Another weekly feature where I rank seasonal anime according to my own personal bias!
I’ve thought about doing this back in 2017 and had almost convinced myself to not do this last week, but Remy is a fickle person and is flip-floppity like a pancake (and would make an excellent general, supposedly). EDIT: I’ve decided that I’m going to cover every week using two posts, but this first post will be a bit different and will cover all of the series I’m currently watching.
Yes, Winter 2018 officially started last week so I’m a little late. But this week is when the season actually got off the ground with some of the more anticipated titles finally premiering. Better late than never, I guess?
This weekly feature wouldn’t have happened if I had stuck with only watching the shows I imagine a yuri blog would be interested in reviewing, by the way, but a close friend made me realize I shouldn’t so selective. Soooo here we are!
You know who you are. Thank you.
This first installment will be coming out on Monday, but I think I’ll aim for these to be released on Sundays. Hopefully I can remain consistent!!
There will be four categories in this particular weekly feature:
Bouquet Group (AKA my current favorites of the season – these shows are what I look forward to watching the most every week)
Blossom Group (AKA decent picks – these shows have noticeably more flaws than the ones in the previous category but aren’t overly painful to watch)
Bud Group (AKA lackluster picks – these shows are more trouble than they’re worth and I’m probably watching them out of misguided reasons)
Bad Group (AKA awful picks – these shows have been dropped due to various reasons)
Note: Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card-hen is currently excluded since I’m still in the middle of marathoning Cardcaptor Sakura. You can follow my progress (and see my truncated thoughts on each individual episode) over on my Twitter. I really hope I can catch up within this week.
[From 1/5/2018 – 1/14/2018]
Hakumei to Mikochi (Episode 1) – atmospheric, quaint, charming, cute. The use of manga paneling within an anime adaptation is rather uncommon and appreciated (the last series within memory which made use of this particular characteristic was Kuzu no Honkai). It remains to be determined if the audience gains more than a sneak peek at the world in general, but so far I’m interested.
Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (Episode 1) – many viewers will be unable to overlook the age gap or how the series attempts to frame a relationship between a “mature” high school student and a hapless middle-aged manager (who happens to be her boss) as being cute. The fact that Akira sniffs Masami’s smelly shirt behind his back is divisive, too, as well as how the series was not subtle at all (I’m talking about Akira’s doki-doki-I’m-in-love shots and broken plates). I’m personally not sold on their relationship, but I want to see how the series progresses. At the very least, Koi Ame is pretty.
Devilman CryBaby (Episode 10 – Finished) – sometimes there’s a point behind all the gore, sex, and violence you see in a series despite claims to the contrary. It’s easy to dismiss the show as being repulsive, but the series makes an earnest statement about human morality without being completely cynical, pessimistic, or nihilistic. There’s hope weaved into the narrative and buried under the carnage, however faint. Humans can be good. And humans can be demons. And humans can be devilmen (and devilwomen).
Pop Team Epic (Episode 2) – I sure am promoting the most controversial shows, aren’t I? Their jokes will surely be hit-or-miss due to the style of its absurdist humor. Personally, it was mostly hit in this episode compared to the previous one. Don’t forget to watch both halves of each episode, by the way, since each side is different.
Violet Evergarden (Episode 1) – viewers finally know what’s the series is going to be about since all of what (most) viewers knew was that it’s going to be handled by KyoAni. Beautiful visuals that are essentially on par with the quality levels you’d expect from a movie, let alone an anime series. The series barely manages to not overwhelm the viewer with repeated scenes and lines while establishing that Violet is yet another stoic girl who struggles with basic concepts regarding emotions and feelings. A typical and cliché story beat, perhaps, but what matters from here on is the execution.
Darling in the FranXX (Episode 1) – another show which struggles with subtleness. Having two different characters narrate similar lines separately seemed a bit excessive, but having Code002 fool us when it comes to having “spotted one” was something I liked. Typical trappings involving flower names and sexual references which may turn out to be meaningless fluff but are interesting thus far, at least. There was a relatively straightforward robot battle in this episode, but it sure did look good and cool. I’m also a sucker for fallen “prodigy” characters, so why not? It does come across as being heteronormative with all of the pairings being m/f. There’s also excessive nudity and forceful groping already? Well, to be fair, these are things that most anime fans don’t even bat an eyelash at…
Gakuen Babysitters (Episode 2) – I sure do love comfy shows about kids. Maybe it’s because I also like being around kids since society has successfully conditioned me to find munchkins to be adorable. The introduction of Inomata, a prickly and stubborn female character, in this episode was slightly off-putting, but the charming male characters more than made up for it. Plus she loosens up a bit and is revealed to be rather tragic in a way, too, which saves the episode for me. Hayato’s tendency towards violence is a bit much (although we do see where he gets it from)…
Yuru Camp△ (Episode 2) – it turns out Rin is more apprehensive to letting others intrude on her private camping time than most viewers initially believed. But at least she’s open-minded and she’s not being shamed for being introverted. All of the girls at least know about one another now and it remains a matter of time before they officially get together. In the meanwhile, the beautiful backgrounds and the rustic, soothing music will have to be enough to maintain viewer interest. Sometimes healing anime can draw you in even though you’re not a fan of the genre, huh? Still not a fan of the male narrator voice, though.
Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (Episode 2) – you either resonate with Mari’s desire to accomplish something wild in order to the make the most of her youth or you don’t and you find the series to seem hollow. There’s already things to speculate about, even. This won’t be your typical “Cute Girls Doing Cute Things” show since the series will be following the girls’ journey, but some dissenters will still turn away from this show regardless. The comedy was on-point in episode one (thank you, posters in the background), but has been turned down slightly as the series attempts to settle into a more serious tone, the introduction of a perky asocial high school genius notwithstanding.
Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san (Episode 1) – can a series about two adolescents pranking each other remain engaging from beginning to end? Already some people are quick to consider the series for children (since they obviously have a crush on one another yet can only communicate through pranks and relentless teasing) or are quick to consider the possibility that the series will falter eventually, but it’s still kind of funny. Others will resonate with the characters or embrace the series solely because smug anime girls are always a valued commodity. I like to think of this series as a less “serious” version of Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen (before it shifted in character focus and expanded beyond its initial premise, at least), so those of you who read manga might want to check out Kaguya-sama if you enjoyed watching this series so far.
Mitsuboshi Colors (Episode 1) – not much to say besides the fact that three little girls run around causing mischief in their town. People will instantly think you’re a lolicon if they know you’re watching this series, by the way, which is a shame since it’s not sexual at all.
Slow Start (Episode 2) – this is the archetypal example of a fluffy “Cute Girls Doing Cute Things” show for Winter 2018. Very well-animated. My go-to choice for reaction images. Already dripping with yuri shiptease (and uncomfortable sexual references). On that note, the humor in this show is also hit-or-miss.
Märchen Mädchen (Episode 1) – an isekai series featuring a good-natured protagonist who isn’t cocky or bland or some sort of genius? Sign me up!…is what I’d like to say, but it’s been a bit run-of-the-mill thus far. Still, I do like Hazuki a lot and I’m having more fun than I should be so far. Let’s see if the series can continue to entertain (and perhaps pick things up).
Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens (Episode 1) – I am yet another person who originally thought this series was about ramen. Instead it’s about hitmen and hitwomen and a hitmen hitman. Tons of characters were introduced but keeping track of them was somewhat manageable. Expect twists and grisly murders. Speaking of which, the very first episode featured a woman being sexually assaulted and killed in a very nasty way. That’s at least off-putting for many viewers, so I figured I should mention that here in case it’s a deal-breaker. At least the (psychotic and murderous) male crossdresser isn’t being forced into acting as comic relief for once as many series are apt to do?
Miira no Kaikata (Episode 1) – a show that will probably offend no one. A lot of people are saying it’s cute. I’m not really seeing it, though. Maybe because the main character is sort of dull and the small mummy is just a small mummy. Even the fact that the girl somehow gets a mini-Dragonite later on fails to win me over. Will probably end up dropping this eventually.
Death March kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyoku (Episode 1) – it does some parts right (such as addressing overworking). Some other topics are less aptly handled (negative comments towards women). It’s more or less a typical isekai except the main character ends up already becoming overpowered in the first episode. I expect a harem to develop since isekai protagonists always end up winning over love interests for no reason. I also expect to get bored of this series really quickly. I don’t fall within the genre’s typical demographic.
Sanrio Danshi (Episode 2) – gender equality! Not so subtle advertising for Sanrio goods! Boring characters who look really good and aren’t afraid to flaunt their toned bods! I already hate the main character since he’s so insistent on clinging onto the past and letting it affect him! Hopefully he shapes up!
Toji no Miko (Episode 2) – bunch of vague terms continue to be thrown around and the audience is left to muddle through it all. This is what happens when there’s no newcomer around for the audience’s benefit. While the fights aren’t blurry, they’re still rather boring. The fact that there are very good reasons for this rebellion, which officially started near the end of episode 1, doesn’t really get me all that interested in the series, either, but at least this development came out sooner rather than later.
Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san (Episode 2) – cute girls eat ramen. It just so happens that these characters only have good looks to lean on since they’re rather boring. They’re not one-note, exactly, but they’re still dreary. I guess it’s good to watch if you want to learn more about ramen and it does feature plenty of yuri shipping moments, but I’m so tempted to drop this show. Too bad this is the kind of stuff most yuri blogs are expected to keep track of.
Takunomi. (Episode 1) – definitely meant for heterosexual males. Also a sell-out series that’s been bought off by Sapporo Breweries Ltd to advertise Yebisu (Premium). Again, I’m tempted to drop this series, but yuri blog obligations prevent me from doing so immediately.
Citrus (Episode 2) – trashy? Check. Sexual assault? Check. Were these sexual incidents romanticized? No. Is there actual incest? No. But the series is poorly written due to how certain events just suddenly happen with no build-up or lead-in in both episode 1 and episode 2. I wouldn’t say there’s no merit in the series, but Citrus is an overhyped series that shouldn’t have become popular as a manga and shouldn’t have received an anime adaptation when there are other, better yuri manga.
Hakyuu Houshin Engi – I couldn’t take the series seriously at all. Stopped watching after I saw the flying hippo. Apparently I made the right choice (KADO)?
Mahoutsukai no Yome – Wasn’t comfortable with how close to home the topics explored within the series hit or the relationship between Elias and Chise. That’s a riot coming from me seeing how highly I ranked Koi Ame, I know. But there you have it.
So to commemorate the week Winter 2018 truly started to get rolling, I want to know what’s your favorite OP from this season’s line-up. I really like Yuru Camp△‘s, Märchen Mädchen’s, Koi wa Ameagari no You ni‘s, and Slow Start‘s for either musical or aesthetic reasons. What is / are your favorite OP / OPs? Please, tell me in the comments section!
See you next week~