Even in the best seasons, not every anime of the season will turn out positively and this season was definitely not one of the best. Before I turn my attention to the fall season, I want to highlight some of the anime that made this season slightly difficult to get through.
I feared that Steins;Gate 0 was a mere cash grab by it’s creators who couldn’t resist the temptation of further fleecing fans of their most popular franchise. I’m happy to say this was an unfounded fear, too much work was put into Steins;Gate 0 to classify it as a cash grab; instead, Steins;Gate 0 turned out to be a mediocre hodgepodge of bits and scraps marinated with a liberal dose of retconning told through the dreary viewpoint of a depressed Okabe that never gives the viewer a real reason why it’s worth watching. While it’s not correct to blame all the problems with this season of Steins;Gate on the new director, Kenichi Kawamura, it’s easier to point to him for the show’s tonally deaf scenes of excessive fan service as well as the loss of the atmosphere that made even the most mundane parts of the original season interesting. On the plus side, Steins;Gate 0 didn’t monkey with and damage my opinion of the original series and the fact that not even the original creators could really find much to add here shows how perfect the original Steins;Gate was.
Free!: Dive to the Future
On a day I’m feeling uncharitable, I’d call Free!: Dive to the Future an obvious cash grab by Kyoto Animation and on the other days I’d call it an example of what happens when the creators have run out of new ideas and fall back on reusing plot elements. I wanted to like this season of Free because I really enjoyed the first season and I liked the idea of letting some of characters actually graduate high school and having their wants and problems broaden as they begin attending college. However, season three’s plot could be summarized as Haruka discovers yet more friend(s) he used to have and these friend(s) all have problems that will only be resolved by racing Haruka in the utmost serious of manner. What charm and relaxing slice-of-life vibe the first season had has been lost and nothing has been gained by attending college. This under-utilization of the college setting became more obvious to me when I finally decided to pick up the concurrently airing Grand Blue. As a comedy it was pretty good, not great, for it leaned a bit too heavily on repeatedly getting it’s cast drunk and naked. Nevertheless, Grand Blue did a much better job of making the characters feel like college kids. At the time, I’d postulate a show that was maybe 60-75% like Free!: Dive to the Future and 25-40% Grand Blue would be about perfect. Now that we are in the Fall 2018 season, I would scrap that and say that I wish Free!: Dive to the Future was closer to the now airing Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru (Run with the Wind). This anime is the perfect balance of drama and comedy, the cast is made up of a variety of character types and they have a variety of wishes and desires and fears, and they’re college kids that actually feel like college kids.
Cells at Work! had a single joke which was to imagine what the human body would look like it if each cell looked like a person and that was basically it. Yes, it was mildly interesting to see how each of these cells were portrayed, but, just about every episode resolved around showcasing which specialized cell the body uses to kill the various foreign entities that try to enter it. I probably only finished this because the Red Blood Cell that was one of the main characters was voiced by Kana Hanazawa who is one of my favorites.
If there is one thing that is absolutely true about Hanebado!, it’s that the production staff were completely successful in transmitting the passion and intensity at the center of this show to it’s audience. The question of if that was a good thing is an entirely different matter. I try to make the distinction in shows such as this between excessive drama for drama’s sake and if the amount of drama seems to match the characters in the show. In the case of Hanebado!, I believe the “drama” in the series feels like an organic product of the characters that make up Hanebado!. So, I’m not really knocking the show for it’s passion and intensity, though, the compressed pacing of the show did not allow a more natural flow between times of intensity and time of quiet reflection. Where I had problems with this anime is in the complicated relationship Ayano Hanesaki had/has with badminton and how the show handled it. Even knowing that she largely works through these issues by the end of this season doesn’t automatically make what her friends and responsible adults around her did to force her to play badminton again okay. I’m also less than pleased with how lightly Ayano’s Mom got off after she showed that she is easily anime’s worst parent of 2018 for how she twisted Ayano and others with regards to how they view people and how they view badminton. I was glad that I watched Hanebado!. The badminton matches were often very electrifying to watch and I did appreciate having some boys in the badminton club (even if they were underutilized) and the story was largely told well. It’s just a bit frustrating that this series falls short of it’s potential.
Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu
Surprisingly, I didn’t drop How Not to Summon a Demon Lord. I’d chosen this series as an obviously low scoring series that would help counterbalance the good series I prioritize watching and, thusly, help keep my average score on MAL from ballooning higher because a serious anime reviewer can’t have too high of an average score and be taken seriously. 😉 Things didn’t quite go to script when the show turned out to not as bad as I imagined it would be and did a pretty good job of keeping it’s story interesting. There is definitely a legitimately good story buried amongst the dreck and, I feel weird saying this, the show does not rely on exploiting the unsavory aspects of it’s setup to tell it’s story and that should be commended. I can almost believe the author was somehow forced to include these parts for the series to be greenlighted. It makes me wish the series would have been reworked and the whole two female main characters being magically enslaved to the male main character thing would have been removed and the female characters were given some real clothes and drawn in a slightly more realistic manner.
Looking over my list of shows I watched for the Summer season, I realize the only one I didn’t talk about was Kyoto Teramachi Sanjou no Holmes. This was a late pick up and I was hoping it would be a comfy slice-of-lifeish series that showcased the historical city of Kyoto and threw in a light mystery or two. It kinda did, but, it also tried to inject more drama than what was really needed by creating a master forger that wanted to beat the appraiser/amateur sleuth with the nickname of Holmes that the series is named after and this part of the series failed. I guess that since I didn’t have a real high expectation for the show, I didn’t mind that the series was thoroughly average and largely a forgettable experience.
And with that, I finished my look at the Summer 2018 season. Which shows from summer did you find to be not-so-good, disappointing, and bad?
Hopefully, I won’t go back into hibernation as this Fall 2018 season turned out to be a pretty interesting. 🙂