Okay, so technically the mid-season mark was about three weeks ago and that’s when this post should’ve gone up. But to be blunt, I fell behind with the season’s shows due to sheer laziness and impatience. The lazy part is silly and kind of ridiculous, but the impatience, I believe, is a legitimate excuse. Sometimes I will get so invested in a series that the idea of waiting a whole week can feel daunting. So, I let episodes pile up for a decent mini-marathoning, which is what I ended up doing.
I’m quite surprised with almost all of the shows that I have been watching. Maybe it’s because I’m finally dipping my toes back in after a multi-years long hiatus, or just the genuine feeling of the lacking originality in anime nowadays, but I went into the season with great hesitancy. I figured a lot of the shows would either be overly ambitious, or utter crap. Thus far I’ve only completely dropped one show out of the eight that I ended up watching regularly. This gives me hope and has kept me excited for the upcoming Summer season.
This post may get a bit lengthy as I’ll be chatting about eight different shows, but I’ll try to keep my thoughts rather brief and save the deep, analytical ranting or raving for series’ reviews at the end of the season.
The Royal Tutor (7 episodes in)
This show is a definite surprise. Originally I believed it was going to be a ridiculous exhibition of goofy characters who really don’t take themselves seriously at all, and maybe even have boy-love elements since there’s a severe lacking of females, or other genders, in the series (nothing wrong with boy-love, it’s just not my cup o’ tea). Not the case. It does have tiny moments of poking fun at itself, but the bulk of the series has been a great investment in the characters and how they’re growing as individuals with the help of their new tutor. The king is a cool dude, who I expected to be a dick (the norm in anime involving royalty). The humour is pretty decent and compliments the show rather than feeling jarring or out of place.
I do have two qualms so far, however. Firstly, there’s a whisper of a side plot that’s feels like political intrigue that I’m not so sure about as it hasn’t really come up since it’s one small scene, and I have a feeling that it may not get developed very well at all. Secondly, there hasn’t been any revelations concerning Haine sensei’s past; zilch, nada, niente. I’m so bloody curious. There have been morsels of a hint or two, but that’s it. I also find the focus on the characters to be very unbalanced. Lastly, there’s more focus on this person or that person, and less on the elder brother, which I would really like to see.
Natsume’s Book of Friends Season 6 (7 episodes in)
Disclaimer: I’m highly biased when it comes to this series. I fucking love it so much. The music and the animation are utterly breathtaking. It’s serenely heart-warming, tender, and feel-good. This specific season seems to be focusing a lot on Natsume’s past as a child and some of the more frightening and negative experiences that he’s had in life, prior to his current stability with family and friends. I find the episodic examinations of the older, gentler side of human emotions and psyche to be deeply revealing about human nature in general, especially as it pertains to loss, grief, and growth. There’s also motifs on redemption and how it’s never too late to do the right thing, which continues to add layers of dimension to an already multi-dimensional fantasy series. I can’t wait to see how it will finish up in the next few weeks.
Sakura Quest (7 episodes in)
Another surprise series for me. The expectation was a very slow and boring representation of working life in a small town. The result (so far) is a highly engaging and thought-provoking story about, not only the working life, but the establishment and reality of how tough survival is for small towns. The exploration of that work life I mentioned earlier is very insightful and informative. There’s so much effort that goes into building a town’s image with marketing to make themselves more alluring for tourism; so many technical titbits. It’s actually rather remarkable because these are things that one wouldn’t ever contemplate when planning a vacation or a trip. We don’t really recognise the instability that tourism has on a country’s economy as a whole as people go to the big fancy cities and neglect the tiny places that are essentially the reasons those cities thrive so much. The characters have much more depth to them as we learn about their roots and backgrounds. The animation is just so damn pretty. Sakura Quest is turning into a season favourite of mine, and I’m very happy about it!
Attack on Titan (7 episodes in)
Oh… where do I even begin? This season will be a disappointment. While the animation is showing great improvements with each episode, and is overall quite a bit better than the first season, the story progress is mediocre at best. It’s slow and I feel like so much of the screen-time is allocated towards building up to an epic battle or climax that we’ll never actually see happen in this season as there’s only 11 episodes total in the end. There are too many flashbacks, too much dialogue and not enough action, a lot of focus on many minor aspects that could’ve been portrayed very well with actual story inclusion. I do like the tension and suspense. The episodes are flying by as I watch because I’m so fucking invested. But having read the manga, and seeing that there’s only 11 episodes, I can feel the inevitable disappointment that will come when a cliffhanger finale is left hanging by a dry, miserable thread. So… while I’m enjoying myself, my hopes have plummeted and are reluctant to rise so easily.
The Silver Guardian (7.5 episodes in)
Nope. I tried. I tried really hard, but I gave up and dropped this series. The beginning felt promising and interesting. The pacing was good. The character interaction wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible. There’s a major plot twist that occurred and I became excited for how things would transition here on out… and then it all became jarringly out-of-place and ridiculous that I didn’t have the patience to continue onwards. There was an unexpected influx of ecchi characters and elements that just popped out of nowhere, changing the entire atmosphere and mood of the show. When there isn’t ecchiness in the series and it just abruptly shows up to smack you in the face, it’s a sign that things are about get far worse. An appearance of a random Gundam mecha-type of robot which arose from beneath the sands was laugh-out-loud appalling and stupid. There’s an introduction of a plethora of new characters that felt like overkill to me. I just didn’t want to deal with this obnoxious change, so I dropped it.
Tsuki ga Kirei (6 episodes in)
My third surprise for the season. The animation is what initially drew me towards checking it out, but the first couple of episodes unravelled rather sluggishly, so I wasn’t really sure how I’d feel about it. While that slowness hasn’t really disappeared completely, I’ve discovered that I’m really interested in seeing what’s going to happen next. My devotion to the characters have just sprouted out and rooted themselves within me. When a show can do that to you, unexpectedly, it’s a great thing, I believe. Plot progression sneak attacked me too many times for me to want to drop it. The exhibition of first loves and first relationships is awkward, flawed, and packed with frustrations that makes the whole thing real and candid, while being cute. The exposition of issues like insecurities and having the same crush as your best friend are all dealt with in a positive light. That’s so rare in anime and so welcomed. It’s different and refreshing. Depending on how it ends, I think this will be a feel-good show that’s worth a watch, even if you ain’t into romance.
KADO: The Right Answer (6 episodes in)
I feel like this is the one that I have the most thoughts on, but I also don’t want to give away spoilers because the suspense is literally half of the amazing qualities that create the bulk of this series. I absolutely love how intellectual it is, specifically in regards to science like physics and bioengineering. While it is science-fiction, the way the technology and the story is set-up is something that can be quite believable and it’s delightful to see how realistic it all is in a futuristic setting. The characters are fascinating because there’s a couple you love, a couple that you can vehemently dislike, and others that make you question just about everything you’re thinking and feeling. Every episode flies by while watching it, so it’s safe to say that the pacing of the series is brilliant. I do wonder if the series will be able to wrap up everything that it has going on, or if we’re going to left in our seats with a cliffhanger for season two. Overall, I feel like this is a series that everyone should be watching this season, especially if you’re a fan of hard science-fiction. The only thing I don’t like about the show is the super “cutesy” scientist lady who wears glasses. That whole moe thing she’s got going on is completely unnecessary and feels out of place with a serious show like this one.
Granblue Fantasy: The Animation (7 episodes in)
I’m really enjoying this series so much. The animation is gorgeous with it’s immaculate blending of hand-drawn art and computer graphics. The characters all work together instead of just relying on one over-powered dude (or dudette) with a great blend of teamwork and friendship. The fantasy qualities woven with sword-and-sorcery aspects create a delightful, engaging series. The story itself is standard for this genre type–fulfil side quests as you work your way towards the main, overarching quest–and it’s done very well. Each side quest doesn’t take forever to complete, contributes to overall main journey, and every episode has some level of progression rather than just being a filler in between. There are some great references for fans of D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) that bring the whole sword-and-sorcery portion full-circle. My only qualm is the collection of characters, which seems to be growing. I really don’t want to see the series ending up with so many characters that it leaves deficiencies with screen-time, or character growths. Only time will tell though. There’s going to be 14 episodes total. Initially I was concerned that the anime was going to be overly ambitious for what it is and the episode limit, but as I keep watching I can feel myself being more and more hopeful about it.