Summer anime started a couple weeks ago, so let’s run through some rapid-fire reviews for what I watched during the previous Spring 2019 anime season! For new shows I’ll give a quick plot rundown, but for second seasons and continuing shows I’ll leave the synopsis to you.
Top 5 of the Season
1. Attack on Titan Season 3 (cour 2 of 2)
2. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
3. Rising of the Shield Hero (cour 2 of 2)
4. Dororo (cour 2 of 2)
5. One Punch Man Season 2
Top 5 OPs/EDs
4. Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu OP (listen, I just think it's well done)
Rapid Fire Reviews (from best to worst)
Attack on Titan Season 3 (cour 2 of 2)
If you fell off the Attack on Titan bandwagon, then motherfucker, you need to get back on NOW. I can’t go into much detail without spoiling it but if the first two seasons were a flower, the third season saw that flower finally bloom. It was as if I was watching the show through a keyhole, only to finally open the door and get nearly blinded by what was inside. The story progressed beautifully, finally answering so many questions. The stakes, the tension, the fateful decisions; every episode was an edge-of-your-seat thriller. Most impressive though, was how the developments revealed a staggering amount of overlooked foreshadowing in the history of the show, going as far back as episode 1. This season was so good, it makes the first two seasons BETTER. My recommendation is to watch this season, and then REWATCH the whole series again to get the full breadth of plot’s reach. It’s that good. And if you’d like some more insight, you could peruse the second and third comments the Season 3 individual episode threads on r/anime. Just be careful to avoid spoilers, and make sure to avoid the replies to the first comment (it’s the source material corner and has manga spoilers).
My Score: 9.75/10
Update: watch this video (SPOILERS FOR SEASONS 1-3) by Gigguk in which he breaks down why Season 3 recontextualizes the whole show, and why when all is said and done, without hyperbole, this could be the best anime of this generation
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
Hoo boy, this is some good shit. In ye olde Japan, Tanjiro’s family is killed by a demon and the only survivor is his sister. That seems like a good thing until he realizes that she has turned into a demon herself (yet somehow retains her sanity). The two of them are confronted by a demon slayer who sees the potential in them, which sets Tanjiro on a path to becoming a demon slayer himself. The art style and character design on this one is super interesting, full of hard angles and heavy use of color gradients. It borders on eye candy at times. The show successfully blends 2D and 3D as well, producing some frenetic and beautiful action sequences. Not to mention it’s got comedic gags, interesting characters, robust world building, and a sense of distance traveled plot-wise to boot. Tanjiro’s approach to fighting also very much mirrors that of Midoriya from My Hero Academia, in that he constantly analyzes situations and deliberates on the most practical choice. Except that this world has much higher stakes, and the main character is fighting for a cause greater than himself. I really can’t say enough good things about this show. You NEED to watch it.
My Score: 8.5/10
Dororo (cour 2 of 2)
Building on a great 1st cour, Dororo continued to please. These newer episodes have been more action packed, more serious in tone, and far more deliberative in their treatment of the characters and relationships. The 1st cour was thoroughly fun, but a little formulaic. If you were eager for more plot development, the 2nd cour is bound to please. The demons and bad guys get more relatable. The relationships grow more tenuous. And although the pacing was a tad disjointed, that didn’t stop the show from wrapping everything up nicely. What I thought was a regular action show about samurais and demons turned out to be a rich Japanese fable about family, sacrifice, and the pursuit of your very self.
My Score: 8/10
Rising of the Shield Hero (cour 2 of 2)
This show really came a long way. What used to an angsty isekai bro show that pandered to very male insecurities, finally grew into an intriguing fantasy tale. The world and geography were fleshed out more. The characters got past early plot elements and started interacting in more realistic and interesting ways. And the main character, thankfully, grew beyond where he was in the first cour. I loved where the story went, growing in scope and opening new potential character arcs. Overall, I’m really pleased. I’m sad the first season is over, and I can’t wait for season 2 to come out (when or if it does).
My Score: 8/10
One Punch Man Season 2
If you weren’t aware, people were ready to shit on this show before it even came out due to a change in studio (and therefore a resulting change in animation quality from the first season). But like Gigguk said, if a change in artwork was all it took to make this show terrible, then that would mean the animation was all it had going for it in the first place. And I think this season proved his point. For sure, it was a step down. The animation was average by comparison. But the story was still there for the most part, exploring new concepts and characters that really added fresh wrinkles to the plot. The fights were still fun, and the gags were still hilarious. If you can get out of your own head, and stop thinking of what could’ve been, you’ll find it more than satisfying. Possibly even wanting more (like me).
My Score: 7/10
Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu
This show started off way too cutesy and juvenile for my tastes, but against my better judgement, I stuck with it. And to my surprise, it turned out better than I thought. Its focus is on interpersonal relationships, trust, and overcoming social anxiety. Middle school girl Bocchi and her best friend get separated when they go to different schools. Bocchi is very shy, super naïve, and suffers from extreme social anxiety. But her best friend gives her an ultimatum: until she becomes friends with everyone in her new class, their friendship is on hold. Thus, begins the hi-jinks where Bocchi fights her nerves to become friends with a bunch of strangers. And by golly wouldn’t you know it, she ends up teaching others about the true meaning of friendship. I know, it sounds super lame. It is. But you’d be surprised at how easy the laughs come and how quickly you root for the characters. Especially when you see Bocchi and her best friend bump into each other and stick to their guns, when both are utterly heartbroken over the ultimatum. The show definitely skews young in audience, but the implied reasoning behind the ultimatum (that Bocchi’s best friend is trying to teach her to get along without her) is very interesting. It’s not necessarily a recommendation, but it’s got some good messages and would be a good anime for kids, teens, or young adults.
My Score: 6.5/10
The Helpful Fox Senko-san
At first this show made me a little uncomfortable. A fox deity decides to live with and “pamper” an overworked male office worker, in order to relieve his stress. The whole setup seems like some otaku fantasy where a mythical centuries-old fox loli lives with you, does all your cooking and laundry, pats you on the head, and tucks you in for bed. So, at the outset, it just felt like creepy weeb fantasy fulfillment. But gradually more of the story is revealed, the character motivations are elaborated upon, and the creep factor is slowly replaced by simple wholesome iyashikei vibes. After a few episodes I found myself eagerly watching this show on Sunday nights, in order to calm and center myself before starting the workweek. If you’ve ever had a dead-end job or bleak work/school life, this show might resonate with you. It’s cutesy, comedic, and very soothing.
My Score: 6/10
This show is about a high school girl who only communicates through written senryu (a form of short poetry), the boy she likes, and the high school literature club they’re in. First off, Senryu Girl’s central moral seems to be overcoming anxiety to communicate in whatever way suits you best, and finding friends who accept you for who you are. It’s also a thinly veiled high school romance. But since it’s mostly a comedy and the episodes are very short, it’s easily digestible. There are two characters who refuse to speak, only communicating through written methods. One through senryu (the main character), and one through her artwork (which is quite hilarious, in that the latter just draws her own face and literally puts it in front of her). Between these two and the rest of the cast, we get some very unique gags and interactions. Clocking in at 12 minutes per episode, I found this show to be a decent time-killer. Even though the high school slice of life genre is played out, I found the breezy subject matter to be humorous and entertaining enough. If you like the genre & have a short attention span, this show might be a good way to pass the time.
My Score: 6/10
An otaku who collects figurines comes into possession of a figure from his favorite anime…that comes to life. He gradually acquires more figures who come to life, all of which must grapple with the realization that their lives are not real and that they’re figures based off fictional stories. This show wasn’t that good, but I found myself keeping up with it. It was like a harem version of Frame Arms Girl, but with some additional nuance towards finding your own identity and family. But I wonder how much I’d like it if the OP wasn’t so catchy.
My Score: 5.75/10
I’ll keep this brief. Fairy Gone is about an alternate industrial world in which magic and fairies exist, and the various military and terrorist applications of them. The world has just gotten past a great war of unification which involved multiple nations and regions. The story picks up some years after the war during a supposed time of peace, following a girl who just joined a division of the military focused on fairy incidents. And guess what? The story only gets more complicated from there. Every episode shoves numerous years, cities, and people in your face. By the end of the first episode, I was more overwhelmed than entertained. Which is a shame, because normally PA Works does very stellar work. But even a great studio and pleasing visuals wasn’t enough to save this one from collapsing under its own weight. Maybe there will be a second season, but otherwise, this is would be a recommended skip.
My Score: 5.5/10
Karakuri (cour 3 of 3)
This show was a big disappointment for me. The manga had a good reputation and the anime premiere was decent enough. The world seemed interesting; the art style unique. But very quickly the story just got convoluted and it never recovered. The overarching plot is very compelling, in that the characters exhibit a lot of growth and the story travels a great distance. But it was just too much too soon for the anime. The show moves too fast, and the major story beats fell flat at that pace. Not to mention the action could have benefited from more attention or resources. Nearly every fight scene was just a collection of still frames that would just pan by, as if they were just colored manga panels. Therefore, this would be suggested skip. Though I’m tempted to grab the manga to get the taste out of my mouth and do the story better justice.
My Score: 5.5/10
On one hand, this was the most visually impressive and well-animated show of the season. On the other hand, what the fuck did I just watch? The director, Kunihiko Ikuhara, is held in high regard for his style, creativity, and high concepts. But this? I don’t know man, it just feels like he got way ahead of himself. Let me try to break down the plot real quick. A kappa deity bestows/curses three youths with the ability to turn into kappas, and tasks them with battling monsters born from unfulfilled desires (which are controlled by evil otters). This is done by stealing their shirikodama, a small ball in the anus that contains the soul. Yeah. I know. Intense (and wet) anal fixations aside, the show is just all over the place. While the visuals are astounding and employ great use of both 3D and live action, the story is nearly nonsensical. Defenders of the show might say it’s just too high concept for me, but that’s not it. It’s too high concept for itself. The message of desire, connections, and relationships is heard loud and clear. But the delivery leaves much to be desired. Namely the world building. It was too scatterbrained. I’m curious to know if this show went over better with Japanese audiences, because it does seem like knowing the culture and folklore of Japan would make things easier. But for a western audience, this is a hard skip.
My Score: 5/10
This was shit, don’t watch this. It’s about the lighthearted antics of three high school girls. The shtick is that there is no dialogue. Which is what pulled me in, but quickly proved to not be enough to save it. The show is not as bad as the first episode, but it ain’t good. Which is a shame, because the character design is kind of neat.
My Score: 4/10
Nobunaga Teacher’s Young Bride
This was shit, don’t watch this Part 2: Now with uncomfortable amounts of loli, weeb fetishes, and unexpectedly uncensored nudity. A high school teacher (who happens to be the descendant of Nobunaga) has the power to reincarnate historical figures from Nobunaga’s past within current-day people. Long story short, he makes the people around him go crazy with the lust of Nobunaga’s past lovers…who direct said lust at him. I might actually regret watching this one.
My Score: 4/10
And that's it! I'll make another journal for the summer anime, so be on the lookout for it.