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Currently Watching (Summer 2019 Edition)

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  • #16
    Summer 2019 Final Thoughts

    First Impressions

    While last season had holdouts a month past this point, everything that's going to end this season already has, before the month has changed and the next slew of titles have started. I have a little bit of time tonight, so I'll see how much I can get into my thoughts on these series.

    New For Summer 2019:

    The first number and icon is the number of spots and direction the series moved on the given ranking. The second is the number and direction of possible grades it moved. The former is obviously only relative to the other series around it, and the latter may show a movement of "00" even if my opinion of it did go up or down, if it wasn't enough to change the grade.

    00► 01▲ 01. Vinland Saga (A) There was no real doubt that Vinland Saga would be my favorite anime of this season. The manga has been one of my favorites for the past six years and Wit Studio was a natural fit for it. The director didn't inspire strong feelings in either direction, but his background being almost entirely CG work (and direction of a very CG-heavy series) did give me some concern about the production of this series that has been so beloved to me for so long. Thankfully, the CG is relegated to only slightly noticeable background characters, while the images at the forefront are given the beautiful treatment that Yukimura's meticulous artwork warrants. The line work is strong, the colors are rich, the action is well-choreographed and solidly animated, and the backgrounds are staggeringly magnificent. The series takes some liberties in restructuring the story to be completely chronological instead of beginning in the thick of it and then providing context through flashbacks, but that works well enough, and at the end of the day, it feels like the early parts of the Vinland Saga I know and love. I look forward to the next cour and hope that it ends at a very specific point and continues on with the same excellent production values in future seasons. It took 14 years to finally get this, but thankfully it seems to be living up to its potential so far.
    03▲ 02▲ 02. Given (B+) It's rare that we get a yaoi/shounen-ai/BL anime series that I'm particularly fond of, but I suppose it's when it blends that with a topic I'm a fan of that it has the best chances. This has the trappings of that genre more than a Yuri!!! on Ice, but it still lets the characters live as people and explore multiple facets of their lives more than the typical fetishist depictions I'm used to seeing. The music side of the series is far from the level of BECK, but it is effective enough to make the band's first big performance a shockingly powerful moment. Perhaps most importantly, the romances are treated largely as simple romances, not really sexualized at all, and certainly without the aggressively forceful material that so often hinders the genre. Admittedly, the main pair aren't as well-realized as some of the supporting characters, so that does prevent the series from becoming great, but its strengths allow it to be better than I had any reason to expect.
    05▲ 02▲ 03. Kanata no Astra (B+) At first, this series seemed like a simple premise full of too many plot conveniences and not enough tension given the seemingly high initial stakes. But as it goes on, it proves surprisingly adept at two things. The first is apparent even fairly early on: its ability to develop each of its characters, placed in a scenario that forces them to be virtually the only characters in the series. At first, it employs a standard episodic formula to explore backgrounds and establish the unique position of each character within the group, but this becomes more nuanced as the series progresses and reveals its other big strength. This is the wealth of plot twists it manages to weave within a short period of time without feeling cheap or unbelievable. Instead, it creates a much more captivating story and results in some harrowing circumstances before resolving a suddenly very complex plot within the last few episodes of this one cour (albeit with two double-length episodes and lots of skipped OPs and EDs). Its main weaknesses all come from its pacing: it takes too long to feel consequential and could use more time with its bombshell revelations and resolutions, especially given the disproportionate amount of time dedicated to its epilogue. There could've been more of a final conflict as well, but the material leading up to that was gripping enough to forgive it.
    02▼ 00► 04. Dr. Stone (B+) Paradoxically both the most educational and the dumbest show I'm watching, Dr. Stone has managed to apply its unique concepts to the shounen formula in a way that's consistently fun and fresh, if often too difficult to take seriously. With the attention to detail the creator has clearly given to its scientific component, it's a little unfortunate that it requires such extreme suspension of disbelief to imagine that this smug high schooler with a perpetual shit-eating grin has recorded all of human understanding so flawlessly in his mind that he can perfectly recreate any scientific achievement with factory-like accuracy after thousands of years of civilization being destroyed, especially since he's able to acquire all of the necessary materials in such short order. But even accepting all of that, I find myself enjoying the ride, curious to see what they'll put out next, and legitimately learning potentially valuable material to some extent.
    01▲ 01▲ 05. Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo. (B) Mari Okada has made an impressive name for herself in this industry, constantly increasing the volume of her prolific writing output, not only churning out more originals than most writers but also an equal or greater amount of adaptations that she still leaves her signature mark on, not only series but a good number of films as well. On top of that, she made her directorial debut on a wonderful original film that she also wrote last year, and this series is not only written by her but adapted from the first manga that she herself also wrote. AnoHana is still her only work among my all-time favorites and her oeuvre includes some works that I outright dislike, but she tends to include certain distinctive elements that I can appreciate, especially in this context of young people trying to navigate complicated emotions in the most tumultuous phase of life. This is Okada all over, such a sincere depiction of girls' sexual discovery in the throes of puberty that it's probably not too much of a stretch to imagine it to be one of her most personal compositions. This has immense potential, but like Astra, rushes the conclusion a bit too much. In this case, the problems each character is facing are far too complex to be so easily resolved. It seemed like it could've gone on for at least twice as long, but instead tries to tie up entirely too many complicated emotions in a plot line too absurd for a story this grounded to deserve, ultimately forcing everyone to suddenly shout their feelings at once. That's the quintessential Okada finale, but its application has to be taken on a case-by-case basis, and this one could've used a greater degree of delicacy, if not a different approach altogether. These gripes are so specific only because I loved what this series was doing for the most part, so I wish it could've had a smoother conclusion.
    02▼ 01▼ 06. Enen no Shouboutai (B-) I want to love this show so much for its incredible animation and interesting concepts, but its treatment of female characters and obnoxious gags hurt it so much that I might not even be watching it if not for its impressive visual spectacle. The character of Tamaki almost seems like a deliberate distillation of everything wrong with the series: a pathetic damsel who exists to get beaten up to prove that someone is a villain, is then rescued to show off the strength of other male characters, then cries like a baby for submissive waifu appeal, and finally becomes infatuated with whatever male character was cool around her most recently. All the while, her running gag, which is acknowledged by the characters, is that she constantly falls into impossibly gross ecchi tropes with all male characters around her, even in the midst of moments that are supposed to be serious and heart-wrenching. She isn't the only example, but a symptom of all of the worst problems with a series that could be a top-notch shounen series, or at least at the level of its creator's previous work, Soul Eater, especially with David Production giving it such lavish treatment that still makes it worthwhile even with these glaring flaws.
    02▲ 00► 07. Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru? (B-) Okay, calling Dr. Stone the dumbest show I was watching in a season with this trashy trifle may have been a stretch. Interestingly enough, this has its own degree of educational value, and remains infectiously entertaining despite my best efforts to prioritize the fact that it's absolutely shameless trash. It's so brazen, though, that it's almost respectable, as contradictory as that sounds. Again, it's a conflicting situation. On one hand, it encourages healthy workout regiments and is fairly informative on the matter. On the other hand, it uses these "lessons" as an excuse to show girls in fanservicey scenes that have less and less to do with the matter at hand as the series goes on, and it makes sure you realize that. But for one cour with no expectations or thought required, I don't regret the time I spent consuming these empty calories (this is a relevant metaphor). Oh, and the theme songs and in-episode jingles are fucking delightful.
    01▼ 00► 08. Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note (B-) This may simultaneously be the best Fate spinoff anime and the latest confirmation that no Fate spinoff anime is worth watching. We'll see where the latest Grand Order adaptation next season takes us, but for a big Fate/Zero fan, the prospect of seeing Waver's future around the time of Fate/stay night held a lot of promise. However, this Waver retains almost none of the qualities that made him lovable, the series is far less of a Fate series than it is a detective mystery, and it doesn't really work as that because all of its solutions are so tied into Nasuverse contrivances that the audience could've never begun to piece together. Every time I'm ready to dismiss everything about the series completely, though, it pulls out a poignant little peek into Waver's sense of regret and longing around Iskandar and the Holy Grail Wars that brings back a hint of the Waver we left behind and a level of humanization that he's rarely given in this series that resolves around him. At the end of the day, what I want from this series is the same thing that Waver wants, but as we've known all along, his story can never truly intersect with the main story of Fate/stay night, so he'll never achieve those dreams and his series will likely never be anything more than another forgettable spinoff. If nothing else, future seasons could tie up some of the many loose ends left by this amazingly inconclusive offering, but I'm not sure how much interest I have in dedicating any more time to this particular detour.
    06▼ 02▼ 09. Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka II (C+) I'm afraid to say I may not like DanMachi anymore. Over four years since the pleasant surprise of the first season, we've gotten a very weak spinoff starring the most boring major character, a movie designed to be taken out of the story with no consequences, and this second season with such a sloppy structure that I could've stay invested in the characters I was once fond of despite their best efforts to drive home pathos that ultimately came across as unearned due to the plot developments not progressing organically enough. We already have another season confirmed, this time only a year later, but I feel like this may have soured me on the series enough that I might just skip the next installment anyway.

    Everything that Ended:

    01. Kimetsu no Yaiba (A) Episode 19 of this series was easily the best episode of anything this season, but while Kimetsu no Yaiba may not always hit that peak, it's far from an anomaly but simply the culmination of everything the series does so spectacularly on a regular basis. While I'm sure the manga is one of the better Jump titles these days, this adaptation uses its medium to the fullest to transform it into an absolute masterpiece of a shounen action series, taking its darker qualities and utilizing the iconic ufotable aesthetic to craft a chillingly detailed world of horrors and adventure. If Zenitsu wasn't so unforgivably annoying, I almost want to imagine this could've been an A+, but aside from him, nearly everything about the series is fantastic. The other main characters range from inherently fascinating to receiving development deep enough to break out of generic archetypes and become thoroughly compelling. The villains are equally complex, almost always sympathetic in a way that doesn't feel phoned in, while still functioning as absolutely terrifying threats no matter how far down the shounen hierarchy they ostensibly sit. The series offers the finest display of ufotable's effects, perhaps the best compositing in anime, and easily the highest quality animation of anything this season and anything the studio has ever produced. Again, all of this reaches its apex at episode 19, but it's a stunningly beautiful series throughout. Additionally, the music from both the very distinctive Kajiura and the lesser-known Shiina complement the material magnificently, including pieces that draw upon the historical sounds of the period to create hauntingly memorable themes. The next arc will be adapted into a movie, so it may be a while before I see it, but the style they've established for this adaptation is so wonderful that I'll be happy to get more whenever it comes.
    02. Fruits Basket 1st Season (B+) No real surprises as this is a very direct translation of a manga I've read all of, but so far it's a solid enough effort. The series doesn't become a masterpiece until later material anyway, so that will be the true test, but I'd like to believe that the level of quality this has shown indicates that the series can live up to its source material.
    03. Given (B+)
    04. Kanata no Astra (B+)
    05. Fairy Tail: Final Series (B) Appropriately ending pretty much exactly ten years after the anime began, Fairy Tail is finally over forever. I've been watching each episode as it's aired for 328 episodes spread across three seasons in those ten years, and I can safely say that it has been a very middle-of-the-road shounen action series all the while. It probably didn't warrant that long of a series, but I never found myself tired of it, and at least it does have a complete story that didn't significantly drop off in quality at any point. It is almost never original or of particularly high quality, but it always manages to use its very standard shounen formula effectively enough to make the climactic moments feel as inspiring and emotional as they want to be.
    06. Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo. (B)
    07. Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru? (B-)
    08. Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note (B-)
    09. Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka II (C+)

    Everything I'm Watching:

    01▲ 01▲ 01. Vinland Saga (A)
    01▲ 01▲ 02. Kimetsu no Yaiba (A)
    02▼ 00► 03. Wan pîsu (A-)
    01▲ 00► 04. Fruits Basket 1st Season (B+)
    01▼ 00► 05. Detective Conan (B+)
    00► 00► 06. Diamond no Ace: Act II (B+)
    04▲ 02▲ 07. Given (B+)
    06▲ 02▲ 08. Kanata no Astra (B+)
    02▼ 00► 09. Dr. Stone (B+)
    02▼ 01▼ 10. Fairy Tail: Final Series (B)
    01▲ 01▲ 11. Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo. (B)
    02▼ 01▼ 12. Enen no Shouboutai (B-)
    02▲ 00► 13. Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru? (B-)
    01▼ 00► 14. Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note (B-)
    06▼ 02▼ 15. Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka II (C+)

    Weekly Schedule:

    Sunday (1): Vinland Saga
    Monday (0):
    Tuesday (1): Diamond no Ace: Act II
    Wednesday (2): Kanata no Astra, Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru?
    Thursday (1): Given
    Friday (5): Fruits Basket 1st Season, Dr. Stone, Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo., Enen no Shouboutai, Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka II
    Saturday (5): Kimetsu no Yaiba, Wan pîsu, Detective Conan, Fairy Tail: Final Series, Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note
    My Top Anime | Manga
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    My FP Reviews | Twitter
    FPR Episodes | Apple


    • #17
      Post-simulcast Report: September 1-15

      Before it slips away from my mind, time for my next post-simulcast report. This one is short compared to the next one as it will have a lot of finishing shows. Speaking of which, I still have to do it for the spring season, but things are starting to settle down, and I'm spending a lot of time watching football, and this would be a great opportunity to do that. As a reminder, I don't do reviews for OVAs associated with a TV series, which is the case for Masamune-kun's Revenge.


      A Silent Voice (movie): A+
      This is another KyoAni masterpiece as the show really benefits with some great animation. But above all, it's the transformation of character that carries this show, and the way it's done is simply beautiful. Add to it a great soundtrack and an emotionally-driven plot, and this show is unquestionably great.

      Masamune-kun's Revenge (OVA): C

      Saga of Tanya the Evil (movie): A-
      This movie does a great job in following up the TV series as it does a whole lot more than to make the MC more evil than ever, but at the same time with an environment that makes her more down to earth. The animation takes a step up, all while most of the action is nice with the exception of the climactic battle. Nevertheless, this movie does a great job focusing on storytelling doing so without veering off course, which was an issue with the TV series, all while doing an excellent job in developing Tanya's character.

      ^Princess Principal (1-12): B+
      This show is as perfect as it could get on the technical side of things with great animation, soundtrack, and action. The characters are what especially drive this show as the girls are all great characters that are fully of mystery. Then there's the drama that made for a nice show. Just about the only major issues are cohesion, and the neglect of the supporting characters. Airing the episodes out of order with self-contained stories made this a show that didn't feel like a proper story, all while the supporting cast didn't get much attention with the focus almost exclusively on the leads. In any case, it's a highly entertaining show.


      [CTU] Carole and Tuesday (1-12)
      [DBZ-S] Dragon Ball Super (117-123)
      [KGA] Kengan Ashura (4-12)
      [SUH] Miss Caretaker of Sunohara-sou (6-7)
      MyAnimeList | Avatar: Angelina Kudo Shields, The Irregular at Magic High School
      Watching: Re: Hamatora, Citrus, Demon Lord Retry, Buddyfight Ace
      Simulcasts: EES-2, HIQ-4, GKY-3, IMH-2, DUN-3, IOR-3, STW-3, A3A-2, INU-Y, KHO, DBG, HIG-G, JJK, MTP, TKW, A3A, ASH, ADV, TSZ, K3B, MWZ, SLP, JEL, SDF, GBF-G, RRQ, DCF, 1RM-3
      The only thing better than anime is sports. Get hit hard and you got JACKED UP! Or else it's a C'mon Man!


      • #18
        Summer 2019 Simulcast Rankings: September

        Now that everything for this season is finished, time for the final rankings of the season.

        Home Run
        Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
        Vinland Saga
        Fairy Tail Final Season
        Fruits Basket (2019) (Promoted)
        Given (Promoted)

        Base Hit
        Astra Lost in Space
        Dr. Stone
        O Maidens in Your Savage Season
        Lord El-Melloi II's Case Files: {Rail Zeppelin} Grace Note
        Fire Force
        How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?
        The Demon Girl Next Door (Promoted)
        If It's For My Daughter, I'd Even Defeat a Demon Lord
        Is It Wrong to Try and Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? II

        Wasteful Days of High School Girls
        The Ones Within (Promoted)
        Re:Stage! Dream Days (Promoted)

        Cop Craft

        Hensuki (Demonted)
        Are You Lost?

        Hakata Mentai! Pirikarako-chan


        Fruits Basket (2019) - The first season climax was nicely done as it utilized drama well, all while being animated beautifully. This show felt stuck in neutral in the middle, but it finally takes the long-awaited step up that I was waiting for in the end.

        Given - That's just beautiful the way the MC got over the hump, and going so with grace. This is the moment that I was waiting for seeing that this show takes BL in a whole different light. It's still not finished, which I can understand, but episode 9 alone is easily one of the best episodes of the year, and that's why it takes a big leap.

        Astra Lost in Space - This show thrives on drama and character development, and that is on full display in the ending. Especially the big reveal at the end that had all sorts of great effects on the story.


        Hensuki - After a slow start and a improving middle, the last few episodes were downers as it was pretty obvious who the Cinderella is, all while the ending pretty much ends up being back to where things all began. The ending definitely stunk in a big way.

        Is It Wrong to Try and Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? II - This season ends with some pretty sloppy storywriting and pacing issues. The Pleasure Quarter arc was dragged out and I felt that it did so needlessly. At least a third season is coming seeing that the writing just didn't feel as coordinated as it could have been.

        Lord El-Melloi II's Case Files: {Rail Zeppelin} Grace Note - It's only a minor drop, but after some strong storytelling in the earlier episodes, it loses steam towards the end of the Rail Zeppelin arc as there was just so much going on. Even so, it was still entertaining to watch, but it just missed the opportunity to be among the elite shows this season.
        MyAnimeList | Avatar: Angelina Kudo Shields, The Irregular at Magic High School
        Watching: Re: Hamatora, Citrus, Demon Lord Retry, Buddyfight Ace
        Simulcasts: EES-2, HIQ-4, GKY-3, IMH-2, DUN-3, IOR-3, STW-3, A3A-2, INU-Y, KHO, DBG, HIG-G, JJK, MTP, TKW, A3A, ASH, ADV, TSZ, K3B, MWZ, SLP, JEL, SDF, GBF-G, RRQ, DCF, 1RM-3
        The only thing better than anime is sports. Get hit hard and you got JACKED UP! Or else it's a C'mon Man!


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