Winter 2018 Anime – Early Thoughts

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With the start of the new year comes the start of another anime season, one that for some reason is full of absurdities, oddities, and more than 0 shows about cute girls being outdoorsy types WITHOUT being Encouragement of Climb just yet but that’s also 2018 leading me to believe this will be a year in anime of girls in the wilderness and the most weird shit possible. Hopefully that means Choboraunyopomi will get another adaptation of their work soon and maybe Jojo 5.

Anyway, we’re off to a really strong start either way though sadly I’ve had to watch less than I planned for this season. Also I have to say there are some of the best OPs I’ve seen in a long time this season already both in terms of music and the videos themselves, gonna be a real challenge picking OP of the year come December especially if the rest of the seasons have anything nearly as good.

I had to rush my “top anime stuff of the year” post which resulted in some stuff I really wasn’t happy with (especially best girl, I just kind of picked whoever was most on my mind at the time rather than thought about it – I don’t think it’s wrong she’d be a runner up but not the top) and also just didn’t feel good to go through forcing myself to try and do it while feeling so shit. The AOTY and Worst of the year were easier for me but the stuff posts always need more creativity and thought put into specific elements and that was hard. I still feel completely shit but I can take my time writing again unlike the end of year posts which I always want out ASAP. Hopefully it’ll be less of a mess.

A Place Further Than The Universe

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DA QUEEN NOS DE WAE!

I already really love this show because so much about it, for whatever reason, takes me back to Atelier Totori – a game I still laud as being the only game to ever make me really have a feeling of true adventure, exploration, and really just going on an actual journey. The show, while being COMPLETELY different, just had something about it that made me feel that same way – and once we learn the background of one of the girls it just became stronger because her entire motivation, the entire cause of this series, is the exact same as Totori’s was. This really perfectly captures what it’s trying to get across and it does it with some really fun cute characters and such a big goal.

I was worried before it came out it’d be a few things – but most importantly a really stupid thing of 4 anime high school girls managing to go to Antarctica on their own. Luckily, no, they’re going on a legitimate expedition team which DO often take tourists with them – not usually high school girls but the point is these girls aren’t actually doing the journey themselves, they’re taking a ride with a real professional crew on a massive ice breaker ship fully equipped with everything they’ll need including big machinery and vehicles. Not only does that help the realism it makes it way more interesting because for one the girls will be able to actually enjoy this for the most part making it a light hearted show instead of some completely edgy thing though it may have some serious moments, but also because we’ll get to share their perspective of just kind of being along for this ride with these professionals.

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I’d love to really stick to all that but after episode 2-4 have now aired…the show, much like the girls themselves, has gone absolutely nowhere. This is only a 12 episode series and we’ve wasted 4 full episodes – and it seems like at least a few more – on retarded bullshit. The first episode was really good but 2 and 3 serve no real actual purpose and 4 was half COMPLETELY worthless (it didn’t develop or add anything unlike the others which at least brought us new party members) and half training. I want to watch this for a JOURNEY – not to have the Shirase shilled because it exists in real life and also has the same financial crisis presented in the show and thus wants to use this anime as a way to get some increased interest and income. Worse, even if you want to shill the goddamn boat THEN DO SOMETHING WITH IT. This isn’t “boring” or anything, it’s just so fucking lame after you realize nothing is happening, they spent the entire second episode achieving nothing, taking ZERO steps forward, and just talking about who has better breasts and what job they should work part time to make money for a plane ticket to Australia to get on the boat because viewers if you want to support the Shirase and go on an expedition you should know they launch from Australia and not Japan please email for any questions or comments! Then they spent the third episode doing nothing aside collecting a new character. Then they spent half the fourth episode with a OH NO MOM’S ANGRY! joke with training THAT SHOULD BE HAPPENING IN AUSTRALIA so at least we feel as if the journey is progressing.

We’re a FULL THIRD THROUGH THE SHOW and nothing has fucking happened and to make it worse they already explained how even once we get a move on it won’t actually be on our journey to Antarctica…it’ll be a flight to Australia, then a wait in Australia, then maybe finally after 8 more episodes we can get on the fucking boat for the climax to just be the fucking montage shown in the OP just with a different song played over it. I wanted the journey and the expedition which is what the show promised, not a moe schoolgirl show. Don’t get me wrong the show is still fun and good – but come the fuck on. Imagine if Yuru Camp took this long to ever have a single camp instead of doing it in the first 5 minutes like it did – it’d be 4 episodes until someone finally buys a tent then 7 more episodes later they use it for 12 minutes in the climax after 11 episodes of talking about camping and breast sizes. It feels as if they took the sub-title a little too seriously with it being “a story that LEADS to the south pole” because at this rate it’ll be ending right as we finally arrive.

Fantastic OP.

Cardcaptor Sakura : Clear Card

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This series is already amazing in at least one aspect and it’s really hard to even explain because nothing else like it exists even in western media that I know of. It’s been TWENTY years since CCS originally aired and this is a DIRECT CONTINUATION SEQUEL that takes place IMMEDIATELY AFTER the last movie in the timeline within some months time – not a reboot, not a sequel that takes place 10-20 years later, not a reimagining, not a remake, not with a bunch of OTHER related stuff released in the interim (Star Wars for example) – but a normal sequel that you’d see a few seasons later and it FEELS EXACTLY LIKE THAT’S WHAT IT IS IN EVERY SINGLE WAY. Even to people who have NOT seen the original it comes off as something from back then and something nostalgic – and it should because everything about it feels familiar even if it isn’t to you personally it just has this amazing feeling to it that gets through regardless if you watched CCS or not.

There are some MASSIVE SUPER IN-YOUR-FACE consistency issues with technology jumping the 20 years the show did even though in-universe it’s about a year since the last thing came out which still took place in the mid-90s. I’m sort of happy about the tech-jump though because it fights off the concept of this possibly being nostalgic to everyone “because it’s like a time capsule”. It’s not, it looks like it’s 2018 and all the shit people have in it proves that it basically is, so they basically avoided being one of those “HEY DO YOU REMEMBER (THING)?” nostalgia grabs that the west constantly makes and instead actively, mistakenly or not, went the opposite direction by putting in nothing nostalgic at all…except the entire show somehow.

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The art style, the way things are animated, the ENTIRE seiyuu cast is SOMEHOW the same (talk about talent, being able to be the same character, let alone a CHILD, 20 years later so perfectly and that goes for all of them not just Sakura), the HOEEEE~, the ENTIRE OST is the same with some tributes to original OP songs as orchestral versions from time to time (which is fucking great), even the episode title card plays the same theme. Yet it doesn’t feel like nostalgia pandering, it just feels like it’s a natural sequel that came out not that long after the original and so it’s basically still all the same. It’s really quite amazing in a lot of ways and is just such a weird feeling, especially when it ends up applying to people who never even watched the original and are jumping in now with Clear Card.

The show feels so perfect for what it is and I never could have imagined it would. It certainly helps that ALMOST THE ENTIRE FUCKING STAFF, not just CLAMP, not just the seiyuu, but even the director, screenwriter, music composer, Maaya Sakamoto singing the OP, and much of the rest of the staff worked on the original as well. Plus, anyone who isn’t from the original staff was pulled from their best employees featuring almost nobody who DID NOT work on either NANA and Chihayafuru and yes, Madhouse has more employees than just them. Madhouse owes a lot, arguably their entire success, to CCS and based on the company overall (for example funding the sequel of Chihayafuru themselves since nobody else would and they cared so much about it) they probably have a very sincere love for it and it absolutely shows.

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Aside all that, Clear Card is still fantastic – whether you’re new to CCS or a fan from 10-20 years ago this is a really fucking great series so far and it has such a unique and classic feeling to it for both groups as well. It’s also still such a different type of mahou shoujo in so many ways – oddly enough a series that ACTUALLY went against genre conventions and didn’t do it by forcing in a “twist” and becoming a generic over-done dark mahou shoujo and pretending it was a new concept. Instead, CCS achieved it by focusing on the cast rather than the magical girl part and treating it almost as a coming of age, slice of life, romance, drama mash-up all handled maturely and dealing with some very serious and real stuff (from things like an elementary school teacher having a relationship with one of his students to canonical homosexuality – no not tomoyo – and various types of love and affection and what they really mean) that happened to feature a magical girl and weird magical shit going on. Even simple things were so different from the norm like the fact Sakura never actually transforms at all and isn’t technically a magical girl at any point – just her staff is, she’s only ‘magical’ in that she’s the only one who can make it transform and some arguable bits that clash between manga/anime like her being related to Clow Reed or not. Hell, in the first episode of the original she fights in her pajamas while riding on her rollerblades. I’ll put it this way; CCS never seemed to be a weird choice for Madhouse, a studio nowadays known for mostly serious, (actual) mature, dark, and/or (“mature”) violent shows.

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There’s so much I could say about this series already but I’ll save that for a possible review instead of making this review-length. The animation and art are fucking gorgeous – even by current standards this show looks stunning, music is all new renditions of the original, the pacing is already really good with a first episode that manages to cram a lot into it without feeling cramped at all for it, the treatment of concepts an old viewer would know but new ones wouldn’t is done really well and completely naturally, and the feeling is just so perfect. From the moment it starts it feels like CCS in every single way and I think, even for a new viewer, that feeling is probably there somehow all the same. The story is also already interesting because they made sure to essentially erase the entirety of the “main” plot – the clow cards – by making hers all become unusable immediately and so we’re presented with a fresh start aside character development wise but even that element they do a good job catching you up in a very natural yet fast way through the whole first episode.

Also I love the OP and ED – both are fun and great to watch, but most importantly they brought back Maaya Sakamoto to do the first OP, just like she did for the very first in the original. Fantastic OP.

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The point is Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card is absolutely something you should be watching and I’d even risk pulling from my CODE RED vault to say it might just be an actually important show. It’s really too bad so many people will skip out on this just like they did the original. CCS was never a classic for no reason, it worked for that spot and it earned it’s importance in the history of the medium and genre – Clear Card doesn’t feel like it’s going to be falling behind at all. Also it seems like it’s perfectly catered to old fans but also totally completely accessible to new ones.

Hataraku Onii-san / Working Cats

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CATS that WORK. This is a time where the English name is absolutely better than the original title because fucking come on. Anyway this is a very strange short that focuses on these two cat buddies working a different job each episode. That’s not strange, that sounds pretty normal for anime, but what IS strange are the fucking bosses. They’re all fucking freaks. Also Sugita shows up as that snack koala randomly every episode and drops some random psuedo philosophy for no reason. It is a strange show.

Gakuen Babysitters

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A highschooler and his little baby brother lost their parents and so now are in the care of some old lady who is the headmaster of a school – and in return she makes these two help run the daycare for the teachers so they don’t have to worry about their kids. The kids are all real cute, fun, and act like actual kids in a very believable way especially now dealing with my little nephew (who is younger than them but still similar) so often I’m sure of it. There are also some cute ladies, mostly the little troublemakin kid’s mom.

And you wouldn’t expect it but there’s some real emotion at times in this show thanks to some good directing and actual thought being put into setting things up way early then paying off way later in an episode. Even in the first episode there’s a really moving scene that only works as well as it does because of how he talks about the subject matter early on in the episode. It’s still good without that part but that’s what really made it stand out as an emotional moment to me, and those moments continue to happen and are always well done in that they are both meaningful as well as SHORT to maintain the focus on cute smushers.

Fantastic ED(????).

Pop Team Epic

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When I mentioned absurdity earlier this was why. Sure, there’s some strange shit in other shows – for example Tomokazu Sugita as one of those panda-snack mascots in a box being shipped by cats popping out and telling them weird philisophical shit about time for no reason…but nothing comes close to this show. Not only this season, but ever. Pop Team Epic is something I can only describe as “Warioware-paced anime”. It’s fucking intense. You go through jokes in 1-10 seconds, usually averaging to about 3 seconds a piece, there’s no segues between them, there’s no explanation, NONE of it makes ANY fucking sense even the jokes are just complete fucking nonsense. I’ve liked Bkub since he was first starting out but I never followed him enough to really look at much that wasn’t just Touhou stuff and so, while I knew he had some strangeness in him, I never realized just how deep that actually went.

This is beyond Choboraunyopomi, this is beyond almost anything. Not just because of Bkub but EVEN MORE SO because of this director making the decisions he did. A 4koma manga with random antics is one thing, but the PACING, the LETS HIRE MEN TO DO THE VOICES OF THESE GIRLS seiyuu casting, the just sheer insanity of what this is really is thanks to the guy adapting it – because he’s crazy but also because he said “You know what we should do? We should adapt a 4koma. Oh, you think that’s been done plenty of times before?” and he showed what it REALLY MEANS TO VERY VERY VERY DIRECTLY take a 4 panel comic and turn it into animation. The result is 3 seconds of complete confusion before it immediately starts the next skit that is also only 3 seconds and does this over and over and over for 12 minutes before repeating itself with different voice actors all over again.

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This is the most completely fucking insane and absurd thing I’ve seen in my life, let alone out of the 930 anime I’ve completed up to now, and I can’t describe it at all. You need to at least see episode 1 just to experience whatever the fuck this is. Seriously, just watch the one episode – just the first half before it repeats itself – and then if you want go ahead and drop it, just make sure you don’t miss out on this thing entirely. I know people say “OH (thing) IS SO FUCKING INSANE AND ABSURD” about things fairly easily…but really this is beyond anything else, this is setting a new bar miles above the old one for fucking pure completely incomprehensible nonsense at breakneck speeds.

I will say while this is EXTREMELY fun because it’s such a wild goddamn FUCKING WHAT of a ride this really does go beyond what it should have and is into territory of just being too literally nothing EXCEPT nonsense. Choboraunyopomi manages similarly fucking strange weird shit…but it’s followable, it’s something your brain can digest, it’s got clear jokes, clear set-ups, and so on it’s just WEIRD SHIT it’s controlled and contained random humor that’s written super well and by a person who is out of their mind. I appreciate that much more and enjoy it much more because it’s way harder to take insanity and make it so accessible and easy to digest the way she(?) manages to achieve. However, Bkub’s take on that style is just a complete fucking mess – it’s great because it’s a mess but I really do not want to ever see another show like this again, yet I DO want to see it this one single time without a doubt because just fucking wow. I will say it’s definitely slowed the pace down quite a bit with more lengthy jokes and scenarios but it’s still just as fucking weird.

Based on how much weird shit is out this season I can only thing this feels as if it’s infected the entire season. This is actually another show I’m willing to risk saying it’s “important” because for anime this will be a historically relevant series that created it’s own sub-genre of comedy or at least succeeded in truly breaking into some new ground. Even if nothing like this gets made again, or worse if a billion copycats appear, it won’t change that this was a first. The only thing that maybe did something pretty damn close – but more sexual focused – would be Puni Puni Poemy, but even that didn’t have 1-second-jokes being spammed.

Fantastic OP.

Mitsuboshi Colors

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What seems to be a ripoff of Ichigo Mashimaro – even down to just tracing Miu and removing one sidetail – is actually a pretty fun little show about 3 weird girls pretending to be a sort of community hero group and the community that enjoys them being around and plays along. Even the summaries for this show are all written in a fun way, as if the girls wrote it themselves about how they’re heroes fighting the evil police man stationed in their town which is just their little game, in fact the cop is really nice and even plays along with their shit…okay, sometimes maybe he’s a little less kind.

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I DON’T WANNA BE REENS!

This is basically just 3 troublemaking weird girls having fun in their little corner of town that’s all extra cute thanks to being next to a zoo and so having fun things like panda mailboxes. They “solve” things like catching a stray cat then having to care for it, or the nice man who runs a shop in the quiet shopping area who knows them setting up elaborate little mysteries for them to tackle without them knowing it’s him doing it and they bother a local cop.

Fantastic OP.

Kokkoku

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I like this, I don’t know why it’s listed as horror (probably because of the creepy monster thing) but it’s certainly mysterious and VERY intriguing. I originally only was interested due to the cute girl in the promo art but even DURING the first episode I already felt invested in this and wanted to see more and learn more of whats going on here. They not only use the time stopping mechanic well and explain this version of how time works, but they make real good use of it in pretty original ways in terms of raising problems with it that you don’t typically see, as well as the giant demon-angel things that work essentially as neutral enforcement of the laws of stopped time, killing anyone who tries to bring harm to those who aren’t still active and many other things. It’s interesting and has a good hook.

Also fucking Miyavi for whatever reason did the OP and I think that’s awesome. I shouldn’t like the song as much as I do, nor the video, neither is all that good but something about them both makes me not want to ever skip it. Then there’s the ED which I can’t help but think of Girl’s High every time I see it because it’s LITERALLY the Girl’s High ED even down to being drawn by the Kite guy and doing similar poses for the still shots.

Miyavi OP.

Skilled Teaser Takagi-san

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This is just a sweet fun cute thing about a little girl handling her crush on a little boy. I originally was worried by “tease” given how Japan is and how anime is, I thought it might go directly to being what “teasing” always is with anime and be OOPS I SLIPPED MY GIANT VULVA ARE NOW PENETRATING MY PANTIES AND SQUISHING YOUR FACE HEHE and other slutty retarded shit.

Instead this is actually really treating it AS just two kids crushing on one another and this girl wanting to have fun with the boy she likes by getting him in trouble, embarrassing him in silly childish ways, and so on. There’s nothing (so far) that feels out of place and it ends up paying off by being just an adorable pseudo-romance that’s all about trolling her crush (and the boy always failing to do it back). It’s wholesome, sometimes very sweet, and adorable.

Fantastic OP.

Kaijuu Girls 2

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GAO! GAO! GAOOOO!!!!

Love is Like after the Rain

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I didn’t expect it, and I almost forgot about it entirely, and the summary when I was originally even remotely interested in it was really off-putting and made it sound like some shitty self-insert wish fulfillment fantasy about having a teenager love whatever old dude wrote the story…but actually this turned out to maybe be my absolute favorite show this season aside Clear Card which is cheating a little bit by being CCS 20 years later. This series actually shares something in common with that – while it ISN’T 20 years old, everything about the art, character designs, and just overall feeling of this show is VERY reminiscent of early 90s anime. Visually it’s really gorgeous too, not only thanks to the style and unique (nowadays) designs, but because WIT studio are the ones behind it and they’ve done a great job with it. It’s also like going back in time in another way – to when Noitamina didn’t air fucking garbage like they do now until this!

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Even all that aside, the show is absolutely something special. You’ve got a unique set-up of a young high school girl who has fallen in love with a middle aged divorcee and it doesn’t take that comically – this isn’t some super serious show but it’s also not a romcom instead opting to actually just be a romance though it has plenty of laughs too. One of the things I really love about it already is that it does an incredible job at showing both sides of this situation – not that the guy knows she’s into him yet and his feelings are questionable if existent at all – but you see her very youthful ways of dealing with her feelings for him, and you get plenty of his view on things too making for some fun and silly moments as we get to hear both their thoughts instead of only one side.

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I say it’s not romcom but is romance with some comedy, and that’s true, but I also want to say it – so far at least – is also isn’t really “serious” or a drama at this point either. It’s almost more sentimental and sweet than anything else putting it in a hard to explain category. I know nothing about this series so maybe it’ll get serious, there’s certainly potential for it to and there’s some good work at revealing information to us naturally and some of that information could end up relevant (and likely will, especially her ankle and her super fucking cute track friend) and COULD end up going in some serious direction. I don’t know, but I’m excited to see whatever this brings because I just absolutely love it and the entirety of the characters so far as well.

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I’m not explaining it or my feelings very well, but I just really do love it already and even including Clear Card this is probably the show I’m looking forward to seeing each week the most this season. It’s also got my favorite OP (not hard thanks to being a CHiCO with Honeyworks song – the two together are definitely one of my upper-favorite music ‘groups’) of the season and really it’s just such a super enjoyable show right off the bat, is something so unique especially in recent years, and does such a fucking phenomenal job getting you attached to these characters immediately and getting across what a sweet pure love this girl has for this guy. I really hope this doesn’t disappoint me because this could end up pretty high in my favorite romances if it keeps this up.

Fantastic OP.

Hakumei to Mikochi

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Cute little mini-people who have to cut down grass in order to walk around because they’re so small and who can talk to bugs and ride them around and such living in a forest being cute little mini-people. There’s something about it that reminds me of Last Girls Tour without mushroom-angels who eat nuclear missiles in terms of the pace and characters, but it’s definitely much more squishy, cute, and laid-back (like the next show!). It really is just this pair of really cute smushy minis that we get to watch live their lives. It’s sweet and cute, but it’s not “nothing” either (which you’ll hear me repeat with the next show) because it has this sense of exploration and a very fun interesting new world to visit.

Laid-back Camp

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This is cute and it has a perfect feeling to it. It doesn’t come off as a boring fucking Aria type of deal, nor does it come off like Encouragement of Climb which is a great little show but is much more busily paced and active. This is a nice and fittingly enough laid back show that’s directed very well with a lot of perfect amounts of sitting on a shot and soaking things in without going overboard and also without ever having things not be active or having a purpose – this might feel very soft and devoid of much, yet at the same time there is always activity or purpose to go with it unlike most other shows similar to it (for example the very relaxing Sketchbook Full Colors which always comes to mind when I try to think of something to compare this to – except again, that show is very much nothing for the sake of nothing, good but still). I don’t have much to say beyond that, pretty simple show but exceptionally enjoyable and soothing as well as full of plenty of fun comedy.

Fantastic OP that is basically a Jackson 5 song.

Dagashi Kashi 2

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Almost as bad as Moyashimon 2!

 

Mitchiri Neko

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Squishy cats doin squishy cat things. It is strange but very fun and cute. They also all gather into a van for the ED and toot horns on top of it while they drive around.

 

There are a handful of other shows I wanted to watch or even did start but I just can’t manage that and having physical therapy 3 days a week and a billion other health issues at the same time so I stuck with “just” these ones. Also some continuing ones like Classicaloid 2, Time Bokan 2, and Black Clover.

One response to “Winter 2018 Anime – Early Thoughts

  1. Pingback: Must-read Monthly Monday (February 2018 ed.) – The Animanga Spellbook·

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