Anime Fall 2016 – Favourites

To me it felt like finally fall season was a strong quarter of new anime again! It seemed like it was relatively balanced regarding different genres and to some extent a couple of new seiyuu were able to make their debut. I will list the shows that I’ve enjoyed the most this fall. That said, I’m not including DAYS since it’s basically a summer leftover but I enjoy it so very much nevertheless, therefore I must lose a few words on it before I get started.

I usually get invested in every sports anime there is, somehow they always seem to be able to  get me at least a little bit captivated. Of course, there are those I enjoy more than others but in general, I’m always happy to see a new kind of sports adapted in anime. The fall season did offer not only one but six!! new sports anime and nevertheless the one I’m enjoying the most is still DAYS from the previous season. I believe what draws me in with this series is not necessarily the football maneuvres but rather the interesting characters and how their relationships in- and outsidescreenshot-1348 the team develop and change. Surely DAYS doesn’t re-invent anything we haven’t seen before, but the character designs are interesting – not too flashy and not overly realistic either. The 24 episodes merely guided us through the protagonists journey from the starting line to the first serious tournament that puts their team on the line, particularly the third-year members for which this is their last chance to rise to the top. Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to read the manga yet so I will excitedely dependen on the sequel for now.

Now that I’ve expressed my love for DAYS, my favourite anime series of this season do follow:

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  1. Ajin 2

Of course, the second season of Ajin is among my preferred shows because the first season of Ajin is already one of my favourite anime out there, and Ajin in general is a series that I’ve come to love a great deal. To me it is just as good as the first season. They are continuing the nerve-racking and amazing story, now adding new interesting and important characters and keeping the OST that is one of the best soundstracks that have ever been created in my opinion. In the last episodes in particular, the characters’ expressions were so beautifully authentic that it sent shivers down my spine. I’m still glad about the fact that they chose to go for a quality CG animation for this anime because it really works well for the emotional range of the characters. (10/10)

2. Natsume Yuujinchou Go

Long expected and yearned for. This sequel it is just as good as its previous seasons used to be. Calling it “the same” may seem rather negative at first but with Natsume Yuujinchou little change is essential in my opinion. The series has a certain atmosphere that must be retained at all cost: it is slow-paced and soothing, emotional through small details, seemingly trivial events and daily routine of the characters. And all of that is still there. Hence this 5th season is like coming home to your old friends Natsume, Nyanko-sensei and their friends and youkai companions. It’s like coming home to old feelings and honestly, it gets me relaxed instantly. Obviously, I am always a tad biased for the ost as well since Makoto Yoshimori belongs to one of my favourite composers (if he isn’t even the favourite) and I was overjoyed to return to his old compositions. (And I have the feeling I have even heard one or two new tunes throughout the anime). The changes that did take place in the anime are changes that have happemed step by step over time e.g. the development of the characters in their universe. Outside of that universe, even the animation style has stayed relatively similar. What excellent consistency! I can safely say that the show has kept its charm and ‘warmth’ because almost every episode had me in tears. (10/10)

3. Drifters

Drifters is, in fact, a really solid adaptation of the fantastic manga by Kouta Hirano. Naturally, chapters, moments, details were skipped but it doesn’t disturb the anime’s atmosphere or plot too much, especially to people who aren’t familiar with the original work. What I appreciate most about the animation is that it has stayed true to its roots regarding style and mood, very similar to the Hellsing movies. Equally astonishing are the beautiful ending and opening sequence. With many anime this season I wasn’t 100% convinced by the voice cast but in Drifters they have picked the seiyuu for each character extremely well, especially Naoya Uchida as Nobunaga Oda is incredibly authentic! (9/10)

4. Sengoku Choujuu Giga

A show like no other. An anime short of 3-5 minutes per episode. A series I had been looking forward to that turned out to be everything I had expected it to be, and more. Sengoku Choujuu Giga is an animation of the Sengoku Era’s important figures portrayed as animals in a traditional Japanese painting style (sumi-e). The pacing and atmosphere as well as the art style appeal to me a lot. The show is funny and educational at the same time (even if only in a roundabout way) and the seiyuu do an outstanding job of making the best of the five minutes they get each episode. It may sound very simple but the sumi-e makes it extremely original and entertaining and the animation of those paintings is beautifully adapted. At times they also make such clever puns, one of Japan’s best qualities as I believe. Eventually, I feel like it is a show that is mostly overlooked by people but I greatly recommend it to those who are up for something different and are also interested in Japanese history. Fortunately it will even continue until winter season 2017. (9/10)

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Runners-up:

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1. Fune wo Amu: This show could have been perfect to me but sadly the atmosphere isn’t completely conistent. The anime is about the creation of the great Japanese dictionary Daitokai. There are two things that bother me a little: The opening song and the ‘Dictionary intermission’. The latter is a short animation of speaking dictionaries, musing about their existences and thus teaching the viewer a few things about the usually rather unfamiliar subject of dictionaries. It is shown during the commercial intermission. Both of those things are fine by itself, especially the dictionary clips are really cute and well-made but I think they don’t fit in the middle of a relatively realistic show with a mostly serious mood. They are a bit too out of context and throw the viewer off. The opening song bugs me because it also really doesn’t fit the general mood of the show or the animation of the opening sequence. Something more calm or classical might have been a better choice than a pop song. Despite that, I am a great fan of Kumota’s character designs and the rather “different” slice of life story of the anime.

2. To be Hero: I’m always falling for the shorts. To be Hero is another one of those and it has a great amount of humour. Barely taking itself seriously, making fun of various other shows and franchises and never shy to throw in the most vulgar humour, it has many parallels with Gintama at times (and even Tomokazu Sugita is here). The gist of the story is how our protagonist, a handsome but “bad, neglecting” father is sucked into his toilet one day and gets turned into a superhero. That ensues him turning into an “ugly dude” who is invincible so that he can save the world..and maybe get his daily life with his daughter back that way?…I really enjoy the ending song which, I think, is in Chinese? The only downside may be that the female protgonist is voiced by a newcomer seiyuu which is no problem at all, if only she wasn’t doing such an unexpectedly bad job. In the first couple of episodes it wasn’t as striking yet but later on her voice acting just really stopped convincing me. Despite that, I’m very happy that she got a chance to voice in her first anime, everyone needs to start somewhere. In general, this anime is wild and absurd and that are also its best qualities!

3. Nobunaga no Shinobi: Yet another anime short! It is about the kunoichi and her brother that work under Nobunaga Oda. In that regard it’s another animation about the Sengoku Period but mixed with a very plesant, light sense of humour. I’m always interested in shows that deal with this time period of Japanese history because as violent and wild as it may have been it was also an intersting period and I take great joy in seeing how another anime (or other medium) might adapt it and its historical figures. This anime short, like Sengoku Choujuu Giga, can also be educational at times when it’s not being a collection of adorable sketches. The cast is mainly including elite seiyuu whose voices are all music to my ears (as always). I value how this anime shows that you don’t need to do much to create something entertaining.

4. Yuri on Ice: This season’s #1 show of discourse, as it seems. So I, too, will talk about it a little. Yuri on Ice started to draw me in with its opening which is beautiful and catchy, then it followed up with a enjoyable setting and a protagonist that was finally a little older already (aversed to the highscool sports anime setting). And to its credit, if we take away the melodrama and heartbreak, this anime is actually about figure skating. It shows us skating performances of high caliber and even if the animation gets rather unquality at times it didn’t stop me from enjoying the skating. The ost greatly relies on inserted  (beautiful) songs in various languages which is a refreshing and suitable change from other sports anime or anime in general. During the first half of the series the overall mood of Yuri on Ice was wonderfully consistent as it jumped back and forth from light comedy to serious drama to actual ice skating as a sport. And then the second half happened. Yuri’s and Victor’s relationship is a really sweet one and not necessarily badly written but in its final steps they overdid it just a bit too much with the overdramatic romance. That’s more of a personal downside though, since I’m not a fan of too much ‘schmaltz’, if you will. A more objective downside is how the focus was shifted on their relationship so much that this way the other characters got neglected and we barely get the chance to understand their development, especially Yurio’s. Another thing that didn’t completely convince me was the fact that I felt the entire build-up was crumbling too early, leaving me without any real climax at the end. During its last episodes, the plot became incredibly predictable: I knew who was going to lose and win. After all this dramatic plot development, this final episode felt a bit underwhelming. Maybe that’s because there is going to be a second season though? All that said, Yuri on Ice was still a very enjoyable anime to watch and just like with real figure skating competitions I was engrossed in every performance.

5. Bungou Stray Dogs 2: I could never pinpoint what it is that doesn’t let me like Bungou Stray Dogs as much as other things. The animation is outstanding, there are a lot of characters that all have their own interesting features, the entertaining detail that they are all created after famous authors, the marvelous soundtrack, the thrilling plot (more or less)…what is there not to like, right? I feel it is stupid to dislike something without a sound reason but I just can’t put my finger on it. Maybe its that high amount of characters that never get enough time to be fully established and so I couldn’t truly relate to them? In the first season that was a little easier because there weren’t as many characters and they took a little more time to introduce the members of the Agency. Even about the characters I call my favourite in BSD I don’t know actually as much as I’d like to. In this regard the second season was probably even more rushed than the first. Maybe this is the part that didn’t fully pull me in. Despite all this I certainly did enjoy it a lot but I couldn’t  cross the border from ‘enjoying’ to’ getting invested’ yet.

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