Fall 2018 anime ranked from Weakest to Strongest (Quick Summaries and Tumblr Links)

I watched eight anime during the Fall 2018 anime season (why did I watch so much I am filled with regret) and I’ve now written full length reviews for each of them (except one)! So here my personal rankings of what I watched from weakest to strongest. Each anime title links to my in-depth review of said series, so feel free to click! For all the reviews at once, please see my anime overview tag here. 

And remember, this is just my personal take, your mileage may vary.

Double Decker! Doug & Kirill

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The story of a special police force that deals with cases involving a dangerous drug that grants superpowers. It starts out promising as a fun buddy-cop romp with a colorful cast, but the series’ clumsy, half-hearted attempts at engaging with social issues and completely nonsense plot paired with a lack of attention and care towards its characters bring it down. It just began to drag at the end, and was a bit of a chore to finish.

Banana Fish (episodes 13-24)

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The story of mild-mannered Eiji forming a close bond with dangerous gangster Ash while vicious enemies hound them concludes. I reallydebated whether to rate this the weakest just because there are SO many poorly done elements, so much yikes, and ending is so dumb, cruel and meaningless, but I have to admit it did a better job keeping me engaged than Double Decker did- I was never bored watching it and I wanted to see what was going to happen next. There are a couple resonant moments, but this is not a story that has aged well in a lot of ways, and the half-hearted modern paint job just rendered it a complete mess.

Ms Vampire who lives in my neighborhood

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The adventures of a mild-mannered vampire, the human girl in love with her and friends. This show is pure cutesy fluff and not much more. It’s definitely nothing remarkable or even all that funny, but it was something to relax and turn my brain off to. There’s occasional light fanservice and a couple jokes that cross a line, but it mostly remains sweet and chill.

Ace Attorney Season 3

(Adaptation of the third wacky lawyer game. This wasn’t so much an in-depth review as a short post from my perspective as someone who’s a big fan of the games, I’m just including it because I’m a completist. Basically, it’s been fine, the flashback episode is good, I haven’t caught up with the current arc because it was boring).

Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-san

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Pretty much exactly what the title says, a series of shorts about the trials of working in the manga section of a bookstore, narrated by a talking skeleton trying his best. A fun look at the inner workings of a bookstore and retail hell in general, deals a lot with international customers, fully shows the ridiculous things booksellers have to deal with but is always gentle and affectionate in its humor.

Golden Kamuy Season 2

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The story of a Japanese war veteran and young Ainu girl encountering a lot of weirdos as they hunt for lost Ainu treasure continues. Golden Kamuy remains as wacky and compelling as ever. Though this season was very rushed and you could tell huge chunks of the manga were cut out, it does still manage to be entertaining and has a pretty explosive finale. Its far from perfect, but it’ll do during the interminable wait for the licensed manga volumes to drop.

Zombieland Saga

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An anime where a girl wakes up one day to discover she’s died and become a zombie. Even weirder, a mysterious man wants her and other zombie girls to form an idol group.

This is a wacky comedy with a lot of (rotting, half-exposed) heart that celebrates the weirdness and individuality of its loveable cast of characters. It’s a ton of fun and I look forward to seeing more of these good zomnbie gals. The show is uneven at times, with the final arc in particularly having some holes in it, and I do have some concerns about directions it could take in the future. But it was a very nice time overall.

Bloom into You

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This anime focuses on Yuu, a girl troubled by how she fails to feel the romantic passion that seems to come so easily to others. When another girl suddenly confesses love to her, she ends up being pulled into a very complicated relationship.

A gorgeous and heartfelt drama that explores identity, relationships and the trials and triumphs of being a teenager, especially a queer teenager. It takes an honest look at the messiness and insecurities of young wlw without objectifying or fetishizing, and also includes adult wlw. Just a top notch production all around and easily one of the best anime of the year.

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Fall 2018 Anime Overviews (From Weakest to Strongest)

I meant to repost this on here a while ago…whoops…
Well! Here it is anyway.  I watched eight anime during the Fall 2018 anime season (why did I watch so much I am filled with regret) and I’ve now written full length reviews for each of them (except one of them is an abbreviated review.  So here they are, ordered from what I found to be the weakest show to what I found to be the strongest.  These are just my personal takes, your mileage may vary.

Double Decker! Doug and Kirill 

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Double Decker! Doug and Kirill follows a special police force devoted to dealing with cases involving “Anthem”, a highly dangerous super-drug that can be both fatal and grant uncontrollable superpowers. The squad is divided into three pairs of partners. The eponymous Kirill is a enthusiastic newbie who partners with a deadpan, “kind of an asshole” veteran named Doug.

It’s hard to say when a show crosses the line from “dumb in a fun way” to “just mind numbingly dumb” but I’d say Double Decker crossed that threshold around about the midpoint of the series. Which is a shame, because I was rooting for it. It seemed like an anime with a lot of potential- it was humorous, irreverent and bombastic, it seemed fun and colorful with a varied cast, it had a nice variety of ladies in the squad, and two of the ladies, Max and Yuri, were heavily coded as a couple right off the bat-

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-with Max (on the left) in particular going putting off some Impressive Lesbian Energy with her aesthetic…and early on Doug announced that his life goal was to “eliminate poverty and class”, indicating the series intended to deal with social issues.

It IS possible to be a cheesy, fun show that is also inclusive and deals with social ills, but Double Decker’s clumsy, simplistic attempts to balance this with the larger goofy plot ultimately meant it fell short of being an truly entertaining romp AND was utterly disastrous at being socially aware.

Double Decker acts like it wants to say something about tolerance at points, but is ultimately gutless, toothless and halfhearted, sometimes verging on offensive. It became apparent the show wasn’t going to be truly LGBT inclusive with a character’s uh, “gender reveal” scene midseries that is a just…a mess. Some characters reactions to the “revelation” are just blatantly transphobic (thinking its hilarious, saying the character in question should “tell the truth” about their sex, etc) and this was never called out or challenged. It’s finally explained (baffllngly late in the series) that rather than actually being trans, this character is a cis man who just disguised himself as a woman for flimsy plot reasons, it doesn’t make how the reveal scene was handled and how it was painted as being “funny” any better. It’s not my lane so I won’t really go into it, but this article at Anime Herald covers the whole mess in detail. The whole thing is SO stupid and honestly there was no reason for it to be a plot at all.

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If that “reveal” episode had me feeling wary about the show, the episode following sunk any hopes I had for it. Double Decker didn’t even have the guts to have Max and Yuri be explicitly romantically involved, instead just giving vague, baity hints. What’s worse, the episode focusing on Max was boring as sin. It was painfully bland and on the nose “critique” of high school proms SO rote it even had the girl who wanted to be popular transform into a literal “queen bee” (GET IT). The only thing we actually learn about Max in her supposed focus episode is that she hates proms because a bunch of kids rejected her trans friend at one which caused her friend to turn to drugs and disappear forever. Yep, not only can the show not bother to give us actual lesbians, trans people are just tragic props (and the attempt to say a thing about how trans people are treated badly would have felt a LOT more sincere if transness hadn’t been treated as a joke in THE EPISODE JUST BEFORE THIS ONE).

Doug also only became aware of poverty existing because of a tragic prop- his backstory amounts to a dead little shoe-shining street girl so one dimensional and cliche I’m surprised she wasn’t found frozen in an alley clutching a book of matches, and that one incident made him realize Poor People Shouldn’t Be a Thing so now he’s, uh….well, he’s not really doing anything about it, but he says he wants to, and that’s good enough right?

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Yeah, that’s about the level of nuance we’re dealing with here. It’s nice that Double Decker tried, I guess, but if this was going to be the level of its effort, I wish it had just stuck to being a goofy sci-fi show. As it was, even the “goofy buddy cop” aspect felt really hollow because the show didn’t give us a reason to be invested in these partnerships or these characters.

I wanted to be invested! I was SO ready to appreciate the punk butch and her robot girlfriend, but instead we barely learn anything about them or see them interact. I was READY to be tremendously invested in the straightlaced office girl and her vulgar pink haired partner, but we didn’t learn anything beyond their surface personalities- nothing substantial about what drives them or where they come from or anything. Doug had his eye-rolly dead-little-girl backstory and admittedly sometimes amusing snarky asshole personality, but he spends so much time being insincere there wasn’t much to latch onto with him.

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 Kirill was pretty much the only one in this show who felt like an Actual Character, and I did find him extremely likable- he was utterly sincere in everything he did, full of heart, dumb and enthusiastic in a fun way, and incredibly sweet and supportive to his friends and loved ones (he was also the only one who was chill and accepting about the not-really-trans character too so that earned him some points) but all the stuff going around him was so empty it didn’t matter.

(ending spoilers here)

The show didn’t put the work into making you connect with these characters, but it DID still expect you to be invested in them. One of the kinda-lesbians appears to have died at one point in the show, but it makes zero impact because you knew basically nothing about that character anyway- it instead just feels annoying, like “wow, you’re just gonna kill that gay without bothering to develop her huh” but the show clearly expects you to be devastated. Then when it’s revealed at the end “PSYCH she’s alive for this ridiculous jokey contrived reason haha really pranked you huh” it’s just even more annoying. Just because I’m relieved you didn’t actually bury the gay doesn’t mean you pretending to bury her wasn’t insulting and pointless. All you did was bring my attention to how little you bothered to develop this character and how willing you are to use her and her kinda-girlfriend’s pain as a plot device, so thanks?

(spoilers end)

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The humor of the show basically followed “you thought THIS thing was gonna happen but instead WACKY TWIST haha now the narrator makes a snarky comment about it” and while that was fun at first it just got old without anything going on besides that. And as for the plot, it’s…generous… to call it a plot. At the end it jumps straight to “AND SUDDENLY THERE WERE ALIENS” with almost zero foreshadowing and it just gets stupider from there. Such a ridiculous development would work on a show that was either a) a pure farce or b) something super wacky but with enough heart, drama and character to keep you invested, but DD was neither of those things. It was an anime that wanted you to care, but gave no fucks itself.

(Also this show is supposed to be related to Tiger and Bunny but I honestly have no idea how these two anime are connected in-universe. Is this a prequel? sequel? Are they happening at the same time? WHO KNOWS, THE CREATORS SURE DON’T)

The animation was also nothing to write home about, with a lot of awkward CGI shots and pretty ugly clothing designs- it was colorful enough to distract from it a lot of the time, but definitely not winning any aesthetics awards.

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So yeah, Double Decker is far from the worst anime I’ve ever watched, and I like the concept I think it was GOING for- but what we ended up with was something completely mediocre. The first couple episodes were fun, but by the end it was a chore to watch. I finished it because “well I’ve come this far might as well” rather than any real investment in the show. It wasn’t painful (except for the clumsy attempts at dealing with trans issues), but it was so completely stupid and forgettable, which is sad, because it seemed like it had so much potential at the start.

Banana Fish (13-24)

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Again, if you read my review for the first half of the show, you can basically expect more of the same, both with the good and especially the bad parts. We do get more downtime with Ash and Eiji’s relationship, and they continued to make me think this show would be so much better if it focused more on these quiet scenes rather than on piling as much trauma on Ash as it possibly can.

Continue reading “Fall 2018 Anime Overviews (From Weakest to Strongest)”

My Top 8 Favorite Anime of 2018

2018 was a big year for me, anime-wise. I really started keeping up with the anime reviewing community, particularly Anifem and ANN, and that meant I jumped on a bunch of series and had a lot of great finds.

I figured that a top 8 list would be fitting. I ruled out continuing series and kept it to stuff that debuted in 2018, but Golden Kamuy and My Hero Academia are still good. Also March Comes Like a Lion is the BEST, I don’t care if I haven’t finished it, it’s a fantastic, breathtaking drama with amazing characters everyone should watch and would totally be number one on this list if it was eligible.

These aren’t exactly ranked, since I have a hard time doing that with stuff I like, but the anime I found most impressive is nearer to the bottom.

Honorary mentions for Skull faced Bookseller Honda-san which was a thoroughly good time and Violet Evergarden which was pretty and had some episodes that made me cry.

How to Keep a Mummy

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Let all easily-offended anime fans choke over the fact I choose this cheap-looking fluffy show over daring artsy stuff like Devilman Crybaby and the like. This adorable series about a boy and his friends adopting miniature fantasy animals is charming as heck

This show just really clicked with me, and its honestly my go-to when I really need to calm down from my anxiety. The characters are so sweet and likable, the atmosphere is so pleasant and the cute fantasy animal shenanigans hit my sweet spot. It’s a thoroughly soothing experience, but it also has enough of an “edge” to keep me from getting bored, since it gently touches on stuff like anxiety over losing pets you love and so on. Full review here.

Zombieland Saga

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Part idol show, part killer comedy, Zombieland Saga has a loveable cast of quirky undead girls to enjoy. It goes all out with its body horror gags and outrageous slapstick, but still manages to have a lot of heart underneath it all- and that’s not just referring to one that routinely bursts out of girl’s chest cavity.

The show is about a group of misfits bonding together to find a life after death- and though they become a team of idols, they’re idols who ultimately celebrate weirdness and individuality. There’s even a ridiculous delinquent girl, which is one of my weaknesses. And shoutout to the show for having a trans character in the group, who is treated with empathy rather than derision and ultimately accepted.

I do feel the arc that wrapped up the show was kind of “meh”, and I have some trepidation about what was revealed about the girls’ manager but the stronger episodes and fun characters make up for it. I’m also intrigued to see bits of a larger plot start to form- I’m genuinely curious to see where the show goes and looking forward to more. Full review incoming!

Planet With

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Planet With follows an amnesiac boy who lives with a cat monster and quirky maid-looking girl, who task him with fighting the local superheroes in a cat robot. This anime goes full-speed-ahead, balls-to-the-wall and never lets up, packing in more story, twists and climactic battles in its 12 episodes than a lot of anime do in 50. Yet the entire thing remains cohesive, engaging and fun while taking the time to explore cycles of violence and the power of empathy and forgiveness. It has solid characters, a strong story and is just a good time overall. I feel like this anime was really overlooked by many this year, so I only hope more people will discover this hidden gem as time goes on. Full review here.

Hinamatsuri 

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This comedy about a yakuza thug who is dragged into being the guardian of a psychic girl is all the wacky found family shenanigans you could ever want. The characters are entertaining, the twists are unexpected and it is full of great girls. It can also be surprisingly touching and empathetic in how it deals with things like homelessness. It avoids the skeezy and uncomfortable aspects a lot of anime comedies has an remains a fun time throughout. The animation is also wonderfully expressive. Full review here.

Continue reading “My Top 8 Favorite Anime of 2018”

Some of my Go-To Youtubers (reposted Patreon Post)

The $5 tier on my patreon allows people to nominate/vote on one post a month- about anything!  This is one of those posts, which I did on Tumblr back in September. Go to my patreon here to learn more.

I haven’t really gone DEEP into Youtube, but i do have a few channels I’m subscribed to or that I frequently visit I wouldn’t mind talking up. I’m a media analysis geek, as y’all can tell, so I love me some good video essays on pop culture, social issues and whatnot. Here’s some channels I visit and recommend if you share my tastes

Lindsay Ellis– She has a ton of thoughtful and funny examinations of media and pop culture trends. Her videos are well-researched, detailed and I learn a lot from them! Example: Her Hobbit documentary is especially of note, its worthy of being shown in theaters- I had no idea about the actors strike or any of that, but it’s fascinating. She also did a great piece on the Shape-of-Water-style “monster boyfriend” throughout the history of media and why marginalized communities in particular are drawn to that archetype.

Jenny Nicholson She has a great dry sense of humor and really takes on the weirdness of the internet and is excellent at eviscerating bad or mediocre movies. Unlike a lot of Youtubers, she’s not pretentious or pedantic about it- she can often get you to think about why these stories exist and how they can be improved. Example: Recently she did a video of some of those silly “dark rituals” they post on the Internet, I cracked up through the whole thing. She also destroyed The Greatest Showman in a satisfying way that I appreciated after being forced to see it.

Sarah Z-She has some really thorough and thoughtful essays on the kind of media I’m interested in. She’s especially good at explaining some of the social criticisms and breaking down why the concerns of *deep voice*SOciAL JuSticE WaRriors can be worth listening to.  I’m often nodding along, but occasionally I learn something new. Examples: She completely eviscerated Riverdale and the Heathers reboot in a satisfying way and recently did a good comparison of the Series of Unfortunate Events adaptations. She also has a good breakdown on what is and isn’t “queerbaiting”.

ProZD: I post his stuff a lot on here, so it shouldn’t surprise you. Very funny skits about important subjects like anime, video games and cats. A lot of geekery to be found here, and I enjoy how he handled Q and A’s too.

Press Buttons ‘n Talk– My fave Lets Play channel. ProZd and Manky are both incredible voice actors and have bought me to tears of laughter on several occasions. Anne Marie’s always a blast too. Example: an entire, voice acted lets play of the first two Ace Attorney games, I’ve introduced people to the series via these, they’ve been invaluable. I also recommend the Hamtaro playthrough.

Gibi– My go-to ASMR person. She has a very soothing voice and does a lot of fun role-play skits based in various fandoms (a lot of anime) and its a good way for me to calm down.  Her Team Rocket skits are genuinely funny, she clearly adores the characters.

Honorary mentions:

Continue reading “Some of my Go-To Youtubers (reposted Patreon Post)”

Favorite Anime Movies

The $5 tier on my patreon allows people to nominate/vote on one post a month- about anything!  This is one of those posts. Go to my patreon here to learn more.

Out of the nominations I’ve received from patrons, I chose a post on my favorite anime movies! I’m afraid I’ve watched a ton less anime movies than series, so there probably won’t be a ton of surprises here.

Favorites Anime Movies List

Movies by Hayao Miyazaki– It’s no surprise this tops the list- any movie of his is worth a look, as are Studio Ghibli movies in general. My favorites of his work are Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Kiki’s Delivery Serviceand Spirited Away. It’s apparently a bit unusual to have Nausicaa as a favorite, but it was my first time really paying attention to a Ghibli movie, I think it’s wonderfully told and I just love the protagonist- a compassionate friend-to-all-animals warrior princess who is deeply invested in giant mutant bugs. Spirited Away is just a masterpiece with a vibrant fantasy world and colorful characters and Kiki’s is deeply heartwarming and has a lot of great things to say about inspiration, growing up and the creative process.

Whisper of the Heart- This is hands-down my favorite non-Miyazaki Ghbli movie. As a writer, I connected it so powerfully, it really depicts the struggle honestly while being a great coming of age story. I feel like the main character is probably the closest person I’ve ever found to me in a story- she just felt so real and grounded. I too both love and hate to write, flop on the floor in despair and would follow a random cat for miles.

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In this Corner of the World I saw this one recently and was blown away. It can be a little confusing at times, but it’s ultimately a story about finding a way to live when war is tearing everything around you apart. It’s a slice of life with soft colors and lovely animation, but it’s set during WWII and the main character is from and lives near Hiroshima, so I don’t need to tell you it gets dark. But there’s always hope as well.

Wolf Children Ame and Yuki- This is a great, bittersweet tale of a single (human) mother raising two werewolf children. It’s adorable and also quite sad at times, but it really impresses on you  both the struggle and strength of this mother  raising kids on her own, while also exploring these children who grow and try to navigate a world where they are so different from other humans.

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Millennium Actress This is my favorite Satoshi Kon movie by far. It’s follows the story of an aged actress and shows how her long and vibrant career intertwined with her search for a man she was in love with (who was a protester of the Sino-Japanese war on the run from the law). It uses the various movies the actress was a part of to represent the different stages of the woman’s life, so it often suddenly switches genres- one second it’s a samurai movie, the next it’s a space drama- and it becomes hard to separate the actress herself from the parts she plays. It’s visually and narratively stunning and a trippy look at how deeply joined art and artist can be.

Movies that are spin-offs of an anime series

Continue reading “Favorite Anime Movies”

Spring 2018 Anime Overview: Quick Summaries and Tumblr links

I watched six anime during the Spring 2018 anime season and I’ve now written full length reviews for each of them. So here are the anime I watched, ranked from weakest to strongest with the titles linking to my in-depth review of each series on tumblr. For all the reviews at once, please see this post here.

Believe it or not, I wouldn’t call any of the anime on this list bad- it was all enjoyable to a degree and I wouldn’t anti-recommend any of it. However, there were ups and downs with each one, and some of these series were weaker than others in my opinions, so I’m here to talk about why! Hope you enjoy and find it useful!

Click on the title of each anime to see my detailed review/overview of the series!

Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card (Episodes 14-22)

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I’m sorry, Sakura, but I have no choice. I have to bite the bullet and admit it.

I did enjoy the second half of the Clear Card anime, in which our eponymous magical girl continues to protect the town from enchanted cards. It continued to be cute and pleasant and I’m all about the adorable and wonderful arc with Meiling, but if I’m honest, it was the weakest anime I watched this season. It was all poor pacing and zero payoff. The last episode had a big climactic reveal that finally allowed the main character to know who is messing with her life…then promptly undid it so she knew nothing again. Such a cheap move means I have to admit this was a weak season.

Doesn’t mean I won’t watch the next one though.

Megalobox

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A classic-style boxing show set in a near-future dystopia, where scrappy underdog Joe fights to rise to the top.

Toward the end, I kinda started wanting to rank this one last, but while in my heart I’m all “eh” because it’s Not My Thing, in my head I know it’s a solid production that’s more cohesive overall than Clear Card was. The show started out with the potential to explore some strong character arcs and social themes, but kind of dropped all that for a by-the-numbers boxing story that lacked any real punch, if you forgive the pun. However, the soundtrack and aesthetic were top notch.

Golden Kamuy

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In the aftermath of the Japanese-Russo War, veteran Sugimoto teams up with an Ainu girl named Asirpa to pursue dangerous criminals in the name of revenge and a golden reward.

This is a great, pulpy story full of fun characters and entertaining beats that will actually educate you about history and a marginalized culture while you have a good time! I would have ranked this one higher if it wasn’t so disappointing visually compared to its manga source material. While the show is great, the manga is a better experience overall, with a more thorough story and gorgeous art. However, I’m grateful to the anime for introducing me to this story, and if you can’t get ahold of the manga, definitely check out the show (though read my review to know what you’re getting into, content-wise).

My Hero Academia Season 3 (Episodes 1-13)

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Izuku Midoriya continues training to follow in his idol’s footsteps to be the world’s greatest superhero, but things are thrown into chaos when villains invade their school training camp and take one of the students captive.

My Hero Academia’s flaws remain, such as poor treatment of female characters at times and the one character who remains an annoying black hole with no purpose but to aggravate me…but it also delivers some of its strongest episodes yet. The action is just incredible, gripping and visually striking. The emotions run high and hit hard. The character dynamics remain strong and great to watch as everyone continues to be tested. We get some real revelations and game changing moments and even civilian parents get their chance to shine. And it has one of my favorite tropes: Wacky Disguises.

Hinamatsuri

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A yakuza member’s life is thrown into chaos when he’s forced to adopt a superpowered girl and deal with her bizarre friends and acquaintances.

This pitch-perfect comedy offers wacky family dynamics, weird situations and subverts expectations at every turn. The cast of characters is varied and entertaining and serious issues like homelessness are actually touched upon with care and sympathy. The show can tug at your heartstrings one second and make you cackle the next and it thankfully never crosses any lines with its cast of young girls. One of the best shows of the season for sure.

Aggretsuko

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A mild mannered red panda tries to navigate a crappy job and vents her rage through death metal in private.

This is probably tied with Hinamatsuri strength-wise (and Hinamatsuri’s animation is more detailed, though I think Aggretsuko’s simplistic style works for it) but on a personal scale it edges over it just slightly because the biting criticism of modern society it offers is exactly my jam. The show tackles issues like sexism in the workplace, suppression of the true self in the name of conformity, corporate exploitation of workers and societal expectations for romance. And it does it all in a funny, cute way that is just super relatable, especially to millennials. It offers hope while acknowledging that change is often slow and hard. And it offers a great range of characters who show surprising depth at times. I’d rec this anime to anyone and I’m very glad it exists! (even if its ultimate goal is to sell us Sanrio toys.)

Spring 2018 Anime Overview (Ordered from Weakest to Strongest)

Once again, the season has ended and it’s time to take an in-depth look at the six anime that I’ve watched. I enjoyed all of them, but some were stronger than others, so they’re in order of weakest to strongest.
Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card Arc (Episodes 14-22)

I enjoyed Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card quite a bit. I would by no means call it a bad experience. But it’s impossible to deny it’s the weakest anime I watched this season. The series is underwhelming and flawed, even if parts of it warmed my heart and fed into my love of these characters. The plodding pacing, lack of payoff and disappointing elements were mostly worth it to me for the good parts, but this show really deserved to be so much better than it was. A lot of the problems I mentioned in my review of the first half not only remained, but worsened. There were definitely plenty of adorable moments, which you can see in my liveblog, but I can’t deny the show could have done so much more.

But we’ll start with things I enjoyed. I loved seeing Meiling again and her arc left me very satisfied. One thing I really love about magical girl shows is that they often have a far more complex and nuanced handling of the “romantic rival” girl character than other “more mature” media. They treat the girl in question more like an actual person than a catty stereotype and eventually the focus turns away from the guy and more towards girls building a positive relationship.

And Meiling is a perfect example of that and I adore her. She started out seeming like a one-dimensional annoying clingy romantic rival character, but as the show went on, she gained more depth and formed really adorable relationships with Sakura and Tomoyo. Her pain, her struggles, her insecurities- they all became real to the viewer. The scene where she’s crying over Syaoran but admits that as much as it pisses her off, she can’t take out her pain on Sakura because she likes her too, is one of the most heart-wrenching in the show.

Meiling’s arc in Clear Card was the perfect cap on that. We finally got to see how Meiling and Sakura interact without the tension of Meiling’s crush on Syaoran in the picture. Her former crush on him wasn’t even mentioned once- they are entirely friends on their own terms. It was great to see how the relationship has so completely evolved. And it was also great to see Meiling and Syaoran interact without that baggage and it really bought home how much better the two of them understand each other now. Where Syaoran would unintentionally make Meiling feel like she was a useless burden to him before in the original series, here he goes out of his way to tell her that he appreciates her and that she shouldn’t feel like she contributes less due to her lack of magic.

Meanwhile, Meiling was worried about him and since she was a family member, she was more aware of his mysterious struggles than anyone else. But she was not overly focused on him and was capable of giving him space. She was also much more confident around him and was able to roll her eyes at what a loser he was and tease him about it, something she really didn’t do before because she was too busy mooning over him, so it was very cathartic to see her do it here.

Seeing Sakura and Meiling have a proper team-up was fantastic too. I’m always down for the power of girls holding hands saving the day, but this was satisfying in other ways too! Meiling always had a lot of confidence issues about her lack of magic in comparison to the others, so seeing her straight up take charge in a fight and protect and guide Sakura was such a great thing for her character. The “twins” episode in the original anime had Meiling learn she was useful as a partner by teaming up with Syaoran, but here she learns she can even be a good leader if it comes down to it by taking charge with Sakura. Meiling’s arc really builds on what came before it in a positive and satisfying way, and was exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for when Clear Card was announced.

Seeing Meiling now being comfortable enough to be on a first name basis with Sakura was icing on the cake (not to mention a very shippy moment, considering it’s explicitly compared to Syaoran and Sakura’s relationship). This was the kind of relationship progression I wanted from Clear Card. And there were a few other moments that delivered that kind of satisfaction! Sakura’s dad’s conversation with Touya near the end, a short moment with Touya and Yue….

But that sadly wasn’t true for the majority of the series. Most of the season felt terribly stagnant and sloppily paced with the characters not progressing at all and a lot of build up with no pay-off.

Continue reading “Spring 2018 Anime Overview (Ordered from Weakest to Strongest)”