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”

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Fifteen Favorite Anime Openings

“Favorite anime openings” was nominated on my patreon to be this month’s special tumblr post.   (Check out my patreon if you want to be in on all the goodies!)

Unfortunately, this unleashes a MONSTER because I love anime openings. I love watching them. The best ones get you so excited to watch the show. They can contain gorgeous animation and imagery. I like to discover songs through them, and I like to watch the ones for shows I love when I’m feeling down because it reminds me of all the stuff I love. It’s like a mini amv or music video or whatever and I’m alllll about those.

AND IT TURNS OUT TUMBLR ONLY LETS YOU EMBED 5 VIDEOS AT TIME AND OBVIOUSLY THAT WOULDN’T DO so I turned to this blog.

My favorites were pretty hard for me to pick,. I decided to go with the ones that I love that were excellent on BOTH a visual and musical level and the visuals were really timed cohesively with the song. They tend to be from shows I actually like too. I just like ops more when I actually am attached to the characters.

Also, I chose to put openings everyone and their mother hasn’t seen near the top and more popular/obviously-I’m-gonna-put-this anime on the bottom, so hopefully more people can appreciate the less well-known openings. Check ‘em out, they introduce you to a great show!

Natsume Yuujinchou Roku Opening

The imagery in this opening is so flippin’ gorgeous that immediately after seeing it I posed an excited photoset, as some of you may remember. The song is calming too. It’s so tranquil, and exquisite, celebrating personal growth and natural beauty. perfectly reflecting the warm, lovely, soothing tone of the show it comes from.

(I’m trying to keep these to one op per show, but I also love the Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou  op, which starts out showing these empty spaces…then goes back to them at the end and shows them through Natsume’s eyes, and we see yokai were there all along. It’s very cool).

Michiko to Hatchin Opening

I looove the aesthetic of this opening and the jazzy, jaunty tune. The bold, tropical colors that switch from scene to scene, seeing Michiko expertly outrace the cops on her scooter while Hana clings on- it captures the energy and cheekiness of the show so well. My only qualm is the nude images of Michiko being kinda eye-rolly, but even they’re done more tastefully than most anime would manage.

Chihayafuru 2 opening

This is another opening so pretty I remember post screencaps celebrating its prettiness. I love how the card game aspect is incorporated, with the words/characters floating around in circles and Chihaya eventually grasping one, I love the sequence where the younger versions of the main characters are framed with card shapes, but then bb Chihaya breaks out of the frame when she excitedly grabs her friends… and I love the leaf blowing by as younger Chihaya turns to the older one. It also all really syncs well with the song, so it feels cohesive.

Nichijou Opening 1:

This is a perfect example of an OP reflecting the energy and zaniness of the show it comes from. The wacky imagery is non-stop and lets you know just how weird these characters are, and the song is frantic and contains several different melodies and it makes your head spin. It packs so much in that the OP actually feels longer than it is, and that’s impressive. But it still comes together to be an enjoyable watch and listen.

I actually might like the melody and energy of opening 2 of this anime even more, that op is also pretty obviously meant to be a viewed as a sequel to the first one (its style and format being the same and also there’s callbacks). Since they’re a matching set I figure part one should be the one on the list.

March Comes in Like a Lion Opening 3:

March Comes in Like a Lion has many gorgeous openings, but I think this one is my favorite. The eye-candy visuals, the arc, the warmth of it all…and the action matches the pretty song and even the lyrics are taken into account. I did a full breakdown of the OP here.

Continue reading “Fifteen Favorite Anime Openings”

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

I watched six anime during the Summer 2018 anime season and I’ve now written full length reviews on tumblr for each of them! 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.

I wouldn’t call any of the anime on this list bad, nor would I give any a blanket anti-recommendation for any of them. It’s just some of these series were weaker than others in my opinion and there’s ups and downs and things to warn for. Hope you enjoy and find it useful!

Banana Fish (episodes 1-12)

Eiji meets a seventeen-year-old gangster named Ash Lynx on a trip to New York and is quickly pulled into a world of violence and conspiracies.

When we judge this series as an adaptation, its definitely the weakest thing I watched, because the modern update of this 80s manga is almost entirely superficial and that can be quite jarring. We’re supposed to believe this is set today, but the narrative is extremely 80s and some of the conversations the characters have don’t make much sense in a modern setting. Though the story is something that’s fascinating and valuable taken in the context of its place in the history of shoujo manga, removing it from that context doesn’t do it any favors.

There’s charm to both the characters and the sweetness of the romantic relationship between Ash and Eiji, but a lot of the content is both endlessly and melodramatically tragic and also potentially triggering. Definitely be prepared for a TON of rape, csa, abuse, violence and murder if you watch this.

Phantom in the Twilight

Bailieu Ton arrives in London expecting an exciting college life, but instead ends up on a quest to rescue her best friend who has been kidnapped by demons. She finds allies in a gang of supernatural young men who were acquainted with her magically powerful great-grandmother.

While the plot is mediocre and the animation even moreso, this series shows its value in being an otome story that has a truly awesome leading lady. Ton is dynamic, self-possessed, has a strong friendship with another girl and she kicks a TON of ass. She has a fun relationship with her squad of boy-toys and is always on equal footing with them and the few times any of them try to act controlling they are called out hard.. So if you want a reverse-harem story/paranormal romance that features a more active heroine and jettisons the more toxic tropes that pervade the genre, this is a good choice, even if the narrative itself is nothing to write home about.

My Hero Academia (episodes 52-63)

Izuku Midoriya continues his quest to become the greatest superhero and takes his hero provisional license exams.

This is probably among the weakest arcs MHA has had so far, though it still has its fair share of entertaining and worthwhile moments, not to mention one truly excellent episode. The characters introduced at the very end of the season have potential too. Mostly it was an enjoyable enough watch, but definitely didn’t live up to the high-stakes thrills of the arc before it.

Cell at Work!

Anthropomorphized cells do their best to keep the body they inhabit alive and well.

This is an extremely cute edutainment show. It’s nothing mindblowing, and the narration can be a bit much, but if you want an adorable, fun time that teaches you a little something about the human body, this is a good choice. Also I want to marry NK Cell.

Planet With

Soya Kuroi is an amnesiac boy living with with a weird cat monster and a cheerful but mysterious girl dressed like a maid and his life gets even stranger when he’s told to jump in a giant robot and  fight the local superheroes.

These 12 episodes contained more plot and climatic moments than a lot of anime has in 50 episodes and despite the breakneck pace and huge amount of events packed in, it was extremely cohesive and solid story throughout. The characters were lovable and varied, there was a loft of thematic heft to the series exploration of pacifism and freedom vs justice and security, it was goofy and weird while also being emotional heartbreaking at times…I definitely recommend this show. It’s the full Wacky Space Mecha Anime experience in a compact package. Also, it has cool ladies.

Revue Starlight

Karen Aijou is doing her best at her Takarazuka theatre school, only for everything to change when her childhood friend Hikari suddenly transfers in. She follows Hikari down a mysterious elevator and discovers her friend is engaged in a bizarre swordfight competition to become the “Top Star”, preceded over by a talking giraffe.

If you love Takarazuka, theatre, sword fights,lesbians, weird metaphors, Revolutionary Girl Utena and other Ikuhara work or all of the above, I definitely recommend this show.. The series surreally and smartly explores Takarazuka, show biz and adolescence with lots of creative, beautifully animated musical fight scenes and contains a lot of twists and turns along the way. While I think it could have stood to be a bit longer, more in-depth and bit stronger with its characters, it’s definitely a series that’s fun to analyze and I’ve enjoyed a lot of the discussion that’s come out of it (see some linked in my review). Strap in for a wild ride and enjoy one of the Top Stars of the season.

Summer 2018 Anime Overviews (Ranked 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.

Banana Fish (Episodes 1-12)

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(I’ve witnessed some drama on twitter, so I tried to be careful with my wording here- but I do express my discomfort and mixed feelings, so, up front, it anyone wants to start a fight about that I’m not interested. I tried to be fair but honest, so I want people to respect that. Also, this is LONG. My mixed feelings took a lot of explaining, it turns out. Warning for a lot of discussion of how fiction engages with csa and rape in general.)

Y’know, when I was thinking about how to approach reviewing Banana Fish, I had a weird realization. My experience watching it was  similar to the one I had watching Devilman Crybaby of all things. For both shows, there were a lot of times I didn’t really enjoy watching it in the traditional sense and I often felt pretty uncomfortable with it…but still found it really interesting from a media analysis standpoint, and found the conversation about it really interesting, so I kept watching. (Also I came to kinda care about the characters, even though the narrative seemed almost ludicrously hellbent on torturing them  so it felt kinda pointless to have any emotions about ‘em.)

And oddly, there are a lot of other similarities between the shows too? Both are adaptations of manga that was made around the 80s that have been updated so they’re set in the modern day, both seem to try really hard to be “shocking” but it’s just sort of exhausting at times and both have queer content that draws in the fandom, though that content is a mixed bag.

*(Also, both have issues with female characters. Banana Fish is no hellhole of titty monsters and sexual hang-ups, but it should be noted it barely has any women and when they do show up they get victimized to cause men angst).

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Don’t get me wrong, though, Banana Fish is its own distinct thing. In fact the tone and construction of the narrative is very different, namely because unlike Crybaby, its aimed at women. The anime comes from a work that is fairly significant in shoujo manga history and its content falls well outside of how Western fandom think of “shoujo manga”.It’s a gritty, violent crime drama set in New York. The intense relationship between the leads was and is important to a lot of LGBT fans, as well as influential to many later works, BL and otherwise. So whether you like it or not, it has a deserved place in manga history.

The basic plot is Ash Lynx (not actually his real name, but the real one is even more ridic) is a 17 year old gangster trying to take down the man who indoctrinated him into gang life and also sexually abused him. On top of that, he has to protect his comatose brother, who somehow got in contact with a strange drug while in Iraq, one that caused him to go beserk and shoot his fellow soldiers. The only thing he said was “Banana Fish”, so Ash wants to know what the heck that means.

Ash runs into Eiji, a nineteen-year-old who came to New York from Japan. Despite the fact Eiji is fairly innocent and sheltered where Ash isn’t (or maybe because of it) he and Ash hit it off pretty quickly. But Eiji won’t remain innocent for long, because he’s quickly dragged into the gang drama.

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So yep, that’s the summary. Hey, did you note that “Ash was sexually abused” part? Well, if you’re going to watch the show, prepare for an ENDLESS BARRAGE of that. The amount of horrible abuse and sexual trauma Ash has been through and goes through is honestly SO MUCH that you become numb to it very quickly- sometimes it almost feels like a parody. In addition to having the most tragic of tragic backstories, he’s threatened with rape at the rate of one or rmore times an episode- though this finally calms down around episode 11 (this is probably just a lull).

He’s not the only one though, Eiji and others get their fair share of sexual menace too, and one female character is implied to be raped…To its credit, the show does not show rape onscreen- it’s talked about a ton and we see both the aftermath and some “it’s about to happen, he’s been stripped” but not the act itself. The show also always takes it seriously and touched a bit on the culture of victim-blaming and whatnot-there’s discussion of how messed up it is to see the police asking a seven year old if he led his rapist on and Ash’s lasting trauma is taken very seriously.

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And that’s fine and all but I cannot emphasize that there is. so much. It feels icky and a bit exploitative- but the whole issue is pretty hard for me to parse. It’s kind of interesting to see rape being discussed so frankly and seriously in anime. And considering the manga was from the 80s, I think the fact it DOES discuss it so frankly, and focuses on male victims, was probably eye-opening for a lot of people.

Anifem has a really good article talking with two Japanese LGBT fans about the series, and one says their eyes were opened to the fact boys could be raped and feel trauma from it by reading these series. The rape is never romanticized, it’s treated as truly despicable and I’ve seen pages from the manga on twitter where Ash point blank discusses how in his experience, rape is about wanting to have power over someone and hurt them, and not simple sexual attraction.

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This was written by a woman and aimed at women, and Ash’s tragic life seems to be kind of a way to explore the a lot of the anxieties women grow up with regarding rape and sexual assault. It’s a way for women to engage with the horrors while also being a little bit distanced in it, since Ash is a different gender. I think that has value. It actually weirdly reminds me of a lot of fanfic I’ve read. It’s common to see young female authors pile ridiculous amount of trauma on pretty male characters in them, and it often feels like a young girl’s (often somewhat clumsy) way of engaging with the fears that occupy her mind.

I did it myself- I wrote a lot of stories about REALLY gratuitous sexual violence when I was around nine, where I took the worst possible sexual abuse that could happen to a girl and dumped it on my character, because READING about that kind of abuse had both fascinated me and given me a lot of anxiety, knowing this is a thing that could happen, that it had happened to a lot of kids. So I wrote a story that luridly described all kinds of sexual torture, in a pretty gross way, but also had the girl ultimately fight back and be saved. I kind of doubt Banana Fish will have a happy ending, but there is a similar catharsis in the fact that Ash fights back and takes revenge against his rapist and finds someone who will support him in Eiji.

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Speaking of which, note that my character was a girl, whereas most young girls do this with boys. I wonder if it has to do with the fact there IS a romanticized aspect to these narratives, and I’m a lesbian, even if i didn’t know it back then. Because lets face it, it isn’t JUST about exploring trauma and issues that haunt us. There’s also this fantasy part of it- piling such gratuitous amounts trauma on these characters because the more  tragic they are, the more tantalizing the fantasy of being the one to “comfort them” or even “heal them” is. The idea of an oasis in someone’s tragic horrible life, of BEING that oasis, is a fantasy of many women.

And I definitely feel that in Banana Fish- Eiji is definitely the audience stand-in, as the naive outsider, and he’s definitely like, Ash’s wonderful oasis in his ludicrously shitty life who can bring out his softer side. Banana Fish is a smart enough narrative to know Eiji can’t “fix” Ash, but I can definitely feel like the audience is supposed to swoon at the idea of being the one to caress Ash’s wounded soul.

Is there a exploitative aspect to this whole “piling on ridic trauma because it gets you excited to think about being the one good thing in this tragic hot person’s life?” That really depends on perspective , I guess. it does get uncomfortable for me with the emphasis on how hot Ash is all the time- even when he’s suffering. It’s YMMV I guess.

Continue reading “Summer 2018 Anime Overviews (Ranked from Weakest to Strongest)”

Anifem Article- ‘The Courage to Speak’: Mental Illness and Recovery in Natsume’s Book of Friends

My article, ‘The Courage to Speak’: Mental Illness and Recovery in Natsume’s Book of Friends has been published on Anime Feminist! Check it out here.

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I’m once again so grateful that Anime Feminist gave me the opportunity to publish this piece. I had a great time working with them as always.

I really poured a lot of myself into this one- a lot more than I expected I would- so I think it’s among my best as far as articles go. I put a ton of work and many, MANY hours into this. (Fun fact: I wrote the bulk of this while I was in Chicago to see Hamilton!)

On the way, I had some powerful realizations about myself and why this show resonated with me.

So this article ended up being about more than Natsume Yujinchou- I have some thoughts about how media and society in general approaches mental illness, abuse and recovery and why this show in particular stands out simply because it doesn’t sensationalize abuse and values recovery rather than reveling in suffering.

I hope this piece can encourage people to check this show out because it really is something special that connected with me on a deep level. I think others who have struggled with trauma, mental illness and abuse might feel the same. It’s a gentle but thoroughly emotional experience.

Even if you haven’t seen the show, I’d really appreciate if you read this piece! It’s special to me and if you’re interested in the experiences of someone struggling with mental illness and in how fiction engages in serious mental issues, you might get something out of it. Thank you.

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)”