February 02, 2018

What's Wonderduck Watching? Winter 2018

Been quite a long time since I did one of these... long enough that I can't remember the last time.  Which tells you one of a couple of things.  1) I never really did them as a regular gig, and B) I haven't been watching all that many shows per season, because III) there's been a lot of not-very-good anime recently.  And I've been the optimist of the group!

But this season seems... different.  Now that most shows are at least four episodes in, I'm fairly sure about what's what, and there's three series I'm definitely watching, another that I'm going to at least pay attention to, not to mention not one but two new Fate/Nasuverse shows!  So What's Wonderduck Watching?  Click "more" for... well...

Violet Evergarden, or "KyoAni loves us and wants us to be happy.  Except for the main character."

When Kyoto Animation decides to flex its artwork muscles, there's no other studio that can even approach their quality.  There's more flexing going on here than you'll find at any three bodybuilding competitions.  Based on the only Grand Prize winner in the eight years of KyoAni's own media competition, they're pulling out all the stops for this one.  

It hasn't shown an ounce of melodrama yet, nor much of a sense of humor to be honest.  Doesn't matter.  While it's not likely to rank above the first season of Hibike! Euphonium in my personal KyoAni favorites list, it sure might equal it... for totally different reasons.  Even if it doesn't reach that lofty goal, it's still going to be wonderful to look at.

Citrus, or "She's in love with her sister... it's kinda complicated."

What Violet Evergarden lacks in melodrama, Citrus supplies in mass amounts.  One of the better yuri manga series out there these days, it was probably the very best choice to make into an anime, just because of the story.  Once you get past the initial awkwardness ("they aren't really sisters."), it becomes a rather cute love story.  With, admittedly, a few over-the-top problems thrown in their path.
How the show handles those will make or break it.  Me, I'm along for the ride whether it gets it right (in which case the show will be good) or not (in which case the train wreck will be epic).  I want them to get it right though... I have a sinking suspicion that if Citrus isn't popular, we'll never see Bloom Into You made into a series once there's more than four volumes released, and that would be a crying shame.  The animation is acceptable... neither good nor bad.  The voice acting matches what I've heard in my head while reading the manga, which is a good thing.  And it seems like the show intends to make Harumin as epic as she was in the books.  That's a win.

Koi wa Ameagari no Youni, or "She loves her boss... literally."

While the whole "young girl gets a crush on older man" thing seems to be fairly common in stories, there's not been all that many... well, anything... that turns it into The Plot.  And even fewer than that handle it seriously.  "After The Rain" is one of those few... and is managing to do it without the squick level going through the roof.  From what I've gathered, it never will, at least during the parts we'll be seeing in the anime.  The artwork is... oldschool.  In fact, it's not the type I usually like at all.  The fact is, there's really only one reason I'm going to be watching this.

He's 45 years old, and he actually acts like it.  That's practically unheard of in anime, and I cannot think of any series that made a 45 year old man a main character and played it seriously.  Bonus points for him not being a teacher.  He runs a restaurant, she works there part-time.  A realistic scenario.  It remains to be seen if it stays that way or gets creepy, of course, but so far so good.  I can't shake the feeling that this show is targeting us older fans... "catching up to its audience," so to speak.  I mean, I'm about to turn 50, it's really quite nice to see a realistic depiction of someone my age in the media I love so much... as long as it doesn't get creepy.  Or if it does, it's all from her side.

Emiya-san Chi no Kyou no Gohan, or "Saber loves food, and is adorable while eating."

In the Fate universe, masters summon servants to battle and to kill in the name of obtaining the Holy Grail.  Depending on which storyline you're watching, anybody can die, usually messily, and even those that don't are changed forever.  And then there's this show.  It's what you get when you cross Fate/Stay Night with Shokugeki no Soma, the combat cooking anime.  Except without any of the combat, and more cooking.  Call it Unlimited Blade Woks.  And y'know what?  It's nice to see these characters, all of whom we've come to know as people over the years and however many series, finally get to kick back and not kill each other... or indeed, even acknowledge those other shows at all.  Instead of Lancer, CĂș Chulainn, we get Lancer, fishmonger, flirt, and lover of beer.  

And as I mentioned before, Saber is adorable when she's eating.  That right there is worth the price of admission.  Yes, it's kind of a goofy concept for a show, but hey: it's monthly, it's about 20 minutes long, it's not going to overstay its welcome.  Gotta appreciate that.

Yuru Camp, or "Rin is love.  Rin is life.  Rin is camping."

No great surprise here, I've already written about this show and gushed about it then. It's just gotten better as the show has progressed.  While Pinky hasn't quite calmed down, she's more tolerable than she was, and that's pushed Yuru Camp from "really quite good" to "really quite remarkable" status.  Heck, it's the only show I'm "drop-everything-it's-on" awaiting each week. It's exactly what this Wonderduck needs in his life right now.

So what about you guys, what are you watching that I'm missing?

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:01 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
Post contains 1033 words, total size 8 kb.

1 Need to check out After the Rain. (Though, that male lead... how'd he escape from Patlabor?!)

I would happily adopt Rin.

You may wanna try A Place Further Than the Universe. Instead of "cute girls doing cute things" it's more like "cute girls doing something arguably awesome", which they're not (yet?) milking for melodrama so much as just saying "yeah, this'll be awesome". Also, penguins will be pretty much guaranteed at some point.

Card Captor Sakura is as good as it ever was. YMMV but I'm enjoying it.

Dagashi Kashi is... a bit less good than it was originally, since it's a bit less "manic candy talk" and a bit more "Hotaru is kinda sexy". Not that sexy Hotaru is inherently bad, but she's pretty far 'round the bend mentally...

I watched Pop Team Epic with a fever. NOT recommended to do that. It's pretty manic, though having survived Excel Saga and many shows not as crazy as Excel, it's not quite as awesome as it thinks it is. Though any show that can get Norio Wakamoto in to do a female role for one of the eps is clearly doing something right. (Ep 3...)

Couple others I've watched some of, but not hooked enough to recommend.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at February 03, 2018 02:23 AM (h8yX6)

2 Av, nice to see you!  I watched the first episode of CCS, and... I think I'm going to wait for more eps to come out and watch a bunch at once.  I really liked the original, so...

Posted by: Wonderduck at February 03, 2018 03:17 AM (h8yX6)

3 I've been watching El Hazard.  I know it's not current season, but it just got a Blu-Ray release and it looks amazing.  I don't know how they did it.  They certainly didn't re-scan all the original cells, because I own a couple of them.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at February 03, 2018 05:07 AM (h8yX6)

4 El Hazard is one of my biggest favorites, even now.  I should get that BluRay set; right now I watch a DVD-R that I recorded from a videotape I copied from laserdisk....

Posted by: Ed Hering at February 03, 2018 10:22 AM (h8yX6)

5 I'm still debating Evergarden...I mean, the show looks AMAZING...but it hasn't hooked me yet.  So I'll probably wait until it's finished and then watch it all at once.  (And you know how that goes...ten years from now I'll be saying "I need to get around to watching that...")

I wonder about Bloom Into You.  I'm getting a really strong vibe that it's going to end after the 4th volume.  So the anime won't have anything it needs to drive the sales of except itself.  Still, I've come across that rumor that we'll see the anime series toward the end of '18...

I am downloading After The Rain right now.  The guy looks and sounds like Goto from Patlabor transplanted into a RomCom, and I can't NOT watch that.

Posted by: Ben at February 03, 2018 10:50 AM (h8yX6)

6 I admit I glossed over the FSN-adjacent series in the lineup because seriously, another one? But if it's a slice-of-life off-speed low-body-count version where we hang out with those dorks... maybe I'll give it a whirl after all.

Putting in a kind word for Katana Maidens, here. Yes, it's a girls-with-guns-swords series of showdowns with a slightly absurd premise, but it has the benefit that the stereotypical ditzy-but-means-well genki-girl lead character is... not actually all that ditzy. She competent and principled. And the story has just enough meat on its bones to keep me mildly curious. Don't get me wrong: It's not high art. But it's entertaining.

CCS is, of course, a delight. I love that they're not even trying to handwave the fact that (in-universe) almost no time has passed but we now have smartphones and such-like, fifteen years on (production-wise). Obliviousness is woven into the fabric of the show and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I bailed on Citrus not in spite of its level of adherence to the manga but because of it. It's structured as a series of teases which will last just long enough for the mangaka to tire of writing it (or the publisher drops them/it) at which point either the relationship in question will be resolved or the title will just vanish. Endless frustration isn't my bag.

Posted by: GreyDuck at February 03, 2018 02:00 PM (h8yX6)

7 GD, I fully expect Lancer to die, because that's the joke.  But other than him, I can't imagine why they'd do such a thing in this particular show.

Posted by: Wonderduck at February 03, 2018 04:16 PM (h8yX6)

8 I did specify low body count rather than no body count.

And wow, the Great Food/Prep show is a joy, you weren't kidding. I couldn't help grinning ear to ear through the entire 2nd ep.

Posted by: GreyDuck at February 03, 2018 09:40 PM (h8yX6)

9 I was a season late getting into The Ancient Magus Bride, but I rather like it, in spite of not liking the main character's design. It has a gentle sense of wonder, except when something horrible happens, which is often.

And then, on the opposite end of the spectrum, watching something utterly horrible can be fun, in this case Killing Bites. I mean, it includes all three of the Tropes I hate the most, but it's so over the top. And awful.  

Posted by: Mauser at February 03, 2018 09:47 PM (h8yX6)

10 Once again, we're watching the same things, by & large.  Dropped citrus after about 8 min.  We're trying to stick with the Antarctic show (Basho something) but I very much commend to you Hakumei to Mikuchi... adorable!
And, of course, cour two of Ancient Magus Bride; it makes me look good.

Posted by: Clayton Barnett at February 04, 2018 08:15 PM (h8yX6)

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