Brief impressions of the Summer 2017 anime season so far

August 2, 2017

I'm somewhere between three and five episodes into everything I'm watching, which is long enough for most shows to show their cards and for my opinions to firm up. So, as usual, here's how my views of this season have shaken out, to follow up on my first episode reactions.

Excellent but alarming:

  • Made in Abyss: This is clearly the best show I'm watching and everything so far has been pretty much universally excellent, but it has been building up an increasingly ominous atmosphere and there's all sorts of rumblings that the manga version goes unpleasant places (and if the anime does too, I'm probably going to drop the show). It's also simply an impressive show, in art, animation, writing, and directing.

Good:

  • Princess Principal: This is a limited taste, because the show mixes completely serious material side by side with stuff that it's impossible to take seriously. But the show is fully committed to this (in the same way Thunderbolt Fantasy was) and has made it work so far. Not everything has been completely successful but it's solidly entertaining anyway.

  • Senki Zesshou Symphogear AXZ: After a bit of a quiet start where the show did not, say, slice a chunk out of the middle of a mountain in the first episode, AXZ has been steadily ramping up its stakes. It is and remains very Symphogear, which means that it's both over the top and sincere.

Decent to okay:

  • A Centaur's Life: This is basically slice of life in a science fiction setting. I read a bit of the manga several years ago and felt that it was both charming overall and reasonably well done, with an interesting mix of genres that could be nicely subtle. The animated version is a little bit less impressive because it's periodically kind of plain and flat in aesthetics and directing.

    Unlike some people, I think that the anime is overall reasonably well done. It's not flashy or 'strong' in some senses, but I've enjoyed elements like some nice character acting. On the other hand, I'm sort of feeling that I'm not going to keep watching the show for its entire run, so maybe I'm fooling myself about the overall production quality.

Popcorn watching:

  • Fate/Apocrypha: I'm not watching this for the plot or the Fate lore; seeing as this is a Fate show, both are likely to be stupid or irritating, and in any case both are far too complicated and require far too much background reading for me. Instead I'm watching this for a certain amount of nice animation and a few characters who are amusing and interesting, and so far it has delivered on enough of both to keep me watching.

    (I was actually pleased by a certain plot twist in episode 4, because I found the character involved to be kind of a wet blanket. Of course, Fate shows usually leave me irritated at almost every character.)

  • Knight's & Magic: This is what I will call 'competency porn'; you have a character who is very good at something and they do that something a lot, ideally in interesting and amusing situations and with some obstacles in the way. As I've said on Twitter, the show is so earnestly enthusiastic about things that it's charming, despite the basic story-telling limitations. See also this interesting post on K&M's heart-on-sleeve appeal by @iblessall.

    (I've realized that K&M quite reminds me of Rick Cook's Wizardry series, especially Wizard's Bane, the first book.)

In ongoing shows, My Hero Academia continues to be enjoyable to watch, although it has recently started to slip back into the excessive padding habits of the first season. I have tacitly dropped Re:Creators as not sufficiently compelling to make me care enough to watch another episode.

I recently saw the first episode of The Reflection and had some reactions on Twitter. I'm not sure what I feel about the show but it's interesting enough that I'm going to watch the second episode at some point. One way to put my longer term reaction to The Reflection so far is that I'm not sure it really feels like an anime show instead of a show about American superheroes that inexplicably happens to be in Japanese. Not that there's anything wrong with the latter, if it's well done.


Written on 02 August 2017.
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Last modified: Wed Aug 2 22:33:14 2017
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