Looking back at the Winter 2017 anime season
Once again it's time for my traditional look back at what I watched in the past Winter season, to follow up on my early impressions and my midway views. This time around there is a surprise new appearance, which is part of why I haven't written this retrospective before now.
- ACCA - 13-Territory Inspection Department: Some of the plot
twists in the last episode were awfully convenient even if they
had sort of been set up in advance and there were a few aspects of
the setting that made me raise my eyebrows, but ultimately neither of
those mattered. What made the show was both the characters and their
interactions and the sheer atmosphere of the show, and it nailed both.
ACCA was a show that was a lot about style and it had the style to
make everything work. And I have to admit that some of the twists
in the last episode were great.
(One surprise given what happened in ACCA is how little violence it had, even when it could have.)
- March comes in like a Lion: This didn't conclude so much as more
or less resolve some ongoing character threads, which is perfectly fine
since we're getting more later. But even if we weren't, I feel that the
show picked a good point to pause; it carefully showed us how Rei had
made genuine progress in moving forwards out of his paralyzed stasis
- Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: What started out as a comedy turned
into a show that was very explicitly and heartwarmingly about family. Oh, sure,
there were still funny bits by and in the end, but family was the
heart of everything going on and the epilogue of the show made it
explicit. KyoAni did very good work here. In quiet little things,
I liked how the mood shifted over the course of the show; for example,
Kobayashi stopped exploiting Tohru, and
the cast no longer staying late at work.
(Kanna was a vital part of making things work. Her presence didn't create the family as such, but she made its existence obvious. And she got a beautiful part of an episode where the point wasn't what happened but what didn't.)
- Kemono Friends: This is ultimately a kid's show, by which I mean
that its episodic stories were generally relatively straightforward;
there was friendship with new Friends (all of whom were nice people),
obstacles to overcome with interesting but straightforward solutions,
and so on. This doesn't mean that it was bad, though, or even merely
ordinary; works for kids and young adults are quite capable of having
significant depths once you start looking and being extremely good,
and Kemono Friends definitely qualified here.
Over its run Kemono Friends slowly and carefully built up a coherent world and overall plotline, built narrative momentum around everything going on, and used all of this to create a very powerful climax with genuine surprises, an epic title drop that really worked, and a happy ending that felt completely justified, partly because it used elements the show had been carefully feeding us all along. A lot of shows fumble their endings in some ways, but Kemono Friends delivered one of the best ones I've seen in a while . The show had both heart and smarts (and looking back, always had some interesting things quietly in the background).
I don't know how Kemono Friends happened, especially from a staff that doesn't seem to have done much before, but I hope we get something more from this group of people. They have proven they can make excellent work even under challenging situations, so I'd love to see what they can do with another chance (on Kemono Friends or something else).
(I'm someone who is not bothered by CGI if the rest of the show works, so I came to accept Kemono Friends' CGI even when it was pretty special.)
(See also how watching Kemono Friends benefits from knowing some general spoilers.)
This season wound up being pretty thin on things to watch (since I only followed three shows during it; I started Kemono Friends basically after the season finished). However, everything I watched was somewhere between quite good and excellent (Kemono Friends is merely good a lot of the time; it back-loads its excellence as things get really rolling towards the end).
I do kind of regret that none of my secondary shows worked out for me this season. In the past I probably would have kept on watching Little Witch Academia, Blue Exorcist - Kyoto Saga, and maybe even KonoSuba and Akiba's Trip. But these days apparently I'm getting less interested in watching things I find merely ordinary or marginal, so out they all went by midway.
Written on 01 May 2017.