Autumn 2018 Mid-Season Rankings

And here we are, the final season of 2018. Here’s what I picked up, and what I think of it all. Please feel free to recommend other autumn anime in the comments, as I’ll no doubt be picking up a couple more before long!

8: RErideD: Tokigoe no Derrida

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Derrida works for a company producing robotic servants. He discovers a major bug in their latest design, the ‘DZ’, created by his own father. However, the head of the company has no plans to recall the DZs for patching, as they’ve already been sold to various militaries as weapons. He decides that silencing everyone who knows about the bug is a better option. Stuff happens, and while fleeing for his life, Derrida ends up accidentally cryogenically freezing himself… and later awakens to a world overtaken by angry robots.

The first four episodes aired on the same day, a good week before the season properly started, which could have given it an advantage in terms of world-building and character development… unfortunately, the writing isn’t great. Very much ‘babby’s first dystopian sci-fi anime’, with an odd time travel element that doesn’t seem to fit. I mostly kept it on because I’d seen half the series anyway by Week 3, and I do like the Yoshitoshi ABe character designs (even if they’re not as pretty in the anime itself). Meh, it’s watchable.

7: Goblin Slayer

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Goblins are the weakest mobs an adventurer can expect to face. But, they’re nimble, experienced in combat, and more than capable of taking down an over-confident party of newbies… which is what happens to our protagonist, a young Priestess (nobody has real names in this series). Fortunately, she is saved by the eponymous Goblin Slayer, an adventurer who dedicates his life to the eradication of all goblins, despite his high level. Unfortunately, he arrived too late for the rest of her party.

I like fantasy series, and the world here is alright; heavily RPG-influenced with its guilds, parties, quests and rankings, but the fact it isn’t actually a game and doesn’t star a protagonist magically transported from our world certainly works in its favour. In fact, its more realistic take on the life-and-death struggles of raiding dungeons and killing mobs appeals to me (reminds me of Grimgar, only better). However, there’s not much story or character development yet, it mostly relies on shock factor from all the violence.

6: Zombieland Saga

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I went in expecting cute girls trapped in a zombie apocalypse, but no. Humanity is fine, it’s just these girls who are undead. The ‘Saga’ in the title is a reference to Japan’s Saga prefecture, and our cast of seven have been brought back from the dead to save the area’s tourism industry by becoming local idols. Except in the first ep, only one of them has any level of sapience, and their necromancer / manager / epic makeup artist Tatsumi is pretty happy to just leave her in charge of everything. The rest just want to bite people.

That first ep was hilarious, but as with most bait-and-switch series, the real question is whether it’ll stay enjoyable now that its lost the element of surprise. I’d say the eps since have varied a lot in quality, but have always managed to be entertaining. I’m liking the different characters (now mostly possessing their old memories and personalities), each with a wildly different backstory due to them having lived and died in different times – and I also like that we’ve still got Tae there acting as a more typical zombie. 😛

5: Hinomaru Zumou
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Ushio is a middle school student and sumo wrestling fanatic, who plans to sneak into a high school known for its strong sumo team, so that he can see their facilities and train with them. However, he gets lost and instead stumbles into Oodachi High, whose sumo club has just one member, and whose dojo has been overtaken by delinquents. Despite his small size, below the height required to go professional, Ushio beats up the yobs, wins back the dojo, and changes his goal to making Oodachi a force to be reckoned with.

Here’s my lineup’s (now virtually obligatory) sport anime, and it’s a good one! Very likable characters, solid animation, and the OP & ED combo is the best of the season. Each member of the now six-strong sumo club has their weaknesses, but thanks to Ushio’s passion and Tsuji’s bizarre but effective training methods, they’ve now reached the point where victory in the regional tournament may just be achievable. I look forward to seeing the rest of their fights next week!

4: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind

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I was always going to pick this up – and given that we’re now five parts into the franchise, I knew what to expect. Bright colours, flamboyant character designs and personalities, weird Stand abilities, and action from the get-go. Basic early plot sees Part 4‘s Koichi travel to Naples in search of a guy suspected of being DIO’s son… and as we all know, Stand users are mysteriously drawn to each other. From there, we’ve followed new protagonist Giorno Giovana as he aims to bring down the local mafia group.

At this early stage, I’d say it’s definitely an improvement over Part 4, with more of an obvious plot and an ‘adventure’ developing. However, Part 3 set the standard for this series very high indeed, and I can’t see it matching that. Still, Buccellati’s group are an interesting bunch; not the nicest of people, but they should be fun going forward. Given that it’s due to run for 39 episodes, the pacing is slower and less has happened than in the series I’ve ranked higher, which is probably the only reason it didn’t make my top 3.

3: Double Decker! Doug & Kirill

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The series focuses on crime fighting, specifically crimes involving the drug ‘Anthem’, which is so dangerous that it has an entire police unit dedicated to tackling it. Our protagonist Kirill starts off as a regular policeman, but after coincidentally getting involved in an Anthem-related case and helping a member of the unit catch the criminal, he gets scouted for the role himself. It is apparently related in some way to Tiger & Bunny, but has been completely stand-alone and lacking in superheroes thus far.

It takes a lot to out-do JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure when it comes to style, but I think Double Decker just about manages it! The narration is fantastic, the dumb humor really appeals to me, and I love Kirill. While the majority of the episodes thus far have been heavier on the comedy, it does have its serious police action series moments, with the mafia group Esperanza and its members actually coming across as pretty damned scary. There’s definitely potential for this to turn dark later on, but for now I’ll just enjoy the laughs.

2: Thunderbolt Fantasy: Touri-ken Yuuki 2

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And now, the one that isn’t strictly anime. 😛 The hot puppets are back! Shang Bu Huan tries to find a safe place to leave the dangerous Sorcerous Sword Index, but an old enemy soon learns of its location, kills the people guarding it, and makes off with half of the artifact after it gets damaged during the fighting. This sequel introduces new characters such as the bard Lang Wu Yao and poisoner Xie Yingluo, but of course the ‘Enigmatic Gale’ Lue Feng Qie Chen is back to make our protagonist’s life hell.

The music by Sawano Hiroyuki is phenomenal; the animation (the aforementioned beautiful puppets + a mix of special and practical effects) is very unique, most of the time it works, but occasionally it looks awkward. As with the first series it got off to a slow start, it’s always heavy on the dialogue, but seven episodes in that’s now starting to pay off, as the characters and their interactions have really won me over. And who doesn’t love an evil cursed sword or two?

1: Golden Kamuy S2

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And for the third season in a row, the top spot goes to a sequel~ A good four places up from where its first series placed back in Spring, largely due to the existing world and character development laid by that first series. Golden Kamuy continued exactly where it left off, following Sugimoto and Asirpa’s small party as they attempt to gather patterns tattooed onto escaped prisoners, in hopes of deciphering the location of an enormous hoard of Ainu gold!

Of course, they have a lot of enemies who are also after the treasure… and they’re getting weirder and weirder! Shame the taxidermist and marriage fraudster couldn’t stick around a bit longer, though. I love everything about this series: great setting and plot, writing which can change from completely surreal comedy to deadly serious action in seconds without it feeling unnatural, and decent enough production values, slightly better this season if anything.

As ever, let me know what you’re watching in the comments, and whether you agree with the order I’ve ranked them in. Not that it’s up for debate, it’s all my personal opinion, but it’s that very reason which makes discussing series so interesting.

Don’t forget to recommend me stuff, too!

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4 Responses to Autumn 2018 Mid-Season Rankings

  1. Dawnstorm says:

    Nearly a month late, since I only just discovered your blog, and it’s good to read.

    I finished Derrida and it’s likely in the right spot. Fun thing, 200 years ago is the birth of Frankenstein, and if you consider “take responsibility for your research” the theme of that novel as I do, they sort of share that. The show had a certain inept charm, but it juggled to many balls and dropped them all. It’s probably in the right spot.

    Goblin Slayer is okay. The main selling point for me is Goblin Slayer himself and his development.

    I love Zombieland Saga dearly; it pulled through.

    I’m not watching the Sumo show, but I might binge it once it’s done. I hear good things wherever I go.

    I’m not that interested in the Jojo franchise. I dropped Double Decker after one episode; it had it’s good parts, like the fab kitty. I can’t watch Thunderbolt Fantasy because the camera triggers motion sickness.

    Golden Kamui is wonderfully weird, but I’m getting diminishing returns. It’d be sitting behind the Zombies on this list.

    Recommendations are hard, since I don’t know your taste (yet?), but among my favourites this season not on this list are:

    Run with the Wind: Great sports show with excellent characterisation and just allround well executed.

    Bloom into You: A romance that knows that aromantics exist. Best scene composition this season, IMO.

    Slime: Low-tension, goofy fun (if you can take the powerfantasy). I’m watching it much like a slice-of-life, though it’s nominally got a narrative going.

    Merc Storia: The show on my list nobody’s watching. It’s a children’s show, with arcs that last 1 – 2 episodes, but the various places are distinct, and the one-shot characters reliably carry their arcs (with the main characters being mostly there for point of view.)

    • Thank you for the detailed comment! I’ve also finished Derrida now, and I was surprisingly satisfied by the ending. I’m not entirely sure that it was worth watching the other 11 episodes for, but it did address most of my questions and complaints about the time travel aspect.

      Fair enough on Double Decker; if any series is going to drop down in my rankings at the end of the season, it’ll be that. The main story feels like it’s only just getting going, and there are worryingly few episodes left…

      As for the recommendations, after having no replies for over a fortnight, I ended up going with Bloom into You and Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai. I too am enjoying the aromantic protagonist in the former, makes a nice change from the usual love at first sight / fanservice shoujo-ai.

      • Dawnstorm says:

        So what do you think of Bunny Girl Senpai? Plenty of people seem to like it. It was one of the few shows I was looking forward to pre-season, and I recently dropped it. People compare it to Monogatari, but it feels more like Kokoro Connect to me (though I definitely see where the comparisons come from). Mostly, the show just bored me, and I’m not that sure why.

        I don’t regret watching Derrida. The story had potential; it just wasn’t put together very well, and a lot of emotional moments in the wind-up stage of the show felt like the writers were ticking off a list. (I mean, they had trouble getting as far they did, and then Mayuka just decides to go back to Daddy and somehow arrives in one pice…) I can feel the writers going: “This isn’t going to have happened so we’ll just take standard emotional beats from their drawers to save air-time.” I’m not generally someone who emphasises plot in their enjoyment of fiction, so I sort of took the resolution as it was. Beyond the shoddy writing, though, there were interesting concepts and cute designs. It’s the sort of show that’s better in my head than on the screen; in a few months I’ll remember it better than it was, and in a few years I’ll remember it hardly at all.

        • Bunny Girl is certainly a light novel adaptation, with those wordy character exchanges which in no way resemble real conversations. I am struggling to like any of the characters at the five episode point, which doesn’t bode well.

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