Bottom Two Anime of 2017, and All the Rest

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And good-bye to 2017.

Having covered my top shows for the year, it’s time to hit up the worsts and all the rest. Shows marked with an asterisk are ones I didn’t finish; for those shows I picked as the worst ones I watched this year, I saw at least three-quarters of it prior to dropping.

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2. Anonymous Noise

This could easily have been called “What the Actual Hell is Wrong with These Children?”. This was a show which eventually induced a sort of Stockholm Syndrome in me, as by the end I was sad to see its crappy self sail off into the sunset and was swearing up and down that I could’ve watched new episodes until the sun exploded. At their best, shoujo melodramas capture the intensity of adolescence; at their worst, they just seem terribly overblown. This fell into the latter, but did have the decency to avoid being boring – I laughed a lot. And it’s a little impressive to see a story have the gall to feature not one but TWO long-lost childhood friends. If I ever have to hear Saori Hayami “singing” Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star again, though, I think I might set fire to my entire anime collection and shun the medium forevermore.

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1. Bahamut: Virgin Soul

While the aforementioned shows were bad, there’s a vast chasm yawning between them and this outing of Bahamut. This was a show which gave us a charming set of protagonists and proceeded to destroy any sense of goodwill it built up in its fairly solid first half by trying to give us a Disney princess-style romance involving a genocidal war criminal. There were other problems, to be fair, but this is the big, stinky one that rotted away at its core. I hate how this took a delightful, lovable character like Nina Drango and decided that the coming-of-age story wasn’t going to be about her going out into the world, meeting a guy, falling for him, and then realizing her attraction to him wasn’t worth throwing over her principles for, but was instead about her doing all that and deciding that protecting a genocidaire because she was infatuated was the appropriate course of action. I loved the first half of this show, but I ultimately loathed this show.

*  *  *

And, in no particular order, all the rest:

Masamune-kun’s Revenge*: Watched the first episode out of gross curiosity, as I expected it to be absolutely appalling. Instead, it turned out to be too damn stupid to take much issue with. It also seemed to view its lead’s dubious goal as exceedingly idiotic, which did a lot to defang its “I’ll show those bitches, just wait!” premise. I watched a few more episodes in the fashion one can’t tear themselves away from, for example, a toddler throwing a tantrum in public, and, yeah, this was pretty stupid. But you know what? I’m not getting at the real matter here – the female uniforms are gob-smackingly hideous, and I can’t believe the original author was never arrested for this shocking crime against humanity. Good lord, I haven’t seen such uggo uniforms in years!

Scum’s Wish: Not bad, but I’m still simply not convinced that this was nearly as profound as either it or many viewers thought it was. In fact, I think it only very barely avoids being trash itself, and that may’ve simply been its classy-looking visuals pulling a fast one on me. I remain uneasy with how it handled its token lesbian. And the assertion in the final frame that Minagawa-sensei was finally being herself and not relying on using dudes to prop up her ego by getting married was a, um, unique take on her actions. Having said that, Minagawa-sensei can torment me any day she likes, thank you.

Love Live! Sunshine S2: When the first season aired, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. This time around, I was surprised anew, as I didn’t expect the showrunners to have the guts to let Aqours fail to preserve their school. This choice was indicative of an overall difference in approach versus what was used in the original Love Live anime, as where that often flubbed its stabs at drama, Sunshine’s willingness to not always grant the happy outcome meant that more serious moments carried weight. I’m genuinely going to miss these girls.

ACCA: The further I get from this, the more uneasy I feel about the implicit argument at its core that while arbitrary rule by Arab analogues is very bad, the same by blue-eyed, blonde-haired Aryans is fine. I thoroughly enjoyed its very sedate approach to the political thriller genre, but it’s impossible for me to unsee what its storyline implies.

Kemono Friends*: Although I appreciate its weirdness and its commitment to telling a presumably post-apocalyptic tale with what would seem like a highly unlikely property to do so with, I don’t get the levels of adulation this inspired. I’ll finish it at some point, but it’s not high on my priorities.

Piace: My Italian Cooking: Perfectly pleasant and unremarkable short that I watched mostly when I was cooking. I would genuinely like more shows like this, i.e. pleasant shorts centered around the cooking and consumption of food, as they’re perfect for when I’m cooking and can’t glue my eyes to the screen the entire time.

Princess Principal: I wasn’t expecting much from Princess Principal; I figured it’d be the sort of thing which takes itself quite seriously despite warranting that attitude not at all. But instead it delivered a solid little spy caper which for the most part didn’t seem to be too troubled about pretenses of profundity. The conclusion wasn’t terrific, which drags it down slightly, although not so much so that I found myself upset about it. Not recommended for those who are quite particular about their historical shows getting all the décor and sartorial details right!

Kirakira Precure a la Mode*: I tried, I really did! But it just wasn’t for me. I dropped it after roughly twelve episodes; I skipped a couple that seemed eminently skippable, hence my vagueness on the matter.

Starmu Season 2: Oh dear, one should be careful what they wish for, huh? Not nearly as good as the first season, this sagged a fair bit throughout. They puffed up the cast by way too much, so there were a lot of detours into characters I simply didn’t care about. I don’t regret watching it, and I did enjoy watching our doofy lead develop further, but it could’ve easily had half the episode count and been much better.

Just Because: While I can recognize that this is a good show, and I really liked what Pine Jam was trying to do with it in terms of use of character animation to lend depth to the characters, I think I would’ve liked it much better were I few years younger or several older. Younger, and I would be less far removed from the experiences of high school myself. Older, and I would be far enough removed that I would probably find it nostalgic.

Kado: The Right Answer*: I absolutely loved the pre-air episode for this, as it perfectly embodied the idea of “show, don’t tell”, taking the time to demonstrate to the audience why it is that when weird stuff starts happening, they all think Shindo is the right person to have handling matters. And I also love that the studio was willing to take the time to do that before they threw the massive trans-dimensional cube at us. But I haven’t finished this yet since it engages with concepts at a level where I had to pay more attention than I could give it since I was knee-deep in dissertation hell when it was airing (and following when it aired). Of the shows I didn’t finish this year, this one gets the vote for one I’m most likely to return to.

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid*: …oh, wait, crap, I didn’t finish this one either! OKAY so Kado shares “DNF that I’m most likely to finish” with this! I’m fascinated with the idea of this as, ultimately, a refugee/immigrant story. This is something which occurred to me in the second episode when Tohru apprehended a thief but then feared that her super-strength would scare everyone and lead them to persecute her.

Hell Girl: Fourth Twilight: Well, *I* was happy to see more Jigoku Shoujo, but the decision to only make six new episodes and have the other six be re-runs feels a bit cheap. Is it unfair to expect a show that last aired nearly ten years ago to make a whole new season rather than half of one? In an era in which Basilisk, of all things, is getting a sequel next season, I’m going to have to say that it’s not unfair to have expected that we could get a full damn twelve episodes. And fairly lackluster sales surely means this is the last we’ll be seeing of this franchise on the screen.

Recovery of an MMO Junkie: While I’m a little annoyed with the way they used Koiwai to do all the sussing out of contact info and identity on Morioka so that Sakurai could avoid any appearance of creepiness, on the whole this was a pleasant surprise.

Girls Last Tour*: Just wasn’t for me. Also, the fish in an early episode that looked like it was fake but was actually real pissed me off. This was supposed to be a moment which helped further illuminate the sort of world these two girls grew up in, but the fact that I couldn’t tell whether it was a real fish or not totally ruined it! What the hell!

Symphogear AXZ: Voicing a guy who spent the vast majority of his scenes naked feels like the perfect culmination of Miki Shinichirou’s storied career, which has frequently involved him voicing the “sexy guy” in shows. It also indicated once again that maybe Symphogear is best understood as the show where high profile voice actors like to go to cut loose and have fun hamming it up. Anyway, as for the show itself, it was pretty much what I expect out of Symphogear, which is an eminently good thing since Symphogear is a fantastic franchise. I could’ve done without the squeaky loli-marionette, though, and while I am pleased that Hibiki and Miku are depicted as a fully established couple, I would’ve like a few more scenes focused on them. I realize this would’ve left less time for punching dragons out of existence and surfing on missiles, but I am willing to make that sacrifice.

March Comes in Like a Lion S1: When it was good, it was great, but it had a tendency to drag from time to time, and the final arc, while perfectly decent, paled in comparison to some of the earlier material. I ended a lot of episodes turning to my spouse to declare “THEY’RE SUCH GOOD PEOPLE AND I JUST WANT THEM TO BE HAPPY!”, sometimes misty-eyed. Perhaps the best measure of how successful this show could be is that instead of hating the most actively cruel and toxic person in the show, I felt a sense of agony about how much pain they were clearly in. I was skeptical of the fact that Shinbo as helming it, as he’s, ah, not much to my tastes, but it only took one episode for me to realize I’d been wrong.

Hitorijime My Hero: How did this go so wrong? Things started out promisingly enough, as it took a fairly understated approach to introducing the story, and the love interests for our primary and secondary leads seemed perfectly decent. But then in both cases it turned out instead that these love interests were, in fact, predatory, manipulative, and creepy as hell. My hopes flared after they closed out the secondary lead’s subplot, since the primary storyline had seemed perfectly fine prior to that, but then we get a high school teacher pinning down his student and telling him it’s his fault that things are happening that way. Yeuuuuch.

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