Winter 2018 Mid-Season Rankings

Old habits die hard, there’s no way I’m going to completely avoid sharing my thoughts on what I’m watching. 😛 I picked up a mere 8 anime series this season, so now that I’m half-way through them, here they are in order from least amazing to most spectacular~

8: Grancrest Senki

[HorribleSubs] Grancrest Senki - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.56_[2018.01.06_11.30.51]

An action/fantasy series based on light novels by Mizuno Ryo of Lodoss fame – definitely one of the most appealing series in the Winter lineup pre-season! But now that I’m watching it, it’s nothing special IMO. Two countries that had been at war for years were finally to be united by the marriage of a young prince and princess… but their wedding was gatecrashed by a demon lord, their fathers were killed, and war resumed (rather than them uniting against the common enemy that is the chaos)? So far, so generic.

I do like the main characters Silka and Theo, the dialogue between them was great in early episodes, though the growing cast and developing plot means that they’re talking less often. The whole magical crests thing and feudal ranks that go with them are similarly interesting, but confusing due to the fast pacing leaving little time for explanation. Animation quality is not great compared with the other series on my list, though the action scenes tend to get a lot more care and attention. Meh, it’s watchable.

7: Itou Junji “Collection”

[HorribleSubs] Ito Junji Collection - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_00.41_[2018.01.06_10.22.21]

An adaptation of several short stories from the eponymous manga-ka, perhaps best known for Uzumaki and Gyo. These are all horror-themed, of course, but hardly the subtle, gradually creeping horror that I like the most. You can see how the story is going to end from a mile away the majority of the time. Few characters have any depth or development, they’re just there to react to whatever horror their segment is about… or to become said horror themselves!

But again, it’s highly watchable. They’re the kinds of spooky stories you could easily tell around a campfire, or on a stormy night when the power is out. And Ito Junji is an absolute master when it comes to drawing scary monsters, the visuals are definitely this series’ strong point. Just a shame about the pacing again, as I feel that some of the stories must be getting cut down to fit the episode length, to the point where some barely make any sense (this was noticeable in the most recent 7th episode).

6: Citrus

[HorribleSubs] Citrus - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_16.28_[2018.01.06_17.36.31]

After her mother remarries, main character Yuzuko moves to a new home and school. Her new stepfather has already disappeared somewhere; her mother, though there in body, seems absent in mind – not only did she fail to inform her daughter of the school’s strict rules… she also neglected to mention her new stepsister, the same school council president who made her first day there a nightmare. So, just the kind of ridiculous situation you often see in both shoujo-ai and shounen-ai series. 😛

Romance never places highly in my rankings. But shoujo-ai anime are rare, especially one like this that isn’t all subtext and/or gag comedy. The amount of kissing in the opening sequence alone tells you what you can expect! Complex love-hate feelings fly as the two girls are forced to share the same house, and even bed. Friends, love rivals and relatives complicate things further. However, there’s no shortage of yuri manga, I’ve read a fair few, and in terms of plot development Citrus feels quite mediocre.

5: Yowamushi Pedal: Glory Line

[HorribleSubs] Yowamushi Pedal - Glory Line - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_11.13_[2018.01.08_22.40.29]

The only sequel in my lineup, beating the likes of Overlord II, Hitori no Shita S2 and that awful-looking Basilisk reboot. It remains one of my favourite sporting anime of recent years, though as long-time readers may remember from my weekly rankings a year ago, I’m not as keen on the character lineup now that the former 3rd year mentors have graduated – the former 2nd years who’ve taken their place, and the all-new 1st year Kaburagi just aren’t as good in my opinion.

My other complaint applies just as much to the original two series: stop ending and re-starting in the middle of the Inter High! It makes it very difficult to keep track of what’s going on. In the 5th episode, Hakone’s Ashikiba finished in 1st place in the final part of Day 1, following a fantastic race against Naruko and the ever-entertaining Midousuji… but it wasn’t until the episode 6 retrospective that I was reminded Hakone also won the sprint and climb. Hopefully there won’t be another series break to ruin the experience!

4: Violet Evergarden

[HorribleSubs] Violet Evergarden - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.13_[2018.01.11_10.25.44]

Just missing out on my Top 3, but by far the highest rated series in my lineup going by Anime-Planet scores. Certainly the best-looking series in my lineup too, Kyoto Animation never disappoint. It all boils down to the series’ having fairly stand-alone episodes once again, as I tend to prefer series with plot progression. Of course, we are seeing some development in Violet herself, as the (deliberately) boring and seemingly emotionless girl starts to learn more about other people’s feelings, and her own.

I’d say that each episode that has come out so far has been consistently good… but never fantastic. Every episode so far has taken place somewhere different, as Violet first learnt about her new profession, then started travelling far and wide to fulfill requests, so it’s certainly been varied and interesting in that regard. Maybe it’s just a bit too slow and soppy for my action-oriented mind? 😛 Of course, there’s the potential for it to get very dark eventually, as she learns the true fate of her beloved Major Gilbert.

3: Yuru Camp

[HorribleSubs] Yuru Camp - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.46_[2018.01.06_18.46.03]

Yuru Camp had a solid first episode, quite an achievement considering the first half was just one quiet girl setting up a campsite, gathering firewood and battling the cold and wind to read a book in peace! Everything from the art style, to the music, the narration and little jokes was perfect, however. And then in the second half, we were introduced to a character who was pretty much the opposite: loud, clumsy and scatterbrained. Character interactions were fun, and I was hooked.

Since then, camping newbie Nadeshiko has joined her school’s Outdoor Activities Club, and has begun to enjoy camping as a small group; our other main character Rin still very much prefers camping on her own in peace and quiet, but thanks to the wonders of modern phone technology, they’re able to share their different experiences with each other. I don’t know what else to say, it’s literally just moe girls camping, but it’s somehow become a highlight of my week!

2:  Kokkoku

[HorribleSubs] Kokkoku - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.34_[2018.01.08_21.55.39]

Kokkoku did a decent job introducing Juri and her family in a very short amount of time, before her brother and nephew got kidnapped and held to ransom. She and her father panicked, until her grandfather revealed he had a rock that could stop time. Just when it seemed they’d successfully rescued their family using this ability, more people showed up who could move during the time freeze… then grandad revealed he could teleport as well. And as if enough hadn’t happened, a giant monster showed up at the end.

So, it certainly had the most eventful first episode of the season! And it was my favourite first ep, by a long shot, though the series has obviously dropped a place since then. Inevitably after so many things happened, it had to slow down a bit and tell us what’s going on, introduce the religious cult who have targeted the Yukawa family, and (in more recent episodes) investigate the weird ‘heralds’ who protect those frozen in time. Plenty of potential for it to rise back to the top.

1: Sora Yori Mo Tooi Basho

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Surprisingly, my #1 isn’t an action-packed sci-fi or fantasy romp. No elves, catpeople, swords, sorcery or time trickery. If anything it’s a lot closer to the season’s other big surprise, Yuru Camp, but on a much larger and grander scale because these girls are off to Antarctica! It’s great that they can finally say that, after several episodes of being laughed at, or told that it was impossible. All I hope is that their low-budget and minimally staffed civilian mission goes according to plan!

There’s a lot more depth and personality to the cast compared with Yuru Camp as well, they’re more than just moe-blobs, and I’ve really grown to like them. Especially after episode 6’s passport shenanigans! Shirase’s single-minded determination about achieving her goal was truly admirable… even if her strategy turned out to be far less impressive! Mari and the others come to embrace her dream, but all have their own reasons for making the journey. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

And so, those are the few series that made my list! Unlike when I did my weekly rankings, I have no plans to drop anything mid-season, or add any new ones… but I’m still curious to know what people think. Am I missing anything spectacular? Do you agree with the order I’ve ranked these ones in? Share your thoughts in the comments~

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6 Responses to Winter 2018 Mid-Season Rankings

  1. Karandi says:

    I probably like Grancrest more than Junji Ito, but neither has been overly impressive and I find that quite sad because I want to like both shows but they just aren’t making it all that easy. Kokkoku has been surprisingly decent but I’m still on the fence with it and waiting for a few more reveals before I make up my mind.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the season.

    • Thanks for the comment! 😀 I guess I find Junji preferable to Grancrest because of its stand-alone nature – for all that I go on about preferring series with a running plot and character development, that only applies if a show is good. 😛 Whereas there’s always the possibility with Ito Junji that the next episode/segment will be better.

      I agree, Kokkoku’s success depends entirely on those reveals – if it can explain everything, and said explanations aren’t nonsense, rushed or underwhelming, then I’ll be more than satisfied!

      • Karandi says:

        That’s true with Junji. There is always the chance that the next section will be better. Of course for me that just leads to a series of short disappointments as the episode ends without really doing much with the sometimes interesting ideas presented.

  2. Your top three are also on my list. Kokkoku is my favorite of the season so far. It strikes me as a very quirky show. Having an entire family for the main protagonists is not something often done, and it offers a good dose of action.

    Sora yori mo Tooi Basho counts as one of those shows I tried out just because it was on Crunchyroll. I usually don’t watch this genre, but it’s turned out to be a lot of fun. Usually, my anime are more action oriented, but Kokkoku is the only action anime on my list from the Winter 2018 season.

    I recommend Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen if you’d enjoy a comedy about a cold-hearted blonde who lives to eat ramen. It’s one of those anime which delve into a facet of Japanese culture. Each episode sure makes ramen look appetizing! 🙂

    • You raise a good point about the family in Kokkoku, it does make it more interesting.

      I’m the same when it comes to action, definitely my favorite genre, so the fact that only Kokkoku and Grancrest Senki made my list (and that the latter is bringing up the rear) was a surprise. I only watched Sora yori mo Tooi Basho to review the first ep for another site, but was instantly hooked.

      I’ll bear Koizumi in mind, that’s one of the few first episodes that I didn’t get around to sampling, so I don’t know much about it at all. Usually I just get frustrated by food anime though, making me hungry for food I can’t easily replicate. 😛

  3. […] mentioned in my mid-season post that I had no plans to pick anything else up. Of course, that didn’t prevent me from making […]

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