When it's cold outside, we look to anime to warm our hearts. Has this year's anime succeeded in providing good feelings to anime fans? I think it's been a mixed bag, which is usually the case for winter seasons.
I'll Watch it Eventually
Little Witch Academia
Little Witch Academia has gone from short film to series, but it's a Netflix exclusive overseas. While Japan enjoys the further adventures of three young witches, I'll have to wait a few months. In the final episode of Space Patrol Luluco, another Studio Trigger joint, the Little Witch series was announced, and it was damn adorable. I hope that the TV show maintains the quality-and cuteness- of the film.
Dragon Ball Super
Dragon Ball Super, being the shounen show that it is, is hard to catch up on, especially if you actually want to watch all the new series. I started from the very beginning, and I really got into it with the Future Trunks arc. It's definitely the high point of the show so far. It feels like the 90s again for me!
Showa Genroku Rakugo Shuinju: Descending Stories
What can a great show do to top its first excellent season? Nothing, really, but Descending Stories does not lazily coast on the success of its flashback season. I thought that this modern day story would be much lighter hearted, since the focus is on Yotarou, and not on the old master Yakumo. Nope, I'm still crying every episode. Rakugo Shinju still has legs, and I have to watch every episode almost as soon as it comes out. This is an incredibly strong anime.
Ai Mai Mi Surgical Friends
This is the type of anime that even anime fans scratch their head at. It's a short form comedy, and it's entirely bizarre. Go ahead, ask me what it's about...
I DON"T KNOW! Yes, it is about school girls going about their daily life, but it's not a slice-of-life show. Suddenly one of the girls is taken over by a malevolent entity. Someone pisses themselves. One of the girls has a hidden origin where she was really an orphan warrior. There is a talking llama. Why is the new season called Surgical Friends? Again, I have no idea. That title has nothing to do with anything. Just-just go with it.
Ao no Exorcist
New Ao no Exorcist? It took a long time! I did want to see more about this show, and once I had watched a couple episodes, I had felt like I was home again. I rediscovered the worth of Ao no Exorcist, why I got caught up in it the first time around. Ao no Exorcist is like anime's version of Hellboy. It's about a boy with the powers of his father, who also happens to be Satan. Many people lost their lives to the dark lord, and they aren't happy to work with this demon child. In the new season, Rin Okamura is still on unsteady ground with the people he works beside, since they got a grand demonstration of his powers.
I don't know how long it will take me to catch up with this season, but every episode I have seen has been a pleasure.
Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shufuku wo! (Konosuba)
I've seen many "stuck in a fantasy world" anime in just the last 5 years, but Konosuba has a twist, just like Re: Zero does. Konosuba's twist is that it's a comedy rather than a serious shounen action series. Also, the lead character is somewhat despicable. He is our protagonist, but Kauma's not exactly a hero. Konosuba is absolutely hilarious. I liken it to Seinfeld or It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, where these characters act unlike how you expect rational people to behave. On top of that, they have their quirks and shortcomings. It makes for a pleasant watch, especially if you're watching as many serious, heartbreaking shows as I do.
Sometimes, it doesn't take all that much to catch my attention. Sometimes, all you have to do is take a character type and subvert it. Gabriel Dropout is about an angel who isn't squeaky clean. She actually hangs out with angels from hell and doesn't take her status seriously. Unfortunately for Gabriel Dropout, there are stronger shows I am prioritizing this winter, so I have not watched much of it.
There are always these "we can do it!" shows about the high-spirited character who gathers a bunch of people to accomplish a task that may be impossible. Some work, while others do not. I think a fair amount of people enjoy these overwhelmingly positive and optimistic stories. Sometimes I like it too, and BanG Dream! felt like it may be worth watching once I have gone through my other winter shows.
Love stories don't always have to be "girl meets boy, girl and boy fall in love." Sometimes it can be "girl meets boy, girl calls boy fat, boy swears vengeance" So I haven't watched much of this show, and what stopped me from that is the wonder if this story ends the way I think it does. I think that, obviously, this boy and girl will come together as a couple, but I will catch up with it to see if I can be surprised.
If you've watched anime as long as my old ass has, you have watched A LOT of shows set in a school. Being long removed from middle and high school means I'm not often interested in shows with young school kids as the stars. That's why I don't mind Seiren. These students are in high school, but they're looking towards the future, to college life. It has a few pervy moments, but Seiren is just like a high school senior: grown up, but not mature enough.
Sonetimes, we need a JRPG in anime form. Granblue Fantasy has the beauty, the monsters, and the action- and I don't even have to play it for 40 hours to be satisfied. It's a runner-up because I don't expect Granblue to be more than a cookie-cutter trip into a world of wonder. Cygames, the game developer who also are behind the amazing Rage of Bahamut adaptation, are responsible for Granblue, too. So I have some faith that this can be good.
I didn't think that Akiba'sTrip would be worth watching at all, but it turns out that it's a very funny adaptation of a weird, silly video game. I've never played the game, but I did watch some gameplay of it. It was funny, but I don't think it was as funny as this show. It's not an amazing comedy, but I give it props for making me laugh so much.
Dami-chan wa Kataritai (Interviews with Monster Girls)
Adorable. Just adorable! I don't know how much of the anime fandom has a problem with the current monster girl fad, but I can't say that I do. I've watched a few shows about monster girls, and they have at least been decent. There are a few shows this season that are about girls who are either part animal or part creature. Interviews with Monster Girls is not a show that feishizes these humanoid creatures so that horny fans can buy tons of related merchandise. I mean, they will, but not because the camera is peeking down blouses every minute. Interviews with Monster girls has some heart, it's funny, and it has a little message to it, about the way people are treated because they are different. So it's like Monster Musume, but a lot less concerned with sex comedy. I can deal with that.
Onihei is one of the anime that I started watching without any knowledge of what it was. After watching the first episode, I thought it would be about this new character they introduced. Silly me. What Onihei is about is the title character, who is basically a samurai cop in the Edo period. A samurai cop is cool, but there isn't anything too special about Onihei. It's a solid series, but this is nearly equal to shows like Law & Order or NCIS, where the heroes are the same, but the cases are episodic.
The Best Anime of Winter 2017
Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid
Comedy comes in many forms. Sometimes, it's in the form of a dragon who can transform into a busty girl who looks like a maid cosplayer. This time, fantasy invades our boring little world, instead of one of ours ending up in fantasy land. With that premise, Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid is born. Dragon Maid is a cute tickle of a show where a Dragon becomes the fish out of water who interrupts the life of an office worker. Then it becomes a yuri harem? I haven't discovered the full truth yet, but that looks like where this show is going. I'm alright with harems, but only if they're entertaining. Dragon Maid has treated me well so far.
What a sexually charged show! I have watched hentai, I have watched ecchi, and I have seen a lot of perverted anime. None of those shows and movies have effectively depicted the sex lives of young people in the manner that Scum's Wish does. I feel the humanity in the sexual situations. It feels mature, it feels wrong, and it feels awkward at times. On top of that, the relationships in Scum's Wish are simply wrong. There aren't love triangles, or even love quadrangles. People who don't love each other are all being intimate with each other. People are two-faced and cruel. They are scum, as the title says. I have to bow down to a show that works so well at communicating feelings and emotions. I can see why Amazon snatched up such a provocative series.
Saga of Tanya the Evil
Holy crap! Where to start with this? OK, so once there was this heartless office manager... Yes, this is an anime about magical humans in a fantasy version of World War II Europe, but the tale of Tanya Dugrechaff actually begins in present day, before a grown man was transformed into a devious little girl by a being who may or may not be God. This is just the start. After that, we get into mages, war, and horrible evil.
How can the audience root for this little mage girl who uses the knowledge of her previous incarnation to win war by any means? I guess because the animation is really good. As wicked as Tanya is, you want to see what she is going to do to finally gain dominance over her antagonist. So what if you're basically rooting for a magic loli Nazi? Details.
Acca: 13-Territory Inspection Department
Slow shows are my shows. I love anime at any pace, but if a slow show is well written, I will watch the hell out of it. Acca 13, by the creator of House of Five Leaves (adapted into another slow anime), takes place in a fictional land called Acca, which has been divided into 13 unique territories. Our protagonist is Jean Otus, a very chill dude who is a member of the Acca Inspection department. There are two thing he does: smoke and travel through all of the 13 territories to check that everything is running smoothly. Something's wrong, and Jean is right in the middle of it. Why Jean? Who's pulling the strings? Why is there so much focus on cake? I, for one, need the answers!