Spring season roundup

I’m a bit late with this, I barely watched any anime for two weeks, so I didn’t even start the new season. In fact, I will have to interrupt the typing of this post several times to actually watch the finales that I’m talking about.

Anyways, if I already had season preview posts and first look posts, I guess I should also conclude my opinion on them. Here they are, the shows that I watched in this season, in descending order of how much I enjoyed them.

Mysterious Girlfriend X

If you dropped, or didn’t even looked into Nazo no Kanojo X because “eww… drool fetish…”, then you are a prudish fanservice hater, who is even barking up the wrong tree this time. Yes, the show is very sexual. Nudity happens. Panty shots happen. Then there is the drool thing. And it’s not fanservice. It’s not gratuitous. I wouldn’t even call it titillating.

I already wrote a full analysis about one aspect of the show, it’s strong pro-abstinence message. The last episode brought up another interesting theme, that is just as rarely discussed in the teenage romance genre: the improbability of high school sweetharts staying together. The story that Tsubaki’s sister told, is definitely more common than the idealized “one true love” that anime often implies. And Urabe also thought that, the rest of the episode is about her trying to avoid this, and seriously getting closer to Tsubaki as a family member, instead of just as “that girl from school”.

I don’t hate the portrayal of one true love in anime. In fact, I like it. But pointing out that reality doesn’t work like that, just made MGX all the more sweeter, because right after making that statement , it still implied that Urabe and Tubaki will stay together.

Fate/Zero

For all the talk about how there are too many teenagers in anime, it’s pretty ironic that in this one series, everyone was drooling over the plotline about a whimpy teenage boy’s coming of age story. Well, I guess Rider balanced it out with all the GAR, but it’s still ironic.

I’ve never really understood the appeal of watching detached, battle-hardened emotionless badasses fighting against each other.   Why should I empathise with them? Urobuchi Gen also seems to understand this, because almost all the scenes with these people that even attempting to be emotional, were revolving around their relationships with Sakura, Ilya, Rin, Shirley, and… Waver. Ok, let’s face it. Waver is moe as fuck.

Hyouka

Oh, yeah, by the way, I’m also listing the unfinished stories. Hyouka was definitely one of the better things that happened in this season, and that tells a lot, because this season was generally awesome. Hyouka is probably one of the most intelligent detective anime ever. Not  just in a single obvious way, like “the mysteries are not dead dumb and obvious”, or “the detective isn’t an omniscient genius who pulls inexplicably correct theories out of his ass”, but generally, you can feel in all the dialogues, that it was written by omeone who really knows his detective mystery canon, and is really determined to share it with us. There is a huge difference between those shows that half-heartedly throw in a Holmes shout-out,  like “Elementary, my dear Watson”, or the iconic costume, and those that start an engaging description of the difference between Doyle’s and Christie’s themes, about Knox’s Commandments,   or about narrative tricks, and their role in media.

Hyouka is to the mystery genre, what Bakuman is to manga publishing, Spice and Wolf is to economy, and Legend of the Galactic Heroes is to polsci.

Maybe when KyoAni chose to adapt it, they hoped to sell it based on character appeal, and continue milking their reputation as the makers of high school club activity series, but the main story itself, wasn’t written for this. It wasn’t intending to follow a trend, but to tell an enthusiastic author’s dream story, and as such, I would respect it even if I wouldn’t actually be interested in that theme, or if Chitanda wouldn’t be adorable. (But coincidentially I am, and she is.)

Space Brothers

Well, Uchuu Kyoudai definitely isn’t an ordinary anime. Or is it? There is a reason that I placed it this high up, and it’s mostly the same what I said about Hyouka, just replace “mystery” with “space travel”. There is a strong sense of passion in how the author treats space travel, it will resonate well with anyone who shares the same feelings.

But my misgivings about it also turned out to be right, especially the one about it’s main hook: Adult protagonists. What could be a way to tell truly different stories, became just  gimmick. Mutta’s puppy love towards Serika, Serika’s food obsession, that Osaka guy as comedic foil… they could all be replaced with various teenagers from other shows, and there wouldn’t be a difference (other than in a few lines, plus we would need some justification of why they are sending teenagers to space).

It’s not exactly harming it, but it still feels like wasted potential.

Sakamichi No Apollon

First of all, I told you:

Musically, I wouldn’t expect much from it other than nice BGM, and maybe 3-4 full music-playing scenes during the whole series. Even if the show is about jazz, animating instrument usage is expensive, music recording is expensive, and for most unmusical viewers, adds nothing to the story.  It’s not like K-on had so few concert scenes only because KyoAni hates you, either.

Go, me! Anyways, I wasn’t all that interested in jazz to begin with, other than being amused by the fandom’s reactions to it. As a teenage melodrama, Apollon was a solid piece,and I enjoyed it, but I ended up hating it for the time skip in the last episode. My hatred of years-long time skips spent with waiting for each other, greatly surpasses my love of good anime. It’s just so… annoying.

Sankarea

If we would want to compare Sankarea to the original manga, (and we will, because it happens to be one of the few manga that I am reading), the anime adaptation was all over the place. It had some improvements, some failures, and some that could be interpreted as either. I could have written whole episodic summeries about tracking it, how the first episode had this high quality directing,  with Shaft-like effects and then the next episode detailed Rea’s backstory in an original, but very appropriately placed subplot. And then it was a harem comedy, with zero substance. And then there were the Mero and Wanko filler episodes, that weren’t nearly as appropriate as the expansion of Rea’s story. And then it went back to the first episode’s serious-artsy mode with the Danichirou arc’s closure, that sounded a lot less credible after all that zig-zagging.

As a result, Sankarea had it’s share of problems, but I’m still mostly thankful for at least trying to  do stuff, instead of just being a harem comedy.

Eureka Seven AO

I’m not sure if the problem with that show is that it needs more Eureka and Renton backstory ASAP, and some explanation on what the hell is going on since the original story, or it should stop calling itself Eureka, and admit that it’s an entirely different   surfing mecha series, in a world with entirely different rules and a different subgenre (with more mindfuck and secret organization politics, but less “team members trusting each other”  and “kids being heroic”).

In either case, it’s stuck between the two options, that makes it hard to enjoy.

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