It’s the most overworked time of the year~
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.
Birds of a different feather flock together.
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.
Peeking in on the autumn lineup.
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.
I thought spring was the rainy season, so why am I drowning in shows in October?
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.
Lions and udon and Motes, oh my!
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.
Something something “the winter of our discontent.”
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.
The party is shrinking faster than expected.
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.
The autumn colors were certainly on display, I’ll give Fall that, at least.
This was a slim season for me in terms of overall series completed, and would have been a pretty disappointing one if not for a couple happy surprises and a pair of standout shows from the ever-reliable Studio BONES. Still, there’s good variety here, with a strong focus on action/adventure titles, so there’s a pretty good chance something out there will speak to everyone’s tastes.
One thing Fall did have in droves was plenty of style. From the jaw-droppingly dynamic animation of One Punch Man, to the ’60s comic book-inspired design of Concrete Revolutio, to the painted landscapes of Seraph, the glowing monsters of Noragami, and even the washed-out color scheme and bursts of acid-trip weirdness in Perfect Insider, a lot of creative teams threw themselves into making the shows this season visually striking, and they by-and-large succeeded.
While ultimately I’m the kind of viewer who needs a developed set of characters and a meaningful (or at least entertaining) narrative to keep me invested in a story, that should by no means take away from the sheer amount of hard work and talent on display this Fall. Animation is art, and (narrative content notwithstanding), these creators have made that abundantly clear.
The trees outside are looking almost as sparse as my watch list.
It’s a fairly quiet season on my end, as I’m only keeping up with eight full-length shows and one short(ish), as compared to last season’s whopping thirteen. While that’s partly out of necessity (there’s nothing like a packed month of travel and writing projects to make you shed shows), it also speaks to the kinds of series airing this season. I wouldn’t even call it a bad season, just one with a lot of mid-range shows that don’t appeal to me personally. Sometimes that happens.
A packed month of travel and writing projects can also tell you a lot about your own preferences, turns out, and mine are pretty solidly turned towards character-driven writing and/or offbeat or ambitious narrative structures. The general craziness of my schedule as of late has also led me to seek out lighter, sillier shows, which is likely why this list is so heavy on the comedies and over-the-top “dramas.” Never let it be said that personal tastes and circumstances don’t affect judgment, because oh man, do they ever.
Hit the jump to see what’s stuck, what’s slipping, and what has the chance to be truly special.
♪ Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back~ ♪
While the fall premieres haven’t been quite as dismal as I’d originally feared, this is one season where most of my excitement was reserved for sequels, and so far they’ve done a solid job of not disappointing. Two 2014 favorites are back and just as fun as ever, campy vampire fiction makes its triumphant return, and we head to a familiar setting after nearly a decade away.
This season’s a little odd in that we have some sequels in the traditional sense (i.e., stories that pick up right where the previous season left off) as well as some “sequels”: stories taking place in the same universe but with different characters, locations, and time lines, making them fairly accessible to newcomers. I’ve divided them up accordingly below, so hit the jump for familiar faces, or locations, or both.