Welcome to the Spring 2018 anime review, in which I will give you my overall thoughts about all the shows I watched airing the last season. I’m intending to do the same for Fall 2018 in a few days time, so remember to go back for it. In general, it was the season that had wide range of recommendable shows, although except for maybe my top 2, I personally don’t feel that wild over the crop. Certainly it was a better season than the Fall, and looks to be much stronger than the current Summer season. I will rate all those finished shows. Shows that have second cour playing next season won’t be ranked or rated. Overall, I watched a total 10 new shows, plus 2 continuous shows and 1 OVA, that makes it 13 shows in general. Let’s run them down now, from worst to best:
Oops, a day late. You know me by now. Anyways, this Spring season is truly gone, guys. Many shows aired their last episodes and in regard to that, they’re underwhelming. Many shows just stop in the middle of the street, while others conclude their stories misfired. Well, I know anime industry always have problems with this, especially how anime is sometimes designed as a promotion material to sell their manga and products, but sometimes it’s frustrated to follow a show for few months just to see their intended full story never see the day of light. Next week, I’ll rundown some blurbs for on all the shows I followed this Spring season, with ranking, rating and stuffs. If I feel up to it then the week after that, I’ll do the same for the 2018 Fall season so you know where I stand for this 2018 year in anime. But enough of that, let’s run those shows down this week:
As you might know, I couldn’t do last week in anime as I attended some film festival. So this week is a combination of week 10 & 11 and I’m a bit sad, as always, to see this Spring Season has come to an end (well, funny that it’s Winter going on here in Aussie). Two shows in particular ended this week: Hinamatsuri (I will write a full review on this) and Wotakoi, both finished in a relatively sweet note. Falling out of tune is Piano no Mori, which at this point I don’t even consider watching its second cour. Anyways, another good weeks in anime (I’m optimistic) and let’s just run them down:
This season has come to its last legs and as far as week in anime goes, this is another solid week. We have an arrival of a new show, and Megalo Box strips over from its crown, and these two might or might not have a connection. Let’s run it down now
SO we officially reach the two third of this anime Spring season, and it was a pretty light week with Die Neue These and Darling in the Franxx took a short break, coupled with me dropping Caligula, so for the first time this list becomes some sort of a top 10. Let’s get down to it:
10) Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai (ep09)
After a surprisingly excellent episode, Tada-kun falls back into its usual self. By now I can regard Tada-kun as a mix of unusual ingredients: it’s influenced by both the 50s, 60s Hollywood romance and anime romance, resulting in a product that is always fascinating but not necessary come well together. That’s why this might be the only anime series where high-society ball, PRINCESS exist alongside with school activities and idol girls. Let’s take this episode for a better demonstration. We have the main guy fallen sick after soaking wet from the rain (ANIME TROPES), that said princess girl can’t help herself and kisses him while he’s asleep (HOLLYWOOD TROPES), she realizes her crush and acts strange towards him (ANIME) but he still acts pretty much like a prince – pick out a random caterpillar from her hair (both ANIME & HOLLYWOOD). Doesn’t matter which inspiration this show has, it still embraces too many established tropes that it feels obvious at times.
9) Saiki Kusuo no Sai-nan 2 (ep19)
As I stated before I enjoy Saiki K the most when it focuses on a mini-arc (and by Saiki standard, 3 to 4 short skits), that is to say I’m wholy satisfied with Saiki K this week. Not only this episode brings along their core cast altogether (which the show wittily meta-mentions it), this play serves as a satire to the old classic tale. I bet most of us have bedtime tales that now thinking back don’t make a goddamn sense, right? I have, right here. This whole play escalates to an insane level of hilarity, which pretty much Saiki K at its most confident.
8) Golden Kamuy (ep08)
Welp, this time we get to another side-villain, and I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, the idea of a murderer who gets aroused at the notion of “seeing death in the eyes” is certainly intriguing, he certainly reminds me of Hannibal Lecter for good reasons. The way Golden Kamiy brings that fetish on a visual level, with that weird shining aura around his pant, is so weird and far-out it’s actually wonderful. The murderer’s personality, however, beside his murder motive, is pretty weak in general. That issue becomes apparent in the later half when it focuses on his point of view, and he just can’t carry the narrative weight. His appearance, in a big picture, also means that the show will go for several small arcs before the three-way standoff of our duo, the police and the tattooed thief, in which I personally feel stall the main plot. With only handful of episodes left, it remains doubtful whether the show can wrap itself up meaningfully.
7) Wotakoi (ep08)
Wotakoi is still sweet as ever. I’m glad that they confront the main issue regarding our main leads, that they don’t have any romantic chemistry together. It always feels that Hirokata is way more serious about their relationship than Narumi, and he releazies that they don’t spend time like normal couples do. Thus the core to improve their relationship is that Narumi needs to find how much he meant to her romantically, and for Hirokata how to express that love clearly. I still think that they need to expand more with new characters, but the main casts are so engaging and natural that I’m fine with whatever way the show rolls. At least though, develop this couple’s chemistry to their full potential.
6) Piano no Mori (ep08)
While I’m not pretty wild about this show when they were kids, the 5 year gap proves to be its big improvement. I mean, Takako can do no wrong (subjectivity hereee) and I’m impressed with the way the first half comes together in a satisfying way with new characters pop in naturally and have their roles in Kai’s performance. It can’t help but praising Kai a bit too much for my taste, however, like the way virtually every character obssesses with Kai’s playing style. Now that everything is in place, I guess the next episode we will have another 1-year jump in to the Chopin tournament and I’m pretty excited for it.
5) Hinamatsuri (ep09)
In my opinion, Hinamatsuri is always at its best when they play around with their new characters. In this episode, we have 2 new additions, to a varied degree of success. Mao is a great addition to this ensemble cast, and the show makes her trouble hilariously (with its Cast Away reference) but never sells her issue short. Nitta’s yakuza brother, on the other hand, is weak and the whole yakuza affair just doesn’t do me much since it adds nothing exciting on the table. The only parts I enjoy in that segment are Hina’s poisonous remark that caused all this and how Nitta wakes up tied up in a concrete box. It’s striking and funny at the same time.
4) My Hero Academia 3 (ep47)
I was thinking during the middle part of this episode that it all comes a bit too easy for the heroes, and then… boom, we have a stake that higher than anything we’ve seen before in this series. That’s one of MHA’s quality, it has just a right balance between action/ character study; good/ bad and easy/ difficult. Now that’s the ultimate villain makes his first official appearance: “All for One” who goes against everything that Al Might and the hero society has built. The fact that Deku again is kidnapped also means that there’s still space for his personal conflict and there’s still room for all the League of Villains members another chance to fight and shine.
3) Hisone to Masotan (ep08)
Well, after a slip up in last couple of episodes, I’m glad that the show picks itself right up with this episode. With the first half the shape of their final arc is formed and overall I’m happy with it. There’s going to be a ritual, in which dragon pilots’ main role is to escort to giant “behemoth” to its new resting place. Not bad of an idea. It both doesn’t go down to the usual save the world plot and it furthers elevate the originiality of this world (also extra plus for Shrin maiden). The romance subplots, however, I’m not too keen on. Hoshino and whoeverheis relationship feels way too calculated to me, although I do enjoy the chemistry between Hisone and Okonogi. The new twist about Okonogi to be a important figure for the ritual, and the appearance of his lover, don’t really bode well with me. It’s like the most common anime cliche ever.
2) Steins;Gate 0 (ep8)
This episode feels like a short detour, and design as one, as Okabe finds himself in the beta world, just so at the end he transverses back to the old one. Part of me feels it’s a wasted opportunity, especially how they could make tons of interesting developments into it. But the focus this time squarely places into Okabe’s own mind. He carries a big burden, and this short visit into the world where Kurisu lives further reminds him that doesn’t matter what his choice is, he still blames himself for the death of either Kurisu or Tutturu. On that front the show succeeds magnificently. The drama this time can go a bit cheesy and it’s a bit too convenient that Kurisu just builds another time machine for him to go back. I would’ve preferred him staying in that world line, if only for the fact that Kurisu and Okabe could then make something interesting to bring Mayuri back. I know Kurisu would.
1) Megalo Box (ep9)
An absence of Die Neue These means that the top slot is very well claimed by Megalo Box. While I feel the overall plot so far is predictable and sometimes even ham-fisted, this show knows well how to build up tension and successfully invites us to get behind and cheer on the underdog Joe. I swear I get the feel of Joe K.Oed the opponent and it feels so worth it that he can make it to the Final 4. Being said that, the fight itself repeats the same pattern of previous fights: Joe gets beaten up pretty bad before defeat the opponent with a one-punch. I hope they don’t repeat much on that and God, him intentionally let his guard down in a boxing matching is way too lame and unrealistic. Speaking of Nanbu, I have a feeling that this time he won’t get away scotch-free, in order for Joe not throwing this match he might put his life literally on the line. Let’s see.
Overall, this week in anime wasn’t too bad. While the top shows didn’t wow me much, it’s the lower tier shows that delivered the goods. A bit shake up in the ranking as a result. Let’s get down to it.
Welcome to the first new content of this blog, with this weekly summary, where I give my episodic impressions in chunks for all those anime shows I’ve been following so far. So far, this season has offered a solid number of good shows, at least the top 6 shows can be a heavyweight in any other season, although it’s one rare instance where I don’t have a real favorite pick. Let’s get down to it, in preferential order:
13) Caligula (ep06)
Caligula remains a show that splits me neatly in half. The theme it’s trying to explore: about a bunch of characters who have painful memories in real life so they take solace in this fake Mobius world created by μ still keep me intrigued, and there are some neat ideas being explored (I like the story of a girl who erased her mother) and some nice visual presentation (like those people with their faced digitally blurred), but on the other hand, the one noted cast who often speaks meaningless dialogues also mean that we have a hard time to identify with them, let alone care for them. It says something that after halfway through I still don’t care and don’t know most of the characters, main guy included. This last episode signals the climax when with an all-out battle, that makes me wonder how the hell Caligula handles the rest of its run. At this point I don’t consider dropping it but if the characters don’t improve soon, it won’t have much to leave a lasting impact.
12) Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai (ep07)
So, a slice-of-life plus romance plus anything goes from photography club activities to dancing in the ballroom? The writing is pretty inconsistent, the titular Tada-kun is still very plain and the cast’s quirks can go a bit overboard at times, but there’s a weird charm to all of this. The latest developments, however, make me quite concerned. First, the introduction of Tada’s rival, Teresa’s fiancee Charles doesn’t bode well for me. Charles feels too perfect to be a real character and he adds an unnecessary love-triangle conflict to our main leads. Second, Teresa being a royal princess of some small European country is something that we suspected from day 1, but God why it wants to go in that direction? The show wants to be in the same vein with Roman Holiday (there’s a reference in the OP), but as cute as Teresa is, she can’t compare to the Goddess Audrey Hepburn and certainly Tada-kun doesn’t one-fifth the charms of Gregory Peck. So yeah in terms of actual romances from this show, they’re suck.
11) Piano no Mori (ep06)
The story gets into a nice grounding now that the piano competition’s over, but this last episode further shows many of Piano‘s issues. The production simply can’t keep up with the weekly schedule, resulting one of the most uninspired and just downright distracting CG animation I’ve watched this season. It feels like a product of 15 years ago. In this episode, Kai lost his piano forest in the dumbest way – thunder strike. Really? One thing that I like, however, is the way previous episodes suggested us that Kai would go overseas to study piano, while Shuhei remains in Japan to become the best piano player in the country. Turns out in this episode they’d do the opposite, Kai decides to stay in his little world not because of all these things that tied him down (the piano, his Mother), but because he realizes all that he needs is right there. The pacing, however, goes so fast to depict Kai’s struggles that we just don’t feel relate in any of his development. The lackluster production is something we need to live with at this point, so I hope the story can improve so that at least we can have something to look forward to.
10) Saiki Kusuo no Sai-nan 2 (ep17)
Saiki stays true with its quirky self this week, which also means that I don’t have a lot to talk about. Look, this show is a simple test, If you already like the first season then this second season offers more of the same, with even more expanded cast. This episode places Saiki into trouble with 5 entirely different set of characters, which works for the show’s benefit. The last few episodes have wear me down a bit, but for my money this show’s at its best when it plays around with new characters (in which next episode we will have one), or having Teruhashi constantly failed to approach Saiki. That girl, I swear…
9) Wotakoi (ep06)
To my surprise, despite its sitcom-like format and it doesn’t offer much in terms of the big picture, I still enjoy Wotakoi and the quartet week to week. The show’s main issue for me lies in its squarely focus on just those 4 characters and kinda ignore the rest of the world, which for me feel very limited and unrealistic. But apart from that those 4 have an interesting and natural chemistry together that it feels great just to watch them bouncing off each other. It helps that the dialogue feels real and they never play up their otaku nature. But the inclusion of Hirotaka’s brother: this show’s version of non-otaku character, doesn’t add up much (he’s a boring character). Still, I’m interested to see the development between Hirotaka and Narumi’s “romance”, which step by step has progressed more like a real couple. They’re getting there.
8) Darling in the FranXX (ep17)
Darling goes for a darker route now, which I’m glad. There still no subtle bone in their body, but at least in the last episode they manage to ask many intriguing questions about the nature of the world those kids live in and the nature of being human – which are the show’s core theme. I still don’t like the quick interference of The 9s or the whole Papa thing, and the ambush right where Mitsuru and Kokoro exchange rings further underlines Darling‘s shaky execution. Consider we have a quick glimpse of the leaders of APE, I have my theory that the Klaxosaur was indeed once human race, but they advanced their technology in order to modify their human body. The APE, on the other hand, still retains human form but starts do regress any human’s basic characteristics: no reproduction, no emotion, no dying process. I’m interested to see how they go from there, but embrace yourself since this one won’t go down happily.
7) My Hero Academia 3 (ep45)
I’m never much a fan of My Hero Academia, too much explosions and screaming for my taste. But this arc has kicked into gears and I like what I see so far, with all the Bakugo-kidnapping business. Bakugo’s character has always acted like a villain: thrust for power, never cares for anyone else and full of hatred. So this arc can serve as a good basic to challenge him and makes him see why he chooses to be hero in the first place. The more pain the better. At the same time, the kids from Class A and even some from Class B has developed in such a way that it always feels like they’re part of one big family – they feel like our dear friends now, and with their quest to bring back Bakugo, it could serve for some great characters moment here. And that blood-sucking girl, what’s her deal? What’s her Quirk? Man, I’m all in now.
6) Golden Kamuy (ep06)
Golden Kamuy has a very solid premise, but the pacing remains this show’s biggest issues. Whenever it comes to the gold hunt part it rushes way too fast, and then in quiet moments they spend to much time on food-porn cuisine and Ainu culture, without much related to the main storyline. The episode 6 starts out that way with Sugimoto and Asirpa… hunting deer. It feels like Golden Kamuy loses its focus until everything comes together neatly (a bit too neatly) in the last moment. Now the super bear hunter is also a tattooed escape prisoner, so by killing him they will be able to save Rectar, AND have another human map too boost. The story still has some potential but I sure hope they tone down on those wilderness cuisine.
5) Hisone to Masotan (ep06)
HisoMaso has the most gorgeous visual of this season, and expressive characters’ movement, but the story is so far too light. Now that it tries to tie up some thematic relevance with more serious tone, I’m a bit worried how they’re going to handle it. So far, HisoMaso gets away with lost of stupid details because they have a godsend ability to flirt around with their concepts, and I’m much prefer it that way. I don’t buy what Administrative Vice-Minister Iiboshi is trying to sell at all. What’s all this about White Lovers? Torii gate and shrine? The show’s other focus – about the relationship between dragons and their pilots – fare much better. Hosino nearly pisses me off for her stubbornness, but it ends well so I’m done complaining. This show has the look, so hopefully Mari Okada can give this story a fair treatment.
4) Hinamatsuri (ep07)
Hinamatsuri ceases to be a comedy show for me. There’s still absurdity sense of humor, sure, but it done drama way better than it has any right to be. Anzu and Hitomi slowly take over this show, for good reasons, and they have come to develop a lot since we first met them. I also like this version of Hina this week, her stoned face and mono-tone need to contrast with something as bombastic and out of left field as nominating herself for School Council President just so she can have more sleep and more food. Hina and Nitta’s chemistry also takes a nice step this week, with her helping Nitta to talk Usako into having a date with him. I don’t really like the montage-like from their date since we have a pretty good idea that Nitta’s getting rejected, so the pun doesn’t work for me.
3) Steins;Gate 0 (ep06)
Ohh, finally. The drama kicks in, in first season fashion to boost. Before that last-second event however, I actually consider this episode a weak one, with too much light-heart moments that don’t go well with the serious tone of this show, and the entire cast appears that make me feel like the show fan-services us blatantly. Turns out this is a part of the plan, showing the last moment of happiness before shit hits the fan. I supposed our new loli girl will be the one who died this time, and Okabe will begin his cycle of suffering real soon. The amnesia elements I can live without, but I believe all the main ingredients are in place, so from now on the story will run in full speed. And time-travel and drama are those things that this show does best, so bring it on guys!!
2) Megalo Box (ep07)
Megalo Box is still goddamn good. But first allow me to address the tiny elephant in the room: the boxing fights lack weight. There’s a nice amount of animation by all means, but every time one of the character hits the opponent, it doesn’t feel much impact. After Joe’s fight with Nanbu ex-pupil with I regarded as this show’s best episode (well, the episode before the fight anyway), I also find myself enjoying his new opponent, in a narrative sense. Here, we have Joe, a gearless boxer versus a man who uses gear so advanced that it does all the work for him. It’s the true battle to Megalonia, my friend, except that… the fight will never come (or so we’re led to believe). It’s anti-climatic for sure, but I have no doubt that Joe will be back on the ring, maybe with the assistance of someone’s certain sister. We’ll see.
1) Legend of the Galactic Heroes – Die Neue These (ep07)
And to top the list this week, it’s Yang Wen Li who takes all the spotlight here. This show balances extremely well between the epic part (all those space battles that run more like an open history book) with the more personal moments of our two leaders. It’s that we have to know where all these characters come from, what their philosophy is like in order to invest in this galactic battles, and so far it succeeds on doing just that. Watching Yang Wen Li’s plan carrying on in real mission is thrilling, and they also place a small doubt seed into the possibility that Rozenlitter might betray, and thus bringing the whole plan down. Other moment I enjoyed is when Yang orders his ship to minimize the unnecessary casualty. It further highlights Yang’s desire to end this long-winded war, but as fate would have it, the persona s talented as Yang will always be pulled back into the endless war no matter what.