Hello, long time no see.
How y’all doing? I know there are precious few people out of the already precious few that read this blog that care what I’ve been up to since last April, when I last wrote something for The Null Set, so, I’ll keep this brief. Probably the biggest reason for this hiatus was the enthusiasm killing perception I had with the summer season. There were so few shows that I had any hope with that I found myself dreading the season in June and avoiding pretty much all anime in July then deciding in August that I shouldn’t skip the season and began forcing myself to watch all the mediocre shows that were on my backlog until September rolled around and I went back and picked up a few shows I initially passed over and realized I’d miss some of the best this season had to offer.
It’s these final pickups that turned out so good that have guilted me into writing this summary, even after pretty much everyone has moved onto the current fall season. And so, we’ll start with shows I felt were the best of the season and they just happened to number a nice round ten.
Final Score – 9/12 A- , MyAnimeList Score – 8/10 Very Good
Encouragement of Climb Season 3 was certainly one of the best produced and prettiest anime of the season. I was pleasantly surprised when this series received a third season and it was one of the few series I was looking forward to watching. Much like the newer Yuru Camp△, this series is about cute girls doing an activity, but, the activity is pursued with a seriousness and legitimacy that pushes the series beyond being merely an excuse to look at cute girls. The only reason I didn’t include it as a numbered entry was that I felt disappointed that a second attempt by the cast at scaling Mt. Fuji didn’t occur during this third season. I understand the characters, being who they are, controlled how the story played out in this season and the series is better for not skipping over the events of this season; however, Mt. Fuji loomed large in the background and I won’t feel satisfied until I see it conquered. Here’s hoping for a fourth season.
Seasonal Score – 9/12 A- , MyAnimeList Score – 8/10 Very Good
I have to wonder if the United States was chosen as the setting for this series because no one wanted to possibly offend the real life organized crime organizations of Japan with Banana Fish’s rather unsavory portrayal of organized crime. Or was the United States chosen because the elements of Banana Fish’s story that strain credibility sound more plausible to the Japanese audience if they happen in the bizarro America that the media has created that only approximates the real America. Either way, as an American viewer, having the setting not feel quite real has impeded my ability to fully embrace this series like I want to because at times I find myself giggling at some story reveal that I’m supposed to take seriously. Which is a shame because this series is otherwise a unique treat that has me very interested in seeing how the second half plays out during the Fall season.
Then again, maybe some of the silliness in the whole idea of the CIA and Mafia working together to create a mind-controlling drug stems from the original story being written in the 1980s when the Cold War made this type of story more plausible. Nowadays, I find the idea almost quaint that in this digital age there would be organizations pursuing a drug like Banana Fish.
Seasonal Score – 8/12 B+ , MyAnimeList Score – 7/10 Good
Final Score – 11/12 A+ , MyAnimeList Score – 9/10 Great
I’ll be frank, the second half of the third season of My Hero Academia – which corresponds to what aired during the summer season – was a letdown after the brilliance shown in the first half of the season. I was sure that after the Forest Training Camp Arc and Hideout Raid Arc Academia had finally reached the point where the full potential of show’s story had been reached and Academia would begin to make a solid argument for being one of the genre’s best series. Instead, the show spent entirely way too long on the Provisional Hero License Exam Arc when there was never a doubt that Midoriya would get his license nor was anything really added to series beyond introducing some side characters that we might never see again. Further, as good as the fights are animated (thanks, Bones), the content of the fights are only average. I’m not saying that every shounen action series needs to have fights as interesting as those seen in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure or Hunter x Hunter; but, if these fights have to keep the audience’s interest during a story arc that doesn’t have much else to offer then they need to be made more interesting. Or they need to be cut down and more time needs to be given to the quiet moments that make this series so great.
Final Score – 10/12 A , MyAnimeList Score – 8/10 Very Good
I really wish Planet With had 24 – 26 episodes to tell it’s story. Only very rarely did the masterful compression into a single cour of the show’s complex and vast story ever feel off and the effort by the writing staff to accomplish this should most definitely be lauded. However, it’s rather easy to imagine the volume of material that had to be trimmed out of this series to get it to fit into twelve episodes. I find myself comparing what Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann would have looked like as a twelve episode series versus the magnum opus it was as a 27 episode series.
Planet With starts off equal parts silly, weird, and confusing with it’s talking animal aliens, galactic organizations, and secret societies. Then, in the tradition of great science fiction, Planet With slowly reveals that it’s using it’s setting to really be about something else. In this case, a story about empathy towards others, forgiveness, and the need to temper one’s idea of justice with love.
Final Score – 10/12 A , MyAnimeList Score – 8/10 Very Good
Attack on Titan Season 3 continues to push the series in a far different direction than where I originally imagined this series would go. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as I actually gave this season a higher score than either of the first two seasons. Finally getting some real answers to the multitude of questions I have about it’s very odd setting outweigh the drop in animation, when compared to the first season, as does the improvement that comes from having Eren onscreen for less time. It’s still difficult to recommend this series for any other reason than people shouldn’t miss the spectacle that is Attack on Titan; however, this first part of the third season inches the story and characters closer to the point that one could recommend the franchise for those reasons as well.
Final Score – 10.5/12 Strong A , MyAnimeList Score – 8/10 Very Good
This was one of my September pickups that pushed me into writing this post. I kinda knew that Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki was the type of series that I would enjoy and I feel bad that I waited so long into the season to finally give it a try. Angolmois is a historical action drama that focuses on the invasion of Tsushima Island during the first attempt by the Mongols to invade Japan in 1274. It’s not a perfect series, with it’s weakest element being the lack of time given to the side characters to give them depth. Don’t get me wrong, they’re given enough detail to fulfill their part of the overall story and they were all generally likable and believable. It’s just the difference between a very good series and what could have been a great or exceptional series. On the other hand, this anime had the best or nearly the best opening and ending of any anime of the season. Also, it was nice to see a different time period instead of yet another Sengoku era series. And I really liked the main character, Kuchii Jinzaburou. Plenty of time was given to develop his character as the events of this series gave him a chance to find some measure of peace from the life that lead him to being exiled to Tsushima Island.
One aspect that I’m still trying to decide if I like or not was how the series ended. I expected, given what actually happened, to see the entire cast get killed by the end of the series. That didn’t happen, though, the body count was pretty high. Part of me is glad that someone survived and another part of me wanted to see everyone go out in a blaze of glory. Maybe if I knew a sequel series was going to be made, it’d be easier to accept that enough characters survived to make that sequel possible.
Whoops! I didn’t intend to be this wordsy and will be splitting this countdown right here. I’ve already got the rest of this countdown written, so it will be along in the next day or two. I also intend to cover what I felt was the lackluster and bad anime of the season as a third part, but it’s not written at this point.
I also just realized that of the six shows mentioned here, three of them are currently in their third season, that’s kind of a weird coincidence.
And finally, to those reading, what where the anime that you were surprised at for turning out to be good or for turning out to be bad? Also, anyone want to take a guess what my top 5 of the summer season will look like?