The longer I keep up with seasonal anime, the more evident it becomes that most anime are vehicles of stealth marketing. You can watch anime-original projects full of SAKUGA like the above, but most shows are 350-minute long advertisements of a manga/novel/game/whatever. Why bother sticking to just anime for your weeb entertainment in today’s media mix environment?
These days, I usually go directly to the source material unless I really like the anime staff. There are very few anime that fall into this category this season, unfortunately. I would have liked to watch Little Witch Academia, but unfortunately there’s no legal streaming option outside of Japanese Netflix. And as much as I like Yasuhiro Takemoto and KyoAni shows in general, Maid Dragon Kobayashi isn’t my kind of thing.
But whatever, I’ve still been getting into some interesting stuff this season, so here are some vague impressions.
I watched the first episode of the anime for this. Turns out that it has nothing to do with the games, other than sharing the same premise. The animation for this one is pretty energetic, with lots of smears and loose movements for people who are into that sort of thing. The ED, which was storyboarded by the director Ikehata himself, was my favourite thing about this, and I especially liked all the superimposed layers combining “2D” animation and the “3D” reality of Akihabara.
Overall, I’d say that the aesthetic fits the tone of the story well, but Akiba’s Trip is still not a good anime and will be quickly forgotten. From what I’ve played of the second game, though, it’s pretty fun. I’m supposed to write an article about that for Crunchyroll, so look forward to that sometime this season! In the meantime, I’ve already written a bit about the history of Akihabara, so do give that a read.
The manga is pretty mediocre from what I’ve read of it (around 40 chapters). I think I’ve gotten too used to Kouji Seo’s shenanigans to get riled up about the plot. But it does still entertain me, mostly because I think the girls who aren’t named Fuuka are cute. I’m supporting the idol childhood friend because I’m a masochist, but Sara-senpai is the clear best girl.
However, it sure does suck that the MC eventually “mans up” and stops using twitter, thereby losing his sole relatable trait. Try as I might, I struggle to give the slightest fuck about the music plot.
Saga of Tanya the Evil (Youjo Senki)
The novel for this is really hard to read in Japanese. It’s full of philosophy and military jargon, to the extent that even Japanese readers have complained about its readability. The plot itself is… well… let’s just say that nothing fucking happens in the story. The anime is a significant improvement because it actually has explosions and Tanya interacting with people, and also there’s a cute girl whose name I have forgotten.
On the other hand, I do think that the anime portrayal has messed up Tanya’s character… The scenario that plays out in the first episode is very different from the novel, and I preferred the desperation Tanya showed in the original version of the story. She’s more pragmatic and self-serving than outright sadistic, I feel, but the way she values her own life far, far more than others marks her very clearly as a sociopath.
Hmm, I’ll do a more detailed writeup about this when I finish reading volume 1. If I ever do…
I marathoned all the available chapters of this a few weeks ago. Every character is such trash, it’s glorious. I especially like how this manga took the lesbian option seriously, even if the lesbian character herself freaked me out a bit, kinda. (It was still hot, though.)
What I like most about this manga is how emotionally complex the relationships are. The characters show sexual attraction even to people they’re not “in love” with, and they also desire physical intimacy even when it’s destructive for them. I never felt as if the author was judging these characters negatively for their actions, no matter how emotionally confused they were. While there’s no romanticised “one true love” in this series, the relationships still feel very genuine, and you get the impression that the characters care about each other. The manga is brutal, but not cynical.
Tales of Zestiria
Fun game. It’s basically like every Tales of game, but that’s okay, since I enjoy generic JRPGs. For some reason, I’ve yet to actually finish a single Tales of game, though… Maybe I’ll finish this one, because Sorey and Mikleo are so cute together. The yaoi shipping is motivating me to keep playing this. I really hate how the game is so laggy on my computer, though.
Also, this is a random thing to note, but I’ve been playing the game in English with Japanese audio, and the word they use in Japanese for “Shepherd” is doushi. This confused me, because it’s not the Japanese word for shepherd. I looked it up, and apparently doushi is written in kanji as 導師, which is Buddhist lingo. The definition according to Kotobank is 人を正道に導く者の通称, which translates to “A person who guides people down the right path”. So I guess “Shepherd” gets the gist of it. I can’t help but think it sounds rather lame, though.
Other plans for this season
I will read and review the Konosuba light novel when it comes out in English. Well, to be more precise, I will do a “Novel vs Anime” feature on Crunchyroll and piss everyone off by claiming that the animation in the anime version is Good, Actually. (It is, though!)
I’m also planning to read Blue Exorcist soon because I can’t for the life of me remember what happened in the first season of the anime anymore, even though I remember liking it at the time.
Has anything caught your eye this season? Let me know in the comments!
I’m still waiting to check out some of the premiéres as I’m on a business trip right now but the one thing that surprised me the most was Interviews with Monster Girls, I guess. I found it very cute and endearing and the idea of exploring the daily life implications of being a watered down mutant version of a mythological monster is interesting. The characters look cute and fun too.
Besides that, well, Rakugo S2 started strong but that’s just its thing, no surprises there.
Onihei and ACCA were both alright? The former is wildly different to anything else airing this season at least (and also has a hella stylish OP), and ACCA is just plain stylish in general even if the writing seems like it could be a bit flimsy. Also, second season of Rakugo Shinjuu, need I say more?
Interesting stuff this season. If you do get back into Blue Exorcist – you can watch the anime to episode 17 or read manga to chapter 15. Chapters 16-34 of Blue Exorcist cover the current Impure King/Kyoto Saga story arc that’s in the current series. Also, post-ep 17 in the anime is an anime-exclusive series ending that the new series appears to be ignoring so far to bring it back to the manga story.
Interview with Monster Girls looks potentially good to me, and I liked Gabriel Dropout for trash characters & the comical behaviour flip between angels & demons.
I thought that dragon show was okay until the human chick got drunk and randomly stripped the dragon chick, was a real WTF moment. Still giving it till the 3rd ep tho.
That Hand Shakers thing looks awful to me, still shots can look pretty but any movement seems weird as hell. Not referring to the aeroplane jelly boobs as weird as they are, I mean during the combat sequences the characters and everything moving around them seem like totally different teams worked on it and never consulted each other.
This is solely my opinion knowing the different stances everyone has on dubs, but I thought Akiba’s Trip dub did a pretty good job and made it more enjoyable despite the shows shortcomings. Although this is mostly because I absolutely love over the top acting, especially to the most insignificant of things. Ex “Bow to the power of the MUFFIN!! For whoever controls the muffin controls the ENTIRE WORLD!!!!” (Comic Party) That was my attempt at overreacting with writing:)
Anyways I just personally liked the dub acting even if people say its shit. PS I hated Fuuka. It shouldn’t exist. Also my opinion:D
I really like the point you made about preferring source material, because I’ve been starting to move in that direction as well. Unfortunately, I don’t know Japanese (yet–one of my New Years’ resolutions is to start learning!), so I am somewhat limited in those cases where the source material isn’t legally available in English, but with the rise of English LN/VN localizations recently this is becoming less and less of a problem for the most part.
Though, if I’m completely honest, I *say* I’m starting to prefer the original source material, but in practice that usually means I buy the manga/LN (if available) in addition to the anime.
Which brings up a question–as someone who tends to prefer the source material, are there any series that stand out in your mind where the anime adaptation actually ended up being better than the source material?
Yeah, there are plenty of cases where the anime adaptation is better than the source material. I recently wrote about No Game No Life on Crunchyroll, which fits this category to a T: http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-feature/2016/11/28/feature-novel-vs-anime-no-game-no-life
What usually happens with TV anime is that there are moments where the animation really elevates the source material with the execution, but thanks to the constraints of TV animation, these moments don’t happen that often. For example, the Sasuke vs Naruto fight in the Naruto anime is transcendent, and there are other brilliant moments of animation throughout, but overall the anime is a rather uninspired adaptation of the manga.
I have great respect for animators and the tough decisions that go into making adaptations, so if I had all the time in the world, I’d be watching everything to compare. But these days I usually go with the source material to get the full version of the story instead of watching the anime first.
Are you going to check out the live-action of Scum’s Wish, as well?
If it’s streamed on Crunchyroll, I most likely will. Otherwise, no.
As far as this season goes, I’m not going to see too much, but Rakugo Season 2 is the clear best for me
Demi-chan/Interviews with Monster Girls is thoughtful and super-adorable (can say that the manga maintains that atmosphere, and is also surprisingly unsleazy).
You say lesbian, i say must read to Scum’s Wish, and must watch, cause yes I’m here for all this!
Sports anime. Always sports 👀👀👀
カエル君、お久しぶり！ Looks like you’ve been doing well! With the start of the new season I thought I’d pop by.
AkibaStrip is definitely going to be that thing that’s fun for a while and then easily forgettable. DEEN is still saving anime with KonoSuba (and pennies. They’re ramping up that DEEN quality™).
DEEN knows they can get away with it too – they’re banking on their viewers being too busy laughing to notice.
I’m in the middle of translating an interview with the character designer of Konosuba which says that the derpy faces were a deliberate design choice and not a cost-saving measure
The ‘stealth marketing’ you mention in your opening paragraph has never been more true regarding the Chain Chronicle anime. I thought the 1st 2 eps had pretty good animation sequences, but the anime plot assumes you’ve played Part 1 of the source mobile game and know its story, characters and factions. So it jumps right into an anime-original story, together with a new MC who looks and fights like he came from Assassin’s Creed Jr.
I saw some of HandShakers – clearly GoHands’ artistic ambitions have exceeded the technology they presently have.
If you want to catch up with Blue Exorcist S1, the general recommendation’s to watch the 1st 17 eps, then start with S2.
Someone summed up Seo Kouji’s work as “teen romance stories for guys”. Would you say the same?
by claiming that the animation in the anime version is Good, Actually. (It is, though!)
^ That. I actually agree. I really like the art or animation or whatever. I mean, it really fits the theme of the whole thing. Oh and Happy (late) New Year ribbit.
I don’t know about you but I personally think Tales of Zestiria has actually a bit of an unique premise compared to other, more typical JRPG story. Now with Tales of Berseria, that may actually change since people have been claiming that Berseria is a Tales game with an actual good story. But even without that, I think Tales games have always been enjoyable not because of the (typical) stories but because of the atmosphere. Atmosphere has always been important in JRPGs and Tales nailed that traditional, medieval, fantasy atmospheres of classic RPGs to perfection.
Also Edna Best Girl. I admit Sorey x Mikleo is a good ship though.
I have a small suggestion to make on how to improve the appearance of this blog. Change the “blog at wordpress.com/create a free website” to a tiny wordpress “w” logo for free. Go to “Customize” then go to “site identity” and then select the dropdown menu under “Footer Credits” and then select “wordpress.com logo” and then hit “save and publish.” The footer should then look like on this blog
[…] or Japan, the actual best anime this season in my humble opinion was Akiba’s Trip. I know I hated on it before, but it grew on me a lot. The anime is worth watching for the Yu-Gi-Oh! parody episode alone […]
You know, I was really annoyed that out of all the Tales games they’re going to do a new series on, it was Zestiria. Seriously… we can’t do Graces F with its themes of how youthful ideals do not correlate with adult responsibility? Or Xillia’s fascinating character dynamics and… probably the best heroine Tales ever had? (sigh). Since you mention being a Tales player, your thoughts?
I once read one chapter of Youjo Senki due to someone’s suggestion. My verdict was that the author uses more military babble than ACTUAL German generals’ memoirs.
I’m not much of a Tales of player, since I’ve not even played one game to completion…
I’m almost near the end of Zestiria though… and I actually kind of like its take on morality. You’re supposedly a goody two shoes hero but you have to do not-so-heroic things from time to time. And you can’t save everyone. The game even argues that mercy kills are necessary. The plot itself isn’t that well-written and never really comes together, but the core themes at least are interesting. An anime could have trimmed the fat of the story and made it interesting, but unfortunately, I heard the anime was a bit of a trainwreck too…
Also, from what I recall, two episodes of the Zestiria anime adaptation was just a straight-up adaptation of Berseria, which is set in the same universe but in a different era. I personally think a Berseria adaptation would have been better since it’s a more recent and well-regarded game. That reminds me, have you played Berseria? It has a strong heroine too, from what I’ve seen.
As for Youjo Senki, I remember thinking, “Hmm, I wonder what Aorii would think of this,” since it has similarities to Hyperion with the whole isekai + military setup. In the end, I couldn’t get far into the novel either before quitting. Military babble is one thing but at least make something happen…
“You’re supposedly a goody two shoes hero but you have to do not-so-heroic things from time to time. And you can’t save everyone.”
Well, it is Tales’ spin on Arthurian legends, so that theme is necessary. The only diff is that as a game, the protag viewpoint must ultimately succeed. Sorey is very much Galahad out to find the Holy Grail… he’s such an innocent person that it’s, kinda boring to watch ^^’
(whatever else, Sin is Interesting)
I’ve watched Berseria (I watch games more than I play them these days to save time). And while I applaud the central theme of spinning the traditional good/evil axis on its feet, it’s… poorly executed, especially the ending where Artorius turns out to be this complete-and-total-zealot instead of just someone using evil to achieve good. Can’t say I liked Velvet very much though; she’s strong but she lacks true strength — determination ablaze but unable to rein her impulses (since she’s the embodiment of emotion to contrast Artorius’ embodiment of logic).
This is a strong contrast to Xillia’s Milla, who seems almost machine-like in her goal-oriented focus but also proves idealistic and sentimental, just very driven and (most of the time) in total self-control.
Btw, a reason why I’d suggest finishing Xillia is that the main pairing has a strong Feminist message for the ‘moe’ culture. Jude begins his adventuring feeling like he ought to protect Milla since she knows nothing about the world… but he eventually learns that’s not him, nor does she have a need to rely on him (Milla is extremely independent, even when she’s vulnerable).
He’s there to support her, to act as a pillar, partner, and aide (especially when the matured him returns in Xillia2) and this — in an anime-media — is rather fascinating to see.
[…] really enjoyed this manga when I was binge-reading it (as evidenced by my post gushing about it here), but I felt kind of disconnected from the characters when I returned to the series a few months […]