It’s that time of year again, and after the garbage fire that was 2017 I gotta be honest, it’s tough to muster up the wherewithal to complain about more stuff. Really, you should be spending your time with my friends’ posts, for they are all very cool and intelligent people who deserve heaps of praise and cash rewards. But I guess you’re here, and why else would you click on posts with my name attached to them – rare though they might be – other than to hear me whine and gripe? Enjoy the awards, and don’t forget to look forward to our highly scientific Top 10 in the coming days!
Best Show I Watched All At The Last Minute And At Great Expense
(The Yamato 2199)
I promised Jel, Artemis, and Marlin back in April or something that I’d watch this show before it was time to turn in our votes for the Top 10, and as of this writing it’s been less than a week since I finished Rakugo. Turns out it really is about as good as everyone is saying, and probably the best drama sans fantastical elements I’ve seen in the blog’s history. Granted, you need to be able to stomach a fair bit of people sitting around and saying the same rakugo over and over, but that’s no big deal for a person of your caliber, right?
Best Show from 2015 I (Re)Watched in 2017
At the tail end of 2015, I wrote:
Reconguista in G was the beautiful, wonderful sort of trainwreck, and the first Tomino-helmed Gundam since 1999’s Turn-A Gundam. It’s a bizarre and borderline-incomprehensible adventure, filled with great ideas and boasting a cast full of hilarious bumbling. I plan to rewatch the show from scratch soon, because I’m convinced it’ll actually make sense once I’m not trying to drunkenly puzzle together who’s who and what’s what. Perhaps Tomino truly was a genius all along.
In 2017, I’m here to tell you that these things are all still accurate; I just have a slightly better understanding now. The true brilliance of G-Reco‘s shonky storytelling (intentional or not) is that it creates a feeling of time and place unmatched by nearly everything else. Don’t understand what’s going on? That’s to be expected, since we don’t live there or then. We’re observers peeking through a pinprick in the wall, getting the merest glimpse of the Regild Century in all its goofy and surprisingly human glory.
Best ED Playing at the End of the Episode
Is this the actual ED playing? No, but Kevin Penkin’s soundtrack is one of the best in ages, and the understated tune that plays over the final montage is a real winner. It’s a bittersweet track that encapsulates the feeling of pressing on through the horrors of the Abyss, eventually making it out the other side of our struggles, over the crest of the hill. If you were going to end the show here, this was the way to do it.
Best Single Episode
I’ll keep skim on the spoilers here, but suffice to say this episode is the culmination of all the pain and suffering the characters in Rakugo experience, as well as the catharsis that comes after everything’s wrapped up with a bow. It’s rare we get a conclusion so expertly crafted.
Where Did That Come From?
(The Love Lab)
I was there for the first episode of Pokemon, and I watched the show for nearly a decade before dropping off. It was one of those things I’d occasionally read about or watch a clip from, mostly as a “that’s still going, huh” curiosity. When Sun & Moon began (technically in the tail end of 2016, but who’s counting?), I raised an eyebrow at the idea of Ash attending school and the art style shift, both drastic departures from the formula that’d been going strong for almost 20 years. But I have to conclude that it was the right decision, allowing for a larger main cast to play off each other and far more expressive, cartoony animation. There are “better” shows in 2017, but none brings the same childlike joy that Pokemon does on a weekly basis.
(The Amnesia Ghost)
I considered just writing down “The Matsuno Siblings”, but if you watched or read Made in Abyss, you knew this was a shoe-in. I obviously don’t want to spoil too much here, but to sum up: Bondrewd’s misdeeds might seem comically overboard in another show, but the deep (zing) setting and emotional groundwork laid by Abyss serve to make his amoral ways nothing less than utterly chilling.
Coolest Mom of 2017
The trend of cool-ass moms continues from last year, and while White Whistle Lyza the Sovereign of Annihilation from Abyss and Luke’s gunslinger mom from Vanishing Line were both solid runners, K.K. was the only real choice. Her excellent focus episode follows all the usual parentage tropes of a parent torn between work and kids, except said work is using high tech sniper drones to fight interdimensional beings. It lends an important element of humanity to Blood Blockade Battlefront, reminding us that the cast are also people and not just vampire-killing machines.
Biggest Gut Punch
At this point, is there anything to be said here that the entire internet hasn’t said already? You either already know what I’m talking about, or you need to go watch Made in Abyss.
(The Mondo Misao)
Zigg tells me that all the best acting in tokusatsu is overacting, but not a single one of us could keep a straight face anytime DARK Naga showed up onscreen. For those of you not watching Kyuranger (so, everyone reading this), Taiki Yamazaki plays Naga Ray, a totally-not-a-Vulcan snake-man whose race is a bunch of cold and emotionless weirdoes (and all played by the same actor in different wigs). Usually speaking in monotone, Naga is corrupted as a villain awakens his latent emotion, changing him into DARK Naga. He no longer morphs with a Kyu Globe, but uses a DARK Kyu Globe. The toys don’t shout “Galaxy!” when he uses his super move, but instead “DARK Galaxy!” Where once the actor struggled to keep a poker face, he was allowed to cut loose and make the most absurd expressions I’ve yet seen in Super Sentai. It was a short-lived arc, but the most memorable one across the show’s run.
I’m not even sure what happened here. Somebody got swindled for this show to be made, right? With Yoichi Fujita riding high on a bizarrely large budget, Classicaloid was a front runner for the year until its second season brought a different director and a massive drop in quality. But that first season hit some incredible highs with its comedy, the back half delivering great laughs almost every single week. Through all the dumbass sitcom antics and each butchering of a beloved classical composition, we kept looking at each other and asking, “Who greenlit this mess?” while howling with laughter all the way. Rap God Franz Schubert is forever.
It wouldn’t be an Iro post if it didn’t end with a bunch of griping, right? We love Rage of Bahamut: Genesis around here; it was the surprise hit of 2014 and we make FAVAROOOO jokes to this day. At least, we would, if Virgin Soul hadn’t poisoned the well so hard. You thought Classicaloid Season 2 was bad? That at least had the decency to start bad, instead of suckering us fpr a couple episodes like Virgin Soul. A scripting change from Season 1’s Ultraman alumnus to a contemporary drama screenwriter meant the show made a complete 180 from swashbuckling adventure to melodramatic romance starring Hot Fantasy Hitler. Our favorite characters got shoved to the side, the action became less and less prevalent, and all the fun was just leeched out of the long-awaited, near-mythical Season 2. Of the five years we’ve been doing The Glorio Blog, Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul is the biggest disappointment I’ve seen yet, for sure. I’m serious! Are these the eyes of a liar?