Hi everyone! Despite deciding not to continue reviewing Joker Game, I did end up watching a fairly large number of series this season, so I figured I’d contribute my first ever Season Round-Up post to this blog. Make sure to check out Ariana’s Spring 2016 Round-Up as well, as we watched mostly different things.
Shows are presented roughly in the order from the one I liked most to the one I liked least (and man, this season’s “least” was a doozy).
Boku no Hero Academia
(Skins reviewed the first couple episodes on this blog – definitely give her more in-depth reviews a read!)
I went into this show expecting little more than “generic shonen/action series that will run forever and probably have way too many characters”. Possibly because of my low expectations, I found myself pleasantly surprised. While Boku no Hero Academia does tread some familiar ground – main character’s greatest strength is his utter inability to give up, and he treats his rivals with constant cheery friendliness – it also breathes fresh life into a pretty stale genre. Side characters get actual development, female characters are more than just love interests, and, difficult to watch but best of all, there are actual, physical, health-related consequences for the main character’s rash actions. I also liked that adult characters, including All Might and Deku’s mom, got focus and character development beyond just being generic mentors.
I liked this show so much that I ended up reading the entire manga, despite its length and ongoing status, and am eagerly awaiting the next season. Given that it’s years since I’ve cared this much about any long-running shonen series, I have to give Boku no Hero Academia major props and this many Dios:
Yes, a one-minute short is not only worth of being included in this post, it’s among my favorites of the season. I genuinely think this is my first time enjoying a show shorter than five minutes enough to regularly watch it. Despite its minimal runtime, Aggressive Retsuko delivered consistent humor, a small cast of genuinely memorable characters (I especially liked the buff yoga instructor and Retsuko’s obnoxious hippo coworker), and, probably the show’s greatest strength, relatable situations. I would guess that everyone who watched this short could find themselves relating to at least one of Retsuko’s problems, whether it was being unable to get the price tag off a vase or being bothered by coworkers while sick. And “spontaneous death metal karaoke” is pretty much the best solution possible for dealing with life’s problems – Retsuko is truly an inspiration to viewers everywhere.
For actually managing to make the most of its brief time, Aggressive Retsuko receives:
Space Patrol Luluco
(Ariana did a first impression of Luluco and also included it in her own Round-Up post. We had somewhat different opinions, so take a look to see what she thought!)
Disclaimer – I went into this show as a huge fan of Studio Trigger’s existing works, with Kill la Kill being my current #1 favorite anime. So I know my review will be biased.
Space Patrol Luluco, while a bit longer than Aggressive Retsuko, is another short that uses its time well. It’s eight minutes long, with both an OP and ED, and yet managed to create a wacky, interesting world and an amusing if not entirely original plot. While I agree with Ariana that the latter half of the show’s run was stronger, I did enjoy the somewhat slower first half, with the main reason for that being so many Trigger references. Compared by many to TYPE-MOON’s Carnival Phantasm, Luluco throws in tons of blatant callbacks to Trigger’s (and semi-predecessor Studio Gainax) earlier works, including entire-episode homages to Kill la Kill, Little Witch Academia, and even the obscure short SEX and VIOLENCE with MACHSPEED. I personally loved these episodes, but I could see how people unfamiliar with Trigger’s canon might find them dull or pointless or even be turned off the show.
However, references aside, Luluco had some fun characters and a really unique take on its central romance, so even without my Trigger-bias I feel it has earned this many Dios:
(I reviewed the first few episodes of Joker Game on this blog, so check it out if you want to learn a bit more about the show’s world and characters).
While I ended up dropping my Joker Game reviews due to the show’s complexity and the difficulty of writing coherent episode summaries, I did finish watching and quite enjoy the show. Joker Game was unusual for me in that I tend to prefer character-focused shows, often forgiving a weak premise or underdeveloped world if it’s populated by interesting characters. In this show, I found the characters to be fairly bland and forgettable, serving more as vessels for exploring the rich, complex world around them. The show handled a difficult time period (pre-WWII) with surprising forthrightness, showing wrong acts and corruption to be present all over the world, including in Japan itself. The use of things like design, lighting and music to contrast the different cities showcased in the various episodes was also quite impressive. Again, though, the show’s biggest flaw was its characters – it took nearly the entire run for me to be able to tell the spies (sans Lt. Colonel Yuuki) apart, and some of them got barely any development as their usually one-episode arcs focused on side characters or world-building instead.
Joker Game was not without its flaws, but it was a show with a unique concept that managed to be, in my opinion, primarily successful. As a result, it earns an above average Dio score:
(I did a First Impression review of Kiznaiver at the beginning of this season)
We’re now getting into the material from this season that I didn’t like so much. I had high hopes for Kiznaiver, being as earlier stated a huge fan of Studio Trigger, but I ended up coming away from this show pretty disappointed.
Both Kiznaiver and the show that comes last on this list share basically the same fundamental flaw: an interesting concept poorly executed and paired with unlikeable characters. I do feel that the idea of using shared pain to encourage different people to cooperate, while inherently at least a little pretentious, could have been done well. Kiznaiver, however, was slow, fairly faux-deep and “navel-gazey”, and, worst of all in my opinion, almost relentlessly negative. It was not without its upbeat moments, but the second half of the show especially just kept hammering “these characters have tragic pasts, and they’re all really sad now too” into the ground. The focus on the giant unrequited love tangle that affected nearly the entire cast was also eye-rollingly frustrating, especially because there’s so much more that can be done with the idea of “people who share pain” than making them all fall for one another. In my First Impression, I expressed cautious optimism that a show about shared pain might actually make an “emotionless, unfeeling” protagonist interesting, but I was unfortunately proven wrong. Katsuhira remained dull and insufferable throughout, as did the majority of the characters involved in the romance drama plot. It says something about the low quality of this show’s characters when the textbook example of a “possibly-queer, somewhat creepy masochist” was my favorite simply because he got to steer clear of the romance plotline.
A disappointing show can only receive so many Dios, so Kiznaiver gets:
Kuma Miko: Girl Meets Bear
(I did a First Impression review of Kuma Miko at the beginning of the season)
After a first episode that almost made me choose it to review, Kuma Miko is now easily in the running for Biggest Disappointment of 2016. The ‘humor’ became stale quickly, mostly relying on endless repetitions of the same joke: Natsu is a talking bear, but he somehow knows more about the outside world than Machi, who is hopelessly sheltered. While Machi had her frequent adorable moments, there was also an uncomfortable amount of fanservice for such a young (and young-looking, and young-acting) character. Dishonorable mention definitely goes to the sketch where a bunch of old village men tried to design a summer uniform for Machi, and she ended up wearing a series of skimpy dresses, to her own embarrassment and the men’s delight. The “romance” plot introduced later in the show, between Machi’s cousin Yoshio and a generic tsundere named Hibiki, was also extremely annoying as it mostly consisted of the two characters yelling at each other. It’s 2016, anime creators. People yelling at each other does not constitute humor.
Also, I don’t want to spoil it in case this negative review still makes anyone want to watch the show, but the ending was downright terrible, pointless, and disappointing to me – had it ended the way I predicted, it might have redeemed the show and raised its score by a few Dios. Instead, it did the exact opposite, and this Biggest Disappointment contender receives a score of:
In a normal season, Kuma Miko’s yelling tsundere and sexualized middle schooler would have easily been at the bottom of my list. However, it is beaten out in sheer awfulness by:
(Moeronpan did a First Impression review of Mayoiga at the beginning of the season)
To be fair, I cannot judge Mayoiga negatively simply because it didn’t turn out the way I hoped. I (along with what seems like the rest of the Internet) went into the first episode expecting a creepy dwindling-cast mystery/horror show. I even saw people making bets about who would survive and who would be the first to go. So I can’t fault Mayoiga simply for not being what viewers expected.
What I CAN fault it for, however, is many other things: the overly large cast of underdeveloped yet still unlikeable characters, a forced romance between two characters with zero chemistry, “twists” that came out of nowhere for pure shock value, a hackneyed plot that has been done so much better before, and really, really terrible monster design.
I mean. Look at that. It’s a crab-tick thing with a boob on its back. Who looked at that and said “Ah. Yes. That is scary.”
OK, maybe I’m biased against the show again because the “face down your emotional trauma, which is represented as inhuman monsters who you have to accept as part of yourself” has been done so well in some of my favorite series, particularly Persona, but I do feel I can objectively state that the plot was handled pretty terribly. We only got the “tragic” backstories of about a quarter of the cast, and those that we did see didn’t tend to make the characters any more sympathetic (except MAAAYBE the bus driver). Also, the rules for what you need to do to accept your personal monster and what happens once you do were unclear to begin with and kept changing. And did I mention that the monsters look utterly ridiculous, with not a single one even approaching “scary”?
Oh, and what I said in the Kiznaiver section about how emotionless protagonists are overused? Well, replace “emotionless protagonist” with “yandere” and you have Mayoiga. It utterly mystifies me that some fans are praising the show solely because it had a “unique” male yandere who was creepily obsessed with the main (also male) character and wanted to control him. On the subject of further terrible characters, shouting “EXECUTION” every five seconds and doing just about nothing else does not a well-developed villain make. Not to mention the guy whose face we never saw for the first several episodes after his introduction, only to find out….he had a completely generic face. Really, I could go on and on and find something to complain about regarding pretty much every member of the cast but, given that Mayoiga had something like thirty main characters who were impossible to keep track of even by the finale, I won’t do that.
Instead, let’s look at another utterly terrible monster:
In conclusion, Mayoiga was one of the biggest wastes of time I have ever stuck with for an entire twelve episodes. And given that it’s an original anime rather than an adaptation, I was left asking the question “why did that need to exist in the first place”. It’s probably one of the most pointless things I’ve ever watched. So, for the show that initially held some of the most promise of this season’s offerings and yet ended up its worst stinker, a score of….
ZERO. Zero Dios. Not a single one.