Spring! I had high hopes for this spring, partially due to a handful of intriguing new series but mostly because of a veritable bevy of promising sequels, including Bahamut, Natsume and a little show called Attack on Titan...

But before I get into specifics, the standard spiel: This is meant to be a quick, low-effort video just to get my thoughts out there on everything I saw, so I’m going to be brisk since we have a lot to get through, and the editing will be far less intensive than normal. Also, keep in mind I will only cover shows which ended this season, because those are what I’ll have a complete opinion on, which means I won’t be talking about some big series (and series I quite like), such as My Hero Academia, Rage of Bahamut and Re:Creators, until next season. Also also, please note I haven’t yet actually seen Little Witch Academia, both because I’m waiting for Netflix to release it and because I’ve been a bit busy lately and just haven’t found the time, but assuming it is indeed good, I’m sure I’ll cover it in some capacity at the end of the year. On a similar note, I skipped Akashic Records and Eromanga-sensei, but for opposite reasons, because they looked awful.

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Also also also, like usual, I won’t talk about any series I am planning to fully review in the near future, which means you’ll have to wait a little longer for my thoughts on Tsuki ga Kirei.

Phew. That’s all the disclaimers for the series that won’t be on here. Let us begin, with (might as well get it out of the way)...

Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) Season 2

Any series as popular as Titan is bound to have as many fans as detractors, and I don’t think this second season will sway many opinions. Sure, there are touches of mild horror and more concerted attempts at character development, but the writing is still mostly propelled by exaggerated twists more than consistent growth, and obfuscated by a constant air of irritating mysticism, while most people are only really kept watching by the spectacle of hype and dumb fun that the series offers. Now that said, I fall into the camp that loves Titan. Maybe part of it’s just a nostalgia for the early days, since Titan was one of the first anime that got me so invested in this medium in the first place, but I have such a blast watching it. The action scenes (when they need to be) are always impressive and satisfying, the Sawano soundtrack sets a perfect mood, and the horde of questions that the series refuses to answer are just interesting enough to hold my attention. I would be the first to admit that the writing is not without its faults, but it’s one of those cases where I frankly just don’t care. Naturally I’m thrilled by the announcement of Season 3, especially because the teaser heavily implies that the third season’s episode count will be as long as the first’s. Yippee! Another spring sequel that equally lived up to expectations was...

Natsume Yuujinchou Roku (Natsume’s Book of Friends Season 6)

Realistically, I could copy and paste what I said for Natsume’s fall season, and it would fit here just fine. Natsume Yuujinchou is one of those episodic series with a recurring cast, but without much of a steady plot, each week following the titular character as he helps out a youkai that stumbles into his life (youkai being, in the most basic sense, traditional Japanese monsters). I have to say, I don’t know if it’s just that I’ve gotten accustomed to everything the series offers after five prior seasons or just that this season was unusually stacked with the stories it told, but this was probably my favorite season of the series. The production is woefully unimpressive, as we expect from Shuka, but each episode makes it abundantly clear how much Natsume has changed from where he started, without being too explicit about it. He’s no longer alone in the world, and is finally realizing it. He has people he can count on, and friends he can care about. He no longer has to shoulder everything himself, which is an especially touching realization. Somewhat surprisingly, I’d say the second-most touching show I saw this spring was...

Alice to Zouroku (Alice & Zoroku)

I didn’t expect to like this anywhere near as much as I did. The way it had been sold to me, Zoroku, the old man, is what really made it worth watching, and the rest of the plot and characters were blase genre fare. Maybe so at the start, but I came to quite like the character of Sana. Alice & Zoroku tells the story of a psychic girl named Sana, who escapes from the classic evil research facility and winds up with a gruff but kindly old man, Zoroku, who after some coaxing welcomes Sana into his life and treats her as his own granddaughter, all the while keeping her safe from the baddies. The real interesting thing is that this plotline with those bad guys gets entirely wrapped up within the first half of the show, and the rest is more or less just about Sana and Zoroku’s daily life, as Sana learns to live and be human, which she was never given the capacity to in the facility. It’s sweet actually, and I found myself both compelled by her transformation and charmed by her childlike personality. This is definitely one that I think more people should give a chance to. As a random tidbit, Alice & Zoroku and one other are the only shows here that I picked up midway through the season, rather than from the very beginning, the other one being...

Quanzhi Gaoshou (The King’s Avatar)

For whatever reason, this series initially caught some attention by people drawing comparisons to SAO, which I can’t for the life of me understand, regardless of your opinion on either one. Both involve video games as a key component of their plots, but really, uh, that’s all. Unlike everything else here, The King’s Avatar is a Chinese production, which is surprising because in the past Chinese anime work hasn’t risen above the level of stuff like Bloodivores, so you wouldn’t expect a work out of China to be so well-liked. The show is ostensibly about esports, but I could only consider that true in the vaguest sense. It is a fact that much of the cast are esports pros, including the main character, but actual esports matches occur almost entirely in the background, while the main substance of the plot revolves around playing the game itself, as a game, or at least setting records for dungeon clear times and such. Y’know, thinking on it, maybe the SAO comparison isn’t such a bad one after all, because while I liked looking at The King’s Avatar, I found the narrative rather boring and characters one-note and forgettable. I wouldn’t exactly consider it a bad series, but for me it didn’t stand out above some much better competition this spring, though it wasn’t without company, including...

Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka Gaiden: Sword Oratoria (Sword Oratoria: Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On The Side)

A spinoff of DanMachi that I don’t think anyone wanted or asked for. I actually had high hopes for this, because it moved the main character spotlight from Bell Cranel to Ais Wallenstein. She might’ve been a brick wall in the main series, but hopefully that was the point of the spinoff, it would flesh her out, and I find “badass stoic girl” a way more interesting starting point for a character than “dense light novel protagonist” anyway. Unfortunately, the show is pretty much just as bland and generic as the first. I think it was really hamstrung by taking place adjacent to the original series, rather than before or after it, because it kept having to make diversions from what appeared to be the mildly compelling actual story in order to stay consistent with the original timeline. I didn’t hear about anyone at all that especially liked this spinoff, and watching it, you had to ask yourself what was even its reason for existence. A quick buck, in all likelihood. Another adaptation that feels rooted in similar business goals is...

Berserk (2017)

About halfway through the season, I was ready to make the case that this Berserk anime had gotten better. Good? No, but measurably better. And then of course everything collapsed and somehow the animation got even worse and well, y’know, I guess I should’ve seen it coming with this adaptation. Just — just read the manga. What do you want me to say? It looks awful? It never should’ve been made? You already know that. Everyone knows that. Don’t watch this. You’re owed better. The best thing to come out of this series is that it apparently got Miura to start releasing more chapters, so I’m at least thankful for that. This season saw another 3D creation, with...

Sekaisuru Kado (Kado: The Right Answer)

Kado in fact aired the same day as Berserk, serving as an unfortunate reminder that 3D actually doesn’t have to look like shit. Thankfully, that’s not all Kado has going for it. The show is, all in all, pretty neat. One day, an extra-dimensional being arrives in Japan, seeming benevolent and bearing gifts to radically change the course of mankind. What’s really fascinating about the show is how these gifts are used to put humanity under the microscope, not telling a tired “us versus them” story, but questioning what we would do when met with the unknown, if we can or should handle true power, all held together by a refreshing cast of competent and professional adults. I don’t like the last quarter nearly as much as the rest, and anyone who’s seen the show would doubtless understand why, but I would still recommend it as a whole. Don’t let the 3D scare you off and give Kado a shot. Next up...

Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho (Grimoire of Zero)

Of no relation to last year’s Re:Zero, despite sharing a studio and some curious similarities in their titles. Grimoire of Zero is... hm… It’s not actively broken, or even bad, but just sort of forgettable. It’s a methodical fantasy story with a half-decent narrative, defined but hardly robust cast, and well, not very good animation actually. That’s all I got, which is really short, I know, but there’s just not a whole lot to say on this. It’s competent enough, but rarely more. I kind of feel similarly, although slightly more positively, about… oh god...

Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? (WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?)

If nothing else, the longest title we’ve had in a while. And yes, it’s a light novel, if you couldn’t guess. To its credit, the show is at least not light novel shovelware. In the distant future, Technical Officer Willem is the only human still alive, in an airborne society of anthropomorphic animals and supernatural creatures, the surface of the earth having long since been lost to all-powerful beasts. I would, at it simplest, characterize the series as a tragic romance. The two leads, Willem and a girl under his charge named Chtholly, have a budding chemistry and growing relationship, but Chtholly is a bioweapon designed to fight the beasts and her very existence is by nature on a short fuse. Betcha didn’t see that coming. I like the show; I really do. The world is neat, the characters interesting enough, especially Willem, and the aesthetics are functional; an entertaining package all around. Hardly my favorite of the season, but some nice middle-of-the-road fare. Just like...

Yowamushi Pedal: New Generation

If you’ve gotten through the last 60-some episodes to reach this point in Yowamushi Pedal, I think you know what you’re in for. It’s a reasonably fun sports series, not without its faults, like tedious pacing and stereotypical plotting, but this is balanced out by a good deal of welcome silliness and some halfway-decent characters. I really liked this season as it began, because the third years of the prior seasons graduated, shifting the entire team dynamic and forcing the first-years into new roles they didn’t feel ready for, but had to fill anyway. I appreciate stuff like that because it especially hits home for where I’m at in life right now, being forced to mature by circumstance rather than choice. That said, the second half of the season came along and it became perfectly serviceable but more standard shounen sports schlock. A fine show, but chances are if you’re interested enough to have seen all the previous episodes, you’ve already seen this season too. Yet another spring sequel was...

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend) ♭

Blegh. I don’t like Saekano. It’s kind of infuriating. It’s one of A-1’s better visual efforts, and sometimes it has actually neat things to say about being an artist and the hardships of creating, but then it always descends into shallow fanservice and cringey “*wink-wink* aren’t we so meta and hilarious” harem writing that frankly I couldn’t find less appealing. This season’s episode 0 had the perfect example. It opened on a scene of two of the main girls talking about anime and light novels, with one of the girls complaining that this one generic ecchi harem series got a second season, which is of course supposed to be a witty comment on the show itself, but that almost makes it worse. Just admitting “we’re a generic ecchi harem series” doesn’t automatically take everything that’s “generic” and turn it ”self-aware”; if anything, it just underlines and capitalizes the issue. For all that, the last handful of episodes weren’t the worst, because the main character mostly wasn’t around and it was just about the girls doing art. Why couldn’t that have been the whole show? Why do we need a terrible self-insert that literally no one cares about? I’ll stop there, as we move on to our next series and final sequel...

Uchouten Kazoku (The Eccentric Family) 2

If nothing else, certainly the most disappointingly underwatched show of the season, if MAL is anything to go by. The Eccentric Family and this second season are adaptations of novels by Tomihiko Morimi, whom you may know as the author of The Tatami Galaxy, and personally I squarely prefer Eccentric Family. It’s zany, fun, and emotional all rolled up into one, combined with a gorgeous aesthetic courtesy of P.A. Works. However, I can’t say I think season two is nearly as strong as season one, which I think in hindsight I should’ve expected. Don’t get me wrong, season two has its great scenes and moments, and is very much worth the watch as well, but season one felt whole and complete by the end, to the point where I questioned what of note a sequel could really add. And I still find myself asking that very question now that it’s all over: what this second season really added besides just giving me more of characters and a show that I already liked. Regardless, the first season recently came back to Crunchyroll and it’s only 13 episodes long, so if you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend you do so asap. And we’ll finish up with…

Renai Boukun (Love Tyrant)

Love Tyrant’s real problem is that it tries way too hard to be something that it’s not. The show is about a lackadaisical cupid who pairs up men for her own amusement and ends up in a love polygon of her own making with a plain high school boy, yandere girl, her ojou-sama sister, and friends. It’s an absurd show; there’s a lecherous penguin, a creepy cat-possessing angel, superpowers, Ghostbusters, you name it. It’s not always laugh-out-loud hilarious, but it works. Or rather, it worked. For reasons I cannot fathom, Love Tyrant eventually tries to tell an actual story, with stakes and meaning, which was practically doomed from the start. I don’t care about these people. They’re caricatures; I want to see them be wacky and get into wacky situations, not get all sad and contemplative about the meaning of love and the true definition of family. These two halves of the show are at constant odds with each other, resulting in an at-best lukewarm experience. A shame, to be sure, but they can’t all be winners.


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