20 CommentsMonthly Roundups / By Scamp /

January 2017 Anime Roundup

Youjo Senki - 04 - Large 29Time to bring these things back.

First of all, I’m not writing for MyAnimeList anymore. They stopped their featured articles thing because I guess it wasn’t bringing in enough hits. So now I need to get back into the habit of blogging frequently again (unless anyone else wants to hire me to write articles for them *hint hint*) and not let my mostly-formed articles sit in my brain, never to be written. In an attempt to get back to writing regularly again I figured now was a good time to bring back the old monthly roundup posts since there are a bunch of shockingly good anime this season and I wanted to say something about them.

Tanya the Evil

Youjo Senki - 04 - Large 34I had my doubts after the first episode because, while it was very well made, it gave me the uneasy feeling I was watching every neo-nazis new favourite anime. That changed quickly after episode 2 when they revealed the true story about a sociopathic libertarian’s ongoing duel with almighty power to understand faith. It’s bizarre and unique and it has completely taken me in 4 episodes in.

The biggest shock of all for me is how well made it is. Imaginative cuts and use of angles to show inner thoughts or changing of expressions, or even just for amusing jump cuts. The strength of writing and the wit of the free-flowing conversations, from the witty back and forth between the mad scientist and Tanya, or the philosophical debates between the Nutcracker Being X and Tanya. For a first production from a studio, it’s one of the strongest first impressions I’ve ever seen. Even if the story might go off the rails into some kind of neo-nazi territory (which it doesn’t look like it will do now but you never know) I’d still keep an eye on the studio for the strength of their directing.

Shouwa Era Rakugo Shinjuu

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu Sukeroku Futatabi-hen - 04 - Large 26I have a few niggling issues with Rakugo that’s preventing me from calling it ANIME OF THE DECADE THEY DID IT AGAIN, mostly in regards to the pacing. However a little voice in my head keeps pointing out to me that these were all problems that existed last season and you didn’t really care about so much because you were so enthralled by the full-length rakugo performances that the pacing issues didn’t bother you. Which all sounds like I’m being a little harsh so I suppose here I should stress that boy do I still love this anime to bits and almost feel privileged that I get to watch it.

The strength and depth of the character writing is where I find myself most enamoured with it. Yakumo has made the evolution to thoroughly miserable old git with grace and charm, as though he was born for the role. He remains the most fascinating character of the story, with his misery demanding he drags the art form with him to the grave. The new charmer kid is kind of hilarious in how he can win everyone over with his puppy eyes and sweet talking (even Yakumo, who I didn’t think anyone could ever win over). I even like their wealthy patron bloke who is trying to write new rakugo. If anything the one character I’m not super fond of is the ex-convict pseudo-lead character because he seems a bit simple-minded compared to the rest of the highly complex cast. Also his screechy voice gets on my nerves sometimes.

March Comes in Like a Lion

3-gatsu no Lion - 13 - Large 29Maybe it’s because I’ve known people recently who have struggled with it, but stories about people with depression issues have gotten to me more recently. Rakugo has a bit of that, but March is centrally about this kid with a highly depressive psyche who is struggling to let people make him happy and he knows it. Not that I was ever the type of person that demanded my protagonists to always be stoic badass action heroes, as even teenage me didn’t bitch at Shinji to get in that damn robot. But watching March and seeing the same symptoms pop up as I’ve seen people experience in my life makes the story and characters feel more real for me.

Even without that though, it’s still a fantastic show. I feel confident in saying right now that I like it a lot more than I did Honey and Clover and a huge part of that is down to the directing. While I like Shinbo generally, even I raised an eyebrow when he was put on this show. But it’s been truly fantastic, particularly when it comes to sound design. The use of silence in stressful moments where the main character just wants to curl up on himself, or the relentless noise in the sister’s house, or the rushing noises when a depressive attack hits. I gather it has sold really well too, which is great and will hopefully move Shinbo and Shaft to making more anime like this instead of some of the pedo-bait he has made in the past. With the Monogatari series basically done now, I hope we get more stuff like March from them.

Little Witch Academia

Little Witch Academia - 03 - Large 11There aren’t many anime this season I think are any good, but those I do like are nearly all fantastic. The one really noticeable thing is how well made they all are, frmo animation to directing to style to dialogue and so on. It makes a nice change from my favourite anime from a season coming with a huge caveat of “it’s not that well made BUT I like what they’re trying to do here”. Little Witch Academia is the kind of joyously produced wonderful piece that you can feel like the creators just had fun making. I want to run out and show it to everyone because I feel anyone can like it.

I am, of course, watching it illegally due to Netflix picking up the rights and sticking to their binge-watch model. However I find it hard to resent them for this because it seems like the perfect kind of show for a family audience once it gets that English dub and I could see it becoming a breakout hit far outside anime fandom. Just sell it as anime Harry Potter. It has the wonder of early Potter books where the world of magic is so fantastical and captures your imagination so thoroughly. The one downside at the moment is the lack of depth or overarching story. Akko’s love of that one circus performer she saw isn’t much of an overarching story to hang your series on.

Acca

ACCA 13-ku Kansatsu-ka - 02 - Large 15Acca does a lot of things right. It sets up a fascinating little world with a complex political structure with intriguing developments happening below the surface. It has a variety of complex characters with different goals and a keen sense of style to everything. It’s just so low key about everything I find it really hard to stay engaged. I know that’s this author’s style, but I have never particularly liked their style and this only helps to reinforce that. Everything scene seems to happen either in a stuffy board meeting, over a cake testing session, a gruff smoke break, or a polite dinner party. I’m still watching it because I’m interested in the story and it’s one of the few anime I can watch on public transport without feeling embarrassed, but on those early morning commutes it definitely has a sleep-inducing effect.

Blue Exorcist

Ao no Exorcist Kyoto Fujouou-Hen - 04 - Large 36There’s a lot going on in Blue Exorcist with characters not trusting each other based off prior engagements, or grudges and memories held that occurred last season. Which is all very difficult when it’s for a series that happened 6 years ago for a show I  only thought was OK originally. What’s actually happening this season isn’t bad or anything and is in the process of setting up an interesting storyline, but I find it really hard to care when the basis for my caring was set up based on a series that happened that long ago. I barely remember who half of these characters are, let alone where their little green plant buddy went. Also a word on Boobzilla, who I know looked ridiculous last season, but I feel she’s gone a step in an even more ridiculous this time around. She’s wearing fishnet stocking, denim booty shorts, and a leopard-print bikini top, complete with some of the most intense jiggle physics that would make her a monster at Keijo. Everyone else is dressed so conservatively that it looks so bizarrely out of place and I can’t get over that.

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20 Comments

  1. Longtime Reader
    Posted January 31, 2017 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Too bad about MAL, but their loss is our gain. I love roundup posts like these, and you’re the second veteran anime blogger to revive them recently (psgels has been writing monthly summaries at his old blog since this past October).

    I’m a bit down on this season of Rakugo compared to the first. Yotaro grates on me as well, but I think the big thing I’m missing is an engaging female perspective. Miyokichi was my favorite character in the first season because her personality was this authentic knot of contradictions. Her daughter has plenty of her wit and stubbornness, but there’s no romance to complicate things, and she seems to be content with the theater remaining a boys club (at least for now). Konatsu’s biggest role has been as a mother, but her insistence that, “I’m going to raise this baby by myself!” and subsequent reversal didn’t leave much of an impact on me.

    On another note, Onihei is a show I’d recommend taking another look at. It’s gotten steadily better since its first episode, and is now among my top five of the season.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 1, 2017 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

      Psgels is writing again? Holy crap, I missed that. Although in my defence, I never stopped writing, just slowed down.

      Onihei really didn’t grab me after episode one. I have something of a personal distaste for super dry samurai dramas.

  2. gedata
    Posted February 1, 2017 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    “They stopped their featured articles thing because I guess it wasn’t bringing in enough hits”

    Well, shit. I actually enjoyed writing for them. Now I’ll have to actually try growing my own blog instead of relying on them to give me a platform.

  3. Ramiel
    Posted February 1, 2017 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    Not watching Scum’s Wish? (Kuzu no Honkai) It might be in the running with Rakugo for best show this season (at least for me personally).

    • Mentar
      Posted February 1, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      Seconded. For me, Kuzu no Honkai is Anime of the Season material, and more and more sites are recognizing it.

      I can understand if someone dislikes the contents so much that they don’t want to proceed with it, but you should definitely at least give it a try.

      • Posted February 1, 2017 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        He made the mistake of trying to watch it on the train XD

      • Scamp
        Posted February 1, 2017 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

        I still haven’t finished episode 1 because I got to the sex bit and someone sat next to me

  4. Fong Her
    Posted February 1, 2017 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    Tanya the Evil actually takes place in an alternate WWI not WWII, so no Nazis.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 1, 2017 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

      Yah but try telling that to neo nazis

  5. Yalu
    Posted February 1, 2017 at 2:45 am | Permalink

    Tanya’s facial expressions are just amazing

    I had to rewatch Rakugo again, was so lost in the first episode.

    Wasn’t expecting that much from blue exorcist.

    And I’m thinking about watching Little Witch Academia. Should I watch the short film before the anime?

    • JAMES
      Posted February 1, 2017 at 6:57 am | Permalink

      The OVA/Film are excellent, but the series can be watched without them and you won’t lose any understanding.

      I’d say you’re missing out to skip on either, though!

      • Scamp
        Posted February 1, 2017 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

        Yeah you won’t miss anything by not watching them, but they’re fun to watch anyway so go ahead and do so

  6. Shikamaru
    Posted February 1, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Great to see monthly roundups returning.

    “With the Monogatari series basically done now”

    There is still at least 4 volumes left and 5th one is coming at some point. This series will never end.

    I’m really enjoying Blue Exorcist and Maid Dragon. This is also the first time in Kyoani anime where the main character isn’t high schooler. At least to my knowledge.

  7. Ken
    Posted February 1, 2017 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Besides Little Witch Academia, another great comedy you should watch is Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 1, 2017 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, no real interest in Dragon Maid. I’ve still got my pretty concrete no KyoAni rule

    • Posted February 1, 2017 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

      Dragon Maid is definitely this season’s “this show has no right being this good” show for me (though I find myself thinking the same about Konosuba, I’ve already had a season of being pleasantly surprised by that show)

  8. Canary Paint
    Posted February 1, 2017 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Have you given any thought to the whole youtube thing? If you want to subsidize your work, it could be a reasonable option. Older stand alone articles could be remade into videos, so you could effectively have a backlog of subject matter to “video-ize” during dry periods.

  9. ANON
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Ever thought of Patreon scamp?

    My only complaint about Tanya are the eyes. Even by anime standards, they’re too big.

    This season isn’t really exciting for me, which is a good thing probably, it lets me catch up with backlogs that have been on my list for years.

  10. Ariscottle
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Hoorah for more TheCartDriver.Com articles! I will say that I didn’t read the many of the featured articles section on MAL simply because it was nothing but “Top 15 *insert something random to get clicks here*” articles. Personally, I wanted to see more discussions in the Featured Articles section, but that’s my personal taste. I always read the non-clickbait articles lol. Glad to have you back though!

  11. Ibri
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    I am catching up with ACCA and you know maybe a coup isn’t the worst idea the prince seems unfit.

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