at what I watched this past season to see how my early impressions and my midway views held up. As always, I write these partly because they keep me honest and partly because it's interesting to go back later and see how I was feeling about a show at the time.
- Flying Witch: This wasn't grand and ambitious the way some other
shows were and it's not flawless, but Flying Witch totally and
absolutely nailed its execution. As a result it was the most
consistently good and enjoyable show of the season; it didn't
necessarily aim really high, but it always delivered joy and wound
up being a great show. One of the many good things about FW is that
it generally knew to not oversell moments; often it let them be quiet
and short, whether that was for humour or for impact. I really
liked the ending.
(We could at this point have an interesting discussion about whether consistently delivering joy and sense of wonder is actually grand and ambitious in and of itself. But for this entry, I'll go with the common view that addressing big moral questions and so on are what's ambitious.)
- Concrete Revolutio: On the one hand, I feel that CR is amazing
and really delivered a powerful show overall, and this season had a
number of amazing and affecting episodes. On the other hand, it's far
from flawless in various ways, including basically reducing various
nominally important characters to standing around as spear carriers. I accept
that in in retrospect a number of the weaker episodes were laying
necessary thematic groundwork for the climax, but they're still weaker
episodes. As a result, my tentative view is that Concrete Revolutio
as a whole is a flawed (near) masterwork.
- Kiznaiver: I really liked this overall. The weakness of the show wound up being the sci-fi plot and the character of Sonozaki herself. The great strength of the show was everyone else and their interactions, which really worked very well. I think the show's ending mostly worked on an emotional level, although I was relatively indifferent to the plot details.
- Twin Star Exorcists: This is another show where the real strength
is the character interactions, not the plot and the action. Our two
protagonists feel real in their interactions and the show's doing a
good job of having them grow slowly closer in a natural way. On the
flipside, it suffers from being a long shonen action show (it's
planned for 50 episodes, apparently); we're clearly not getting
anywhere fast, even if TSE keeps throwing new escalations at us.
- My Hero Academia: I griped throughout the show's run about its
slow pace, but recently I found myself thinking 'damn, I wish there
was a new MHA episode to watch this weekend'. If I miss a show,
it did something noteworthy and worth recognition.
- Gakusen Toshi Asterisk: Watching Asterisk made me realize
that this sort of show lives and thrives in significant part in the
variety of the fights. Unfortunately Asterisk's tournament arc
gave us a whole series of fights that were too much the same despite
being individually interesting. The departure from that at the end
was a breath of fresh air, even if I find Flora's squeaky voice
I'd be happy to watch another season of Asterisk if it isn't another tournament arc, but I won't be particularly troubled if we don't get any more (cf).
Special merit 'I want to like it' award:
- Space Patrol Luluco: Several women I follow on Twitter say that
this really speaks to their adolescent experiences in a way
that very few other shows do. I'm not sure that this was
fully intentional on the part of the creators, but so what.
My personal view is that I could clearly see this in early
episodes but then the show was mostly eaten by its fanservice
crossovers with other shows. The ending wound up being okay
but didn't particularly move me.
(See also Bobduh's review.)
Okay, or maybe on the edge:
- Macross Delta: I've realized that this show's basically fallen in
my view to being a decent, ordinary show. It's okay. I've enjoyed
watching it, there are nice character moments, sometimes the action
is great, sometimes it lands a solid emotional connection, but in
the end I'm just not feeling any real passion for it any more the
way I did in the beginning.
- Kuromukuro: I like the character moments and broadly like the
action, but the show is moving too slowly to really hold my
attention. That people in the show quite often don idiot hats doesn't
help, and the show playing coy with its many mysteries isn't working.
(I'm now several episodes behind and I'm finding that I don't really miss the show; if I never see any more, that's okay. This is probably not a good sign.)
I finished it:
- Haifuri: I dropped this for wasting my time then un-dropped it to watch the last two episodes, because I heard they were the action episodes. Which they were, for low expectations of 'action'. So I can honestly count this as a show that I finished. I wouldn't recommend that anyone else bother, though.
The top three shows this season were each very good in their own different ways, and then I had about two and a half enjoyable popcorn watch shows. That makes this a pretty good season by my standard (probably better than last season now that I cross-compare things).
Written on 15 July 2016.