Glancing Upstream: Fall 2016 Retrospective and Review

It’s the most overworked time of the year~

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In the next couple weeks I’ll be hitting you with final Flip Flappers commentary, my Top 10 Anime of 2016, maybe a short essay or two, and then we turn around and start all over again with the winter premieres, including the much-anticipated return of Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju (and my lengthy commentary about it)! A blogger’s work is never done.

So you’d think that would mean I’d have kept my Fall retrospective thoughts short and sweet, right? Wrong! This season was a cornucopia of strong comedy, positive queer representation, diverse female leads, and geeky premises. And you know I can’t shut up about stuff like that. Hit the jump for too many words about too many shows.

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The Nail That Sticks Up: Haikyu!! & the Power of Weirdos

Birds of a different feather flock together.

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You may have heard the somewhat gloomy Japanese proverb: “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” It works a lot like the English idiom “don’t rock the boat,” and can read like a threat against individuality. While it often gets over-used by us folks in the west as a way to (negatively and reductively) explain Japan’s cultural tendency to value the group over the individual, it’s still a useful phrase because it neatly summarizes the major downside of collectivism: If you don’t fit the mold, then you’re no longer welcome.

Haikyu!! is a show about volleyball. It’s a show about persistence and passion. It’s a show about friendship and teamwork. And now, after finishing its third season, we can add something else to that list. Haikyu is a show about defending the nails that stick up.

Here there be spoilers: Discussion about the finale for Haikyu Season 3 (Karasuno Vs. Shiratorizawa) below the jump.

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Panning the Stream: Fall 2016 Midseason Review

Peeking in on the autumn lineup.

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I’m writing this from a hotel room in New York, which both explains why it’s a bit late (some of these shows have already moved past their halfway point) and why this introduction is going to be brief. My Fall anime bloc continues to either hold steady or improve each week, depending on the show, which is always a promising sign at the halfway mark. There’s good variety too, so whether you’re looking for something to soothe or something to pump you up, you should be able to find a much-needed break from reality below.

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Rule of Three Review: Fall 2016 Anime Digest

I thought spring was the rainy season, so why am I drowning in shows in October?

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There are far too many shows on this list, but I can’t bear to cut any others at this point. It’s too early to say this is the strongest season of the year, but it sure is looking promising. Some are artistic marvels, some compelling character studies, some soothing balls of cuteness, some just plain fun, and some are…er, Keijo (look, I don’t feel great admitting that either, okay?). Hit the jump for both my pride and my shame.

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Panning the Stream: Fall 2016 Premieres, Round 2

Lions and udon and Motes, oh my!

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The deluge is more-or-less over and it’s left me swimming in a massive watch list. I’m excited for what looks to be a strong fall season, but also a bit overwhelmed. In order to keep myself from drowning in titles, there’s no “On the Fence” category this time–if I’m not actively excited for the next episode, then it’s almost certainly not getting a second look.

The wild part is this isn’t even everything! Girlish Number won’t air in the U.S. until Wednesday, and The Great Passage (Fune wo Amu) premieres Thursday. I didn’t want to sit on this post for that long, though, so we won’t worry about them for now. If either is worth mentioning (and I suspect at least The Great Passage will be), I’ll roll them into my “Rule of Three” digest. For now, hit the jump for a group of new series that I can’t wait to see more of.

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Glancing Upstream: Winter 2016 Retrospective and Review

Something something “the winter of our discontent.”

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This is my shortest retrospective to date, thanks to a pretty dismal season in terms of incoming series. Some of that had to do with my own time constraints and self-imposed ranking rules (there are four shows in the “unranked” category this season, three of which I’d happily recommend to others), but some of it had to do with there just not being a lot that caught my eye this time around. Still, the top two were pretty special, and if an anime season can give you even one incredible series, then it’s hard to call it a true disappointment, I s’pose.

If there’s one positive trend to take from this season, it’s that we’ve got some good artists and directors in the business: people able to take into account all elements of a production and elevate the source material, whether that’s from “meh” to “good” or “good” to “great.” So take heart! The blueprints may be rough at times, but at least they’re in the hands of skilled builders.

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Panning the Stream: Winter 2016 Midseason Review

The party is shrinking faster than expected.

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While it’s not unheard-of for me to drop shows between the third and sixth episode, my retention rate is something like 80 percent. Basically, if you can hook me after three, I’m usually invested enough to stick around through the whole cour even if I wind up with a negative opinion of the show.

This season, though? This season there was enough mildly entertaining mid-range stuff that I threw it all at the wall and waited to see what would stick. Not much of it did, and some of the results surprised even me. Hit the jump to see where we stand halfway through this chilly season.

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