Winter 2017 Roundup (Part 2)

So here is my continuation post to the previous part of Winter 2017 round-up.

Scum’s Wish

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Scum’s Wish’s first episode stirred a storm in the anime community with its focus on teenagers having casual sexual relations and their psychology on that matter. People started comparing it to Aku no Hana for the characters dark psychology and literary dialogue. Even I thought that things were going down after watching the first episode.

But, in the end, I was kind of disappointed. Hanabi had poetic things to say at the end of every episode which set up some emotional groundwork for the ongoing drama- but they just felt shallow and emotionally disconnecting to me. In the first episode, the show tried stand out from all the other high school romance shows and it did; but that effect petered out in later episodes. The anime didn’t remain bold with its concepts anymore and the script sounded pretentious. So, I wouldn’t put this show on a pedestal and tell people it is deep psychological romance because it isn’t written in a way that emotionally resonated with me.

But the show does have a fair amount of positives. The visuals are impressive and innovative to an extent: the manga panels was clever directing and an interesting way to cut to different character expressions at the same time. The art is pretty interesting too: it has sharp lining, a warm water color-like color design which is contrasted by harsh lighting- which suits the show’s setting. The consistent structure of the narrative (save the last episode) throughout the season- where each episode had either a thematic or character focus- complemented the production of the anime. Undoubtedly, Scum’s Wish is one of the best looking anime from this season. I also have to give this show brownie points for doing a good job in not making the sexual activity not pornographic and titillating.

I liked the character writing, especially Akane. Besides, being the sexiest sensei from Winter 2017, her character development was fleshed out really well. She is one of the best written female characters from this season for me- because she had a really well scripted character revelation and her character transformation is really well laid out. I also have to give this show brownie points for doing a good job in making her voice (when she is going down) stand out as being titillating and suggestive. I think the other characters are fairly well written, too: like Mugi and Ecchan.

I also loved the ending: the color splashes and the animated illustrations were nicely put together and Sayuri was on top of her singing style in this song.

Yeah, Scum’s Wish was an interesting anime from this season. Rating: 6/10.

Little Witch Academia

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This show has been pretty consistent with its narrative and thematic structure throughout the season- and it was enjoyable to watch Akko with her trio going on mini-adventures.

Akko is one of my favorite characters from Winter 2017. She makes the cliches stand out as passionate resolutions to her dream. But the anime doesn’t just focus on Akko and her problems- they contextualize Akko’s problem to ongoing narration- so the anime doesn’t seem to repeat itself.

Trigger has been consistent with its expressive animation throughout the season. But the visuals could have been a bit more polished with a more vibrant color design and lighting- then again, it isn’t a major complaint from me. The sound design is also consistently packed and the opening and ending are pretty good: the opening sequence is upbeat with matching animation and the opening color splashes in the ending are soothing to look at the end of each episode and the beautifully lined illustrations are worth screen capping the hell out of.

It is nice to have an anime so inspired by passion alone that it doesn’t try to be subverted in its themes, especially in these times where most anime is trying to stand out with their meta or subversive plot mechanisms. Rating: 8/10.

Gintama.

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Despite my defensive approach to this anime episode by episode through my Anilog: this wasn’t a good season of Gintama. Firstly, this is the shortest season from the anime; the comedy wasn’t as packed as the last seasons, and even though this arc being more plot driven, the pacing went off the rails in the last couple of episodes.

I have serious gripes about the production aspects of this season- even though the character art was up to standard the background art lacked detail and the lighting made shots lack vibrancy in the fights. Speaking of fights, the animation and the cinematography concerning them seemed lazily put together. Basically, this season was deprived of good visual direction.

But Gintama did have good moments of comedy despite its scarcity- Gintoki’s voice actor still sounds funny with his meta, Kagura’s voice actress still sounds adorable with her ‘aru’ suffixes but Shinpachi didn’t shine that much as a straight man. The flashback sub-arc had good pacing and narrative style. Rating: 8/10. No, I can’t lower the score because I am an apologist for this anime.

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department

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ACCA is definitely a show with style and personality. The narration is pretty subversive in nature and it complements its genre caveats. Speaking of genres, this anime has been difficult to place comfortably under a genre. On looking at the plot- police drama fits the bill- but there is always that deviation from the usual elements in police drama like the expected tight pacing, a heavy script: which ACCA doesn’t really have. But I can’t complain, Mauve is a great character and she deserves the turn of events to be in her favor.

This show has my favorite soundtrack from this season. The music is upbeat and adds rhythm to the otherwise loose pacing of the show’s visual flow. The opening song is the best from the season (tying with Megumi Hayashibara’s Rakugo OP): One III Notes sound like a group worth checking out. The ending has soothing tone and animation, similar to Little Witch Academia’s ending.

I have a mixed bag of opinions on the art and animation. The art looks pretty pastelly and warm despite the show having the skeleton of a police drama- and it contributes to the stylistic nature of this show. I also think that the color design is noticeably pleasant which is pretty evident by the alluring food featured and expressive character designs in this show. The background art isn’t often detailed and makes the shot lack cinematic feature and depth of perspective on a very noticeable level. The animation was also pretty sub-standard throughout- then again, action is a rarity in this show.

Overall, this show had me engaged in the simple but well structured plot. It made bread weirdly more appetizing for me. Rating: 7/10.

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

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This is probably my favorite iyashikei from this season. The art is bright and poppy without being overly fluorescent and the line work is quite impressive. The color design and lighting is very flavored and vibrant (it may be one of the best of the season). The character designs all look adorable, even Kobayashi’s bland wardrobe doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb in the midst of the neon dragon girls. The sound design is pretty noticeable and the episode title cards have meta.

I also liked the character chemistry between Kobayashi and Tooru- both of them are trying to do the best they can to live with each other and understand each other and almost every episode seemed to have this moment where they just seem to get on a common ground: it is just a heart-warming scene. Kanna is undoubtedly a contender for most ‘moe’ character of the year and I am glad that the show actually tried to add depth to her character beyond being Tohru’s companion. Overall, I am satisfied with the show’s attempts at character writing despite it being a short sweet SoL show.

I think that’s all I had to say in short for this anime. If you like SoL, this show is worth checking out. Rating: 7/10.

Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju

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One of most compelling drama I have watched has ended this season. The way the writing in this anime doesn’t feel artificial at all is an amazing feat by itself. The poetic portrayal of characters through rakugo is nothing short of masterful storytelling.

In terms of production aspects, the show didn’t take any leaps forward or backwards. The show isn’t generally saturated with innovative visual design or presentation but does a solid job at integrating visual representation onto the characters’ dialogue. I don’t think I made a clear point there, but basically I am saying that the visual flow is very much driven by the drama and character writing. Now that I think about it, this season had more noticeable attempts at cinematic directing with camera blurs and different types of shot composition- especially during the last two Yakumo performances and Konatsu’s Jugemu performance- which became my favorite moments from this season.

I loved the opening theme song by Megumi Hayashibara, and the animation sequence is more packed in contrast to the cinematic filter-heavy sequence from the last season. But I can’t choose one over the other.

This season has been as great as the first season was. If you haven’t watched this anime, yet: I highly recommend you do. I really enjoyed writing the episodic mini-reviews that I have been doing throughout the season and I have to agree this is a great show to gush on and on. I wish I could do that, but I will save it for the long-form review. Rating: 10/10.

That’s all from the Winter season. Thank you for reading.

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