Musings and Reflections – end of Fall 2018

     Yeah, not much to talk about this Fall season. At least for someone who has been not the most active person around. Yeah, other stuff occupied me quite a bit, and episode reviews (and even them late) definitely weren’t of the highest class. Deliberately wrong choices during the start of the season (yeah, I’m a completionist) didn’t make the situation better, so I was stuck with shows I didn’t really care about much. Well, got only myself to blame. Anyway, these several holiday days were a relief, both from other stuff and from not watching likable enough anime. I’m sure I’ve missed not a single good show, but so far I think only Zombieland Saga and Bloom into You might be something I think could be interesting. But let’s return to stuff I did watch. And by the way, Attack on Titan ended during this season, but 2 episodes isn’t anything to write about, especially since the general quality remained the same as earlier. But enough of that.

RErideD: Tokigoe no Derrida

RErideD: Tokigoe no Derrida

Episode enjoyment level 33%

       I’m sorry for Yoshitoshi ABe for having his name attached to this mess.
I got to admit that some of the ideas featured made the show really credible in the department of  food for thought. Still, that doesn’t mean that I liked how the ideas were evolved (because they usually weren’t). I like the positive message that you shouldn’t fear trying, because you might end up succeeding or failing anyway, so you should at least do your best to know that you did everything you could.
Speaking about the clear negatives, the animation clearly wasn’t top notch (though out of the production department I must give some credit to the soundtrack). Decisions of the characters didn’t always make sense. The mechanism of time travel was pretty shady, with various details revealed at particularly convenient points. And I still don’t see the reason why Mage couldn’t simply go to Derrida and tell him everything right from the start. It should’ve saved lots of time. 10 episodes or so, actually. The whole show leaves a vibe of “why did it all happen? Why should I care?”. There’s a grain of a good series somewhere, but it’s hidden deep. Very very deep.

     RErideD receives the random reward of being the most (expectedly) disappointing anime of the season. It’s just sad that ABe had anything to do with it.

Sword Art Online: Alicization

Sword Art Online: Alicization

Episode enjoyment level 29%

    Well, what can I say – it’s both very SAO and very un-SAO-like. And I mean that in all sorts of ways. It’s true that this new arc decided to treat itself far more seriously than any arc before, and that does make things more interesting. Kirito isn’t guaranteed to win every time nor to keep everyone safe and sound. Also, thanks to Eugeo, he’s not the only important male character anymore (sorry, Klein), and that tones down the harem vibe quite a bit. On the other hand, it’s still SAO (in a bad sense). Say what you will, Kirito will always remain on top, no matter the situation, so there’s not really too much tension and suspense. Almost rape a la SAO is still there, as are the terribly long exposition scenes, probably even longer than before. Yuki Kajiura’s soundtrack feels very obstructed, as there aren’t too many fight scenes, and the soundtrack was one of the best part about the Aincrad Arc. There’re other minor (or not so) things that bother me, but even so, I’m interested in seeing what will happen next.

     SAO receives the random award of maturing but at the same time not going far enough and retaining many of its previous flaws.

Banana Fish 2

Banana Fish 2

Episode enjoyment level 46%

     It’s quite hard to gather my overall thoughts about Banana Fish. The show started incredibly strong and I can say the same about the final minutes. Yet, there’s also the huge middle section, and not everything there was to my liking. I appreciate quite a bit the attempt to portray shounen-ai in a not-so-standard setting. Various ideas about friendship, suffering, fate and other thought-provoking stuff were also welcome. Sadly, all that was diluted in too linear action scenes, villains being incompetent and other quite annoying stuff. Banana Fish the drug felt more like a mystical substance, able to do anything that was required of it. Still, probably the most unsubtle thing was the character of Ash himself. The show by a very large amount overdid the characterization of Ash as a tragic hero. Pretty much every time (all except one, to be frank), Ash was able to overcome everything and anything – a hero who can shoot anyone, a hero who can escape from anywhere, a hero that has an always increasing IQ of over 9000 and looks to make each and every supermodel burst to shameful tears. Also, a hero that is constantly humiliated, constantly abused and raped just for the sake of making sure that the viewers get that Ash’s life isn’t easy, but he’s still the most perfect human in the history. That aside, I think I don’t regret watching the show. Yeah, by the end everything got repetitive as hell (if there weren’t enough problems already) but the setting, the quite unusual relationship between the protagonists (yeah, I don’t watch shounen-ai that often) and some of the messages probably were worth the majority of the time spent watching it. Barely, but still.

     Thanks to Ash being (almost) invincible-inhuman-superhero-perfect guy, Banana Fish receives the award of the most memorable character of the season.

Golden Kamuy 2

Golden Kamuy 2

Episode enjoyment level 58%

     I think the second season was an improvement overall. The first one was very formulaic, sticking to the usual episode formula of providing everything – comedy, action, cooking and bits of Ainu culture every single time. This season however was more varied. It still didn’t escape its habit of adding crazy villains that were neutralized almost as immediately as were added. More backstories were revealed, and some of them pretty good. The more important characters managed to stick together and form a decent group. I can’t say everyone was very memorable, but as the last episode proved, when serious drama kicked in, I was invested more than expected. I still can’t say I liked the show, but knowledge about Ainu culture and Hokkaido probably was worth the time.  When having other rather uninspiring shows to be compared to, Golden Kamuy actually starts to look very good indeed.

     I don’t think it’ll be counted as the most stunning OST ever but Golden Kamuy still takes the award of the favorite OST of the season. Kenichiro Suehiro is someone to be remembered and cherished.

     Again here’s a graph that I had more fun making than I probably should’ve. And this time there’s nothing that interesting there – pretty much all the shows remained as they started – not especially exciting, but some of them competent enough. Except the brief entrance of Attack on Titan. Ah, the next season of that can’t come too soon.

anime satisfaction graph

     [An unplanned and longer than expected “By the way…” section]:

     When I make such a graph, I try to deliberately choose the colors so that they more or less represent the color identity of the shows. In some cases it’s more than easy – Banana Fish goes for yellow (look here (sorry, I couldn’t help myself)). Golden Kamuy also has clear values – Asirpa’s purple with white and blue uniforms of the soldiers, made more alive by the yellow of Sugimoto’s scarf. It’s a bit trickier with Attack on Titan, but at least it has all the colors muted so that they still look pretty good. On the other hand, when I had to choose colors for RErideD and, even more, for SAO, it gave me a pause. Ok, RErideD sometimes uses magenta, so that kinda almost worked out, but with SAO there’s no way you could make something like this. There just aren’t absolutely any dominant colors whatsoever.

     It’s not obligatory to stick to a particular color scheme, but it makes such a more satisfying approach. Of course I could’ve gone with Kirito’s black, but nothing else in the show has that color. The same goes for Eugeo’s and Alice’s combo of Saber-colors. Oh well… I guess it sort of makes sense in a sense that MMORPG players also dress in outfits that make absolutely no sense, and not only in color department. Of well…

     And now a section that returned the joy of watching anime to me – shows that I caught up with during the season (read “the last week”).

     Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai will have it’s own post soon (I hope) (albeit shared with something else), but it’s worth saying a few things here. The original light novel series has been written by the same guy who wrote Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. Even without such knowledge initially I came to think that both series make me feel in a very similar way – there’re things that seem unique and very thoroughly crafted, as some of the interactions and the care with which all the main characters envelop each other in. On the other side of the spectrum there’s completely unoriginal trope-y stuff that has been done many times over and over again. Some arcs click with me, others – definitely not. Also, that Shouko girl was left as a loose end. Thus I’m left pretty confused if I generally like the show or not. Well, towards the end Mai-Sakuta relationship turned out to be warmer than expected, so I guess I’m more on the positive side.

     Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara also has a fairly long name, but it’s hands down my favorite anime of the season. I usually don’t include caught-up shows into my little award ceremony, but this time it can’t be helped. The same goes for the most impressive scenery award. When I started the series, I was starved for some good anime, and, while not flawless, this one scratched the itch very well. That well. I got the same feeling as with Orange a while ago – time travel seems shady, the protagonist isn’t always doing much (the grandma also behaved surprisingly carelessly), but the sincerity and the warmth that emanated from everyone in the group of friends simply worked on me. Sure, I still can’t get over the weird noses of the characters, but that’s a minor complaint compared to the amount of joy I got. And, by the way, the OST. I saved that award for Golden Kamuy, but I’m very much tempted to revoke that and express my love for Yoshiaki Dewa. The main theme is something otherwordly. Flying Witch also had its OST made by Dewa, and that also had some exceptionally moving tracks. I’ll probably watch whatever project Dewa will be working with in the future. It’ just clicks with me that much.

    Finally, the favorite OP of the season. Well, when you have Sayuri and you have My First Story with Taka’s from One Ok Rock brother, to me it becomes a no-brainer. Thus, I already knew the winner of this category when October hadn’t finished yet. Seems like Golden Kamuy really went strong this personally disappointing season.

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     The favorite ED was that of Banana Fish (a second season in a row – yay!) . I loved the synchronization between the sound and visuals of Golden Kamuy’s ED (yeah, that show again), but still, Banana Fish knew how to better integrate the ED to the story, and, as with the ED 1, it had more emotional value to me.

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