The Wrap-Up: Spring 2016

spring2016If you go about doing a season preview, it is only obvious you also close off on a season review. In The Wrap-Up, all of our contributors get to shine a spotlight on the show they thought to be the very best of the past few weeks, as well as reflect back on the preview to see which shows let us down the most. When you watch currently airing anime or tokusatsu, eventually the question will rise which of these shows can rank amongst the medium’s true classics. Regardless of who covered what, this is where we single out the cream of the crop, and decide which shows from the past season deserve to stand the test of time.

This season started off promising enough, but now that spring is over, only Macross Delta, My Hero Academia and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure have enjoyed regular coverage on The Glorio Blog up until the very end, and the weekly Roundup of all the shows we watch but have little to say about, has consisted mostly of inoffensive comedies for the last few weeks. Is it the need for breeziness in springtime, or have just lost all our patience for dramatic fares like Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress or Kiznaiver? That lack of any big movers and shakers on the anime horizon has driven all of us back into the arms of our favourite niches, leading to one of the most hilariously Manichaean Wrap-Ups in recent history: it’s one part sleepy, cosy slice-of-life, one part loud, bombastic action, and zero parts anything else! Anyway, as usual, a show can only be mentioned here if we’ve been able to watch it in full, so only shows that ended this season can be nominated as show of the season. For the disappointments, however, anything goes. In other words, no one gets to nominate JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, but Jel’ll get to tear into Twin Star Exorcists as much as he wants.

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What was your favourite show of the season?

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Space Patrol Luluco

This was a really tough decision. Space Patrol Luluco is too short, grossly self indulgent, and will make no sense to anyone not familiar with Trigger’s previous works. But in terms of sheer quality per minute of screen time, it’s better than anything else I watched this season. Tackling the trials of your first crush with the kind of insane energy that only Trigger can provide, it’s the show I most looked forward to watching every week. While I do think the direct cameos from other Trigger properties could be a bit alienating, if you are a fan wow are they fun. It becomes a must watch for anyone that has enjoyed anything Hiroyuki Imaishi has touched, which is probably a very large portion of the anime fan base.

Honorable Mentions: This was basically a tie with Tanaka-kun is Always Listless. It’s a charming show that rotates a cast of lovably unconventional characters in the most pleasant, easy going way possible. I know it’s not eligible, but I’ll just mention Macross Delta has turned out better than expected. More on that next season.

Which show let you down the most?

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Twin Star Exorcists

This show made me so angry that I don’t even want to summon the strength to get mad about it again. Still, if you missed my ranting before I’ll go over it one more time: I started reading this manga because it’s by the author of Binbougami Ga!, one of my personal favorites. Like his previous work, it’s a straightforward, generally light hearted series that picks it’s moments to get serious. The main characters are a stubborn boy and a stoic girl who are flawed but likable, and the story focuses on the two of them learning to like each other. On the surface that’s what the anime seems to be, but remixes things in ways I can’t stand. Anime original content makes the characters more brooding and insufferable and their relationship much more adversarial than the natural chemistry they have in the manga. I stopped watching halfway so maybe some of those things will be corrected, but I have no desire to find out.

Dishonorable Mentions: Sadly I think have to put Bakuon!! in this category. Despite being extremely weird and entertaining in it’s first half or so, most of the second half is full of gross fan service and normal, boring school club activities. It’s probably still worth watching, but setting the bar pretty high and not meeting it half the time is the definition of disappointment. Three Leaves, Three Colors also gets a mention. I enjoyed the nice bite to the characters who are kind of sort of terrible people, but it fell into a rut of doing the exact same thing every single episode.

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What was your favourite show of the season?

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Space Patrol Luluco

A tribute to the riotous comedy and deranged animation that is the bread and butter of the studio that birthed it, Luluco is very short, very self-indulgent and very stupid. Fortunately it knows this and never tries to hide that, instead openly playing it’s sheer idiocy for maximum comedy. Luluco herself is daffy and dumb but sweet enough to bring heart to the barest skeleton of a plot and Trigger’s undoubted visual flair propelled everything along at breakneck speed. A trifle, but a glorious one nonetheless.

Honorable Mentions: My Hero Academia for being a good old fashioned hunk of superpowered shonen fun, and for having the most adorable protagonists in years, and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable for sheer weirdness and its terrific art design.

Which show let you down the most?

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Kiznaiver

Blessed with the talent of Studio Trigger and their incredible visual creativity, and possessing one of the most original, compelling hooks in recent years, Kiznaiver felt like the show that would finally catapult its creators into the upper tier of serious anime artists. instead, it fizzled out distressingly fast. Encumbered by hugely unlikable, charisma free characters, and laboured plotting and pacing, the show never really found its feet and had constant trouble deciding where it wanted to sit on the spectrum of comedy versus drama. Some impressive late histrionics prevented it from being a complete loss but given the vast array of talent assembled the result can’t really be classed as anything but a major let-down.

Dishonorable Mentions: Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto for similarly taking a concept that should have been pure gold and dragging it down with bad pacing and overextended scenes.

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What was your favourite show of the season?

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Space Patrol Luluco

Trigger can really bring the heart and the laughs when they need to, and they did more often than not in Space Patrol Luluco. It’s a wonderful look back into what Trigger has accomplished over its short history, and by far the most fun show I watched all season. Considering this, Inferno Cop, and Ninja Slayer, I have to wonder if the short format is just a natural fit for these guys…

Honorable Mentions: My Hero Academia, for proving that you can still make something great while following every cliche in the book; JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, because you know me by now; Macross Delta, because Ikenai Borderline is pretty good.

Which show let you down the most?

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Kiznaiver

Kiznaiver wins this season’s “Man, this would have been great if it was just a little bit better” award. The emotion-sharing hook showed promise for a dramatic-yet-heartwarming story and Trigger keeps the show looking beautiful throughout, but the writing sinks its fangs into Kiznaiver‘s ankles and drags the show down into the mire. A lack of focus and consistency combined with Mari Okada’s on-the-nose dialogue meant I could only sigh each week as Kiznaiver repeatedly fell short of its potential. It’s real purty, though!

Dishonorable Mentions: Bakuon!!, for ditching its bizarre side for K-On! style pointlessness; Three Leaves, Three Colors for being boring as shit; My Hero Academia, purely because of the anime’s glacial pacing.

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What was your favourite show of the season?

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Tanaka-kun is Always Listless

I was initially unimpressed with Tanaka-kun. Its theme seems to wear itself pretty thin in the opening episode: This guy is lazy, but his laziness somehow endears himself to everyone around him? Still, I knew it had to be a bit more than meets the eye if Jel and Artemis were still raving about it half-way through the season. Giving it that second chance exposed me to a show that is saccharine sweet and at moments really, genuinely funny. Its charm is really something that needs to be experienced to understand, as at first glance it really is easy to gloss over it. It helps that the show finishes strong with a really nice message about the value of those important in your life. Even if they might sometimes bug you when you’re with them, you know you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Honorable Mentions: Kiznaiver had a rocky start, but I feel its solid finish more than makes up for a bit of an unorganized introduction. I feel like if this show had 16 episodes ala Kokoro Connect they could have done a better job fleshing out the characters and their relationships before the emotional scenes that really captured me.

Which show let you down the most?

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Bakuon!!

Bakuon!! started out pretty promising as a possible successor to Sabagebu!. As another show about taking the normal school club tropes and just throwing them out the window in favor of absolute ridiculousness, it really succeeded in delivering absurdity scene after scene. Then, the bikini scene happened. The show had already had an almost distasteful amount of fanservice, but that combined with the “joke” sexual assault scene by their teacher left such a bad taste in my mouth that I couldn’t go back.

Dishonorable Mentions: I wasn’t really watching a whole lot that I disliked. I suppose I’ll throw up the Ace Attorney anime for looking worse than the GBA era spritework the show was based on.

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What was your favourite show of the season?

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Flying Witch

Sha-la-la-la! It might not have been the best-looking or most thought provoking show of the season, Flying Witch was certainly the one I enjoyed the most. While its faultless pacing and admirable character writing already put it a step ahead of several competitors within the highly specific sub-genre of comfy, pastoral slice-of-life comedies, it’s the little touch of magic that truly sets Flying Witch apart. Whether it’s the quirky deadpan humour, the charming voice acting or the actual touches of magic occasionally hinting at the most unfathomable things going on behind the scenes. It’s when treating ancient flying whales, abominable postmen, magic cafés staffed by ghosts and other Ghibli-esque oddities like any other part of ordinary life. Calling it an anime about the magic in every day would be a whopper of a cliché, but it’s likely the aptest description for Flying Witch you’ll ever read.

Honorable Mentions: Space Patrol Luluco, for providing plenty of laughs within the very limited framework of Trigger’s pet tropes and their utter lack of production budget and My Hero Academia, for its kaleidoscope action and (mostly) likable cast.

Which show let you down the most?

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Kiznaiver

Oh, Kiznaiver. It had the artistic credibility of Trigger and character designs by Shirow Miwa to back it up, an excellent up-and-coming director at the helm, a fantastic theme song and a budget of approximately one billion yen. It had all of its writer’s signatures: destructive love triangles, stirring dramatic speeches, pained musings on human nature and communication so ill it would make the Beastie Boys blush. It had all the makings of Mari Okada’s magnum opus. And in a way, it completely is. No better show than Kiznaiver to explain why Okada is such a controversial figure within the anime fandom. Time after time again, Kiznaiver ended up stumbling over its own overly mannered, clinical dialogue, its melodramatic plot twists, its ill-advised slapstick humour and morals disappearing up their own behinds. While good-intentioned and seemingly thematically complex, Kiznaiver consistently and tragically kept screwing itself over with Okada’s pet tropes and patented robotic writing so much that in the end, it taught us little more than that friendship basically amounts to loudly yelling “WE’RE FRIENDS!” I’d say I’m surprised Okada turned yet another interesting premise into a forgettable dud against all the odds, but to be honest… I’m really not.

Dishonorable Mentions: Big Order, for having all of Future Diary‘s flaws and none of its draws, Ace Attorney, for ruining a great opportunity with an unforgivable lack of ambition, vision or money and My Hero Academia, for the frequent times it tries to be so faithful to the manga it fails to realize that minute-log exposition dumps and people describing what is happening makes for utterly wearisome television.

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What was your favourite show of the season?

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My Hero Academia Space Patrol Luluco

Honestly the main reason I’m picking Space Patrol Luluco over My Hero Academia is because the latter just got its second season announced (SPORTS FESTIVAL HYPE), rendering it ineligible for the Wrap-Up. Still, I want to point out that despite its pacing issues, Bones and the old GBF crew have done a great job of bringing its fantastic cast to the screen. It hit all the right notes and even if it didn’t bring its best all the time, it brought it where it mattered most. I feel bad for Jel since his highly anticipated Shounen adaptation turned out to be such a letdown, but hopefully we can all look at My Hero Academia as an example of why zealously following the source material to a fault is probably still preferable to letting the anime studio run wild with its own bullshit.

Space Patrol Luluco is in many ways, Trigger at its best, worst, and weirdest. What initially started off as a vaguely Inferno Cop inspired short, ended up being a strange romp through Trigger’s short but eventful past, finally culminating in one of the greatest long cons an anime has pulled off in ages. The animation was barely passable 95% of the time and incredibly stylish the remaining 5%, which if nothing else, is a hallmark of Trigger. And like a proper Trigger work, it brought the studio’s manic energy and passion to the table, leading to a work that’s admittedly uneven at times, but still greater than the sum of its parts. Here’s hoping Trigger’s next big project has a better funded production than Luluco though. It’s going to need it.

Also come on, that ED is amazing.

Honorable Mentions: My Hero Academia for being a shounen adaptation that didn’t totally shit the bed. Props to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable as well, being another adaptation that’s done great work with great source material.

Which show let you down the most?

literallygee

Nothing

Too busy these days to watch anything bad. I’ll be happy to give my hot takes based solely on conjecture and first impressions though.

Dishonorable Hot Takes: Macross Delta seems like hot garbage. Boy that CG looks like crap. How no CG mecha has managed to surpass Majestic Prince after all these years is baffling. Kiznaiver should theoretically be in my wheelhouse, being a Trigger production and all, but Mari Okada is just too damn good at salting the ground wherever she goes for me to want to really make the effort to slog through it.

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What was your favourite show of the season?

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Flying Witch

I had some very positive things to say about this show at the beginning of the season, and I’m so glad that it kept it up throughout its twelve episodes. It was an absolutely perfect foil to the shounen shows from this season (namely My Hero Academia and JoJo The Fourthening) and I’m coming away craving a second season. It’s slice of life at its best; well animated, gorgeous visuals and a wholly likeable cast. I hazard to use the term Ghibli-esque, but for me, that’s exactly what this show was. Your mileage may very if you’re not keen on the genre, but I encourage you to try it out.

Honorable Mentions: My Hero Academia is definitely second on my list. It’s been a joy to watch (for the most part) and even managed to subvert my expectations at times, so I’m definitely up for the second season that it announced at the end of the final episode. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable is also a joy, yet finds itself in third simply due to tough competition. One of my favourite JoJo’s so far, and we’re barely a third of the way through it all.

Which show let you down the most?

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Ace Attorney

I absolutely adore Ace Attorney, and I was so, so hyped for an anime. I remember talking about it years ago when I was still at university, about how it was crazy that there wasn’t an anime adaptation of what was then four games. Never has my excitement dropped through the floor as quickly, and it probably happened right about that time in the opening when you see the state of Phoenix’s running animation. I hear the animation was tidied up in later episodes (and the opening animation fixed) but the damage had already been done. Just give me Ace Attorney 6 while I try to pretend this didn’t happen.

Dishonorable Mentions: Episode 5 of Bakuon!! was gross and soured me on what was, up to that point, a fantastic show, though admittedly I need to finish it up before weighing in properly. Also, that purple sex offender in My Hero Academia wouldn’t be missed if he didn’t show up for season two. Oh, and a quarterly reminder that Dragon Ball Super is a disappointing show.

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What was your favourite show of the season?

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Tanaka-kun is Always Listless

I get that the humor and sense of timing didn’t work for everyone, but Tanaka-kun started out at the very top of my list and stayed there for the entirety of its run. While the first episode in particular seemed to do nothing but bore a lot of viewers, I was somehow literally crying with laughter – although it should also be noted that while the comedy (mostly) stayed strong in my eyes, Tanaka-kun’s other major charm point was in its quieter slice-of-life moments. Sure, this genre is certainly nothing new and arguably Tanaka-kun wasn’t terribly innovative with it, but it was a series that really worked for me because it managed to be adorable without sliding into sickly-sweet or moe territory. Tanaka and Ohta stole the show for me with their unashamed bromance, which was treated as refreshingly normal and completely unsurprising by any of the cast (and steered clear of any fetishized BL undertones), but supporting characters like Miyano and Echizen made for equally funny and adorable scenes. To top it off, Tanaka-kun’s visuals were consistently cheery and bright, as lovely to sit through as any of the actual content. In all, a thoroughly pleasant anime matched by no other for me this season.

Honorable Mentions: I didn’t cover it on The Glorio Blog, in part because it was the third season and in part because the first two were undeniably terrible, but Sailor Moon Crystal really came into its own this spring. No, seriously, I promise – away with the godawful CG transformation sequences, the cringe-worthy dialogue, and the myriad pacing issues. A new episode every week, too! While still not a perfect show by any means, Crystal managed to right itself just in time for its introduction to the outer senshi and become a genuinely decent watch again. Clearly those staff changes worked wonders. Also, quick shout-out to Kiznaiver, which was admittedly uneven at times but whose positives in the end outweighed the negatives as far as I was concerned.

Which show let you down the most?

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None

Skipping the biggest letdown of the season and going straight into the dishonorable mentions, because I jettisoned everything I wasn’t into by the end of the third episode, thus saving both my time and the remnants of my tattered soul. The Lost Village and Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto were far from the worst titles in that category but given the bad taste they left in my mouth, I’d say they both deserve a mention here. The former was a badly-written, dialogue-heavy affair with a cast that annoyed the ever-loving crap out of me. The latter’s glacial comedic timing meant that only about five percent of the material ever made me so much as crack a grin. The Lost Village probably edges out Sakamoto for me in terms of sheer dislike, but both were about as poorly executed as each other.

There you have it, folks. If you’ve completely missed out on this spring’s anime and somehow were to catch up on only a single show, we think that the zany, ever unpredictable Space Patrol Luluco should be that show. With a second season on the way, My Hero Academia remains close to our hearts as well, while fans of relaxing slice-of-life comedies should definitely check out Flying Witch. Yeah, I know more people somehow ended up liking Tanaka-kun Is Always Listless, but those people are foolish and also wrong. On the other end of the hype spectrum, Kiznaiver initially wowed everyone with its impressive visuals, but by now, everyone but Marlin looks back on that brief honeymoon with a wry disillusionment. In the end, spring of 2016 was a season of few peaks and many, but hey, at least there’s still next season and all the exciting new shows it will brin– Oh God, we’re all gonna die.

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6 thoughts on “The Wrap-Up: Spring 2016

  1. Overall I thought it was a pretty poor spring 2016. I dropped load of shows and nothing in particular had me craving anime week in and out. I enjoyed Hero, Luluco and Macross but nothing made me froth from the mouth in anticipation on a weekly basis. =/

  2. It was a pretty good spring imho. Jojo, Hero Academia, Macross, Ushitora and Concrete Revolutio were all fantastic and we had a lot of solid comedies like Luluco, Tanaka-kun and Sakamoto, plus the cute iyashikei stuff Flying Witch and Shonen Maid. The last cour of AssClass wrapped up the story wonderfully and Bungo Stray Dogs was pretty good for a shameless fujoshibait cashgrab. I was surprised to see so few mentions of Big Order and Lost Village as the worst -although I guess understandably, no one expected much from either, so Kiznaiver’s flop was more disappointing. Joker Game was also a big disappointment, the last episode was absolute trash and it burned through all its potential with its lack of a cohesive plot. There was definitely not something as astounding as Rakugo Shinjuu from Winter, (but how often do we have something like that anyway) but there were a good handful of really excellent stuff and a lot of variety, so I’m pretty satisfied with it overall

    • The Most Disappointing awards due tend to lean toward shows we think should have been good, plus I think most of us had the good sense to bail on Big Order and Lost Village after the first episode.

  3. Wow! I see Space Patrol Luluco got rave reviews here! I’ll have to check it out!
    I think my favorite this season is JoJo’s (but i love the series so bias there). My biggest disappointment is Ace Attorney, simply because it was so hyped and I was pumped for it.

    • Luluco is great if you like and are familiar with Trigger’s work, otherwise probably not so much. Jojo is still ongoing but I’m sure everyone will have plenty to say about that once it finishes.

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