I got bored of writing things for no one in particular to read, but now it’s that time of the year again, so I might as well rank the top 10 shows I finished this year. Because that happens to be the number of shows I finished.
Garo -Vanishing Line-
Eh, it’s another Garo series. It was okay, but the first one was better and I still didn’t finish it.
Land of the Lustrous
I tried several times to get back into it after all the praise it was getting, but it just wasn’t doing it for me. I never stopped finding Phos annoying, and that made it very hard to care about anything.
I was never a big fan of the old series, and the new one just seemed worse in every way.
Rage of Bahamut – Virgin Soul
Start out fun, but after a couple of episodes I remembered I was watching a Rage of Bahamut show and that the plot was guaranteed to get stupid.
Seemed okay initially but as soon as they revealed the older lady was a scheming psychopath trying to cause drama I noped the hell out of there.
KADO: The Right Answer
I don’t remember exactly what happened to make me drop this. I think nothing was happening in the first place.
At some point you have to take the ugly 3D CG dog out behind the shed and shoot it.
The biggest surprise of 2017: an unassuming low-budget CG show that turned into a big hit. Following Kemono Friends was more of an experience than anything, and while the show itself wasn’t exactly amazing, it still had some good episodes in there. It had a very steep wall to climb given its premise and production values, and it managed to be entertaining enough. Shit, it had a better finale than most things I watched this year.
Rarely do I get so consistenty teased for the entire duration of a show. The exciting part is just around the corner! Any moment now! ACCA’s main issue is exemplified by its main character. He’s a key figure in a vast conspiracy, but he hardly seems to give a shit. His best friend turns out to have been monitoring him all his life, and his reaction is “huh, really”. How am I supposed to care if the protagonist himself doesn’t? The show never pushed him far enough out of his comfort zone, and things just plodded along at a glacial pace.
What also didn’t help was that a lot of the world building was… weird. The whole concept of a department that is basically the government but exists independently of the government was very confusing and never made much sense to me. Maybe I missed some vital exposition somewhere. It’s led by a group of generals who never seem to do anything but sit around a table scheming. And the country itself consists of 13 nations that are all bizarre stereotypes like “in this nation everyone loves gambling”.
Onihei was so middle of the road it’s hard to think of anything to say about it. It was all right, the setting was sorta interesting, but it never excelled. It was also mainly episodic so there was nothing to get invested in. Probably the show in the list that I was closest to not finishing.
I wasn’t expecting Juuni Taisen to blow my mind, but I was at the very least expecting it to be entertaining. And while it wasn’t terrible by any means, it failed to deliver in every aspect. Were you hoping for an action spectacle? Most fights were over in an instant, and there wasn’t a single scene I would describe as exciting. Did you want to a battle of wits? Half the fights boiled down to “Oh I didn’t know he could do that” (with allegedly experienced fighters routinely underestimating their opponents). The twist of how the winner won might’ve been clever in a sense, but wholly unsatisfying.
So does it at least offer decent character drama? Not even that. With a few exceptions, there wasn’t much more behind the duels than characters just happening to run into each other and going “Welp, I guess we fight now, don’t take it personally.” The character backstories did a basic job of explaining who they were and how they got there, but generally didn’t add any significance to their participation in the fight (and usually went on too long). At the end of the day I just never cared about who would win, and that killed the show for me.
I don’t like slice of life shows, and I don’t like “cute girls doing things” shows. So for Girls’ Last Tour to be up this high, it must have done something right.
A part of it is the setting: a bleak, post-apocalyptic cityscape where few humans are left. But it’s not the kind of show that plays up that aspect for tragedy, or has the characters desperately struggling to survive. Instead, it’s more about exploring the relics of a past world and trying to imagine how its inhabitants lived. Sometimes they come across everyday objects, sometimes they visit strange places, always wondering about their purpose. It’s very laid-back without being boring.
Chi and Yuu also have enough chemistry together that they’re capable of carrying the show together (only sporadically do other characters appear). They play off each other well and the dialogue is better than what you’d expect from this kind of show. Overall it wasn’t the greatest thing I’ve seen, but it was something I was happy to watch every week and never disappointed.
BBB&B still had the same creative setting, memorable cast and great direction that made the first season good, and yet it seemed like Beyond was mostly coasting on these elements without taking it any further. There was some welcome focus on a few neglected characters, but other than that it was very much adventure-of-the-week. Apart from maybe the finale, I’m not sure anything with lasting consequences happened. If there’s ever a third season, you could probably watch it without having seen this one and not even notice. The finale was pretty good, but it wasn’t some big climax that the series built up to; it was just a solid two-parter that worked as an ending.
It’s a shame because with more structure the series would’ve had the potential to be so much greater. I believe some of the episodes were from earlier parts of the manga, and it did largely feel like a whole season of filler episodes. Still worth watching if you enjoyed the first season, but nothing amazing.
Oh, and all the dimming was annoying as hell.
It’s very hard to rate Inuyashiki. It was inconsistent both in quality and in tone. Sometimes it was overly sentimental, sometimes it was extremely edgy. Sometimes it was dead serious, and sometimes a character is killing 2ch posters through their monitors by pointing his finger at them and saying ‘Bang!’.
That said, it was an interesting take on the “normal person suddenly receives super powers” trope. Inuyashiki himself is quiet, dull and awkward. When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the beginning of the show and realized no one would care that he was gone, I genuinely felt for him. But becoming kind of a superhero doesn’t actually change him. He helps people in secret, and tries to stay out of the spotlight. When someone praises him, he laments he couldn’t save more people. He was just a simple man to the end, and that made him endearing.
And even a sociopathic killer like Hiro was in a way intruiging. Even if it was, well, very exaggerated, I could still see it as the way a selfish teenager with godlike powers could act. He still cares about the people close to him, even if the lives of others mean nothing to him. When he kills Andou’s bullies, he seems baffled that Andou would take issue with that. I was a little worried the show was going to let him redeem himself even after his brutal murders early on, but even in the end he didn’t express remorse. When he promised his pseudo-girlfriend he’d stop killing people, it wasn’t because he came to regret what he did, it was just because he liked her and the decision whether or not to kill held such little weight to him. Even in the end, he didn’t care about the six billion people who were about to die, he just wanted to save his friends.
The ending might’ve been predictable, but it did what it needed to do, and hey, sometimes you have to be grateful to get a good predictable ending instead of a non-ending or lame twist.
There’s not much I could say about this that I didn’t already say last year about the first season. And that includes the realization of “Oh I watched this almost a year ago and I don’t remember any of the details.” If you watched the first season, you’ll probably have watched and enjoyed this one as well.
It’s a real testatement to just how high expectations were for LWA that I would describe the second highest rated show of the year as “kind of a disappointment.” The opening episode was perfect, and they did a good job re-introducing the characters and setting without making it boring for those of us who watched the OVAs. But after everything got established, we just sorta got… more of the same.
There’s nothing wrong with LWA being largely episodic, but the quality of the individual stories went gradually downhill, and by the second season I just wanted them to get on with it. Maybe it was just the formula geting tired. A lot of episodes followed the exact same scenario of “Akko does something stupid and creates a problem that she or someone else then has to fix.” Eventually her attitude was starting to grate and she was never really improving in that regard. The other issue with the second half is its focus on the big plot, which overall wasn’t that interesting. A lot more could’ve been done with it, and having Akko’s development tied to experience points on her magic staff felt lazy for a show that otherwise showed plenty of creativity.
What carried the show were mostly its fundamentals. It was pretty consistently funny and the animation really brough the characters to life. There were some great episodes here and there, and even at its worst it was still entertaining.
Made in Abyss was a wonderful adventure. I was initially wary of watching the show because people were saying “oh yeah it gets dark later on,” and I’m very much not a fan of the “torture kids for no reason” anime genre. But Made in Abyss works because it feels natural. There is no malevolent entity trying to make them suffer. The abyss is hostile and unforgiving, and any misstep can mean death, but it’s not actively out to harm you. The characters are also not being forced into the situation. They chose to head down themselves, and they prepared themselves as best as they could.
The characters also complement each other well. Riko could’ve easily been the kind of annoying character who constantly runs headfirst into danger and has to get bailed out, but despite her enthusiasm she’s aware of the dangers they’re facing. She may lack experience, but she has the theoretical knowledge to know what to look out for and what to avoid. And her persistance is also her strength. Even in mortal danger, she has the presence of mind to make very tough decisions and do what’s necessary to survive. And while Reg is extremely powerful, he lacks confidence and can’t handle pressure. You can clearly tell that neither would have made it far without the other. I liked everyone and wanted them to succeed.
And while anime adaptations of unfinished series often end with “read the manga”, the last arc of Made in Abyss worked perfectly as a season ending (in fact, it had the best final episode out of anything I watched this year). The only part I wasn’t too fond of was Nanachi’s backstory segment, which does get excessively dark. Sadly there’s a whole arc with more of that stuff right after the anime ended, so I may not enjoy a future second season as much as this one.