Summer is here. New anime season has rolled up, catching the collective Cart Driver staff completely unaware as we attempt to wake up from our collective crappy season stupor, made even worse by oppressive heat. But wait, before we move onto this new season full of wonder and joy and possibly even some decent anime, we must first return to last season and hand out some arbitrary rewards.
Scamp: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
I went into these final batch of Stardust Crusaders thinking I was done. The damage had already happened and I had lost interest. They had simply taken too long to reach this point. No matter how awesome the final battle with Dio might be, my emotional connection to events had been lost. Turns out I was wrong. The final episodes were still amazing. As ridiculous and ass-pully as the final fight may have been, having a villain worth a damn with stakes that felt real breathed life back into the series. The dramatic poses were back and as brilliant as they were before. The shots felt more extreme and twists had more impact. Watching Dio burst out of the sky with a steamroller was as brilliant as it was silly. These episodes were as good as anything the previous seasons of Jojo’s produced. Stardust Crusaders was still at least twice as long as it should have been. The monster of the week formula sucked all my enthusiasm each week as I couldn’t get invested in anything. But these Dio episodes proved Jojo’s still has it when it actually deals in high stakes. Bring on new seasons. Just keep them shorter next time.
Shinmaru: Kuroko’s Basketball
I feel exactly the opposite about Kurobas after season three as I did after the second season — it ends on an extremely high note after a season of balls to the wall ridiculous superhero basketball. This month’s offerings may have been my favorite yet from this series: two overpowered monster teams raising the stakes ever higher with each second and shot, and the payoff of every friendship and teamwork theme in the show to this point. Seirin temporarily overwhelming Rakuzan with the Direct Drive Zone is the perfect type of fist-pumping bombastic moment that will come to mind when I think of Kurobas. (We’ve come a long way from the first season, where basic things like defense and boxing out for rebounds were mind-blowing!) As much as I’ll miss these characters, this is a fine place to end the show. Pushing even further than this would probably be overkill.
Well Etotama was better than expected. That’s not really glowing praise by itself, since Etotama could have not actually aired, or just been live footage of a cow being slaughtered, and still have been better than expected. But unlike the show on my Nottie portion of this list, Etotama is a Hottie because it makes the most of its ridiculous premise with surprisingly strong comedic timing, and characters with diverse personalities that, while far from relatable, are used to decent effect. Etotama isn’t /good/, especially when it tries to be self aware of its status as a dumb anime, but it still tries, and I found it way more watchable than quite a few shows this season because of that.
What’s not so hot
Scamp: Blood Blockade Battlefront
Oh dear, I suppose this was inevitable. Bones have a history of petering out like this, but it was supposed to be different this time. This was Rie Matsumoto, the director of Kyousogiga, doing an anime original ending! Surely this time it will be different! Except then I remember that actually I had quite a few problems with Kyousogiga which I largely kept quiet on at the time because it was the hipsters favourite and had a lot of originality, and a lot of those problems reappeared with Black and White’s storyline. Episode 11 was the worst. A nice rule for dialogue is that if you could replace each character’s lines with that of any other character in the story and have it make as much sense, then you have written bad dialogue. There was a lot of flowery lines that didn’t really mean anything, nobody actually talking to each other as they instead talked to the camera in metaphors. For all its beauty, the story lost all meaning. It also lost all fun too, which was what Blood Blockade Battlefront had going for it. For as much depth as they tried to cram into these anime original stories, there’s more heart and meaning to the earlier stories about the hamburger eating mushroom and the crazed lady mulching her boyfriend into a fine paste and storing in a pretty man. That’s the tone Blood Blockade should have kept to.
Shinmaru: Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches
I feel kind of bad that I wasn’t totally feeling the final few episodes of Yamada-kun. I’ve enjoyed the show enough through its run — it’s had its funny moments and fun character moments, and even though I’m not totally into the shipping in this series, the Yamada x Shiraishi story is fine. What’s always kept me at arm’s length with this show, however, is how bland the presentation is. The visuals do their job, and it’s not like a comedy absolutely requires a super artful presentation, but I feel like there are parts that could have been more interesting, engaging, and/or funny had it been able to go the extra mile. Like, everyone forgetting their connection with Yamada should be a huge event, but it never quite grabbed me because of that distance between how much I should be caring about the show and how much I actually cared. Yamada-kun was fine and ended on an OK note, but nothing more than that, and it’s a shame.
Inushinde: Plastic Memories
I think I might be the only person on the face of the earth who got invested enough in Plastic Memories to be equal parts frustrated and fascinated by it, to the extent that talking about it has comprised roughly 30% of my tweets since it started airing. I don’t mean that I’ve been invested in the plot, which was about as dynamic and unpredictable as a particularly slothful rock, but that I wanted to see to what degree the show would sideline its 70’s American Sci-Fi Hodgepodge premise in favor of generic tragic romance. Though it ends the romance on a fairly strong note, it never treated its setting as anything more than set-dressing for a dude getting with a terminally ill girl. So much of Plastic Memories is wasted, both in terms of setting and actual content, that it’s an incredibly frustrating disappointment.