Here we are again, another season, and a lot more anime to talk about. The big thing this fall season had going for it was variety. There weren’t many outright great shows, but the good ones spanned a wide range of genres: sports, drama, action, slice of life, Keijo; pretty much anything you could want was in some way represented.
Keep in mind I will only cover shows that ended this season, because those are what I’ll have a complete opinion on, which means March comes in like a lion and Iron Blooded Orphans Season 2, among others, won’t see their time in the limelight until the Winter roundup.
Also, I will skip any series I am planning to fully review in the near future, so you’ll have to hold out a little longer to hear what I think of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable.
That out of the way, let’s get going. We’ll start off with...
Bungou Stray Dogs (Season 2)
The sequel to the spring season’s Bungou Stray Dogs, a series whose perhaps most notable feature was that the characters were based on literary authors. The show itself was fairly forgettable, not really telling a story so much as just introducing the cast, but an entire season of groundwork means that, hopefully, the next can use it as a springboard, a jumping off point to be awesome, and to my complete surprise, Bungou actually pulled it off. This season was way more entertaining and a lot more fun; the first third of it being taken up by a kickass flashback arc that was the highlight of the entire series, and the rest chockful of more than enough action to hold your attention and overcome any glaring narrative shortcomings. So even if you were unimpressed with this show’s first season, like myself, I would highly recommend at least trying Season 2. It’s almost better than it has any right to be. Next, we’ll keep the sequel train a-running with...
Haikyuu! - Karasuno High School VS Shiratorizawa Academy
The third season of the popular volleyball sports series from Production I.G. This season is also much shorter than its predecessors, being only 10 episodes, and as the title would imply centered entirely on a single 5-set match, between our protagonists Karasuno and the big bad Shiratorizawa. Going on 50 episodes at this point, you should know what to expect from Haikyuu: strong animation, engaging if simple characters, and HYPE. This season delivers on all three in spades, and I eagerly await its hopefully eventual continuation. From one Shounen Jump property to the next with…
Saiki Kusuo no Sai-nan (The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.)
I briefly mentioned Saiki in the intro of my Summer Roundup video, as a series with a very unique format of release, each weekday bringing us a five minute skit, which were then over the weekend compiled into a single full length broadcast episode. Saiki K. is a gag series, predicated on the simple joke of the titular Saiki Kusuo being an omnipotent psychic, and all the problems, rather than advantages, that it brings to his life. It’s very rapidly paced, with characters often delivering their lines as fast as possible to act out a whole punchline within the given five minutes, and can be somewhat (or very) hit or miss, so I can’t fully recommend it, but when it works, it works. And it’s always easier to nail the comedic delivery when your main character is voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya. Speaking of main characters voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya…
Natsume Yuujinchou Go
The fifth season of a fairly niche Mushishi-esque series, revolving around a high school boy named Natsume who can see and interact with youkai, traditional Japanese monsters. This season, unlike the prior four, is produced by Shuka, a studio who seems to be taking it upon themselves to finish Brain’s Base’s incomplete adaptations, as they did earlier with Durarara. (Fingers crossed for Spice and Wolf, Shuka.) Anyway, Natsume’s one of those calming, episodic shows, where each week Natsume is presented with a problem, usually by a youkai, and he takes it upon himself to solve that problem, while meeting other youkai exorcists and dealing with the consequences of the actions of his late grandmother Reiko, who could also see youkai and seemed to delight in stealing their names. (It makes sense in context.) In my opinion, it’s not nearly as good as Mushishi, but if you want something else of that ilk, Natsume is the next-best I’ve seen, and there is by this point a lot of it to enjoy. Next we’ll move to the other end of the anime spectrum, from peaceful and calming to...
Another series adapted from the work of Kouta Hirano, also known as the creator of Hellsing, and by golly is it obvious just by looking at it. The very easy thing to say here is that if you like Hellsing, you’ll probably like this. Gory action, a mixed bag of characters, and terrible, terrible comedy. The fights flirt with actual tactics, rather than being simple bloodbaths, and the plot surprisingly had inklings of things to say on serious topics. While the ending was (as expected) extremely inconclusive, a second season has in fact been announced, which is always a welcome surprise. That said, when it comes right down to it, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Hellsing, and I’m even less a fan of Drifters, so I honestly couldn’t give it much of a personal recommendation, but if you know you’re the type for this sort of show, I see no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy it. Next up, drastically shifting gears one again...
Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari (Poco’s Udon World)
In the same vein as last season’s Sweetness and Lightning, Poco is reminiscent of the slice-of-life darling Barakamon, in that it follows the lives of a grown man and an adorable child, the twist this time being that the adorable child is a shape-shifting tanuki. Yeah. This show is very cute, and can mostly get by on its cuteness alone if that’s all you ask for, but it manages not to neglect its adult characters just because it has this beacon of adorableness to use as a crutch. All the adults in Poco’s life, even the comic relief, are fleshed out to enough of a degree to feel real and sympathetic, and the main guy is forced through some legitimate struggles by deciding to raise Poco. An easy recommendation if you’re a fan of these sorts of shows, as I am. The next series is by comparison a much more cynical watch...
From the writer of My Teen Comedy SNAFU. To put it succinctly, Gi(a)rlish Number is a cynical version of last year’s Sore ga Seiyuu. Oh? You don’t remember Seiyuu? Alright then, um, this show, both shows, are about voice acting in the anime industry, but whereas Seiyuu was relatively divorced from reality with the hopeful, optimistic nature of its characters, Gi(a)rlish Number is much, much more deadpan, with our cast spending most of the series voicing for a generic and terrible light novel adaptation. The show spits a lot of fire at poor practices of the anime industry, such as lackadaisical oversight and the increasingly non-performance based acts required of voice actors, like hosting shows and recording swimsuit bonus footage, and to top it all off the main character is an overconfident newbie who is quickly forced to face the fact that she lacks talent and is close to being forced out of the industry. A real feel good show. Everything turns out relatively alright by the end though, as most series do, and either way, Gi(a)rlish Number is an anime I would generally recommend as a solid time. Another show with a moe art style that is an even solid-er time is…
Hibike! Euphonium 2 (Sound! Euphonium 2)
The latest production from Kyoto Animation. I may not have made my love for KyoAni clear, since I haven’t had the opportunity to review much of their material, but to be as straightforward as possible: I love KyoAni. Their other 2016 series was kind of a flop, to put it nicely, but Euphonium is thankfully pretty great. It’s a grounded band drama uplifted by KyoAni’s signature stellar presentation, and this season in particular, especially in its latter half, ballooned by a focus on some quite compelling characters. Definitely one of the highlights of my season, and I would easily tell you to check it out if you have at all enjoyed KyoAni’s other body of work. And speaking of good-looking shows...
Probably the animation showcase of the season, which is somewhat surprising coming from a studio that otherwise has done only Celestial Method and Dimension W. For most of its runtime, Flip Flappers is a fun, episodic experience, as two girls wind through various imaginative settings for reasons that are not particularly important for me to explain. The series does controversially start heavily introducing plot in the last third, which I am aware some people rather disliked, but in my opinion it was an entertaining and entrancing experience from beginning to end. Not exactly a traditionally “good” show, but bursting with enough fun and personality to hopefully win you over. One series though that had trouble winning people over was...
Upon its release, Occultic;Nine got a lot of hate, and I don’t really know why. Well... I guess I kind of know why. Occultic;Nine is very rapid and eccentric. Like Saiki, the cast blows through their dialogue as fast as possible, so coupled with inventive or outright odd direction, and constant location and character jumping, it’s a lot to take in. You need to be on and ready to give your full attention if you want things to even partially make sense. It’s like Durarara, but taken even a notch higher. So I guess I can at least understand why people wouldn’t like it, but I cannot sympathize. I thought the show was awesome; yes, from the very first episode. Loaded with twists and turns and ups and downs and right and lefts, Occultic;Nine is a series I couldn’t look away from, and I mean that in a very good way. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. Next...
Watashi ga Motete Dousunda (Kiss Him, Not Me!)
A fat fujoshi quickly loses weight after the traumatic death of her favorite anime character, and afterward quickly finds that all the boys at school are now into her, and oh the hijinks ensue. I couldn’t call Kiss Him Not Me an exceptional series, but it is a basically entertaining one, chiefly due to the main character, the fujoshi, named Kae, who is more interested in seeing the guys intimate with each other than herself, and her reactions on everything relating to this subject are reasonably funny. Eventually, the guys aren’t half-bad characters either, despite being incredibly superficial since they were only attracted to Kae by her sudden beauty, and while not all are ever given a reason to like her besides her looks, they don’t all feel like cardboard cutouts either. Moving on...
Ajin (Season 2)
Ajin is a pretty solid action-thriller series about immortal humans. These Ajin, as they are called, will “reset” and heal all injuries upon death, but that doesn’t make them invincible or respected. Rather, upon discovery, Ajin are usually captured and experimented upon, so one fed-up old Ajin in Japan decides to start a violent revolution, with this second season essentially being a game of cat-and-mouse between him and the authorities, who are helped by other, more moderate Ajin of their own. But none of that good stuff is what you’ll hear when people mention Ajin. Instead, the only thing you’ll hear talked about is the style of animation, since it is entirely 3D, and produced by Polygon Pictures, the studio that did Knights of Sidonia. The irony here is that the CGI doesn’t actually look that bad. There are plenty of scenes throughout the series that I think even look good, if it weren’t for the frame rate. For whatever reason, Polygon capped the FPS of their render at like 8 frames a second, so the show is perpetually and irritatingly choppy. But putting the animation aside, I actually do like Ajin a lot. Next we’re back to 2D with...
To Be Hero
Shockingly well-animated for a short series about a toilet-seat salesman who is turned into an indestructible fat guy in order to save the world because he happened to be the only person on Earth taking a dump at the exact right moment. To Be Hero won’t always feel worth your time, with an early emphasis on low-brow humor and an absurd plot that might as well have been made up on the fly, but it finds its footing near the end, buckling down on a surprisingly touching tale of the love and bond between family members, particularly that of a father and his child. Whether you think it becomes good enough to justify the lackluster narrative that came before is up for debate, but only being about two hours in total, it’s hard to say To Be Hero isn’t at least worth giving a shot. And I wish I could say the same about...
Shuumatsu no Izetta (Izetta: The Last Witch)
Probably the biggest wasted potential of the season. A cool premise, decent animation and mystical soundtrack laid low by the classic anime archnemesis of bad writing. Basically Izetta is about an alternate history version of World War II wherein a witch is discovered who turns the tide and shape of the conflict. It started out really well, but lost itself whenever it wasn’t knee-deep in drama and action, and as it went on only introduced more and more contrivances and irrationalities to drum up conflict, compounded by generally unskilled character writing. I wouldn’t say it exactly reached “trainwreck” status, and at the end of the day, I think it’s still a series I enjoyed to some degree, but it was most definitely a disappointment and fell short of expectations. Next we’ll finally get to the season’s requisite hit...
Yuri!!! on Ice
From Studio Mappa, of Terror in Resonance, Kids on the Slope and Rage of Bahamut, Yuri on Ice is a gay figure skating show. And I don’t mean “gay” in the derogatory sense, I mean it in the literal sense, actually gay (if you are somehow unaware of the series’ internet reputation). And it’s a solid show! Not a great show, the characters are mostly only alright, there are noticeable cracks in the animation despite MAPPA’s best efforts, but it’s still an anime that captured an audience, and it’s hard to exactly describe why. There’s just a certain likability to the whole thing. The individual pieces may not seem exemplary, but as they say, it’s greater than the sum of its parts, and manages to be just a good time. Certainly not my favorite of the season, but definitely a worthwhile 12 episodes. Next, MAPPA’s other less popular, less good-looking, and just generally lesser show...
Days is a sports series about soccer, and putting aside the flat characters and seeming lack of understanding of the game itself, one of my big issues was that it basically was not animated. Maybe I’m spoiled from Haikyuu, but the games were practically slideshows. They did nothing to make me as excited as a sports show should. This is a series that ran for two seasons, the summer and this fall, and for a while I tried to give Days the benefit of the doubt, I really did. I kept telling myself “we’re only in the setup stages, things will pick up, things will improve”, but by the end I couldn’t keep that up because they didn’t. Days is not good. But something that is good, nearly at the end of the wire here, is...
Funo wo Amu (The Great Passage)
Wherein a man and his co-workers spend over a decade making a dictionary. The running joke with The Great Passage is that it’s a lot more interesting than its premise would imply, and while I would agree that it is more interesting, I’d hesitate to say “a lot”. Mature drama is always welcome in anime, what with the endless slate of goofy high school shows, but on the flip side, simply being mature is not to me inherently entertaining. You still have to create characters that an audience will care about, and while I did care about these characters over the span of the short 11 episodes, it wasn’t nearly as much as I wanted to. It just didn’t give me enough to work with to feel enough for them. Now while that is a complaint, it is not intended as a show-breaking one, and I would absolutely recommend at least trying the series out. Sadly, the issue there is that The Great Passage is in a somewhat disappointing position, as Amazon is holding the licensing rights hostage and has not at the time of this writing bothered to release the series in the US on its Amazon Video platform, which means it is currently impossible for those of in the States to legally watch. And last but maybe least...
It’s... colorful, and that’s about the best praise I can give.
And that’s it! Remember that nearly everything in this video is available for your viewing pleasure on either Crunchyroll, Funimation, or Netflix.
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