Late, because of Violet Evergarden continuing for a week after everything else finished. But here are my final thoughts on this season’s shows (the ones that ended, at least)!
I 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 plans later on. 😛 What were the two late additions to my lineup, and how did they fare compared with the six others? Read on to find out…
I rated this 7th in my mid-season post, marginally ahead of Grancrest Senki. Though Grancrest isn’t included in the list this time around as it’s still ongoing, it likely would have overtaken Itou Junji and pushed it down to 8th at this point anyway. As ‘Collection’ went on, the short stories continued to feel weak, rushed or otherwise poorly executed, which is a real shame.
I still feel that episode seven is the worst culprit. I’ve not read either of the stories in their original manga form, but you could just tell that they’d been seriously cut down, to the point that they didn’t really make sense – something that manga fans have confirmed to be the case for most of the stories. Still, I’ve seen worse, it remained watchable enough, and the Souichi episodes were amusing in a weird way.
If I was basing these rankings on the last few episodes alone, Citrus may well have placed lower than Ito Junji. But, earlier episodes were pretty good, and (though I haven’t read the manga for this either, so can’t be 100% sure!) it certainly doesn’t feel like they’ve cut down the story in any way. Rather, Citrus has the opposite problem: it dragged on far too long!
Every time Yuzu and Mei could have finally accepted each others feelings, there was a convenient excuse which prevented it from happening. And after that, it’s time to introduce new love rivals to shake things up! Childhood friends Matsuri and Himeko, fair enough, their arcs were really good. But those final three episodes in Kyoto with the twins just felt a bit weak and pointless to me.
The first of two late entries to my lineup! This is one of Netflix’s new ‘this is a 12 episode series, but we’re going to release all the episodes at once’ shows; a strange way of doing things, but I guess it’d be far too long to work as one continuous movie. 😛 Given that I had free time between the end of one season and the beginning of the next, and was feeling action series withdrawal symptoms, I thought I’d give it a go!
It had potential, but again, the execution could have been better. Super intelligent detectives who just know stuff without explaining their reasoning to us mere mortals aren’t that interesting. Even so, the story about him and the villain who killed his sister would have been alright, if it wasn’t for the concurrent storyline involving genetically engineered super humans that I just didn’t care about. Too much going on at once, really.
In a season full of promising action series that I ended up skipping, this noitaminA age gap romance drama somehow ended up on my watching list instead. Why!? I keep going on about how I don’t care for romance series. Why not pick up the cool looking assassin show Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens or the cute chibi slice of life Hakumei to Mikochi instead? I don’t honestly know. But I do know that I quite liked it.
Despite the age gap, it was more endearing than uncomfortable. Minimal time was wasted before Tachibana Akira worked up her courage and confessed, and before manager Kondo Masami realized her feelings were genuine love. And the unexpected change in focus towards the individual characters and their hobbies/dreams made for some great character development and a decent ending.
4: Yuru Camp
The exceptionally cute winter camping slice of life series drops one place to 4th, no real surprise given that the three above it always had more potential for plot + character development. Still, it was nice to see loner Rin finally come to appreciate camping as a group… though it seems it’ll take more than that before the Outdoor Activities Circle can recruit her and Saitou and finally become an official club. 😛
Yuru Camp had a large group of equally lovable characters, and plenty of style. A bit random, perhaps, but I also loved the way that this and a few other series recently (Just Because! springs to mind) portrayed their smartphone instant messaging conversations. As I said before, I don’t know what else to say, it’s literally just moe girls camping, but it somehow became a highlight of my season~
Kokkoku had a lot going for it – decent introductory episodes, a fairly original plot with its weird religious cult antagonists, the interesting character dynamics that comes from having multiple generations of the same family working together, and the whole time-freeze element which (when done well, as in this series) is something I like a lot. I thought this could end up being my #1 series of the season.
However, I feel the second half was weaker in comparison. I found it most interesting when there were lots of Genuine Love Society grunts running around, and when Heralds could show up at any moment to kill those who harmed the frozen. Sagawa was an interesting villain, but I was disappointed by how easily they defeated him in the end. The final ep showing Juri’s descent into madness wasn’t bad, though.
Up two places, Violet Evergarden benefited from the character development in the latter half, first following the revelation (to Violet) about what happened to Gilbert, and then as the full horrors of the war she’d been through finally caught up with her – horrors she’d soon have to face again as rebels threatened to start the fighting once more. I expected the whole Gilbert thing to be left until the last 2-3 episodes, glad that wasn’t the case!
I liked seeing Violet learn about emotions from interacting with others, progressing from a (seemingly) unfeeling doll who wrote blunt, literal letters for her clients, to a girl capable of showing true sorrow, anger, and happiness. And of course, seeing her take down rebel soldiers in a snowy forest and on top of a train with KyoAni’s high quality animation didn’t make for bad viewing. 😛
Unchanged from the middle of the season, Sora Yori Mo Tooi Basho’s story of four girls and their adventures in Antarctica was my favorite of the few Winter series I ended up watching. Would it have come out on top if I’d picked up 18-20 shows, and based these rankings on the scores of individual episodes as usual? Who knows, but based purely on my feelings when looking back on the season, I certainly miss this show the most.
As with most of this list, I wouldn’t say it was consistently strong from start to finish. Those early episodes when the characters first met each other, bought into Shirase’s dream, and tried all manner of crazy things to make it a reality were amazing. Hinata’s passport woes were also a real highlight, mixing drama and comedy. I’d say I found the journey more fun than the destination. But then it peaked again in the penultimate episode as Shirase’s feelings for her mother finally hit her. A truly great anime.
That’s my take on this year’s Winter season, but what did you make of it? Have I missed out on anything really good? Have I underrated something you loved, or overrated something you hated? I’m always happy to discuss anime in the comments. 😀