Anime Autumn Season 2016 – Final Thoughts
I know I said I wasn’t going to do one this time, but then I remembered I like to keep a record of what I’ve actually watched and not, and I don’t feel like signing up to one of those list sites like MAL. MAL’s userbase has shit taste in anime anyway.
Not a lot changed in the lineup I said I was going to watch in my early impressions, but there was enough that I feel an update is warranted, so I’ll just give some final impressions as usual.
Before we get started fully, before anything else, I will offer a plea to please check out Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume aka Scorching Ping Pong Girls. If I had to pick one show I would want you to watch from this year, it’s this one. No spoilers, it’s shot right to top of my list of favourite anime ever. So please, at least give it a chance. First three episodes.
With that said, let’s get going.
Show By Rock!! #
Aka Show By Rock!! 2
It hurt a little to drop this one, but I really wasn’t feeling it. It was focusing too much on things I didn’t care about, and far too little on things I did. I got to episode 5.
I hope it filled other people’s expectations better than it did mine.
Shuumatsu no Izetta
Izetta, The Last Witch
It didn’t take too long before the unnecessary fan-service reached a level where I didn’t feel like putting up with it any longer. I think it was episode 4? The one where the groping lady showed up.
I remember saying at the time that it seemed like it would be an interesting show if you were fine with that stuff, but from what I’ve been hearing from people who kept watching, that might not be necessarily true.
I’ve been told that apart the scenes (and one episode) that heavily feature Izetta and Finé being together, the rest of the show was rather meh, and even bad at times. I don’t know this first-hand, but if it’s true, that would be a great shame.
So after putting down Izetta and Show By Rock, I instead picked up Long Riders.
I’ve put it under ongoing, because even though it’s only scheduled for 12 episodes, it has missed so many weeks that it’s only at episode 10 yet.
It’s a curious one, and I love it for it. It’s so positive. So reinforcing. It’s all about Ami gradually getting into cycling, reaching her goals, and setting even higher goals to work towards. It’s hard for her, but she finds it really rewarding, and in spite of setbacks she keeps going at it, and gets there eventually with a lot of support from her friends and cycling buddies.
There’s no major drama or negativity, and no tsunderes. Just positive vibes grounded in reality, with lots of genuinely helpful advice, both on exercising in general, and related to cycling specifically.
I am also quite surprised that even though they established Ami as a klutz at the start, she never once falls off of a bike. I fully expected that to become a running gag, but no. The show seems to resist anything that would be considered mean-spirited, and disregards a lot of anime tropes in order to do things its own way. Not all tropes, but a lot of what I expected isn’t there.
Very positively surprised, and probably the second-most wholesome show of this season. Also nice that it has college-aged main characters rather high school ones for once.
Concluded at 13 episodes.
Talk about an interesting ride.
Flip Flappers is at times a mess in terms of plot and execution, but you’d be forgiven for not noticing at the time. It has a LOT of heart, and it sticks enthusiastically to its themes of love, identity, and finding your way in life.
Cocona and Papika grow a lot during the show, both personally, and closer together. I was a little… unimpressed in the middle… I felt like I wasn’t seeing what others were, based on their reactions. But I’ll give credit where credit is due: It came back really strongly for me towards the end, and the final episodes really blew me away.
It’s not like I thought the middle episodes were bad, I just felt like it was sort of losing steam, and I couldn’t really spot the same brilliance I saw others talk about. However, I have a feeling that I might feel differently if I rewatched it. It seems like that kind of show, where it just gets better after watching it several times. I am willing to bet there’s a lot to discover and unpack that you might miss on your first time through.
Definitely one of the highest points this season.
Hibike! Euphonium 2
Aka Sound! Euphonium 2
Concluded at 13 episodes.
Oh. Ooohhh. I have thoughts. I have a lot of thoughts, and many of them not that positive. I am not sure how much to lay out here, and how much to save for the end-of-year post. Because this is going on there, and not as one of my favourites.
I will go freely into spoilers, so if you don’t want that, you should skip to the next entry.
S2 of Hibike Euphonium was a supremely frustrating experience for me. The worst kind. It was two parts brilliant and beautiful, and one part utter infuriating frustration. That latter part overshadowed the other two most of the time for me. When you have three supporting pillars, having one of them crumble can cause the whole construction to crash down.
I am feeling a little more lenient towards it after the ending was actually done quite well, and learning more about the novels led me to develop a different hypothesis on why the production turned out as it did.
Yet it really is the worst kind of bad! Because when it’s good, it’s really, really good. Genuinely great. But when it’s bad, it’s absolutely awful, and it feels like it’s dragging everything else down. Having something so close to greatness fall short in such a way feels much worse than something that is just bad all around.
The final episodes of S1 is where this started for me. While I was largely happy with how it turned out, it had sewn the seeds of distrust for me. And that was the mindset I still had going into S2. I didn’t trust it. Until the final episode it didn’t manage to do anything to earn back my trust either.
It kept showing great chemistry and overt flirting between Kumiko and Reina, with supplementary material greatly boosting that feeling, but then it was really, really quick to remind us that “actually Reina definitely has a crush on Taki, and we’re not going to give up on that”, and it kept pointing out and referencing to Tsukamoto for Kumiko. The guy who turned into a complete non-entity as soon as he tried to ask Kumiko out in S1.
He didn’t really get any more character building in S2, so the thought that Kumiko would end up with him seemed far outside the realm of possibility in any sensible story, but this is anime, and I didn’t trust it. I’ve seen boys/men and girls/women pushed together in forced romances in lesser circumstances than this.
In the novels they end up together, I’ve been told. Though that is actually built up to there, instead of given the barest minimum lip-service as in the anime. Thankfully the anime rejects that ending.
I was rooting for Kumiko/Reina for the longest time, which is part of why my frustration was so great. S2 really sticks to its guns on Reina/Taki, making sure to (perhaps reluctantly) deepen and explain that crush, culminating in Reina openly confessing to Taki, though he interprets it as mere student-teacher devotion, and not as anything romantic. Again I’m going to say thankfully. My hope was that Reina would realise she had fallen for Kumiko instead, but no such luck.
I identify a lot with Kumiko. She is basically as close to an anime depiction of teenage me as I can imagine, and I wanted the best for her. Setting my frustration aside, I would say that S2 mostly treated her right. She reaches an understanding with her sister, she grows a lot emotionally, she gets a new love interest/crush, and she even confesses at the end. To Asuka. Of course with Asuka graduating, and Asuka being Asuka, it doesn’t really turn into anything more, but I’d like to think that maybe they get together again after Kumiko’s graduation… we’ll never know for sure.
That turned into a lot, and I still have more to say, which I’m going to save for the end-of-year post.
Kaijuu Girls: Ultra Kaijuu Gijinka Keikaku
Aka Kaiju Girls
Concluded at 12 episodes.
Pretty much just exactly what it says on the tin. Cute, little, sorta-slice-of-life show about girls who carry the souls of kaiju inside them, and use devices to transform into cute costumes that let them use their kaiju powers.
Entertaining fluff, that hints at a deeper narrative at the end, but seems content to leave it at that and instead round it off much as it had begun. I thought it was a nice touch.
Regalia – The Three Sacred Stars
Concluded at 13 episodes.
While it did not quite reach the heights the first few episodes promised, it still did well to keep me engaged until the very end.
It gave me a lot of stuff to think about, contemplate, and theory-craft between each episode, and almost every week I’d end up going on an extended speculation after it was done. It raised a lot of questions, and also answered most of them, I’d say.
The show had a great sense of feel. The mechs felt heavy. The stakes felt high. The music and sound design felt appropriate. The scale felt epic. It helped pull me in and let me believe.
I had perhaps hoped for a bit more of an epilogue, but I walked away satisfied from this show. Worth giving a look if you like mechs and gay girls.
Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume
Aka Scorching Ping Pong Girls
Concluded at 12 episodes.
I love this so much. So much. I’ve watched through it three times already. It’s so beautiful and exciting. I love the characters. So many good couples. Now it does make a small effort towards coating the terms of affection in sports metaphors, but it’s very clearly not subtle about it. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see what they’re getting at.
I realised while watching, and re-watching, this show that while it is about Koyori’s journey up through the world of table tennis, it is almost more about how Koyori affects the people she’s matched up against. The change she inspires in others feels like a bigger part of the show than her own accomplishments, if that makes sense.
That it’s less about Koyori herself, and more about how she impacts the lives of those she meets.
Not to mention just how damn exciting it is to watch. Every match is a joy, and some of them are especially electrifying. It talks a lot about making hearts beat faster, causing hearts to pound, and it wasn’t just for the characters. I could feel my own heart pounding rapidlyafter the more exciting matches, like in episode 3 and 10 especially.
I’m not going to claim it’s perfect, but its problems don’t bother me enough to impact my enjoyment of it.
It’s just… this is now my favourite anime of all time, and I will sing its praises for as long as I can. Please watch it. It really deserves the attention. If the first three episodes that make up the first arc don’t sell you on it, then it’s probably not for you. But please, give it a chance.
Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari
Aka Poco’s Udon World
The final entry on this list, and the undisputed most wholesome and beautiful show of the season.
First off: A correction. I said Poco was a girl in my early impressions. I was wrong. He’s a boy, which I believe they establish in episode 2. Apparently I wasn’t alone in getting that wrong.
The story of Poco and Souta is wonderful. It’s beautiful. Wholesome. Heart-warming. Too pure. It’s a story of love and family, regrets and life, memories and hopes for the future. The very essence of what I consider a healing anime to be.
Not sure what else to say. If you want something pure and wholesome, I doubt there’s anything better this year.
Plus the little shorts at the end about Gaogao and the Mario sisters are a delight in and of themselves.
Thus ends the final season of anime in 2016.
I do kinda feel like I should have watched more things. I tried watching more Stella no Mahou, but the subs were actually so bad I was turned off of it. I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to finish.
More importantly I probably should have picked Yuri on Ice back up. Everyone who was watching seemed absolutely ecstatic about it, and it seems to have done a lot of important things. Yet I seemed too hesitant to ever get around to it. Perhaps everyone talking about it made me more determined to stay away?
It also kept coming back to how I didn’t seem to see the same in episode 1 as so many others had. I am still of the opinion that it was just okay. There wasn’t anything big there to hook me, but it does seem like it got better later. I’ll see about getting around to it eventually.
Otherwise I can’t think of much. Girlish Number perhaps, though it might be too serious for me. Seems like I was right to leave Kiss Him, Not Me lying, though. Didn’t hear very good things.
So that’s enough for today. I have my end-of-year games and anime lists to do, but due to my PC going bork and fixing it taking most of the time between Yule Eve and New Year’s Eve, I won’t get either out before 2017. Such is life sometimes.
See you soon!