Looking back at the Winter 2016 anime season

April 9, 2016

Once again it's time for my usual look back at what I watched this season to see how my early impressions and my midway views held up. As usual I'm doing this partly for the honesty and partly because it means I can go back in a few years to see what I was feeling about a show at the time.

Fully enjoyable:

  • ERASED aka Boku Dake ga Inai Machi: This was frustratingly inconsistent. At its best (in the Kayo storyline) it was beautiful and affecting, and it was at its best for quite a while. But outside of that it often rapidly descended to an unexciting, cliched thriller show, one that made me roll my eyes periodically. The show was clearly trying for good things in the thriller sections, but they mostly never worked as well as they needed to. Still, when it was good it was very good.

    (In part the show was probably hemmed down and limited by the original source material, which it couldn't rewrite wholesale.)

  • Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash: This wasn't flawless (and some of its flaws were painful) but it was both solidly consistent and very good to excellent throughout. The stories it told were powerful ones and it told them well. Grimgar's best spots weren't as great as ERASED's, but it was far more consistently good (cf).

    For more words that pretty much match my feelings, see Bobduh's ANN review.

  • BBK/BRNK aka Bubuki Buranki: This is ultimately a genre piece, but it's a pretty interesting one for that, stuffed with some excellent characters. I particularly enjoyed getting a look in at Reoko towards the end of this season, because she's quietly turned into one of the show's more interesting characters (even if I don't entirely agree with her). Well made, well directed, an interesting story, fun little bits, good character animation, what more could you ask for in a genre show?

    (Yeah, some people will say 'not 3D CG'. All I can say there is that I think it's well done.)


  • Akagami no Shirayukihime: This remains an acquired taste but I enjoyed it. There were far more ups and downs this season than last season, but the ups were really very good; we got some excellent episodes in there. At the same time, though, I think I may be done with the show. I find myself thinking that I would be perfectly happy if there never was another season, because I don't really need to see any more slow development of the story. The ending of this season basically wraps up any tension there ever was; what remains is simply a question of how the inevitable outcome happens (cf).


  • Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!: I almost dropped this because I couldn't stand episode 9 and didn't watch it, but then I decided that the show has basically no episode to episode continuity so I could watch episode 10 anyways; I'm glad I did. Overall the show was okay (apart from Darkness) and periodically funny. I especially enjoyed how Megumin and Aqua actually are perfectly competent, they just have limitations and blind spots.

  • Active Raid: In the end this show never transcended its limitations. It was okay, usually enjoyable as a spectacle, periodically eye-rolling, and every so often it managed to deliver an episode that was special (such as the giant robot episode or the date episode).

    Apparently we're getting more. I'm not exactly looking forward to it, but I'll probably watch; I do actually like the characters.

  • Dimension W: I have a confession. For all that I rolled my eyes at a lot of the show, especially towards the end, I actually enjoyed it. It was silly and stupid, yes, but it was also reasonably fun to watch (and Mira was always cute, even when the show was using her for fanservice). The plot was kind of BS and it suffered from the usual burning need to tie everything together and make it relate to the protagonist, but still. And it had a bunch of good characters who rubbed off each other fairly well.

    Dimension W was not what it looked like at the start, but for me it finished up as a reasonably enjoyable popcorn entertainment show. I'd even probably watch more if there ever was any.

I finished it:

  • Luck & Logic: To echo what I said in my midway views, this was a perfectly competent execution of its fundamental genre. It was also no more than that, which made it basically flat. It passed the time while I had a cup of coffee and that was it.

Not for me:

  • Please tell me! Galko-chan: I wound up giving the first episode of this a try, since it was right there on Crunchyroll. Sadly but unsurprisingly it is not for me. I can see why people like it a lot, and it's a solid show and even periodically amusing, but it doesn't resonate with me enough to make me want to watch more (partly because of the setting). Still, worth checking out to see if it clicks with you.

My top two shows are each excellent in their own way and BBK/BRNK was always enjoyable, so on the whole I feel that I shouldn't complain about how the other shows fell down in their own ways and disappointed me (well, I didn't expect much for Luck & Logic and I wound up getting exactly what I expected). Disappointment is inevitable in every season, because great and even good shows are relatively rare; most are ordinary and flawed. Ordinary and flawed is a good description of Active Raid and Dimension W, and is fairly applicable to KonoSuba.

(I don't want to call Shirayukihime flawed, but considering the kidnapping plot, I'm going to say it is. It fell into genre expectations there a bit too easily.)

Written on 09 April 2016.
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