The Summer 2016 season of anime is long over, but I’m still thinking about some of the shows I watched back then—and that’s a good sign. On the whole, I felt it was a pretty okay season, with a more balanced spread of truly great shows and shows that were just fun to watch than we’ve had during the rest of the year.
[If you want to recap the entire summer season, from my first impressions all the way through the end of the season, you can hit up my posts in the Summer 2016 tag!]
10. Show by Rock!! Short (5/10)
It was short. It was Show by Rock!! The school skit in the final episode was incredibly good, as was the other SHINGANCRIMSONZ episode. I still can’t remember the name of the band with the crazy lady who lives in a daruma. Basically, this show was everything you’d except from a Show by Rock!! short or want a Show by Rock!! short to be. That is, unless you were hoping for any of the Criticrista (best SbR!! band name, by the way) girls besides Rosia to get significant screentime. Then, I suppose, you were probably disappointed.
Awards: Best Short
9. Amanchu! (5/10)
I made a lot of jokes towards the end of Amanchu! with friends about the lack of actual progress towards the stated goal of diving in the ocean, but that’s not really the reason Amanchu! finds itself in this position. Rather, what I really ended up feeling was that the show only rarely did enough with that in between time to make the intervening episodes completely worthwhile (not to mention what looked like steadily less and less inventive visuals t0 me). For me, I think the show peaked in episode two with the pool scene and had its final truly solid episode with episode 6. While there were still some real peaks that appeared in the latter half of the show, I never really felt like the show recaptured the magic of the early episodes. It was still enjoyable throughout, but I suppose I feel it missed its greatest potential by a ways.
Awards: Best OP—”Million Clouds” by Maaya Sakamoto (Honorable Mention: Best OST)
—Sea Tones: A Study of Setting in Amanchu!
8. D. Gray Man Hallow (5/10)
You know, back around the middle of the season when I first started thinking about what I would write for this blurb, I was sort of expecting to wind up just talking about the power of nostalgia. And while the nostalgia effect certainly is in play, D. Gray Man Hallow really surprised me by reminding me why I had that nostalgia in the first place. Because I love these characters. Because the story has just the right combination of tragedy, darkness, warmth, friendship, and light. And Hallow, shockingly, wonderfully, tapped right into all of that and made watching it worth it on its own terms—not just as a sequel to a show I once really liked. Yes, it was great to see Allen, Lenalee, Kanda, Road (I love her) and the rest again, but it was more than that. It was a story worth seeing them in again. And, so, improbably as this show’s existence is, I’m thankful it did indeed exist.
Awards: Best Adventure, Best Fantasy
7. 91 Days (6/10)
Now here’s a perfectly solid show with a great ending. I rather feel 91 Days is ultimately a show that’ll fade from my memory pretty quickly, but since I’m still remembering it now, let me give it a few words of praise. Production woes aside, the storyboarding for the show is very good, the backgrounds are lovely, and the general control of the story is solid on a level that’s (perhaps depressingly) unusual for anime. 91 Days is written with stunning confidence. Maybe that’s partially due to the fact that it’s so clearly a genre homage, but even then! Solid, functional storytelling just isn’t something we have the luxury of not appreciating in anime! So good on this show, kudos for having the guts to go for an ambiguous and almost impressionistic finale, and congrats on holding the production together all the way to the end.
Awards: (Honorable Mentions: Best OP—”Signal” by TK, Best ED—”Rain or Shine” by ELISA)
—91 Days and the Cinematography of Murder
6. Love Live! Sunshine (6/10)
Love Live! Sunshine was at its best when remembering love for its predecessor, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good at other times. While I did wind up feeling like this season of Sunshine! (obviously, there will be another season coming) was kind of empty by the end, overall it’s a super fun, super engaging beginning to a story. I wish it had given more of a satisfying semicolon (rather than the comma we got) in the finale, but when hijinks are this energetic and moments of character drama this solid (my favorite was the resolution of the You/Chika episode, even if that episode had other problems), I can’t complain too much. And then the meta stuff. Oh heavens, the meta stuff was glorious. It proved Sunshine fully understands both its origins and how to be its own show without forgetting them. I loved it.
Awards: (Honorable Mentions: Best Story, Best Female Character—Chika Takami)
5. Konobi (6/10)
It feels like it’s been a while since I had a seasonal pet show that was so completely a pet show as Konobi was, and let me tell you, I was so thankful for it. While there were some obvious elements of the show I really disliked (namely mean-spirited panty-related jokes and the like at Usami’s expense—which really grated against the rest of the material), there was just sooooo much else in it that I truly loved. The atmospheric moments. The amazingly good chemistry between Usami and Uchimaki. Collette, Imari, and the President all being such genuinely nice and pleasant people. I’m already missing this show a great deal; more slice-of-life comedies should aspire to be what Konobi is.
Awards: Pet Show of the Season, Best Comedy (Honorable Mentions: Best Visual Aesthetic)
4. New Game! (7/10)
Along with Konobi, New Game! really helped set a new standard (no pun intended) for what moe slice-of-life shows, although it was a bit different in nature than Konobi. Rather than pitch-perfect character dynamics (although New Game! does have a bit of that), though, what New Game! does best is instilling a sense of inspiration and joy into the seemingly opposed acts of artistic creation and full-time employment. Of course, there’s obviously a bit of fantasy spinning going on there, but it’s a fantasy close enough to my heart and my own hopes for my future work that I’m willing to just let myself be inspired. Alongside that, New Game! also plays host to the wonderful Kou, whose leadership struggles and desire to prove herself by working hard I found incredibly relatable. In the end, New Game! was much less escapist than I expected—rather than serving as comforting diversion from my life, it instead wound up one of those shows that made me want to keep working hard to achieve my dreams of creating art. And that’s pretty cool.
Awards: Best Slice-of-Life (Honorable Mention: Best Female Character—Kou Yagami)
—Making Moe Real
3. Macross Delta (7/10)
So. Let’s be honest—for a Macross series to end up here is a bit of a disappointment for me. I can’t deny that. Whether it’s an effect of the sky-high expectations I had for the series following the first few episodes or just the long grind of watching something weekly for half a year, Delta didn’t have enough consistent highs to really take me where I wanted it to take me. But, on the other hand, it’s still a gosh darn Macross series doing those Macross things I so love. There’s breakdancing mecha, floating on the wind, singing in the stars, galaxies collapsing, snow machines, idols, and remembering love. Macross is simply unlike anything else, and even its weaker efforts still resonate with me. I wouldn’t be planning on importing the other five volumes of the Japanese BD releases if this show wasn’t important to me. That should say it all, even if it wobbles a bit stacked up against its seasonal fellows.
Awards: Best Female Character—Freyja Wion, Best ED—All of them (Honorable Mention: Best OST)
—R042’s excellent episodic posts
2. Mob Psycho 100 (8/10)
In an interview near the beginning of Mob Psycho 100‘s airing, original mangaka ONE said that he wanted the series to be about “kindness.” I’m pleased to report to all of you that his intent carries through in a special way in Mob‘s anime adaptation, which is not only a solid testament to the power of kindness and a fascinating musing on the nature of adulthood and childhood, but also features some truly incredible animation and visual storytelling. Mob is not just a show with a huge heart at the center of its narrative, but also at the center of its production as an anime. As you all know well by now, anime whose natures as artistic artifacts are in harmony with the stories they want to convey are a huge weakness of mine, and the way Mob leaks energy from every frame seems to me to parallel the story’s enthusiasm for just being kind.
Awards: Best Visual Aesthetic, Best Action (Honorable Mentions: Best Story, Best OP—”99″ by Mob Choir, Best ED—”Refrain Boy” by ALL OFF)
1. orange (9/10)
What can I say about orange that I have not already? I think it’s an important show, I think it’s a good show, I wish the warmth of the love I feel it conveys could be instilled in every person out there struggling with self-hatred. The affirmation of the person’s right to exist and live is such an important thing, and in a world where this kind of idea has more or less been forgotten outside of the religious sphere, secular stories like orange are that much more important for their accessibility. But all that is true of both the anime and the manga version of orange—so is there anything of particular note in the anime itself? Putting aside the story, orange as an anime is something of a mixed basket. There are moments of directorial genius, parts where the production lets down the story, a phenomenal soundtrack, and an undeniably unique approach to the direction of the voice actors. On the whole, I feel it’s not the best adaptation the source material could have had, but in the end it was good enough to let its important message be heard and that’s what I care about most.
Awards: Best Story, Best OST, Best Drama (Honorable Mentions: Best Visual Aesthetic)
—The Importance of orange
Regalia: The Three Sacred Stars, Kuromukuro
- The Morose Mononokean (1 ep)
- B Project (1 ep)
- Battery (1 ep)
- Tsukiuta (1 ep)
- Taboo Tattoo (1 ep)
- Momokuri (1 ep)
- Sacred Rider XechS (1 ep)
- sweetness & lightning (4 eps)
- DAYS (5 eps)
- Best Harem, Best Sports
And that’s all! Hopefully I’ll get on this quicker for the Fall 2016 season, but these days I don’t think I can promise that. So it goes!