As some of you may or may not know, contributing to AniTAY is not the full extent of my anime writing. I am also a regular contributor to Crunchyroll’s official newsletter. I officially joined the newsletter on April 27th last year, though my first article wouldn’t go live until May 8th. So now that a full year has passed since I joined the newsletter, I decided to look back at the different series I reviewed both by myself and as a group with some of the other writers. Funnily enough I joined the newsletter roughly one year after I returned from my hiatus from anime.
Now as to how I joined the newsletter, it’s actually rather mundane and largely had to do with luck. Shortly before I joined I had started finally reading Crunchyroll’s news blog (which is an entirely different thing; I’ve yet to contribute to that, though I am planning on changing that in the future) and specifically started checking out their weekly Fanart Friday, a column that gathered various pieces of fanart that fit whatever that week’s theme is (I have contributed to this myself from time to time, though) and by chance I noticed that the guy running the Fanart Friday column was also one of the people in charge of the newsletter team and was asking for additional people to join the newsletter. By mere chance, when I asked to join the team, they only had one open spot left, so I managed to nab it. Like I said, it’s a bit of a straight forward and lame story.
Anyways, like I said, I’m going to be looking back at all of the series I’ve reviewed for the newsletter, give a little blurb about each of them, and link to each of the actual articles I wrote. I did write more than just reviews, but I morphed two of them into other articles that I made for here. The first was an aggregation of the newsletter’s individual Top 5 Summer 2014 simulcasts into a single overall Top 5 list (speaking of, we took the Fall 2014 season off for this type of article, but did bring it back for the Winter 2015 season, which I will be doing a similar aggregation for later today, you may be surprised by some of the results), and the other was my article over why I love sports anime, which was primarily a more expanded version of what I said in a round table discussion article over sports anime we did in Fall 2014. So with all that in order, let’s get started!
World Fool News was the first series I reviewed for the newsletter. By the time I joined, the Spring 2014 season was well under way, so pretty much all the big name titles were already assigned to those already on the writing staff. So I was left to pick through the scrap heap. The series itself is rather inoffensive. Its short episode length, minimalistic art style and extremely odd sense of humor reminded me of the shows I was watching on Adult Swim back in high school and thus endeared me to the weird little series.
The first full length show I reviewed was the severely underwhelming Blade and Soul. The Spring season was still going at the time, so this was another series I pulled from the “junk pile”. Writing for the newsletter can be challenging at times, as we can be honest with our opinions about a show, but we also have to try our best to make shows sound appealing enough for people to still watch it, and Blade and Soul has been by far the toughest show I’ve reviewed for Crunchyroll to achieve that balance. It should also be noted that aside from some rare cases, most of our reviews are written while the shows are airing (effectively making them glorified versions of the impression articles that have been popping up around here recently) and I wrote my review for this show before things like the animation got to their peak suckitude in this show.
My first group review was for the second season of the highly popular Sword Art Online series. It was relatively early on in the season’s run, so the Phantom Bullet arc that was airing at the time wasn’t in its full stride, but even then it was more enough for me to know that I would enjoy this season more than the first(which ultimately did come to pass, as I loved SAO2, but am still overall “meh” on the first season). The funny thing is, when I was writing my part of the review, I wasn’t even aware of the well placed pun I put at the end of my section. It wasn’t until I read the final version of the article that I saw it.
The Summer 2014 season actually had quite a large number of group reviews, and in fact had the most I’ve participated in in a given season with three. The second one was the follow up to KyoAni’s smash hit Free! from Summer 2013. I love Free!, it was the series that got me into sports anime. It is a gorgeously animated series with surprisingly engaging characters and action, though it wouldn’t be until Eternal Summer that the characters truly got fleshed out and the story really became engaging. Plus Eternal Summer ends on a really satisfying ending that at the same time leaves an opening for any potential continuations in the future.
The first solo review I would do of a show I willingly requested during each season’s initial wave of review requests would be the hilarious Sabagebu!. Even now Momoka is still one of the biggest jerks I’ve seen in anime and I still love her for it. Making up for, all things being fair, lackluster animation with hilarious and sharp comedy, Sabagebu! became a favorite show for several people during Summer 2014.
The next show I would review would be the ecchi comedy series Magimoji Rurumo, based on a manga from the same creator as Yowamushi Pedal’s manga. While I enjoyed Rurumo all the way through its run, I was left a little wanting in the end. The show does have some rather emotional moments and some good messages at heart, it ultimately fails to live up to its potential and winds up feeling like a weaker version of The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat.
The last of the Summer 2014 group reviews would be the latest adaptation in the world famous Sailor Moon franchise. Going in with much hype, suffice to say this show has been greatly disappointing to me. I kept trying to find positive things in Sailor Moon Crystal, but eventually I bowed out as the awkward release schedule for the episodes made it hard for me to care about watching it each week.
Easily one of the most surprising successes in anime in recent years has to be Yowamushi Pedal. A series that came out of nowhere to surprise people in Fall 2013 would end up having its sequel be one of the most hyped shows for Fall 2014 and would be the first group review I would take part of that season. I absolutely love Yowapeda, and Grande Road just continued from where the series left off and went bigger and better.
Ufotable’s popularly nicknamed Unlimited Budget Works would be the second group review I participated in in the Fall season. I went into UBW more or less a Fate series virgin, as aside from the first few episodes of Studio DEEN’s 2006 adaptation of Fate/stay night that I saw in my high school anime club the year it came out. While the first season of UBW was a bit heavy on exposition, it was still a gorgeous and entertaining season, and I honestly preferred its pace to the near breakneck speed the the second half of UBW is progressing at.
While I ultimately may not have fallen completely head over heels in love with Your Lie in April like several other people did, I still thought it was a very solid series more than worthy of seeing. It’s a flawed masterpiece, but beautiful nevertheless. This series also proved to be a bit of a challenge to review, as I try my damnedest to avoid using spoilers in my Crunchyroll reviews, as, like I said, they are done while the shows are airing usually. The problem with Your Lie in April is, in hindsight, not much really happens in the first chunk of episodes, so there isn’t much to talk about without getting into light spoiler territory.
So far the only time a show has been “forced” upon me is when I was randomly assigned Tribe Cool Crew, a show that I intentionally avoided at first because it looked like a kid show with little to offer for those outside its target demographic. And I’ll be honest, the first two or three episodes were a bit of a chore to get through, but once the adult members of the core cast of characters were introduced, the show immediately became better. On top of that, the show actually does a few things that belie its outward appearance. One of these things is that the show occasionally dips into some rather dark and serious material, and another of these things is the shockingly high amount of intentional shots of the butts of the female characters in the series, like most ecchi shows don’t have this much on purpose focus on asses. In the end, Tribe Cool Crew has become a very genuine surprise for me, with it being a nice cool down show for me to watch each week.
While this charming short format series could be a bit hit or miss depending on the person, I absolutely adored it. I grew up playing the Genesis, so SEGA games formed the cornerstone of my gaming as a youth. So an anime series focusing on the games and hardware from SEGA’s glory days would definitely resonate with me. Helps that the Japanese version of my beloved Genesis, Mega Drive, ended up being the best character in the show.
I love JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Love it. It is quite possibly my favorite shonen battle series to date. So obviously I eagerly jumped at the chance to help pitch in with the group review of the second half of the series’ third arc, Stardust Crusaders. If you haven’t seen JoJo’s yet, just watch it. Trying to describe it won’t do the series justice. It needs to be experienced first hand.
I only ended up getting to do one solo review from amongst the Winter 2015 simulcasts, but I lucked out with that review being for what was arguably the best non-sequel and non-Fall 2014 continuation to be on Crunchyroll during that season, the hilarious meta-comedy harem series Saekano.
At the time I wrote my part of the group review for KanColle I was still enjoying the anime overall, even though it still had many flaws. Of course now I hate the anime, thanks to how it went in its back half. But at least the anime got me to play the game, which I am enjoying more than I ever did the anime, so there’s that.
This is the last review I’ve written for the newsletter as of the time of this article. I actually rescued both this and SeHa Girls from the list of shows left over from after the Fall 2014 season. I’ve said it many times by now, but Trinity Seven was my favorite harem show in 2014. I loved the characters, the way the characters interacted with each other, and the voice acting. So much so that I didn’t even really care that much that I had no real clue what the hell the story was. This was one of the rare chances that I got to review a series after it had finished airing, so I was able to give my full opinions on the show, and thus a true review.
So that’s everything that I’ve done in the first twelve months I’ve been writing for Crunchyroll’s newsletter. I’ve greatly enjoyed my time writing for them as it presents a challenge unlike any other I’ve experienced yet. Here’s hoping for another twelve months!