Musings and Reflections – end of Winter 2018

     Winter happened to be a pretty good season for me – two great shows dominated over others, and that doesn’t happen very often – since the beginning of my episodic blogging in Spring 2016 it happened only once when the second season of Rakugo and Kuzu no Honkai aired back to back. Apart for my two favorites, other Winter shows ended up being either expected (Ito Junji: Collection) or unexpected disappointments but you can’t win every pre-seasonal guessing game, can you? Actually, this season could’ve been even better for me since only a few days ago I started YoriMoi and so far I’m thoroughly enjoying it so that makes Winter a truly great season. And Yuru Camp is still awaiting. And people say that anime is getting worse and worse… Anyway, lets wrap this up.

     From the 6th week of the season I changed the format of Musings and Reflections (I think for the better). That also introduced notifying whether a particular episode in my opinion was good, ok or bad. I decided to play a bit further – if good is worth 2 points, ok means 1 point and bad gets 0, it becomes possible to evaluate my episode enjoyment which is a ratio of received points and total possible points (that is two times the number of episodes). As every rating, it’s only a play but ultimately I found that it represented my overall opinions about the shows more or less well.

Fate/Extra Last Encore

Episode enjoyment level 25%

     I wonder if anyone would’ve watched the show if it wasn’t attached to the Fate franchise. Game people may be having a good time but I did not. Sure, there were nice moments like that whole Madoka-esque floor but I simply can’t cheer for a show that despite having a goal (winning the tournament) feels very pointless. Hakuno still doesn’t have (or verbalize which at this point is the same) any wish and apart from being a combination of many dead people has nothing interesting to offer. Red Saber as a leading lady is fine but I can view her only as a strong supporting character at best. She has personality but that’s about everything I can say about her. And let’s not forget that Shaft postponed the final episodes so as the season finishes this show is left hanging. As if it was its only problem. Well, Nasuverse by itself is always at least charmingly deep but when you have no idea neither what is happening nor what can happen in a particular situation, it’s not that entertaining. With such a broken tournament as it is, Nasu can justify about anything that he wants to introduce and asspulls never have saved any story as far as I know.

     Fate/Umu receives a random award of being the most misadvertised title of the season. Yes, Nasu-sensei, contrary to your words I didn’t find the anime much fun without any previous knowledge of the Fate/Extra game.

Violet Evergarden

Episode enjoyment level 72%

     It’s pretty hard to talk about Violet Evergarden as a whole as it was very uneven. Sure, the visuals every single week were outstanding but I couldn’t say the same about everything else. It’s not that there were bad episodes but in a hindsight I miss more cohesiveness. By that I mean that at some points it was Violet who was the main character and her problems were the most important, other times Violet’s feelings completely took the backseat and only episodic supporting characters were important. Sometimes war was despised and we got some very emotional stories about people dealing with their losses. Other times Violet was celebrated as a warrior. Well, maybe such wording is a bit too strong for that approach but Violet did receive some action scenes where the viewers were supposed to be amazed at her proficiency. Moreover, the story started when Violet was hardly a human being and as she was a POV character, we barely saw any world because Violet wasn’t interested in it. By the end it turned out that the world was important and all sorts of conflicts, peace declarations and antideclarations were taking place but as that wasn’t clearly established from the start, it didn’t mean much. The show was best when Violet had to deal not with high-profile problems but with the (sometimes broken) lives of ordinary people, and these interactions also let Violet grow herself. So yeah, at best the show was outstanding, at worst – too sentimental and sugary – stuff that I’d rather skip. Luckily, the good stuff managed to outnumber the bad pretty heftily.

    So there comes the first gatherer of awards: for the most memorable character (Violet without much competition) and for the most impressive visuals. While I loved visual storytelling in KoiAme, I can’t say no to such incredible production of KyoAni.

Koi wa Ameagari no You ni

Episode enjoyment level 88%

     Let’s not beat around the bush – I came to love this anime. The premise might have turned off lots of people but if you can have a little faith, I think anyone could find much food for thought in this gem. What’s there not to love – visual storytelling at its best, make-up team working fantastically, influences from Japanese classical literature, amazing soundtrack and, probably most important of all, relatable themes of not giving up and pushing forward to cross the finish line. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but the sheer intention of pursuing your dreams and not stopping is very compelling. The only issue I could think of is that Akira’s change from viewing Kondou as a romantic interest to viewing him only as a dear friend was kinda abrupt. The change simply could’ve used more time to run more smoothly and continuously, but in the end I don’t think it matters. What I got was a great package of what I consider entertainment, and if anyone is hesitating – don’t, and go watch the show.

     KoiAme firstly gets the awards for the favorite OST – very soft and atmospheric sound of Ryo Yoshimata plus Aimer’s ED were enough to win against Evan Call’s sometimes too melodramatic (but still great) pieces of Violet Evergarden. The show also receives the award of being my favorite show of the season. By the way, once again favorite OST and favorite show awards come together. Is it a coincidence?

Ito Junji: Collection

Episode enjoyment level 21%

     Pretty much all my thoughts about Collection are negative. Segment about Tomie as well as a few others were interesting enough but the baseline was very low. Animation most of times was terrible and, well, there’s just very little to like about the show. It clearly doesn’t do any justice to Ito’s manga, so any unfortunate souls who watched this abomination without much knowledge about the source material may have a recommendation to check it out, if only to get rid of the sour aftertaste of Collection. In this case manga is terrific, and the adaptation is terrible. Read this if you want to know more my thoughts about it but otherwise go and watch something less brain-damaging.

     Collection receives the random award of being an adaptation that shouldn’t (maybe even mustn’t) exist.

Mahoutsukai no Yome

Episode enjoyment level 43%

     The faster you go the more difficult it is to stop. Physics or anime, the principle is the same. I guess it was inevitable that after a pretty still first cour with characters mostly trying to accommodate to each other and pinpoint their inner problems the second cour had to offer more action and higher stakes. It did exactly that but the stopping point was badly chosen to say the least. I don’t think such a story necessarily needs an antagonist in the first place, and Elias himself had enough qualities to carry some of that weight, so pushing Cartaphilus on the pedestal wasn’t necessary. Sure, the dude got some scenes, was given a last minute backstory and even had a battle (of sorts) with Chise. What for? I don’t know. The relationship between Elias and Chise grew bit by bit and the major fracture in it was a good development. Unless at that point you (as myself) moved from not trusting Elias to pretty much despising him. The show had been throwing lots of cliffhangers and none of them were resolved satisfactorily, and this last (and in my opinion the core one) wasn’t an exception. Sure, you can say that people in love may overlook gigantic flaws, but as I see it – Chise would be far better off on the exactly opposite side of the Earth, and not trying her bridal dress on. In the end, the stakes were too high, some of the supporting cast was introduced unnecessarily, end everything ended without solving much, just to be a damn ad for the manga. Oh well. Can’t fault the OST and the world of the show though.

     Mahoutsukai no Yome receives the random award of putting as many cliffhangers as possible but forgetting to resolve them in a meaningful way.

     Apart from these shows I also decided to pick up and finish Mitsuboshi Colors simply because it seemed like an infinite source of funny pictures. I can’t say I regret that but my expectations were too high. Slice of life comedies are fine but I don’t think Colors managed to distinguish itself from other similar titles. I’m afraid it’s just a typical slice of life show that caters to a particular taste and next season it will soon be replaced by another similar show and ultimately forgotten. About the funny screencaps, I’m positive people posted all of them. There was probably not a single unseen funny moment in a show.  Oh well. Still, as a laid-back title the show works pretty nice.

     Favorite OP of the season is that of Fate/Umu.  To be frank, I really like only about first 10 seconds of the song and the vocals make it pretty generic. Still, that was more memorable than what other shows could offer. Sadly, YoriMoi isn’t among my finished shows yet because that OP with its energy can beat almost any other song.

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     Aimer came pretty close because Ref:rain is a very beautiful song but even if Violet Evergarden couldn’t completely win against KoiAme in the sound department, the visuals of lonely Violet walking as the seasons go by make for a very soothing and nostalgic ED.

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2 Comments

  1. “Mahoutsukai no Yome receives the random award of putting as many cliffhangers as possible but forgetting to resolve them in a meaningful way.”

    So. Much. This.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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