The Wrap-Up: Winter 2019

If 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.

So apparently we forgot to do a Wrap-up for the Fall season of 2018? You folks still care about this, right? Well at the very least based on our picks here we can say last season was better than than this one. Maybe it’s best we just reminisce about better times.

jel_700

What was your favorite show of the season?

Mob Psycho 100 II

WAIT, Jel, the comedy guy, is NOT picking the fantastic anime comedy with heart this season? I’ll admit my first was instinct was to choose Kaguya-sama: Love is War but the more I thought about it I’d say this is the best show of the season, possibly the year. Mob Psycho 100 is the anti-power fantasy we need in 2019. It’s kind and sympathetic without being naive or overly sentimental. Our main character learns and grows by loving the people around him. It serves as the perfect antidote to shows like this season’s Shield Hero. And it also has some of the most AMAZING animation and fight scenes we’ve seen since… well, ever. Anyone can and should watch this show and enjoy it.​

Honorable Mentions: Kaguya-sama is the exact kind of comedy with heart I love. The Promised Neverland pretty much lived up to the huge amount of hype around it. Shout out to Kakegurui XX for doubling down on that series’ brand insanity, and finally My Roommate is a Cat is a really nice, chill show if that’s what you’re looking for.​ Pretty good season.

Which show let you down the most?

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka

There were plenty of bad shows this season but I feel like this one was at least salvageable. The concept of magical girls transitioning to adult hood and serving as some kind of international black ops force could be used for the basis of a really cool action show. If it took itself slightly less seriously and had slightly better production values, it might have been watchable. Instead they went the violent, grim dark torture porn route with animation that is average at best.​ Hard pass on this one.

Dishonorable Mentions: I didn’t watch Price of Smiles but it sounds like that would have been my pick if I did. Other than that… not much else. The good shows were good and the bad shows were bad, nothing to be disappointed with.​

marlin_700

What was your favorite show of the season?

Kaguya-sama: Love is War

I still remember how we almost completely forgot about this show, airing last in a pretty busy first looks season, but from its description I knew I needed to be the one to give it a shot. I was rewarded well for my instincts with a delightful romcom that kept its quality high from episode one. While even generously the show was only about five characters, it knew how to make their interactions just different enough every episode to keep you laughing and guessing what new dumb scheme was coming next. It’s this combination of adorable, awkward, and side-splitting that combined into another classic Marlin/Jel comedy that we’ll look back fondly upon for a long time to come.

Honorable Mentions: We were spoiled with good shows this season, perhaps a portent of things to come. Mob Psycho 100 gave us the beautifully animated action we were missing, while The Promised Neverland wowed us with a cerebral suspense from the unlikely pages of Shounen Jump.

Which show let you down the most?

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind

This might primarily just be because Golden Wind’s 2nd OP is by far the most underwhelming in the series’s history, but it’s really more than that. I will give an example through anecdote: I am living in Italy now, and happened to find a Japanese goods shop with an amazing selection of manga. Looking around, I found there were volumes of Phantom Blood, Battle Tendency, Stardust Crusaders, Diamond is Unbreakable, Stone Ocean, Steel Ball Run, and Jojolion. Golden Wind was the only series not represented. In Italy. Where it was set. It’s just been an underwhelming ride with quirky but somewhat disappointing powers in our main characters. I think a big part that took away from the experience is how Giorno’s Golden Experience became so overpowered that Crazy Diamond is starting to seem tame in comparison. I’d be willing to go back and watch it just because of how lackluster the Spring Season is looking, but that’s not any better of a look.

Dishonorable Mentions: I wasn’t much into Dororo by the end of the season, but I think that’s more because I’ve lost the urge to watch monster of the week stories, and less of a reflection on it actually being bad.

iro_700

What was your favorite show of the season?

Thief Sentai Lupinranger VS Police Sentai Patranger

I haven’t been watching tokusatsu or Super Sentai as long as some of the rest of Glorio Crew, but I’ve got a fair few series both good and bad under my belt now. What I’ve come to understanding is that Sentai has been the same shit for almost 50 years now; thus, the quality of each individual show comes down to the details, the ways in which formula is twisted and bent while still remaining recognizable. I’m confident in saying that LuPat is among the best I’ve seen, and probably the first one I’ve seen that I felt had any actual ambition to the storytelling and fight choreography. It’s been a fun year of watching dudes in rubber suits.

Honorable Mentions: Bland directing drags down Dororo, but a killer OP and some essential Tezuka charm still make it through; The Promised Neverland is an excellent thriller and not at all the kind of stuff you expect out of Shonen Jump; Mob Psycho 100 brings animation and heart to spare; and The Magnificent Kotobuki focused so purely on its single gimmick that I cannot help but respect its efforts. Also a quick shout to the interim miniseries Super Sentai Strongest Battle for being a silly little celebration of what makes Sentai fun.

Which show let you down the most?

The Price of Smiles

There isn’t much to say here that hasn’t been said on the podcast, but to reiterate: The Price of Smiles started with an ambition that – if not necessarily a good sign in itself – at least created the possibility of an entertaining train wreck, a hilarious catastrophe. Instead, it squandered any potential it built over the first three episodes, taking the easy route whenever possible, and ended as something so boring, that I’d completely forgotten it existed until it came time to write for this post. It’s hard to view this show as anything but a total waste of my time.

Dishonorable Mentions: I dropped basically everything else that I didn’t like, and didn’t even watch a single episode of Shield Hero, but it bears repeating how repulsive that base premise is.

gee_700

What was your favorite show of the season?

Mob Psycho 100 II

Mob Psycho 100 II is the kind of show that comes once every few years. Somehow, it manages a balance between unparalleled visual spectacle and narrative sophistication that displays a depth that far outstrips its more famous sibling. Mob Psycho 100 II isn’t just impressive because of the efforts of the best animators Bones has to offer, but because it tells a sincere story about emotional maturity, learning to love yourself, and finding the power inside you to take a stand against bullies both big and small. If Mob Psycho 100’s first season was all about Mob struggling to be a normal boy with extraordinary powers, its second season is all about huge strides he’s made since his humble beginnings. That development has been one of the most emotionally fulfilling things I’ve watched in anime. And again, I don’t want to understate how good it looked. 90% of anime out there are lucky to have even one minute in their entire run that looks as good as Mob Psycho 100 II. In many ways, I would call it Bones’ greatest achievement to date.

Honorable Mentions: The Promised Neverland was a solid adaptation of the manga’s very strong opening act. The Magnificent Kotobuki isn’t a show I’d necessarily call great but it captivated us through its strangely compelling run. Dororo is a fun if predictable adventure largely carried on the back of its extremely charismatic titular character.

Which show let you down the most?

The Price of Smiles

The Price of Smiles is not the worst mecha anime I’ve ever watched. If nothing else, it didn’t offend my sensibilities to the point of inciting anger in me. That said, The Price of Smiles is without a doubt one of the most disappointing things I’ve watched in a while. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t because I had high hopes for it, but the way it carried itself in its absurdly lofty ambitions had me eagerly watching for it to either succeed or fail gloriously. The anime had the making of a great Sunrise original mecha hot mess the likes we haven’t seen since maybe Code Geass itself. When an anime kills off its ostensible protagonist in its second episode and then proceeds to force its actual protagonist to confront the material and human consequences of their naivety, you want to respect the hustle. When a story shoots so high in such a shaky manner, you just can’t help but gleefully await when and where it crashes. Instead, The Price of Smiles made the greatest mistake of all; it became boring. Bad and interesting is at least something worth joking about later. Bad and boring assures The Price of Smiles will be quickly forgotten, assuming you hadn’t already forgotten about the show as of this writing.

Dishonorable Mentions: Somehow, Dororo also ends up here because the show never really managed to live up to its amazing OP sequence. And with a heavy heart I must include Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind here as well. It’s just not doing it for me the way previous parts have.

chris

What was your favorite show of the season?

Captain Tsubasa (2018)

This show is a lot of fun. David Production didn’t have to do a lot in order to get it nice and modernised, but it’s commendable that they managed to use an art style that is both very much in-line with their other work, while also being faithful to the Tsubasa manga. While it doesn’t quite stand out as much as it once did, given how crowded super-powered sports shows are nowadays, there’s still something incredibly fascinating about it. We have anime like Inazuma Eleven out there that are doing something very similar, but Tsubasa manages to pull out tricks like launching teammates into the air with your feet, standing on the crossbar of the goal to defend against leaping aerial kicks, and having two people kick a ball at the same time, causing it to produce after-images. It does this, and at the same time manages to make it feel like a brand new show. It’s not new, of course, because Tsubasa is almost 40 years old at this point, but with some love from David Pro it easily felt like a new series. The JoJo chops came in handy too, when we got to the point where giant spirit animals were guiding struck footballs into goals. Don’t come to this expecting a hard-hitting story, but there’s a whole lot of fun to be had here.

Honorable Mentions: I really wanted to give My Roommate is a Cat the spotlight, but I had to talk about the JoJo football show. However, it really was a great show, and I really dug the way that each episode gave both Mikazuki and Haru time to shine. Also, the way it handles Haru’s point of view is very, very good. Kaguya-sama: Love is War was a fantastic comedy that I nearly skipped entirely. Everyone in that show is adorable and the Liar Game-esque strategy involved is truly hilarious. The Promised Neverland could easily have made my top spot in other seasons, and was probably the show I most looked forward to each week after Captain Tsubasa. It does have some pacing issues, but it still had be gripped and I honestly can’t wait for more of it. Mob Psycho 100 II was yet another incredible show, giving us a genuinely good story along with a masterclass in modern animation. Seriously, this is a TV anime pulling out shots that would put some movies to shame. Brief mentions to both JoJo and Dororo, which have been great but are still airing.

Which show let you down the most?

Dororo(‘s 2nd OP and ED)

Yes, I’m cheating on several fronts as this isn’t the show’s fault and the OP/ED change happened shortly after the season ended, but honestly, everything I was even remotely into from the start of the season turned out pretty darn good. However, Dororo has two terrific pieces of music for its first OP and ED that I couldn’t help but be bitterly disappointed by the choices for the second cour. Heck, I love Asian Kung-Fu Generation, but a song specifically made to be Dororo‘s OP2 really shouldn’t be so bland.

Dishonorable Mentions: Kamen Rider Zi-O is still a train wreck but I’m sure I’ll have more to say about that when it actually ends.

artemis

What was your favorite show of the season?

Dororo

Dororo is of course still ongoing, but despite having its ups and downs has remained a very solid, not to mention still surprisingly bloody series. While nothing has managed to match the emotional intensity of the earlier episodes, particularly the Mio arc, it continues to be well-written and sharply directed overall, and I honestly think it’s a bit under-appreciated in that regard. My complaints about the show are based largely on its technical aspects, which at times just don’t quite match up to the quality of the story itself – although much of the artwork is still undeniably stylish, the background artwork in particular has been suffering due to obvious budget constraints. However, this doesn’t do much to hinder my personal enjoyment of the series, so I’d really encourage people to try this out if they haven’t already.

Honorable Mentions: I enjoyed The Promised Neverland quite a bit, even if I thought it was a bit too slow in terms of story and pacing. I would have rather watched a two-cour series than two separated seasons, as I feel a bit cheated as far as emotional payoff is concerned, but it was a highly compelling watch nonetheless. Also, Run with the Wind was a really solid title and seemed almost criminally underwatched given its quality and consistency.

Which show let you down the most?

Sword Art Online: Alicization

This category would of course imply that I had at least mediocre expectations to begin with, and I’m not sure that’s true as far as my relationship with SAO is concerned. Even so, Alicization managed to wow me with its sheer unpleasantness. To be clear, this goes beyond wildly inconsistent pacing, awkward and stupidly long blocks of exposition, or even awful character stereotypes calculated to shamelessly pander to the lowest common denominator. Frankly, these aspects pale in comparison to the infamous attempted rape scene, which the creator ‘apologized’ for (and which is seen again in a flashback scene because I guess once just isn’t enough after all?); the amount of care put into this scene for all the wrong reasons is downright creepy, making it eerily reminiscent of the kind of ‘rape is hot’ pornography that’s so rampant in the Japanese porn industry. Surely, surely even a franchise like SAO can do better.

Dishonorable Mentions: I was thoroughly enjoying the flaming trash heap that is Kakegurui××, but the ending was honestly a bit of a letdown after all the buildup that led to it. I was definitely expecting more from the grand finale.

So there you have it, if you watch one thing from last season it should be… well I guess we haven’t come to much of consensus. Believe the hype on Mob Psycho 100, Kaguya-sama is fun, and Dororo is kind of alright. Enjoy your meme video ending. Aqua usually does these, I hope he’s proud of my choice.

5 thoughts on “The Wrap-Up: Winter 2019

    • I’m not normally into shonen battle shows like Mob Psycho 100, but it was very good if that is one you missed. Of course this was the second season, so it does require a 2 season commitment.

      • I think this makes us even for me picking MEGALOBOX over Hinamatsuri, I thought we were together on Kaguya-sama!

  1. Not at all surprised to see the comments on Price of Smiles… It made the bottom of a lot of people’s lists this past season. Which is a shame after coming so strong out of the gate.

    • The way the guys were talking about it I kind of wanted to watch it for the trainwreck factor, but it sounds like it didn’t even pull that off properly.

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