@Kuze's Review of Winter 2018
Disclaimer: Pssst I haven’t watched Yuru Camp or Sora yori mo Tooi Basho
Winter 2018 has been nothing short of a mini-emotional roller coaster. I’ll probably not remember it for being a spectacular season that boasted some of the most memorable shows, as has been the case with the last couple of winters, but one where I felt genuine excitement following each episode on a weekly basis. I ended up watching more anime than I planned to and even ventured beyond my preferred genres.
The first one to make the list is Kokkoku. With its never-done-before backdrop and the funkiest opening theme I’ve heard till date, the initial impression managed to exceed all my expectations. Starting off as an intriguing thriller, the proceedings did flicker for a bit before culminating in a simple yet beautiful finale. The show’s métier is easily its characters. The family members, around whom the story revolves, are a lovable lot and their misadventures vis-à-vis interactions with the forces of the “Stasis” (an alternate version of Earth where time stops for everyone but the users of a mystical stone) and the rogue religious group intent on misusing the powers of this queer world, really reeled me in. Kokkoku, being Geno Studio’s TV anime debut, has been a surprising treat.
Let’s not forget about the Netflix duo Devilman Crybaby and B: The Beginning. While the former accrued plaudits for its hyper-violent action and creative art style, the latter garnered a niche following for trying to be different from the norm. Where Devilman Crybaby excelled in portraying a fairly similar plot with a touch of refined direction and nuanced shades of popular pop-culture tropes and religious mythos, B: The Beginning challenged the accepted mould by combining multiple genres to weave an intricate web of mystery. Both shows were excellent in their own way and in every aspect. The OST was some of the best I’ve heard this season. Netflix is slowly and certainly building a noteworthy anime catalogue.
Moving on from the best of the bunch to a minor disappointment, Junji Ito Collection panned out pretty much how I expected it would. If it wasn’t evident from the promotional video itself, the first couple of episodes put any lingering doubts to absolute rest. This series is jarring to look at. Even though some of the stories adapted were fascinating as a concept, the animation really ruined the general enjoyment. Additionally, some of the stories selected seemed questionable when there were better alternatives to pick from in the THWOJI collection. But for all its cons, some of the adaptations like Lovesick Dead, Long Dreams, Oshikiri, House of the Marionettes and Gentle Goodbye proved to be its saving grace in my opinion (saving it from being absolute **** that is). I guess Ito’s works are best enjoyed on paper, as they should be.
Would it be cheating if I talked about Garo Vanishing Line a bit? This show has been fun to follow each week. It’s all about the rule of cool where the protagonist reigns supreme. The action sequences are exhilarating, especially when the music kicks in. These scenes utilize quick cuts and up close zoom-ins to give a messy yet thrilling feel to the action. The characters are endearing and you’ll be cheering them on in no time. Vanishing Line is quite aware of its limitations and therefore tries to make the best of it without overcomplicating or muddling things up. It keeps proceedings simple, cool and kicking. If you’re looking for a routine that involves deadly bike stunts, macho-smart men, diners that serve gorgeous steaks, women who can kick loads of butt and is a decent action-packed series in general , then Wow Wow Wow Wow...
Aaand, the final show that makes it to my Winter 2018 recap edition is Violet Evergarden. I went into this completely blind, if I’m being honest. My only other encounters with the works of Kyoto Animation are Hyōka and A Silent Voice and, incidentally, I fell in love with both. However, Violet Evergarden has been a mixed affair. Sure, with the gorgeous animation and exquisite soundtrack to boot, VE makes for a soothing watch, but it’s just that the overall plot doesn’t seem all that engaging. Yes, I cannot and will not deny the fact that I relish watching Violet overcoming her past “burns” and striving to live her life for another, to touch and improve the lives of those she happens to meet through her role as an Auto Memory Doll and in turn grow as a person herself. I enjoy all of the tear jerking moments and the complex emotions that the characters in this series experience. But despite its turbulent themes, the core idea of VE is fairly constricted. This show lives and dies by Violet and her journey. I wish it could offer something more.
Well, that’s me ranting about the now-ending Winter 2018 anime season.
@Kerberos' Review of Winter 2018
Despite some very disappointing early impressions winter 2018 ended up being a fairly decent season of anime after all. Not everything I was excited for in advance managed to live up to my expectations but quite a few did and there were some very nice surprises as well.
Like I said though, winter 2018 had a rough start. Record of Grancrest War proved to be less of a spiritual sequel to Record of Lodoss War and more of a quick cash grab without any of the originality and spirit that made Lodoss War such an enjoyable show. Both Lodoss and Grancrest War feel like a DnD campaign animated but in Grancrest’s case, it’s a campaign run by a DM who’s been doing this for far too long and is just going through the motions. With players who aren’t really all that interested in their characters and just want to kick some ass. Resulting in a series with plenty of gorgeous fight scenes…but not much else.
Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens started off extremely promising with one of the best first arcs I’ve seen in quite a while, brimming at the seams with style and class and making great use of onscreen violence to entertain its audience. (for more on that read my analysis piece here) But after those first four episodes the show just collapsed and by episode 7 had become a completely by the numbers seinen action series with a plot flying off the rails faster than you can say “adaptational issues”.
A really nice surprise for me though was After the Rain. A series I completely ignored for the first four weeks. But once I got around to it I found it an absolute delight with its well-crafted characters, clever dialogue, and genuinely heartfelt story.
The two big hype shows this season Darling in the Franxx and Violet Evergarden ended up being not so much bad but not my cup of tea and I ended up dropping both.
However what really saved winter 2018 for me can be summed up in a single word: Netflix. Much as I strongly dislike the service for its harsh region blocking and refusal to simulcast it’s undeniable that Netflix absolutely dominated this past season, releasing not one but three top-notch series. Starting with the solid Devilman Crybaby, following that up with the flawed yet highly compelling B – The Beginning and finishing off with the terrific A.I.C.O. – Incarnation which wins the title of “anime of the season” hands down as well as being the single best experience I’ve had watching anime in the last several years. There was also Sword Gai but let’s not talk about that while I’m still in a good mood.
That’s not to say that TV anime didn’t have some gems this past season either. Overlord returned with a vastly superior second season that turned an already solid fantasy adventure into one of the best fantasy anime that I’ve seen so far. And finally, Kokkoku ended up not really meeting my expectations but still turning out to be a very competently made dark fantasy series I happily tuned in for every week. Even though it did completely fizzle out in its final act.
Oh, and there was also Junji Ito Collection… *deep exasperated sigh*
Overall though winter 2018 was definitely a promising start to an already massively promising year. Here’s hoping the spring season will manage to equal if not top it.
@Sora Senpai's 2018 Winter Anime Awards! (Aka a review)
Well here we are ladies and gentlemen! Something new we will be doing here at Sakuga City is a recap and review on the previously aired season in anime. With my review I planned on giving the anime that I decided were my tops in the following categories:
Sora's favorite ending song.
Sora's favoring opening song.
Sora's most entertaining anime of the season. (Opinion)
Sora's favorite anime of the season.
Sora's Anime of the Seaon (Opinion).
The Winner of Sora's favorite ending song goes to!:
Congrats to KILLING BITES! I loved this ending song. It was a really good rock song that turned into a decent headbanger at certain parts. Add in the fact the the song and video really synced up well with the anime.
The Winner of Sora's favorite opening song goes to!:
This was a very difficult decision. There were a lot of great openings this season. I'd say there were 4 other openings that could have made a case for being my favorite opening. However Yuru Camp stood aboive and beyond these other songs. Sure it sounded like something from the Jackson 5, but hell the Jackson 5 have some catchy songs! It's funny how it doesn't fit the anime, and yet at the same time it does fit the anime. Since Yuru Camp is a pretty...Laid Back...anime I would have thought something with a more "go with the flow" feel would have commented it. However with Yuru Camp being as fun as it is, the opening ended up portraying the anime really well.
Sora's most entertaining anime of the season goes to!:
Wow Killing Bites makes it into Sora's review again! Okay well before I get the stink eye from people let me explain. You're watching Killing Bites for sheer entertainment only. Let me be clear, the story line is nonexistent, there's no hidden meaning to what Killing Bites is (Spoilers Alert: The One with the Sharper Fangs win), and there's no reason to get sentimental. This anime is made with two things in mind; Mindless Animal/Humanoid Fighting, and Fanservice...LOTS AND LOTS OF FANSERVICE. That's all this anime is. It does not appeal to the masses. If you want an anime with nonstop action, the most mind blowing moments, and some pretty awesome fighting I highly suggest watching Killing Bites. Side not: It's Educational as well. When each Animal is shown the shows gives an interesting fact about the animal.
Sora's Favorite Anime of the Season goes to!:
Holy Smokes Batman! It's a tie between; A Place Further then the Universe, and Yuru Camp!
I know I know. "Sora how can you have two favorite anime this season?" WELL I DO! SO SHUUUUT UP!!!
Okay but seriously these two anime were so good in their own way I loved...LOVED them both equally. A Place Further then the Universe had a great story to it, along with some awesome characters and some really sweet moments.
Yuru Camp on the other hand was super "Laid Back." However it's not just an anime about girls camping. These girls took an interest in something, did some research into it, such as pricing, places, and equipment, and worked to buy camping gear which eventually led to awesome camping moments. Oh and the girls in Yuru Camp are just as awesome!
Sora's Anime of the Season goes to!:
Alright I first need to say I am not doing this anime justice by posting this picture. However once you get to the point in the anime where you see this, you can appreciate it much more. What most people expected when watching Violet Evergarden they did not get. They got something better.
A young girl who was used as a weapon during war tries to adjust to post war life without the man who looked after her. She obtains a job as an Auto Memoir Doll, a group of young females given the job to write letters upon requests. Throughout the anime Violet tries to understand how "normal" react when it comes to different feelings such as anger, happiness, and love.
With Kyoto Animation being the studio behind Violet Evergarden I knew the animation was going to be top notch. I feel like they overdid themselves with Violet Evergarden though. It just seemed a lot more crisp then most KyoAni anime. Plus there was this rustic feel to it which gave it that post/pre war feel.
Light Novel readers will disagree with me since the last few episodes stray from the original work. However it is still a Masterpiece in my eyes.
See You Space Cowboys...