REVIEW: Winter 2017 Anime Wrap Up

The Winter 2017 anime season is the first time I’ve made a real effort to sample as many new series as possible. I’ve been a fan of anime since the mid-90’s and went pretty strong with it up until the mid-2000’s. Fast forward to 2016 and I finally started to jump back in to watching current series. As 2017 rolled around I was inspired by Anime Feminist to give myself a project and to do the 4 episode test that Cheryl does when checking out new K-Drama series on as many anime shows as I can manage.

Things to note before we get in to it are that I only watched series that you can stream legally on sites such as Crunchyroll, Anime Strike, Funimation, Viz, etc. I also didn’t watch the 2nd season for series that I have not seen season 1 of so no thoughts for Konosuba 2 or Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju this time around.


COMPLETED

Fuuka (風夏)

Studio: Diomedéa
Genre: Drama | Music | Romance | Shonen


As with most of the series I watched this season I went in to it blind. All I knew is that it was a series based around a girl named Fuuka who sings really well and starts a band with some randos from school. I wanted to like the series but the characters just didn’t develop in any kind of meaningful way. Yu was annoyingly wishwashy between the two love interests (Fuuka and Koyuki).

Fuuka was abusive towards Yu mostly physical and stank of MPDG but has her own ambitions so that went away gradually. Koyuki could’ve been a great character but her fawning over Yu was infuriating. Then all the side characters were barely there as stereotypical paper cutouts for the brooding musician themed series. On top of all that Yu’s sisters existed purely as different flavors of incest fanfiction word vomit. They all hung out in towels, panties and bras constantly. NO ONE DOES THAT IF THEY HAVE A BROTHER IN THE HOUSE.

I probably would’ve dropped the series had I not come across a spoiler and I wanted to see if they’d go through with it in the anime. They didn’t and I was a little surprised that I was mad about it. The music was probably one of the saving graces of the series. Not amazing, but still enjoyable.

Rating: 3/10
Recommendation?: No, but supposedly people say the manga is better especially since that spoiler changes the course of the series and characters.

Available on Crunchyroll

Interview With Monster Girls (亜人ちゃんは語りたい)

Studio: A-1 Pictures
Genre: Comedy | Fantasy | Seinen

I was pretty excited for this series for it’s supernatural aspect. In this world monsters (demi-humans) exist. Tetsuo, a biology teacher, begins interviewing a few demi girls at the school he teaches at in an effort to understand them. Overall the series was very charming and a nice twist on a slice of life show but there were multiple times where I felt increasingly uncomfortable with Tetsuo’s methods of interviewing. While I don’t think his character had an ill-intentions asking a 16 year old sexual questions and a teacher hanging out with students outside of class leans more on the NOPE side of the spectrum. Thankfully, any intimate moments were presented platonically or the girls expressing their teenage crushes on their teacher, which is understandable, ‘cause Sensei has ARMS.

I found the succubus teacher to be my favorite character but I was really saddened by her storyline. You rarely got to experience her story through her voice, but rather the male character’s talking about her being a succubus. Overall the series had a lot of potential to dive in to the metaphor of demi-humans being equated as disable or handicapped people. Unfortunately it didn’t get too deep in to that aspect and ended up focusing on awkward tension and physical comedy. Maybe the manga delves more in to the girls’ struggles?

Rating: 6/10
Recommendation?: Yes, it’s light and had some decent heartwarming moments while keeping fan service at a minimum.

Available on Crunchyroll

Marginal#4 the Animation (MARGINAL#4 KISSから創造るBig Bang)

Studio: J.C. Staff
Genre: Comedy | Music


I’ll be honest I only checked this series out because I saw someone on my Twitter timeline tweet out an image of the main cast and I was like “Sure.” The show follows a group of teen boys who recently debuted as an idol boy band called Marginal#4. I’m in fairly deep with KPOP so I figured this would be a fun watch. It was but it was painfully bland mostly due to how naive and “pure” the boys were being as depicted. They were being depicted in the way that fangirls think boy groups behave behind the scenes instead of how boys actually behave. But those fangirls are the target audience so oh well. I was hoping for conflicts greater than the leader losing his lucky boxer shorts. They kept introducing “rival” groups but didn’t do much with them and they only had real issues regarding being in an idol group maybe tow or three times.

It wasn’t until after I finished the series that I looked up more info and discovered the anime is based on an Otome game. Knowing that the characters were pulled from a dating game explained why no one had glaring flaws and why the scripts lacked personality. However the variety in ending theme songs and animation were a highlight; Revolution XX by Lagrange Point felt very TVXQ inspired stylistically. With all that being said… I did buy a blind box and got my favorite basic boy as a keychain. Damn you, cute merchandising!

Rating: 4/10
Recommendation?: I didn’t hate it. It’s mindless, light and fluffy with little to no plot while being a just funny enough. This would probably be the equivalent to Moe but with cute boys doing cute things in stead of girls..

Available on Crunchyroll

Masamune-kun’s Revenge (政宗くんのリベンジ)

Studio: Silver Link
Genre: Comedy | Romance | Shonen


I think I decided to start this series after seeing an article on ANN and I was just too damn curious to not watch this train wreck. The synopsis goes like this Masamune used to be a chubby little kid and had a huge crush on his childhood friend Adagaki. Something happened where she ended up making fun of him and calling him a pig’s foot. After this point he vowed to get revenge on her by losing weight, getting hot, making her fall in love with him then rejecting her and humiliating her. What could go wrong? Everything. This is the DUMBEST revenge plot.

That being said I enjoyed hate watching this show because I wasn’t rooting for Masamune. Adagaki is stubborn, aggressive and doesn’t put up with anyone’s bullshit, but she’s also unnecessarily mean to pretty much everyone save for her servant friend. I’m not proud of it, but I was totally on her side. Her bitchy attitude foiling Masamune’s fake manipulative Prince act satisfied my petty tendencies.

I do appreciate that when a chubby character was introduced towards the end of the season that they didn’t fall back on the “fat character” voice acting. Anime has a HORRIBLE habit of giving overweight characters strained/talking-with-their-mouths-full-even-though-they-aren’t-eating-anything voices (I’m looking at you Kiss Him Not Me as a recent example). So good on them for not falling into that trope. However the show was painfully predictable even though nothing ever reached a climax. It’s to the point of you know eventually Masamune is going to catch feels as he gets to know Adagaki again, and she’s going to catch feels once she lets her defenses down. All this series made me think about the author of the manga is… WHO HURT YOU?

Rating: 4/10
Recommendation?: I’m a little ashamed to say I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s like watching a trashy reality series where no one’s a good person and you’re just waiting for shit to hit the fan.

Available on Crunchyroll

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (小林さんちのメイドラゴン)

Studio: Kyoto Animation
Genre: Comedy | Fantasy | Slice of Life


I whole heartedly thought I’d detest this series as the designs looked moe, and reeked of fan service. While both of those were true I was shocked how much I connected with the characters and how it just made me laugh and smile week to week. Tohru is so thirsty but genuinely just wants to make Kobayashi’s life as easy and stress free as possible. Kobayashi was almost too relatable being a single female in her late 20’s-early 30’s who lazes about and gets rowdy after a few beers. Kanna was a meme queen the moment she arrived. The older stoic Fafnir dragon turns out to be an aggressive gamer and hidden otaku. It was hard to choose a favorite and I still can’t to be honest. The show is exceptionally carefree with little to no major conflicts until the finale and I’m okay with that. The energy ranges from chaotic moments of dragons adjusting to the human life style to thoughtful quiet moments. One minute I’m cackling and the next I’m almost crying because the show gets too real by making an amazingly poignant observation on society and relationships.

However the show is not without it’s problematic point mostly centering around Lucoa. I didn’t mind her design even though her gag (she has giant boobs) got old really quick. I accepted that she was pretty much a fan service character. My real issue was with her relationship with Shota, the fifth year boy/child she lives with. Their interactions were 95% her being naked or her smothering him with her breasts. He makes it VERY clear that he doesn’t like it, want it and is extremely uncomfortable which in turn made me equally uncomfortable. Even if Shota’s character were of legal age, him not being okay with these repeated actions is not worth the one note jokes her character provided.

Rating: 9/10
Recommendation?: This is a touch one. I LOVED this series, but because of the Lucoa factor I probably wouldn’t recommend this to a casual or new anime fan. At least not without a huge warning label.

Available on Crunchyroll

Scum’s Wish (クズの本懐)

Studio: Lerche
Genre: Drama | Romance | Seinen


I’d never heard of this series before, and I was pleasantly surprised by how engrossed I got with it. There aren’t that many series that tackle love, sexuality, loneliness and as well as destructive behaviors as open and honestly as this. Scum’s Wish follows two high school students, Hanabi and Mugi, who end up in a relationship together strictly as a means to placate themselves for not being able to be with the ones they really love, their teachers. Almost all of the characters are looking for answers on how to cope with the reality that they can’t be with the person they have feelings for. They make poor, sometimes detrimental, decisions in the process but learn how to fix and maintain their friendships or let them go. Everyone’s a little terrible but ultimately show how vulnerable they are making them relatable on some level for the viewers.

(MILD SPOILERS)

There is underage sex towards the end of the series between Mugi and his teacher. I’m generally super against these types of relationships in anime/manga because it’s usually framed as this sweet and wholesome thing and more often than not it’s a teenage girl fawning over an older male teacher. Scum’s Wish presents it fairly neutrally but the build up to that moment makes the audience feel like Mugi is making a huge mistake and doesn’t glorify it as a good milestone for his character development.

Rating: 9/10
Recommendation?: This was definitely a sleeper hit for me last season, but it is a fairly heavy subject manner so I’d recommend if you’re in the right head space for it, and are comfortable with characters being sexual.

Available on Anime Strike

Saga of Tanya the Evil (幼女戦記)

Studio: NUT
Genre: Military | Magic


The concept of this series had me hooked right off the bat. An atheist salaryman is nearly killed when a disgruntled ex-employee pushes him into an oncoming train, but God or Being X strikes a deal with him. He’ll give him a second chance at life, but if he can’t die a natural death and acknowledge Being X’s existence then his soul will be sent to Hell. Salaryman is reborn as a girl named Tanya and eventually signs up for the military as a child in hopes of achieving a cushy risk free life but gets assigned to the frontline instead. This whole episode was SO well done and the Being X interactions were truly chilling. The fact that Tanya maintains her memories of her previous life and essentially is a cruel cutthroat businessman in a young seemingly innocent child’s body is awesome to see play out.

That being said I actual got bored fairly quickly. Each episode seemed to play out the exact same formula. They go to battle, Tanya’s team looks like they’ll fail, they overcome it, Tanya’s plan to be lazy off the battlefield backfires and she’s sent to fight again because she’s TOO good. Other plot points happened obviously but my brain was shutting off when there is too much political/strategy talk. It finally got interesting towards the end of episode 12 and of course the season ends on a cliffhanger.

Rating: 5/10
Recommendation?: I feel like the series is good but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. So I would recommend it for people who are fans of action or war focused series.

Available on Crunchyroll


DROPPED

Akiba’s Trip The Animation

Studio: Gonzo
Genre: Action | Ecchi | Supernatural
Episode Dropped: 5
I had several friends posting about their excitement for this series so I checked it out and I just didn’t care. The villain designs were funny, but it wasn’t enough for me to finish out the series.

Available on Crunchyroll

BanG Dream! (バンドリ!)


Studio
: Xebex
Genre: Music | Slice of Life
Episode Dropped: 4
I haven’t dabbled in many music series outside of Nana so I was curious to see how some cute girls learned to play instruments. But cute girls doing cute things can only take you so far for me.

Available on Crunchyroll

elDLIVE (エルドライブ)


Studio
: Studio Pierrot
Genre: Action | Sci-Fi | Space
Episode Dropped: 4
This series isn’t particularly bad, but I definitely not in the target demographic as the plot and general feel for the show adolescent. It is super colorful with some funny moments but does fall in to the “Monster-Of-The-Week” category.

Available on Crunchyroll

Gabriel DropOut (ガヴリールドロップアウト)


Studio
: Doga Kobo
Episode Dropped: 5
Genre: Comedy | Supernatural | Shonen
This series had be laughing fairly hard during the first two episodes. Gabriel’s fall from being a caring Angel to a gamer neet was so drastic and instantaneous all because she started playing an MMORPG. Hilarious! However the schtick got old pretty fast and I was getting my dose of cute vibrant fantasy characters from Dragon Maid so off I fell.

Available on Crunchyroll

Idol Incidents (アイドル事変)


Studio
: MAPPA
Genre: Music
Episode Dropped: 4
I was just bored by this one. Idols in politics was an interesting concept but the execution felt flat. More pretty girls doing things and I can’t remember a single characters name if that tells you anything.

Available on Crunchyroll

Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club


Studio
: J.C. Staff
Genre: Sports | Shonen
Episode Dropped: 4
Yet another cute girls doing cute things series but this one is cycling themed. The series was fine but not my jam as my interest in bikes only goes so far. I think like the little Cycling 101 live action segments at the end of each episode so it was like I was learning with the characters.

Available on Crunchyroll

Seiren (セイレン)


Studio
: Studio Gokumi
Genre: Romance
Episode Dropped: 4
This is pretty much a “Choose Your Own Waifu” series. I enjoyed the first girl, Hikari, for being so fun and cheeky. For instance a rumor goes around that she’s a slut for sleeping with the main guy, Shouichi, and her reaction is pretty much “Yup! Let me tell you all about!” despite the fact that they didn’t sleep together. So Hikari is entertaining but Shouichi was about as interesting as a wet piece of paper which is why I dropped it once it started to move to a different girl.

Available on Crunchyroll

Urara Labyrinth City (うらら迷路帖)

Studio: J.C. Staff
Genre: Comedy | Fantasy | Seinen
Episode Dropped: 3
Character designs were cute and the premise of girls aspiring to be fortune telling girls appealed to me. Silly me. It was pretty much a collection of underage girls being used as fan service. I tried… But when one of the main characters looks 12, and a staple joke of hers is lifting up her shirt to show her boobs as an apology… I just… no.

Available on Anime Strike


ON HOLD

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept (ACCA 13区監察課)

Studio: Madhouse
Genre: Drama | Fantasy | Seinen
I watched 4 episodes of this but I think I was burnt out on political plot lines after watching Saga of Tanya the Evil. I keep hearing good things about this series so I’m putting it on hold for now versus dropping it all together.

Available on Crunchyroll

Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga (青の祓魔師 京都不浄王篇)

Studio: A-1 Pictures
Genre: Action | Supernatural | Fantasy | Shonen
I watched the first season last year so I’m excited to watch it. However I wanted to wait until the whole series had aired to binge watch it ala Netflix style, because that’s how I watched the first season.

Available on Crunchyroll

Little Witch Academia

Studio: Trigger
Genre: Action| Magic | Fantasy | Comedy
I’m SO frustrated with this series not because it’s bad, but because Netflix is holding it hostage. I LOVED the movies of this series. I couldn’t wait for the TV series and I was so happy to hear Netflix was going to do a simulcast. Come premiere day nothing on Netflix.. so I watched the first episode through other means. LOVED IT, so I’m patiently waiting for the series to appear on Netflix.. 4 months later and they’ve only just now created page for when it goes live. Netflix does not understand what simulcast means apparently because they’re facing similar backfire from their K-Drama exclusive titles. DO BETTER, NETFLIX.

Scheduled to be available on Netflix


FINAL THOUGHTS

This was exhausting but really fun. I watched a lot of series I don’t think I would’ve usually watched. For instance, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is now one of my favorite series and I probably would’ve just written it off as yet another fan service/ecchi shows.

Another thing I noticed is the lack of shows geared specifically for girls or women. Obviously all shows can be watched by both genders. But when I looked up the where the core demographics fall under, almost all of them were intended for either shonen (boys) or seinen (boys or men old enough to read Kanji) audiences. I know this isn’t anything new going in to a lot of series especially since the industry is predominately male. I’m not sure how to describe the feeling of when you’re enjoying a show and suddenly there’s an unnecessary panty shot or an abrupt boob grab. It’s always jarring and a stark reminder that these shows weren’t made for me.

I’ll try to do this for the rest of the 2017 if time allows. Do you guys prefer big wrap up posts like this or would you find smaller 3-4 episode posts as the series air more helpful? Regardless be on the look out for my Spring 2017 reviews coming in July!


What was your favorite series from the winter 2017 anime season?

What are you enjoying in the spring season so far?

Let me know below or tweet @teriarchibbles.

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