The Wrap-Up: Winter 2017

Straight outta Tokyo, crazy seasonal review
From the gang called the Glorio Blog Crew
Show some love for the shows that are best
Call it off and put this season to rest
Lest we forget, need to get off our chest
Our beef with the raps less favorably blessed
With cool bling-bling and a plot that ain’t wrecked
That failed to live up to what we’ve come to expect
Conjured up by dank hacks who just beg to get decked
They got no respect for our intellect
Motherfuckers don’t know which show to watch
If you wanna see the best of the winter batch
Yo, sit your ass down and listen well
Cause the Glorio Crew is about to tell

With both March Comes in like a Lion and the second season of Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju wrapping up, many a Glorio crew member seems to have a lock on their anime of the year already, and it sure feels great to be excited about anime again. Shows like ACCA and Scum’s Wish further contributed to making the winter of 2017 a season for the thinking animephile, though luckily Seiren, ClassicaLoid or Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid were around to balance out the scales and make sure our favourite medium doesn’t get too big for its boots. 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, don’t expect Little Witch Academia to be given any more than an honourable mention. Not that we’re barely scraping by without it or anything.

We got ninety-nine favourites but a witch ain’t one, hit me!

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What was your favorite show of the season?

Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju

Apologies to Artemis who has been trying to get us to watch this since the first season, because now that I’ve seen it I’d be comfortable saying this is the best show I’ve watched in the time we’ve been doing the Glorio blog. I’d even put it in the conversation for one of the best anime I’ve seen, period. As to why it’s so good, that’s a bit difficult to explain in words. On paper it’s a show about a traditional Japanese form of storytelling, but it is also a compelling emotional, even spiritual journey full of complex, fascinating characters in a beautiful historical setting. I spent every episode glued to the screen with a knot in my stomach and often tears in my eyes, living through the lifetime of joy and pain that the cast experiences. If you’ve ever complained about the state of anime and how it’s only fan service and wish fulfillment or whatever, this is the series you’ve been waiting for. You have no excuse, go watch it.

Honorable Mentions: March Comes In Like a Lion was not as impressive in its second half, but it was still good nonetheless. Classicaloid and Seiren gave me healthy doses of weird comedy to keep me smiling every week. Interviews with Monster Girls turned out to be not terrible???

Which show let you down the most?

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

I can understand why a lot of people that normally wouldn’t like a show full of boob jokes and other dumb otaku humor seem to love Dragon Maid. At its core is arguably the best relationship Kyoto Animation has ever put on screen. Kobayashi and Tohru genuinely love and appreciate each other and try their best to express it, and the family they create with Kanna as their daughter makes for some incredibly sweet moments. But therein lies the problem: they’re just moments. I know everyone is starved for great love stories in anime, especially between women, but this show also tries too hard to check off all the usual self-reverential anime cliches that led us to that feeling of desperation in the first place. Rather than ignoring those things, we should demand better. And so Dragon Maid gets my vote for most disappointing because it often shows how brilliant it can be, only to drag itself down with what it thinks everyone wants.

Dishonorable Mentions: I will also put March Comes In Like a Lion in this category because I feel like it left a lot of potential on the table. Fortunately it will be returning later this year so we’ll see if they can return to form.

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What was your favorite show of the season?

Classicaloid 

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a show unhinge itself quite so far from reality to such extraordinary results. The key thing about Classicaloid was that it seemed to quickly understand that the ‘famous composers reincarnated’ schtick was largely just an excuse to get a bunch of nutjobs into a single house. From there it unleashed a series of ridiculously stupid, ridiculously funny plots that strained to the very edge of surreality and even beyond. Bolstered by great visual imagination and an unending reserve of deep camp, Classicaloid is easily the most I’ve laughed at any anime since Osomatsu and in my opinion, might even surpass that lofty goal. Simply incredible fun. I WANT FREEDOM.

Honorable Mentions: Seiren for being bad yet hilariously so, and for having some of the most ridiculous dialogue ever heard.

Which show let you down the most?

ao

Nothing

Honestly, there hasn’t really been anything I’ve been watching this season that has let me down big time, it’s mostly been a series of gentle surprises. However, consider this a pre-emptive vote for when someone gets around to subbing that new Eureka Seven AO episode and makes me want to hurl myself off a cliff once again.

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What was your favorite show of the season?

Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju

This is the show that everyone has to see. This is also one of the strongest test cases for the three-episode rule, as once this show passes its somewhat rocky and unengaging start, it’s absolutely enthralling. I’ve never seen an author be able to capture so many different times, so many different moods, and so many different ages with such precision and depth. The rakugo that starts off as a minor annoyance in the path of character development becomes intimately woven into the threads of the entire plot, creating beautifully integrated episodes that bring the full force of the art to bear in its execution. Art is not a means to its own end, and each artist strives to find what that end truly is. It is its ability to speak to the universal human experience that makes it beautiful, a journey worth pursuing. Rakugo will remain one of the strongest examples of this truth for years to come.

Honorable Mentions: Little Witch Academia for being that yearly reminder of why I love Studio Trigger (because they pander to my demographic), and a shout out to the crazy, fun, mess that is ClassicaLoid for being the second best show I marathoned in march on recommendation.

Which show let you down the most?

March Comes In Like A Lion*

* This comes with a major asterisk, as by and large the show is great. However, and I imagine Jel will have much stronger feelings to this point, the show really didn’t live up to the quality of its first half. It suffered from far too much focus on the pure Shogi side of Rei’s life and far too often shunted the sisters we’d grown to love as mere secondary characters to his development. I actually did enjoy the dimension of development that his tutelage with Shimada gave, but I see the role of the sisters as essential. While they were still used to great effect in occasional circumstances, I couldn’t help but feeling their contribution to the story was being unappreciated by their own author. My one hope is that this is a mere temporary blip, as it seemed like he was finally back with the girls to stay at the end of the last proper episode.

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What was your favorite show of the season?

ClassicaLoid

I’m hard pressed to remember any other show that made me almost cry with laughter on a nearly weekly basis. Mr. Osomatsu probably came close, but definitely lacked ClassicaLoid‘s consistency. Sure, our crazy crew of cloned classical composers had a rough start, but nearly every episode since #8 has been a fucking blast. I still don’t know how this show got made at all, but boy am I glad it exists.

Honorable Mentions: Seiren, for being the other absurdist comedy this season; Time Bokan 24, for being a dumb kids show I could relax with; and Little Witch Academia, for simply being a joy to watch. I also enjoyed what I saw of ACCA, and I plan to catch up on my own time soon. Lastly, it ain’t anime, but shout-out to the long-awaited return of Samurai Jack.

Which show let you down the most?

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Can I still pick something I haven’t kept up with on a weekly basis for this? I only catch up with IBO when I’ve got a chance to also catch up with our resident Mecha Man Gee, but every time we do I’m left wondering what in the world they were thinking with this show. There are nearly constant flashes, glimpses of what IBO could be, and it invariably never lives up its own ambitions.

Dishonorable Mentions: Power Rangers: Ninja Steel, which is somehow even dumber than Ninninger was; the subtitles for Pokemon: Sun & Moon, which are all about some twerp named “Satoshi”; and Onihei, which tried so hard but fell so short in being a good noir story.

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What was your favorite show of the season?

scum47

Scum’s Wish

While you plebes were all watching show about old people engaging in even older Japanese performance storytelling, I studied the most noble art of screwing. Screwing yourself over, that is. Well, also just regular screwing. Screwing yourself over by screwing, even. Anyway, if you’ve followed my coverage of Scum’s Wish at all this past season, you know why I think this story was only show this season worth writing more than a couple of lines about. A morose and poignant decimation of anime’s weird obsession with obsession, Scum’s Wish is often uncomfortable, if not downright disturbing to watch. Though uneven in the audiovisual department, Lerche’s adaptation hits all the high points of the original manga’s complex characterisation, reflecting on the irrationality of romance, the destructive spiral of unrequited longing and humanity’s inherent talent for self-delusion. Yet most of all, Scum’s Wish succeeds when it humanises the kind of twisted behaviour other anime would reduce to a villainous punch line. Nuanced, emancipated, but never judgemental, it is relatable in its understanding and embrace of human imperfection – all in a genre that all too often tries to sugarcoat or even sexualise just how nasty relationships can get.

Honorable Mentions: ClassicaLoid, for being an enjoyable take on a kind of comedy that usually isn’t my cup of tea; Seiren, for elevating the noble art of whack-ass anime dialogue to a whole new level; and Little Witch Academia, of course, for being Little Witch Academia.

Which show person let you down the most?

me.jpg

Me

I am disappointed in myself. I have been for a while. I’ve almost completely lost touch with the rest of the jaded anime critic community, including my very colleagues on this very blog. With the mainstream anime fandom as well, obviously, but fuck the mainstream anime fandom. No, I’m disappointed in myself for having lacked the patience or time to keep up with March Comes in like a Lion or Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, two shows that seem right up my alley. They’re the kinds of shows I need to watch on my own time, and sadly enough I’m getting ever more terrible at managing what little of it I still have. I might catch up, in case I am somehow spontaneously transformed into a functional member of society in the near future, but then again, if there’s anything Scum’s Wish has taught me, it’s that chasing after phantoms you’ll never catch won’t make you any happier.

Dishonorable Mentions: Everyone else, for geeking out over Kemono Friends and that shady-ass Dragon Maid show in stead of watching anything halfway decent. Seriously, I don’t care how much money KyoAni may throw at that thing, if I see one more picture of that forehead girl making a face straight out of a hentai whenever the tiny dragon does something cute, I’m getting an aneurysm. It’s friggin’ Nichijou all over again. And the former? Like, seriously? Is this like the anime equivalent of a dog whistle? Is my brain wired incorrectly or something? Because I’m honestly not seeing a single shred of redeeming value in that gormless affront of a show. Trust me kids, sometimes a garbage fire is just a fucking garbage fire.

gee_700

What was your favorite show of the season?

Nothing

My journey toward an uncertain future continue to keep me busy so I didn’t really have the time to watch any show that’s ending this season. In fact, the only anime I really watched this season was Little Witch Academia, so…

Honorable Mentions: Little Witch Academia hasn’t finished so I technically can’t give it the props it deserves but yeah, y’all should really be watching that if you aren’t already.

Which show let you down the most?

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

As Iro mentioned, we haven’t been keeping up to date on the latest entry in the Gundam franchise but hoo boy does it go some places. And boy does it do it in maybe the most clumsy manner possible. Have no fear, I will be doing a proper writeup for this trainwreck once it’s finished up.

Dishonorable Mentions: Seiren’s first arc put such a bad taste in my mouth that I basically stopped watching altogether. As a follow-up to Amagami, it failed to meet even those standards.

chris

What was your favorite show of the season?

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

Dragon Maid is not a perfect show. For every great moment between Kobayashi and Tohru, there’s a hilarious (read: not hilarious) goof about Quetzalcoatl’s breasts. For every genuinely funny interaction between Kanna and the real world, there’s Riko with that face because that was funny the first time. But, even with these and a handful of other glaring issues, this show has a distinct charm that hooked me enough to binge watch the first 11 episodes in four days. It’s genuinely funny, the characters (for the most part) are fun and the relationships have got me on board for the rest of the series. Hands off my beautiful dragon x human lesbian relationship.

Disclaimer: I married Nowi so I guess this is a fetish now.

Honorable Mentions: I don’t remember Amagami being so boob-and-butt heavy, but nonetheless I’ve enjoyed my time with Seiren, its sort-of-but-not-quite follow up. Nyanbo! also deserves a shout out, for being an obvious merchandise-peddling show that had no right being as good as it was.

Which show let you down the most?

Fuuka

Largely by process of elimination, Fuuka ends up here as my biggest let down. Originally I had planned to drop this show, but curiosity got the better of me. For the most part, it was worth it, too. The band dynamic was fun, and I got excited for in-show music in a way that I haven’t been since… Angel Beats? However, this show is a romance first and foremost, and I’d be lying if I said that it delivered in that respect. The relationship between Haruna and Koyuki got very interesting when their secret romance was revealed and they were harassed by the dregs of the idol fandom. It was an accurate commentary on real-life idols, and I wish that it had committed to it. Instead, the power of song in a school’s sports hall persuades the fanbase to stop being dicks, and to top it all off the show later abandons this relationship altogether right at the end. For an anime-exclusive ending, they sure didn’t make the most of it.

artemis

What was your favorite show of the season?

Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju

It’s difficult to know where to begin with Rakugo Shinjuu, primarily because it’s the kind of series that almost seems to defy description. That is, while I can give a basic synopsis, what I can’t do is sum up in one brief paragraph exactly why it works so well as a story and what makes it such an intensely compelling watch; it’s just one of those titles where you either need to watch it first-hand or else remain forever in the dark about what an amazing piece of work you’re missing out on. I suppose the same could be said for just about any great story, but it’s doubly true for Rakugo Shinjuu, and this second season is the best continuation/conclusion that anyone could have hoped for (and more). It’s tightly-woven, it’s amazingly subtle, and it has enough emotional clout that I was rooted to the chair for every second of every week. Without any exaggeration, I can confidently say that this anime should – and likely will – go down as one of the very best historical dramas of all time.

Honorable Mentions: March Comes in like a Lion lost only very narrowly to Rakugo Shinjuu for me in terms of sheer enjoyment. Great music, great artwork, and great storytelling, with some very empathetic (and entirely loveable) characters and a highly compelling emotional journey at its core. I also quite happily watched Scum’s Wish and ACCA each week, even if they did seem to vary in overall quality a lot more.

Which show let you down the most?

Nothing

I don’t think I watched any anime I truly disliked for more than a couple of episodes, and since my expectations for this season were especially low anyway, I can’t really say I had any major disappointments. Having said that, Spiritpact was quite literally the worst anime I saw in a very long time – so much so that I couldn’t even bring myself to complete the premiere – so I figure it deserves a special mention.

Dishonorable Mentions: Onihei. It’s not a bad show, but at best it’s an average one. Given that amazing OP, the reasonably good response I had to the first episode, and the potential it had to stand out from the crowd this season, it’s a shame that very few of the subsequent episodes ever ranked above a ‘decent’ for me.

And that’s a wrap on this season’s wrap up! With lots of love for Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju and ClassicaLoid, our picks couldn’t be any further apart if they tried – even in terms of viewer appreciation, Rakugo Shinjuu topped ANN’s popularity poll twelve weeks in a row, while ClassicaLoid managed to best only the risible Hand Shakers. People legitimately ranked it lower than that fucking Masamune-kun’s Revenge show. Geez, do people have terrible taste in anime comedy or what?

Then again, looking at the ranking did make me appreciate how few legitimately bad shows there appeared to be this season. One blatant attempt at commercial suicide per season is rare enough, but this season had such a considerable haul of shows that got people talking – from the connoisseurs’ collective appreciation for March Comes in like a Lion to the utterly baffling anomaly that is the Kemono Friends fandom – I’m confident enough to say there must have been something worthwhile in there for anyone. Who’d have guessed, anime may actually turn out to be all right after all–

FUCK.

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9 thoughts on “The Wrap-Up: Winter 2017

  1. As someone who has tried to get into ClassicaLoid more than once, I can promise you it just comes down to comical preferences. Kinda like that old show Tom & Jerry. I HATED that show growing up. I found it obnoxious at best. But I have friends that love it and really do find it funny. It’s just the difference in how we perceive humor.
    I’ve forced myself to watch up to episode 9 or so of ClassicaLoid and to me it’s the comedy equivalent of sticking asparagus in your teeth and pretending you’re a walrus. It’s slapstick/silly humor based. And some people will really love that. Clearly. But others, like me, will find it boring and a bit obnoxious. It’s why I hate giving out comedy recommendations to people or receiving them. Comedy is so individualistic.

    As far as this season in general goes… well, it wasn’t as horrid as I feared, but it was still preeetty slow. I have nothing I’d recommend besides March Comes In Like a Lion, but even then it’s the kind of show not everyone can get into due to the slow nature alone. Well crafted stuff, but definitely not everyone’s cup of tea.
    To be fair to this season though, it IS rare for me to find a good, well rounded show I can easily recommend. So, yeah. This season wasn’t hell’s gateway, but it was definitely… sleepy, I guess. At least for me.

    • I thought March Comes in Like a Lion was the best show this season but then I caught up with Rakugo and that is just one of the best things I’ve watched ever. I’d recommend checking that out if you haven’t.

      • Yeah, I’ve seen that one get some super rave reviews across the board. I watched two episodes back during the first season’s air and couldn’t get into it. I DO think it’s wonderfully done, from what I’ve seen though. I should probably give it another go when I have an opening. Usually after the wrap up of one season, while the next is still early on, I have space to watch already complete/older shows.

        • Yeah my only issue with the entire show is that the first two episodes make it seem kind of boring, but then it ends up going in a completely different direction. A few of us also dropped it at first but picked up back up when I was intrigued by what I saw of season 2. It really is a masterpiece, I am trying to encourage as many people to watch it as I can.

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