Saturday, December 30, 2017

Year in 2017 : A review

Year in 2017 : A Review

2017 has been a very great year for the industry. Well, not so much, but it’s still a great year, especially for me and other anime enthusiasts all around the world, in my opinion. There is still a lot of anime airing every week in each season, but I think the number has reduced considerably, compared to last year at least. 

There’s a saying that the fewer the number, the better it gets, and that is especially true for this year. Despite the fewer titles airing each week, the number of anime with good qualities increases, and studios have been adapting anime with better quality left and right, and I liked that. Since I’ve been keeping my shortlist for anime to watch each week less than 5-10 per week, the reduction to quantity of anime this year has been giving me a greater berth to explore more anime than I usually has been watching, since there’ll be plenty of anime with undoubtedly better quality than before. I’ll delve into it in my 2017 hit list.

However, the highlight of this year’s anime industry is the fact that this year is undoubtedly the year of sequels. Sure, we’ll have lots of sequels too next year, but with the number of sequels produced this year, I don’t think what has been announced for 2018 (At the time of this writing), can match what has been presented for us in this year.

We have the sequel to NEW GAME, Osomatsu-san, Himouto Umaru-chan, 3-gatsu no Lion, Konosuba, the long awaited sequel to Shingeki no Kyojin, Shokugeki no Souma, Yuuki Yuuna, Natsume Yuujinchou for the 6th time I think, and plenty more to mention. Also, take note that this year Gintama had sequel. Well, Gintama always air for 20+ episode, but in this year, the studio instead approached the sequel method for who knows the reason. All in all, there are plenty of sequels left and right to please the fans of that particular series.

The sequel to Osomatsu-san was not as good as the original, but it was still good.

Aside from sequels, the influx of original anime were also good. Tsukigakirei was a joy to watch, as well as Sakura Quest. I’ve covered what’s good and what’s bad for an original anime in my previous blog post, so check it out if you want more insight, but overall, I liked the contributions of original anime this year.

Speaking of original anime, does anyone know Doki Doki Literature Club? A visual novel made by Team Salvato, who does not hail from Japan, that has surprised gamers and critics left and right. Beneath that cute and harmless mask was a psychological horror game that left so many people jaw dropped. It was lauded for it’s surprising content and depth yet inventive narrative technique. It has left so many clues for fans to find out and Game Theorist even likened the creator to Scott Cawthon, the creator of FNAF series for leaving clues for gamers and theorists to find left and right. It was a great game, and a great homage to the anime industry in my opinion, though perhaps what is most lamenting to that game is the lack of voice acting, even an English one, since it will greatly add to the game.

Voice-acting was remarkable this year. While not many new star ascends to the top of the industry, the well-known one has had a remarkable year in my opinion. Aoi Yuki was barraged with praises for her performances all around the year due to her flexibility of her voice and the delivery that truly delivers the emotions of any character that she is performing as. Examples of her role which had her give a star performance were Tanya Degurechaff from Youjo Senki, Yoshiko Hanabatake from Aho-Girl, and Kino from Kino no Tabi. All three anime’s great point are the fact that Aoi Yuki was able to give a great deliverance of their character.  It’s rare to see that so much praise given to a single voice actress.

Another main point to talk about in this year is the animation, particularly the 3D CGI. Several critics and people have argued that Land of the Lustrous delivered one of the most beautiful animations ever, and the CG was well done, unlike the many others. In contrast, Tsukigakirei also used CGI to depict some pedestrian and objects, but to a more negative outlook, since it was half-baked and looked pretty bad. And there’s also Kemono Friends, of which the CGI was particularly singled out as the one that held back what should have been a masterpiece. However, the lowest point in CGI usage in this year has to be given to the 2017 edition of Berserk. Many critics and fans lambasted the use of CGI in the anime as distracting and jarring, as it looked very, very bad and detached from the anime itself. Honestly, when I checked it out, I was taken aback at how bad it looks.

Berserk (2017) was heavily criticized for it's poor CGI.

Well that’s enough small words I guess, I think it is high time that I delve into one of the most basic things that blogger do in a penultimate date of the year, making a list of best and worst anime of the year! I will list the top 5 anime that, in my opinion, are the best of the bunch in this year. In addition to that, I will also list 5 top character that truly stood out this year. The list will be done in a descending order, so it will be from number 5 to number 1.

Top 5 character of 2017
Normally, main characters will dominate the list of best characters in every list since that character will be explored much and fleshed well enough, so that we, the audience, can connect with that main character and willing to spend a huge chunk of watching an episode seeing that main character. However, a good anime does not only depend solely on the main character, but also on the supporting character’s importance to their show. They are the ones that will give the main characters reasoning and support they need. As such, if they are characterized well enough, don’t be surprised to see some of them pop up in the list, especially in mine.

#5. Nene Sakura from NEW GAME! Season 2

In the first season of NEW GAME! Last year, I did not really like Nene that much partly because of her annoying voice and antics. However, this year’s sequel has shown us the Nene that wants to grow as a character. She wants to improve upon her skills as a programmer and her affairs with Narumi highlighted how she can hold her own when faced with someone with condescending attitude. Also, not to mention that her chemistry has extended to not just with Umiko, but almost with everyone else that she was paired with. True enough, Nene was the best character of the NEW GAME! Season 2, even surpassing Hifumi in my opinion. And this is the reason why I did not mention who was the best character in my review for NEW GAME! Season 2.

Nene's improvement as a character truly shines in the sequel.

#4. Kanna Kamui from Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon

Despite the relationship between Tohru and Kobayashi and many of their highlight moments, Kanna stood as the most effective character in this show. Her childish antics and curiosity is very highlighted in the show, and one that I always looked forward to. The way she delivered her line was very effective, and the way she acts in each instances she appeared was very good, to the point that she managed to be the best character of the show in my opinion. Without her, I think the show would just turn into a commonly-seen yuri anime to be honest, one that would never be adapted by Kyoto Animation.

Kanna was the most satisfying character from the Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon.

#3. Yoshiko Hanabatake from Aho-Girl

 There’s just a limit of how idiot can a person be, yet Yoshiko surpassed the limit of idiocy of a human being. Being a girl who talks nothing but banana and being idiot 95% of her appearance, she was very effective in delivering most of her punchline, to the point that most of her jokes are fresh and innovative in my opinion. Never have I laughed so hard at a show this much since the advent of Nichijou and Danshi Koukosei no Nichijou, and all of that was thanks to Yoshiko. Oh yeah, as stated earlier, Yoshiko was played by Aoi Yuki, and in my opinion, Aoi Yuki’s delivery as Yoshiko was the integral part of what makes Yoshiko such a success.

Yoshiko's uncanny attempt to make people laugh is an asset to the Aho-Girl anime.

#2. Kirie Motoba from Himouto Umaru-chan Season 2

It was hard to pick between Kirie and Sylphinford for the best character of the season 2 of Himouto Umaru-chan, as both of them are fleshed out so well that their importance to the show is in a league of their own, but I picked Kirie over Sylphinford now since she managed to impart her superstardom to her brother, Hiroshi, or better known as Bomber. Since the first season of Himouto Umaru-chan, Kirie’s character was already highlighted, but this year, they managed to amp it up to eleven and makes her very lovable, along with Sylphinford. I will talk more about her and Sylphinford in my upcoming review to the season 2 of Himouto Umaru-chan.

It was hard to choose between Kirie and Sylphinford since they both are fantastic in the sequel.

#1. Elias Ainsworth from Mahoutsukai no Yome

Honestly, is there anyone as cool and fashionable as him? Elias is, in my opinion, the best character of 2017, and most critics seems to agree with me. His voice, thanks to Ryota Takeuchi, was very cool and composed, and his relationship with Chise is a highlight of this year’s romance, from someone who just bought her out of curiosity and Chise’s unique power, to one that truly loves Chise. His antics is also unique and all of them oozes out his calmness to asses the situation without thinking brashly. The magic-laden world of Mahoutsukai no Yome is already immersive enough, but Elias just adds to the reason of why one should watch the show.  Since the show is planned for more than 20 episode, I think we’re going to see more of Elias later.

Elias was able to charm so many people, me included.

Worst 5 anime of 2017

Naming an anime bad is already hard enough, but to call some to be the worst is just too much. Alas, it is what I will do, as there are some anime that I watch but just not enough to be called decent. Since this is my opinion, I will not follow the current trends of what has been the worst anime of 2017 such as the Isekai wa Smartphone thing or Hand Shakers. Instead, I will pick 5 from my watch list which I ranked pretty low.

#5. Kino no Tabi
Seeing as I have never watched Kino no Tabi before, I picked the show out of curiosity. Sure enough, it delivered a fantastic opening episode full of surprises and twists. However, as the series progressed, I began to think how I am getting more and more detached to the show, especially when the travelling turns into a gun-blazing adventure. Perhaps this was made for those who have watched the original series? I don’t know that much. What I know is that the performance of Aoi Yuki is, once again, the one thing that was a good note from the series.

Kino had a pretty rough year in the adaptation.

#4. Eromanga Sensei

A series made by the one responsible for Oreimo, everyone know how this anime will descend upon the incest angle, especially when the siblings are not related by blood. That’s all good yes? But not that much in my opinion. In Oreimo, so many people despaired on how Kyosuke ended up with Kirino than the fan-favourite Gokou Ruri, and in Eromanga Sensei, people lamented this occurrence again, especially when Yamada Elf has become such an affectionate character, though the only saving grace is that Masamune did not make advances to other girl other than his sister, unlike Kyosuke. Aside from the incest angle, I thought that Eromanga Sensei was going to focus on filial bond, something that I was deceived of, and one that my spiritual teacher had already predicted. Anyway, aside from all that, there’s also the heavy focus on fanservice that really turns me off, though the production value of Eromanga Sensei was so big in my opinion, and every animation looked smoth and crisp. However, production value does not reflect the final product in my opinion.

It's Oreimo all over again.

#3. Anime-Gatari

Caution! We are repeating history here! Anime-Gatari has had a wonderful and terrific 1-5 episodes, only to self-destruct in the latter episodes, akin to Samurai Flamenco. Samurai Flamenco was the first time I saw an anime jump the shark, and Anime-Gatari managed to repeat that. Some people was very pleased to see the way Anime Gatari is going to end, but definitely not me. I liked the fact that Anime-Gatari was very friendly and somehow self-aware that they are anime which referenced other anime, but as the series progressed, the premise becomes more absurd, one that made me facepalm each time I watch. I should have seen this one coming after seeing that talking cat to be honest.

The second coming of jump the shark? I guess...

#2. Hinako Note

I pretty much gave up on Hinako Note at around episode 5 or 6, partly because everything is going at a pace as if a turtle was directing the show. I know that this is a cute girls doing cute things show, but there’s a limit of how slow and cute an anime can be. The premise was good, the charaters were okay, yet the execution was not well-done. So, yeah, Hinako Note is my number 2 pick of the worst anime in 2017.

The pace in Hinako Note was too slow, even for me.

#1. Koi to Uso

I might get some shticks for this, but I stood by my decision to pick this series as the worst to have come out in 2017, and I have my reasons for it. Despite the fact that I liked the red strings of science premise and plotline, There are 3 things that made me pick this series as my worst, and made me stop watching it altogether. The first one is the jarring character model, despite it being well-animated. Second is the convoluted plotline that made me scratch my head as to see where it is going to lead. And lastly, and this is the one factor that made me quit altogether, is the background music. How can you put an upbeat music during a serious and tense mood? Everytime this happens, I am offended as to how distracting the music could be, which distracts me from the whole plot altogether. Come to think of it, maybe the music was the sole reason that I was unable to grasp the plot and quit altogether? Since I don’t think the character model look that bad and the plot too convoluted now that I get a firm grasp about it? I don’t know. But frankly, trying to be inventive is good, but this is just far too much too idiotic.

The upbeat musics used in the show totally ruins the mood.

Best 5 anime of 2017   

After the worst comes the best. There are plenty of anime that merits to be crowned upon the best anime of the year, but I managed to select among the 5 best of them that, in my opinion, are the best of the bunch this year. Maybe I’ll start with Honorable mentions before I went to the list.

Honorable Mention

#3. Konohana Kitan

Konohana Kitan embodies the spirit of cute girls doing cute things and added an emotional spin to make it very memorable. Honestly, I have never shed a tears whenever I watched this kind of anime, yet I managed to shed one, after a very terrific and emotional episode 4, and this trend continues up until later. This anime is truly a gem, hidden beneath the good ones that you’ll come across if you look hard enough.

Konohana Kitan was an excellent show in my opinion.

#2. Pokemon Sun and Moon

The revamped Pokemon Sun and Moon continued to impress me, even though it is a children’s show. While there might be several things that the anime can improve upon, I still think the soft reboot was a welcome, despite what everyone is complaining about. I will cover about this more in my upcoming article when I talk about Pokemon Sun and Moon.

Believe it or not, their wedding actually happened in the anime.

#1. Kuzu no Honkai. 
Everytime I watch this, I have to make sure to prepare myself a funny video (A particular Damien Mizdow montage) so that I can get off all those complicated feelings on my heart after finishing an episode. Honestly, my emotions have never been played around this much before I see this anime. The character writing, the plotlines, everything about this anime was just damn good, shame I can’t put it on the actual list.

The wild ride of emotion presented by Kuzu no Honkai was amazing.

Best 5 anime of 2017

#5. Mahoutsukai no Yome       
Mahoutsukai no Yome deserved to be even higher than number 5, if the rest of the show that I list weren’t better than this anime, in my opinion. The immersive land of the magic was captivating to look and be immersed into, Elias and Chise are a good leading characters of the show, the supporting characters also worked their charms well and the occasional comedic moments also worked. Chise’s narrative effort was top notch here, since she was able to convey most of her mixed feelings in her mind to the world, and her sense of belonging to Elias is also a joy to behold. All in all, Mahoutsukai no Yome was a surprise pick for me, but one that I never regret picking.

Mahoutsukai no Yome is a wonderful series, hopefully it will get even better next year.

#4. Net-Juu no Susume

The story of how a NEET Moriko was a joy to watch. At first, the anime was slow enough, and put too much emphasis on the MMORPG world that Moriko is playing at, but once the show finally gets to the real-life factor, then that’s when the anime reveals itself to be a memorable one. We see how Moriko struggles to deal with real-life, and her self-awareness of how she looked out of place, and especially her crush towards Sakurai. Honestly, seeing how her MMO character and Sakurai’s MMO character revealed their true identity does not surprise anyone one bit, but seeing it was also the moment that we need to see in order to see their relationship advance, and by the end of the day, it was a great experience to had. Was a shame that it is only for 10 episode though.

The relationship between Moriko and Sakurai was a highlight.

#3. NEW GAME!!   
The sequel to the NEW GAME! Proves to be better than the first season. At first, I had problem picking this or Himouto Umaru-chan season 2, yet after careful though and seeing both show as a whole, NEW GAME season 2 is a phenomenally better show than Umaru. The dramatic ambition of the show was carefully done and realized by the end of the show, one that changed NEW GAME! Forever, heck perhaps the industry of cute girls doing cute things. By looking at this and Konohana Kitan, and especially Gakkou Gurashi, adding spices to the otherwise already popular genre proves it to be an even more working recipe. Honestly, the characters were all fleshed out and managed to connect with me, the jokes are not as abundant, yet most of them now works. The only bad thing of this show is that the continued trend of fanservice. The climax puts the series to a close, yet still opens up for another sequel to follow, so if there’s a sequel, I will definitely watch it. If you are curious of my review for the show, here is the article.

The dramatic ambition of NEW GAME!! was realized to the fullest.

#2. Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon     
Starting from Amagi Brilliant Park, KyoAni has finally exited their in-house works, to a great extent of success in my opinion. Last year, they adapted Koe no Katachi to a critically good reception, and this year, they adapted Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon, a slice of life show with a monster girl spice, but the monster girls are all Dragon-type. The animation that KyoAni used is similar to Nichijou, though a little bit different, and it worked wonders as it amped up the cute and funny flavor that the show had, and the relationship between Tohru and Kobayashi are a good chemistry. Many of the jokes flung from the show worked wonders and left me either laughing or with a smile in my face, and that’s a good thing. Hopefully KyoAni produced yet another sequel to this brilliant work. Oh, not to mention that Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon, being a KyoAni work, managed to pull in the audience interest on the waning genre of the monster girl. Does this mean we’ll see more monster girls next year? We’ll see. Check here to see my full review of Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon.

Kobayashi-san chi no Maid Dragon is another phenomenal adaptation by KyoAni.

#1. Tsukigakirei

The best anime of the year for me is an original series, Tsukigakirei. A truly magnificent series on how the romantic relationship between two young middle schoolers who are still coy with each other, their relationship was delivered on a high note in this series. Since Smartphones are all the rage nowadays, Tsukigakirei used the LINE messaging system to amp their storytelling to the fullest, and it delivered. Everytime our two main lead exchanges text, we see their silent reaction to each other, not to mention that unlike most anime out there, the character opted not to voice their text and instead, let us soak in the moment and actually read it ourself in order to fully grasp the emotion of the character reading the text. Their young relationship was marred with lots of things, yet in the end, they finally become one and I loved every moment of it, especially that ending credit, where we see how our two characters interact in the future before finally tying the knot. Aside from the main characters, the side characters are also memorable and even got shorts of their own after ending songs, and even got an OVA focusing on them instead of our main pair, a nice gesture in my opinion. The only thing holding this magnificent series is the poorly-made CGI that does nothing but distract me all the time. Yet, it does not stop me from calling this series as the best show of the year. Check here to see my full review of Tsukigakirei.

Tsukigakirei was the best, bar none.

And that is the end of my 2017 list of anime in this year, I myself enjoyed writing this 3500 plus words of articles.

My blog was marred with lack of entries in the past two months, largely thanks to my college work, which is nearing it’s end before I finally graduated. Hopefully, next year I might be able to put up some interesting blog posts in my free time and return to my original 1 articles per week schedule, but for now, 2 or 1 articles per months. Sorry for the inconveniences.

However, I do have some plan for what to write next, so until we meet again!

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