And so ends the Winter season, all-bar three or four series that haven’t quite finished yet! The Spring has gotten off to a good start with some big-name sequels that so far have lived up to the hype… but more on those in a week or two, once I’ve finalized my new lineup. For now, here are my final thoughts on the old lineup:
4 – Little Witch Academia TV ep 12 (↑ 5)
5 – ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka ep 12 (↑ 7)
6 – Youjo Senki ep 12 (↓ 1)
8 – Chaos;Child ep 12 (↑ 9)
9 – Kemono Friends ep 12 (↓ 1)
10 – Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon ep 12 (↑ 5)
11 – All Out!! ep 25 (↑ 3)
12 – Kuzu no Honkai ep 12 (↓ 6)
13 – Gabriel DropOut ep 12 (↓ 9)
14 – Onihei ep 12 (↑ 4)
15 – Chain Chronicle: Haecceitas no Hikari ep 12 (↑ 1)
16 – Masamune-kun no Revenge ep 12 (↓ 6)
17 – ClassicaLoid ep 25 (↓ 6)
18 – Urara Meirochou ep 12 (↓ 5)
Let’s start at the top this time – Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu 2‘s ending was perfection. Even at this late point in the series, we got a shock revelation after it was hinted that Yakumo (the 8th one, Bon, Kikuhiko etc) may have been Shinnosuke’s father! Now 16 years older, Shinnosuke himself is following in his father(s)’s footsteps, Konatsu is set to become the first female rakugo performer, and Sukeroku (the 3rd one, Yotarou) takes on his master’s name to become Yakumo (the 9th), something that Sukeroku (the 2nd, curse these names!) joked about back in series 1. Rakugo’s future seems bright and optimistic, and that was the vibe given off by the episode as a whole – Matsuda still being alive to see the theater’s grand re-opening was just the cherry on the cake.
Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen gave us another happy and relaxing ending, a nice change from the series’ early drama and the huge battle that followed. All seems to be forgiven regarding Rin being the son of Satan, in fact it’s become a joke among his classmates that he’s unlikely to hear the end of for a while! 😛 Shiemi and Rin’s conversation at the start of the episode, which ended up being overheard by all the others, was an early highlight. And even the idiot Mamushi got a happy ending! In summary, it took a while due to the confusion of this sequel starting half-way through the first anime, overwriting a lot of what had already happened, and the slow pacing early on didn’t help either… but as the recent rankings show, I enjoyed it a lot eventually, and now that I’ve gotten to see the characters fooling around again, I remember why I liked them and the franchise so much to begin with.
A surprising Top 5 debut for ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka! Turns out everyone was aware of Lilium and Furawau’s plans to turn Jean into their puppet, and Jean himself ended up leading the counter-plot that saw Schwan agree to keep ACCA as it is, and the supposed coup end without bloodshed. It was a nice change to see Lilium gracefully accept defeat and back down, with his country then leaving the union, instead of the usual drama that usually follows when a ‘villain’s master plans fall through. Other nice touches included the discovery of resources underground in the impoverished Pranetta, Lotta forgiving her aunt for the attempts on her life, and the revelation that Oulu was Abend the whole time! Overall, a bit too slow a series for my tastes, but I can appreciate a good ending when I see one.
I’m skipping ahead one here, to Chaos;Child, as this ending felt a lot like ACCA’s with all its last minute twists and revelations. I was wrong to write it off a few episodes back, taking Sakuma’s word for it that he was the big bad – the true cause of this second spate of murders ends up being our protagonist Takuru himself, after he wished to be something special, and to be involved in something special. Serika, his imaginary friend turned real, set everything up just to give him an exciting mystery to solve. It was supposed to end with Takuru naming her as the culprit, but after learning the truth he instead sacrifices himself… I think? By that point the episode had run out of time, and the rushed epilogue that followed didn’t make things all that clear, but as a conclusion to the series’ main plot it worked well enough IMO. A shame this series was so plagued by pacing issues, these Science Adventure shows really need two seasons!
Back up the list to Youjo Senki, where the whole episode felt like a buildup to a sequel that we’d better be getting after all that! Not a lot of action, instead the focus was on the Empire getting drunk on victory, turning a deaf ear to Tanya’s warnings, while the rest of the world conspired against them… unsurprisingly, history repeats itself in this parallel world, and not finishing off the Republic’s armies is likely going to haunt the Empire big time. The last few moments where Tanya effectively declared war on God, while Mary Sioux (lol) set herself up as a potential rival in her quest to avenge her father, felt like a satisfying conclusion to Youjo Senki, but seeing as the conflict between Tanya and ‘Being X’ was the main draw for me to begin with, I’ll certainly be hoping for more of this!
Despite all the worrying flags throughout the series, Kemono Friends‘ finale wasn’t the dark and depressing ending many viewers (including myself) feared it might be. Rather, all the Friends from previous episodes got together and beat up the giant Cerulean to the tune of the series’ fantastic opening theme. Serval retained her memories and Friend form, having been rescued before anything bad happened to her, and while Kaban was too far gone to return to Friend form, her natural human form ended up being exactly the same, right down to the memories… and the strange re-growing gloves and leggings. Lucky didn’t get sacrificed either, making for the perfect happy ending. Kemono Friends was a surprise to everyone, and it’s great to see it rising up the rankings on sites like MAL and A-P – it’s not perfect, but it had so much charm, a really interesting setting, and it’ll likely be one of the series I miss most from the Winter season.
It feels like every time I talk about All Out!!, I bring up the slow-pacing and lack of big sporting events… I struggle to think of anything else to talk about really, as that’s certainly what set it aside from other sports series like YowaPeda and Haikyuu!! for me. Literally no tournaments, not even regionals! The series ends on a defeat for Jinko to Ryouin’s second team, though largely thanks to the addition of first team ace Zanba Ryuujin. Now there’s a character I’d have liked to have seen more of! This episode definitely didn’t feel like a finale to me, but it was a good episode nonetheless. All Out!! was a refreshingly different high school sports anime that didn’t stick to all the usual tropes – but sadly, those tropes get re-used so often because they’re exciting, hence why it consistently lost out to the other sports shows over both seasons.
I feel I already covered my thoughts on Kuzu no Honkai last week – I don’t know what kind of dark and depressing crime against love and romance it would have taken for this series to end as high in the rankings as it placed mid-season, but this bittersweet, bordering on happy and optimistic conclusion wasn’t it. 😛 But a competent conclusion all the same, with teachers Minagawa and Kanai getting married, and Mugi and Hanabi moving on from their first loves, and from each other. After all those different relationships throughout the series, only one of them lasted until the end – again setting Kuzu no Honkai apart from the more generic romance series, where everyone has to pair up with someone. It was nice to see Hanabi and Sanae remain as friends, though. There, even I can appreciate SOME nice things!
The problem with Gabriel DropOut‘s final episode was simply that it was far too predictable. Gabriel’s older sister visits her, sees through her good angel act and orders her to return to the Gabriel we briefly saw at the start of the series. This too ends up being an act, but all ends well when Gabriel’s sister leaves (her fear of dogs being the only thing that wasn’t immediately predictable). That, and Good Gabriel just isn’t as amusing a character in general! So, just not that funny an episode, especially coming right after the hilarious episode 11 – I feel Satania’s bonding with her old enemy and Tapris’ first attempts at using the internet were some of the best moments of the entire series. Still, overall Gabriel DropOut was one of the season’s funnier and more consistent comedy series for me.
And now we’re in the Red Zone. And while Chain Chronicle: Haecceitas no Hikari was surely the most predictable series to end up in my Bottom 5 this week, 15th is actually a record high for the series, so it’s not all bad. 😛 In fact, I quite liked this finale for the same reason I liked the first episode – all the boring dialogue, travelling and training was out of the way, and we got to see some pretty decent action scenes, to a decent soundtrack. This time good triumphed over evil, with Yuri defeating the darkness inside of himself, and Aram’s party teaming up with him to defeat the Black King, who himself was purified of evil and saved his daughter Phoena before passing away. General lack of feelings for or interest in any of the above characters are the only reason this ranks so low, otherwise the episode offered possibly the best fight scenes of the whole season. Turns out that action by itself isn’t enough even to please me, though!
Masamune-kun no Revenge disappointed me in a lot of ways. There was some good – seeing Masamune take on the role of Prince, despite his illness, in order to save Aki’s play was a nice development, and the accidental kiss (though cliche) would have been an alright place to end the series… but then they all went and did karaoke for some reason. I didn’t feel this added much, at all, instead serving to dilute what could have been a decent ending earlier in the episode with some character songs (possibly there to sell CDs?), and the old overused joke about one of the characters’ singing being a danger to the rest of the cast’s health. I’m also disappointed that we didn’t get to see much of the titular ‘revenge’, with Masamune and Aki’s relationship (whether real or plotted) never progressing very far. Also, not getting to see Kojuurou as Snow White in the other play was a real shame. Meh, not my genre, not sure if I’d bother watching any sequel it may get.
After a stronger second half, ClassicaLoid finally ends up back in the Red, where it was for most of the Autumn. ‘Suddenly, aliens!’ didn’t feel out of place at all given the other weird things that happened earlier in the series, and they even justified it brilliantly using the Voyager Golden Record. But again, this final threat to the world and the way it was defeated paled in comparison to Bach, Mitsuru and the Octovas from last week, the ‘villains’ that the entire series spent all its time… vaguely alluding to? Certainly not building up to, but you know what I mean. 😛 I guess there are only so many ways the ClassicaLoids can use their Musik before it really starts to feel repetitive – and yet, a sequel has been confirmed! Could be alright I guess, if it saw the introduction of a few more ClassicaLoids or something (Vivaldi? Haydn? Wagner?), but I likely won’t bother with it unless the Autumn season is on the particularly weak side.
Last up is Urara Meirochou, which again probably went on for one more episode than necessary. Last week Chiya and her fellow Urara passed the 9th rank exam, the perfect end to a brilliant two episodes… and this week, they celebrated. Which meant ecchi moments in the hot springs, while the adults got drunk. They also swapped costumes, for some reason. Aside from that, the comedy was the same weak material as always, didn’t make me laugh much – as much as I liked the characters, the writing could have been better. On the plus side, I guess I can’t complain much about the Winter season (or about my choices of which series to watch, at least) if the least impressive final episode is just a slightly dull comedy with more fanservice than usual. There were no horrendously rushed nonsensical trainwrecks this time around, for which I am thankful!
And finally, here’s the average rankings throughout the whole season:
1 – Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu 2 (2.67)
2 – Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 (2.70)
3 – Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans S2 (4.08)
4 – Kuzu no Honkai (4.50)
5 – Little Witch Academia TV (5.52)
6 – Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon (7.08)
7 – Yowamushi Pedal: New Generation (7.75)
8 – 3-gatsu no Lion (8.40)
9 – Youjo Senki (9.00)
10 – Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-hen (9.17, best score: #3)
11 – Gabriel DropOut (9.17, best score: #4)
12 – Masamune-kun no Revenge (11.42)
13 – ClassicaLoid (12.92)
14 – Kemono Friends (13.14)
15 – Chaos;Child (13.17)
16 – All Out!! (13.67)
17 – ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (14.58, best score: #5)
18 – Urara Meirochou (14.58, best score: #9)
19 – Onihei (17.33)
20 – Chain Chronicle: Haecceitas no Hikari (17.75)
Can’t say there’s anything I major about these average rankings that I disagree with now, at the end of the season. Great to see Ao no Exorcist *just about* squeeze into the Top 10, though I feel bad for Gabriel DropOut! Both this ‘tie breaker’ and the other one at the bottom show just how much things fluctuated this season, with 11 out of these 20 having spent at least one week in the Top 5 – a nice change from the usual 6-8 shows that usually dominate the top spots!