Holy crackers, two articles on last year in a row! It’s almost like they were originally one and I made a cut to get more out of the same content and retain readers instead of losing them due to tl;dr shenanigans. But let’s not mind the baseless conspiracy theory and celebrate TWO FOR ONE! TWO FOR ONE! And Fuu on the front page!
Well, as you can infer, apart from watching seasonal anime, I’ve also had some backlog activities going on last year. In fact, I’ve resorted to them more than during the previous years, reason being the seasonal drought of half a year of bad anime. So let’s see how my picks among older titles ended up paying off, shall we?
Of course, there’s the few titles I’ve mentioned previously on my blog. Argento Soma did less so mechas but moreso characters right and found its own footing in the sea of existential robot shows by highlighting the importance of communication and thinking in terms of untrodden ground to discover new things and achieve true progress. Master Keaton turned out to be a box of wonders with episodes dedicated to all kinds of stories yet never neglecting the most important component of them all – the human heart. Last but certainly not least, Hikaru no Go takes the top spot in terms of my backlog experiences. Do you like good things? Watch it. Do you like fun things? Watch it. Do you like exciting things? Watch it. Actually, watch it in general. Watch it. Watch it. Watch it. Watch it. Watch it.
So let’s move on to anime you’re not already familiar with through this website. Hidamari no Ki was a historical anime – based on a Tezuka work – about the Westernization of Japan in terms of nationalism, militarism and its backwards medical field refusing to move on to the very progressive idea of saving life. What it got conceptually right is that it gave us two protagonists who couldn’t be any more different, a warrior longing to preserve the Japan he knows and a doctor who detests that the very same Japan won’t let him save lives. This could have been good, the big issue however was that it kind of meandered towards dropping in important figures of its era without much fanfare and then writing them out, almost as self-serving fanservice as it struggled to maintain a more personal story of its two protagonists. Events such as the great earthquake of its time feel executed as per a checklist and there is only so much of “THE TIMES ARE CHANGING” until the story gets redundant. Nonetheless, it still made for a somewhat interesting albeit largely unmotivating watch and I appreciated its conclusion. Unless you’re a geek on Japanese history, you might want to skip out however.
Gladly, others fared a lot better – Key The Metal Idol was a grim, atmospheric thriller tale of urban horror, combining idol criticism with robots, a mysterious plot and a cool 90s aesthetic. I very much loved its estrangement of pretty much everything, not only Key but also the world as she saw it. You’ve got a cool conspiracy plot going on and the direction certainly nailed some moments here and there as Key’s quest to find 30.000 friends (wherein we reach the idol fandom part) to graduate into a human being rather than being a robot is intertwined with bad people doing bad things. Overall a cool show though the ending left me scratching my head and Key herself remained rather flat throughout the entire run.
Zipang was a gripping story in love with details and history, spinning the tale of a JSDF ship making it to WWII as its crew has to face many difficult, life and history-changing decisions. This was about as realistic as it could have been so when adult characters with modern-day military equipment make it to a past where their own country is at war for what they all believe to be the wrong reasons and know about its impeding doom, they are faced with the moral dilemma of either not interfering with the way history progressed or trying to save as many lives as possible, all while realizing that the Japanese they encounter are not the Japanese they know. With overwhelming military strength and knowledge from the future yet not invincibility and clarity in regards to how to make the right calls on their side, this is easily one of the most intriguing (historical) anime I’ve seen – yet unfortunately, it ends in the middle of nowhere so you best read the manga. Shame.
You’ve probably already noticed, considering my twitter feed is packed with it but I’ve also picked up Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru and its prequel story Sumi Washio wa Yuusha de Aru and while I did have my issues with the former wasting too much of my time on banal, not particularly engaging slice of life stories (though let it be said that Fuu was always appreciated), it did pick up towards its end and WaSuYu started out as a more high-stakes version with actually good slice of life and comedic content. Not sure how that happened after that being the exact opposite with the previous anime but what do I know, I’ve come to love my second dark magical girl anime after MahoIku. Hooray!
Meanwhile, the Tokyo Ghoul anime was a polished experience with director Morita elevating things to another level alongside plenty of sakuga but unfortunately, only managed to make it to non-trashy levels towards the end. The original manga turned out to be equally mediocre and only had a good chunk at its last part. Luckily, Tokyo Ghoul Root A was in charge of adapting the good parts of the source material, rewriting things to the point of writing out the annoying characters, substituting them with far more interesting ones, leaving out the bad exposition and going full kino when adapting the strongest arc, ending on a phenomenal anime original conclusion. What a shame that :re ended up the way it did.
Speaking of disappointing continuations, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters GX sure was a mess, huh? That anime felt like a lame identity crisis that only improved significantly after… more than 100 episodes? Sure, it got interesting when it made attempts to deconstruct its protagonist and have him grow from a child to an adult only realizing thereafter that there are certain things that must not be lost in the process of growing up and yes, I appreciate both the coming of age message and isekai horror story part but two seasons of junk are hard to swallow. I’m surprised I didn’t spit it out myself.
And while we’re at things hard to swallow… Freesia! That was a dark manga. And a really good one. For you see, Freesia is the captivating tale/character study of a mentally ill hitman, presenting a gritty story in a world where hitmen from private agencies are contracted for revenge killings. This one essentially throws a very, very interesting and diverse set of characters into what’s a pretty explosive scenario while telling episodic character stories amongst the grand narrative of morally grey work and those who partake in it. Kano starts out as a rather clichéd mentally ill character talking to himself all the time but gets fleshed out in fascinating and genuine ways. Following his daily, incredibly warped life and coping mechanisms and him finally trying to settle for something was half the fun. The setting, modern Japan at a war it will most likely lose amidst political tensions, while admittedly not particularly explored, strives for a constant feeling of unrest and chaos and that works out well as it mirrors the characters and their daily events a lot while the art goes the extra mile in terms of atmosphere as it’s dark and rough and never goes for a pristine or polished look and that helps out immensely when setting the mood. Long story short, this is a special one.
Also hard to swallow but sadly not very digestable was Nogi Wakaba wa Yuusha de Aru. The light novel, that is. Turns out in a franchise strongly reliant on cute girls, battles, expressive slice of life comedy and good music, a primitively written book, you know, a medium without audiovisual execution badly required by aforementioned key points, does not deliver. It had a nice idea here and there but that doesn’t cut it. I might pick up the manga though. And wish for an anime adaptation. It badly needs one.
And then there was Fukanzen na Hito no Tame ni, which is about the only Japanese read I actually finished in 2018, so that’s already a sad statement. This one has the issue of being basic and too short to say many worthwhile things about bullying, not to mention it was certainly too happy with all of it but it had a nice enough ending and kept dragging me along.
Speaking of being dragged along, there is also Alice on Border Road, the spinoff sequel to Alice in Borderland. I can’t say I was a huge fan but I very much appreciated the direction it was heading to in its last few volumes, even expanding upon the original a bit. Anyway, go read Alice in Borderland. Yes. That’s right. This entire part was just an Alice in Borderland ad. Got you there!
As it is always the case with video games, I start out with plentiful of them, only to not finish them. Why are these things always so annoyingly long? Anime doesn’t require anywhere near as much effort, folks! With that said, this year was particularly dreadful though. I think I finished a mere three of them?
Let’s start with Monster Hunter World, the best mainline entry so far – though the best general one goes to Frontier – despite some concerns, mainly the tiny and relatively unimaginative roster and let’s not talk about the downright boring weapon and armor designs. With that said, I still got 200 hours out of it and almost all of its changes were by far for the better. The gameplay is amazing, it’s graphically advanced into a PS4 age… after having been stuck in the PS2 one for a decade and the quality of life improvements were so, so very badly needed. It feels very much like those pre-rendered generation 1 trailers. I am cautiously optimistic for Iceborne.
I don’t remember much about Red Dead Redemption. I quit playing the game for years and came back in anticipation for its second part. It’s okay I guess? The map is largely flat and boring and it does the average R* game thing except never really manages to live up to GTA in any way, shape or form. I have no clue what people see in this game. Which is not to say that it was bad, I did have my fun with it. But John Marston’s revenge trip against folks we don’t know? Whose idea was this? For what it’s worth, I’m currently playing the sequel… chronological prequel and that is a much, much better game.
On another note, King’s Field was a nice FROM experience… at least until lost my patience with it. I’ll still finish part 2 at some point though. Once I no longer succumb to my demotivation with both playing video games and the Japanese language in general.
Anyway, let’s bring this to a closer with my yearly awards, 100% non-bribed and all-inclusive. Those with a loose bank account and the urgent need to get validation from the most trusted anime blog on the WWW however might nonetheless want to approach me to slap me with a bundle of cash for next year’s award winners. I still do get to make the calls for goth loli-related categories however!
Life Lessons Learned: Goth lolis truly are the greatest.
Catchphrase Of The Year: Abababababa~.
Secret Killer Technique I’ve Mastered: The dropkick.
Potential Evil Route Unlocked: Nemurin appeared in one of my dreams and told me I could become a sempai too. I wonder what she meant by that.
Newly Acquired/Intensified Preference: The cool/chill/bro wife type who’s fun to hang around but is still feminine, think Top Speed, Fuu and Mei.
What Anime Needs More Of: Sonocchi doing Sonocchi things.
What Anime Needs Less Of: People who aren’t Sonocchi doing non-Sonocchi things.
BEST GIRL 2018 Introduced Me To: Hanazono Yurine. If you didn’t see this coming, leave.
Most Successful Attempt At Trying To Hypnotize Me: I must read Dies Irae. Sooner or later.
Coolest Sentence Of An Article I Have Yet To Finish: “Chuuni is the essence of the soul and pathos makes the skin and bones that lend it a vessel.”
Anime I Should Feature More On Anitwitter: Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters.
Anime I Should Feature Less On Anitwitter: Also Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters.
Proudest Achievement: Dropping Darling in the FranXX after a single episode because it was utter dogshit. To which I challenge the rest of you.
Mascot of 2018: Sancho.
Wowsers! Now that was some wacky stuff! Bringing the things to the table that truly matter. Only here on – uh, what was the title again – Beyond The Mountain Lies A World Of Frills™, your favorite anime blog for when you need to read so much that you can pretend to be literate.
Now march forth, my 3.5 readers and make sure to turn 2019 into a fruitful year.