I don’t know about those reading this, but, I thought February really flew this year. Maybe it was the strong anime lineup that kept me interested or maybe it was because I’m getting old or maybe it was aliens playing mind games on humanity. Whatever the reason, I’ll take it because I hate how long and dreary February normally feels. Though, March hasn’t slowed down and, as I finish this post, I’m surprised to see we’ve almost halfway through the month. If it wasn’t for a very solid month of anime that I’d like to talk about, I might be tempted to forget to post this since it was supposed to go up weeks ago.
Best Episode of the Month
So many anime series seem obsessed with making their first episodes the most awesome thing ever only to fail in one of a myriad ways and permanently hampering their chances at being a great series. If KyoAni had done a straight-up adaptation of the source material for Violet Evergarden this episode would have been the first episode. Which wouldn’t have been a truly terrible way to start the series because it would have done a pretty good job hooking the viewer; however, it would have wasted a very important part to Violet’s story on just being a good first episode hook. Instead, the context the audience was given in the first six episodes of the world, the characters, and their stories turned this episode into a dazzling, emotional gut-punch that ranks up there as one of KyoAni’s best episodes and seems to ensure that Violet Evergarden will go down as one of their best series.
Best Anime of the Month
This winter season has turned out to be a genuinely strong season of anime and that makes picking the best anime of the month a difficult choice, even without 3-gatsu no Lion airing this month – thanks, Olympics. I’m picking Koi wa Ameagari no You ni because it is trying to accomplish a very difficult task with it’s story and it’s succeeding, to the point that After the Rain is making it look almost effortless on their part.
I had small epiphany about this series this month. Dropping a series is the most forceful way a person can say that they reject the desire of the creators of a story from telling their story and I was still wrestling with the idea of needing to drop this series if the relationship between Akira and Kondou turned romantic. I tried to imagine actually dropping this series under those circumstances and it didn’t sit right for me, even though, I definitely do not endorse the general idea of a romance between a 17 and 45 year old. What I eventually realized is that, at some point this month, I had decided that the people behind this anime had earned the right to tell this story and, as long as the characters are allowed to be themselves, I will continue watching. I’m almost positive that I don’t have to worry about this turn of events because I think the ultimate message of this anime is not to allow life’s hardships to extinguish one’s hope for a happy future. But, if I’m wrong, I expect to see the same respect shown to these characters as has been shown to them so far.
Disappointment of the Month
On paper, Mahoutsukai no Yome was perfectly positioned to be a series I should really enjoy and I have seriously tried to like it. Yet, I’ve only ever been able to summon ambivalent feelings towards it. This month, as we approach the end of it’s 2 cour run, I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that The Ancient Magus’ Bride is more of a miss than a hit. Beyond the frustration of seeing a show fail when I wanted to succeed, it’s frustrating to explain exactly why I think this show did not succeed.
The best explanation I’ve come up with is the show has an odd “flatness” to it that disrupts the various good elements of the show from melding into a cohesively good series. The best place to see what I mean is how the show paces itself. On more than one occasion some calamity would befall Chise – seemingly setting up the story for the rest of episode or the next episode – only to see Chise getting out of this dire calamity within a couple of minutes and the show continues on like this calamity was suddenly nothing. It’s jarring and has made it harder to invest myself in seeing Chise overcome the latest calamity because I can’t tell if she will in a couple of minutes with little effort or if it will be a genuine challenge for her. I don’t know if this problem is just how the source manga tells it’s stories or if this is an artifact from adapting multiple chapters of manga into a single episode of anime and the animation staff failed to smooth it out better or if there is some other reason for this.
Screenshot of the Month
This is a very astute observation by Yuru Camp△.
I chose this screenshot because that statement is so right on and because it reminded me of one of the reasons I enjoy engaging in camp-like activities such as meteor shower watching, sunset gazing, and visiting my sister’s farm for an evening bonfire. (I’ve never gone actual camping because I am totally the princess from The Princess and the Pea when it comes to sleeping.) I like these camp-like activities because they force one to relax both in body and mind and that provides the perfect atmosphere for delightful and insightful conversations.
Which Airing Series Should I Pick Up?
With no reader feedback last month, I chose Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens as the series to pick up. The director, Kenji Yasuda, has a number of decent to good series under his belt (Full Metal Alchemist, Ikoku Meiro no Croisée, Macross Δ) and I’m normally down for a Satelight produced series anyways. What held me back before was my worry that the story would be a bit lame since it’s set in “a city of assassins”.
So how was it?
It certainly hasn’t been terrible, but, it’s hasn’t gotten quite good enough that I’m glad I picked it up. It’s trying to be something similar to Durarara!! and Blood Blockade Battlefront – a story of characters set in an unusual city with the difference being, instead of supernatural entities making it an odd city, it’s assassins of all stripes – but, it so far feels more like an inferior imitation. A better focus on developing it’s characters would really help Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens become something other than an inferior imitation.
Since I’m so late finishing this post this month and we’re near the end of the Winter seaosn, I’m going to forgo asking for another airing series to pick up or for which backlog title I should pick up. With the new season of anime starting next month, I expect to be asking my readers for guidance on which new series to watch next time.
Looking Forward to Next Month
Well, since we’re almost halfway through March – seriously, where has the time gone – there’s nothing really left to look forward to for this month other than waiting to see how the various anime series end. Series with continuing source material like Koi wa Ameagari no You ni will probably have weaker endings since they’re still unfinished works in anime form which might allow original works like Sora yori mo Tooi Basho to sneak past at the end and claim “Best of Season” accolades.
An announcement about a third season of 3-gatsu no Lion would be really nice for this month of March, but the series won’t end now until April and that’s probably when the announcement will happen, if it happens.