Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Year End Anime Report


Best Ending Theme of the Year


After reassessing my enjoyment of anime this year, I'm left with one overwhelming feeling. It can be summed up in one sentence.

Well, that was a letdown.

The anime industry can do better. After 2015 and 2016 were such steps up from the previous few years of mediocrity, 2017 sort of settled back into bad old habits. Where action and adventure returned from being shelved for fan pandering and the otaku crowd, this year didn't seem to know what to do with their recent turn.

Don't get me wrong, there were good series in 2017, but as a whole it just didn't stack up to previous years.

However, I'm going to start from the beginning of the year and catch you up on the highlights from every season. This will include some material I'm not into, so don't claim any series as an endorsement unless otherwise stated.



Winter

January was surprisingly strong for the first season of the year (most places it's the dumping ground for entertainment) including popular series like Konosuba (season 2), Little Witch Academia, Saga of Tanya the Evil, a new season of Blue Exorcist, and the phenom known as Kemono Friends. There is a little bit of everything like with Interviews with Monster Girls that tried something a bit different with the stale moe formula. Not the most original as a whole, but it was decent.

There were also leftovers from the previous year including March Comes in like a Lion, Iron Blood Orphans, Tiger Mask W, and Time Bokan 24. But those don't really count when discussing new shows. Still, they were something to watch.

The biggest problem is that most of those were sequels, and what I didn't list (such as Hand Shakers) is fairly lousy overall.

But let us move on.


Spring

This was the season that took Crunchyroll offline and destroyed many subscriptions as people were attempting to sign up. Why were they signing up? For Attack on Titan (season 2) and My Hero Academia (season 2) which were undoubtedly the biggest anime of the year. The later is, of course, one of my favorite series, and the former is huge worldwide. These were the biggest of 2017, without question.

Spring is usually the strongest season next to Fall, and this year was no different. AoT and MHA would be enough to carry any season, and they do so here.

But there were other shows that did well. Re:Creators, (most of) Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul, and Sakura Quest.

On the other hand, there's trash like Eromanga Sensei and the continuation of the Berserk anime reboot. But hey, you can't win them all.

Unfortunately, this was as good as the year got.


Summer

This one is going to be controversial. Summer was an absolute black-hole of quality. Unless you were still watching series from Spring, you weren't missing much. There were only two series that stood out, and neither one were very good.

And this is where I get hate mail.

Made in Abyss is a very divisive series, and I have to admit I don't fall on the fan side of this one, but the squik factor kept me away. Needless to say, it tarnishes a lot about this one. Look it up yourself if you want to know the controversy, but even that aside I'm just not interested. The Reflection was an interesting series that didn't quite stick the landing, but at least it's something different.

And that's it.

Unless you like moe, there's nothing else here. Nothing here is worth your time. It's an absolute tire fire.


Fall

Then we come to Fall, which is usually the strongest season this year. There were some sequels, and not every series was great, but there was enough to stand above the crowd.

Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond was the highlight. A sequel season of standalone action stories centering on each member of the cast was a great way to go and made the series feel even more out of time than what is put out now. Here's hoping for a season 3! Another surprising highlight was Garo: Vanishing Line, a hero vs villain show that feels like it fell out of 1998. These two shows were easily the best of the season.

Inuyashiki is from the creator of Gantz, but does not look to be anywhere near the dumpster fire that series became. Black Clover and Food Wars! (season 3) are Shonen Jump series which had fairly typical anime adaptions. March Comes in Like a Lion returned for the new season as did a bunch of other older series. This season had a lot of sequels, as did the year.

But it would be an average season in 2015 or 2016.


Best Opening Theme of the Year


Summary

As I said, not the strongest year. Summer especially felt like a backslide into the moe and generic mud pit that anime had been stuck in for years as if the last two years didn't happen. But the rest of the year felt like the studios were unsure of themselves, uncertain if they should commit to the bit. As it stands 2017 feels halfhearted more than bad.

That said, there are some show to recommend out of the muck. And if you actually like that stuff I hate, then this was probably a good anime year for you. So there's that.

As for me, these are the shows I recommend as a top 3: My Hero Academia, Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond, and Garo: Vanishing Line. Yes, they're all sequels, but there wasn't all that much great that was original.

2017 didn't deliver on original series, and what originality there was just wasn't that great.

But 2018 does show signs of improvement. With confirmed sequels like My Hero Academia coming, as well as sequels to Overlord, Seven Deadly Sins, Saiki K., Tokyo Ghoul, Fairy Tail, Steins;Gate, Full Metal Panic, Attack on Titan, and movie sequels to Peace Maker Kurogane showing that the demand for quality is definitely being met.

New anime include Golden Kamuy (which I expect pulp fans to be all over), Grancrest War (from the creator of Record of Lodoss War), Megalo Box, A.I.C.O. -Incarnation-, Gurazeni, Juushinki Pandora (by the creator of Macross and Escaflowne), a new Ultraman anime series, and the Junji Ito Horror Collection. All of which are more interesting than any other new series this year.

2018 is the 50th anniversary of Shonen Jump Magazine which is also going to be a big deal. Expect much in the way of new announcements as the year goes on.

So it actually does look like the studios were holding back this year. 2018 looks to be loaded.

There are also new anime of old manga like Devilman: Crybaby, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Hoshin Engi (Soul Hunter), Fist of the Blue Sky, Captain Tsubasa, and Banana Fish. Studios are realizing that there are plenty of classics ond overlooked gems that never got the adaption they deserved.

Oh, and there's two genuine anime movies I'm looking forward to in Mazinger Z: Infinity and the upcoming My Hero Academia summer film. It's been a long time since there's been one, let alone two, anime movies I care about seeing. Oh, and a new Space Battleship Yamato film is on the way. Almost forgot about that.

And this is only what we know about now in December.

Even from this distance, 2018 is going to absolutely bury 2017.

So the post isn't that much of a downer. 2018 looks like a return to form. I'm not sure what happened this year other than the fact that the studios and the industry were taken aback from the reaction to the last two years and had an off year. Because business is about to get back to normal again.

And that's a great thing.

Here's to a better 2018!

Eat your heart out, Shinji.



I also put out my own novel this year. If you like action stories that take place in abandoned alleys on distant planets then this is for you!

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