Finishing with a packed season for this packed year.
This year’s Fall season was kinda weird to me. There were two really big anime that most people loved, one big anime that everyone hated, and a bunch of cult hits with very vocal fanbases like Land of the Lustrous and Recovery of an MMO Junkie. Basically, there was something for everyone, and oh dear lord did fans meme the shit out of what they liked within these past three months. I’ve never even watched a second of Land of the Lustrous and I’m already sick of seeing Pho’s name everywhere.
Overall though, I both enjoyed the Fall season and want to see it end as quickly as possible. Time to move on after getting through this top five list, which I’ll just say right now isn’t as hesitantly made as last season’s top five list. Not everything on it is going to be a recommendation, but I didn’t hate any of my choices either.
5. Just Because!
While the original author of those Sakurasou light novels did a better job transitioning to the original anime format than I expected, I think Just Because is too flawed to really recommend. The character dialogue is naturalistic, one or two set pieces were fine even though the lackluster animation held them back at key points, the situations never overreached even if it’s a little strange that these characters can keep running into each other in the city like no one else lives there, and I do appreciate the show giving the characters individual dreams and goals beyond their crushes.
The problem is that the actual romance is in the forefront too much and it doesn’t go beyond “highschool students have crushes that may or may not be reciprocated”. If the characters had actually dated and encountered problems along the way, that could have held up the show. But as is, it’s a weird combination of padding and nostalgia that leads to way too many slow moments and cheap observations about being young to be considered a decent romance story. Nice try guys, but you just couldn’t cross the finish line.
Also a very flawed anime, but there’s at least more stuff to recommend in Inuyashiki. At its core, it’s a neat take on the superhero genre by transforming an old man and a young teenager into superpowered robots with the former wanting to be Superman and the latter wanting to be Kira. There’s a lot of neat social commentary regarding generational gaps, problems with our society, and the various reactions the masses will have when disaster strikes through this setup, and it’s all delivered well for the most part.
Too bad said story is let down by horrible animation, awkward pacing, and a finale that just sort of comes and goes without much fanfare or tension. There really isn’t anything about Inuyashiki’s or Shishigami’s development that you couldn’t predict to the point that the title character gets less screen time than the antagonist because it didn’t seem like the creators knew how to keep an “I want to be non-violent Jesus” character interesting. An okay show, but I doubt I’ll ever see it again.
3. Garo: Vanishing Line
Vanishing Line is pretty much what you’d expect from a Garo series in terms of episodic content, adult atmosphere, and slick action. And unfortunately, that comes with a lot of downsides like the characters being pretty standard badasses, the monster-of-the-week formula being pretty basic with very little surprises thrown in, and the overarching story being a little too oblique to be involving given how vaguely defined El Dorado is, especially when it’s not the main focus. When the plot actually does get moving, Vanishing Line is fun enough camp. The production values that could have been used to give Inuyashiki a higher ranking were given to this show and I’ve got to say, it’s nice to see a Garo anime that for once doesn’t look like absolute ass. Let’s hope it keeps improving once the second cour hits.
2. Children of Whales
I’ve only seen a little bit of this show so I’m not really confident in its ranking. But I really like what I’ve seen so far, and while some people have told me it gets worse later on, I personally still have faith in its future. Children of Whales really appeals to me what with its unique setting and lore combined with a lingering sense of mystery regarding the characters and their situation. But unlike other anime with a similar setup, it starts the story at the very beginning by having the characters seek out the truth by the premiere’s end and having a lot of the cast killed off by a mysterious enemy by the end of Episode 3. That’s a pretty strong hook in my opinion and it’d be a real shame if Children of Whales didn’t cash in on it. Guess we’ll see once the Netflix release comes…whenever that is.
1. The Ancient Magus’ Bride
Since everyone seems to adore this show, I really don’t have much to add at the moment beyond that post I did a few weeks back. I will say that I don’t exactly worship The Ancient Magus’ Bride because at times it reminds me of the parts of Fullmetal Alchemist (either one) that I don’t like, but I think its strengths are good enough to compensate for them. The world is imaginative. The characters are well-developed. I like its take on death. If it keeps up this quality for another cour, I’ll finally have a Wit Studio anime I can rewatch. And given how much I like Wit as a studio, it’s a shame they haven’t achieved that status yet.
That’s my last list for the year, guys. Dishonorable mentions go to Dies Irae for being an utterly trash visual novel adaptation that tried to make waifus out of Nazis and Kino’s Journey for having the gall to end its run on that fucking sheep episode amongst the hundred other crimes it committed against entertainment. Hope you guys had fun with the Fall and I’ll see you again once I get the positive side of the end-of-year stuff rolled out.