Highlight: Fall 2016 anime season

“I don’t want to say goodbye”, “Then we won’t.” — Tanaka Asuka

What a fantastic season! Kidding, it’s just a short one.

I picked four fewer shows than I did in the last season but only two of them are rated below decent. I thoroughly enjoyed the cash cow that is Hibike! Euphonium and I didn’t have any doubt it would make the highlight this season from the get-go. I also got the witch show I asked for in the last review albeit it fell short of my expectations.

Long story short, KyoAni, keep doing what you’re doing this season and, Wargaming, you suck at making anime, go home!

Seasonal Selection

Show Expectation Rating
Hibike! Euphonium 2 Cash cow Highlight (1)
Sangatsu no Lion Star
Saiki Kusuo no Psi-nan Star Decent
Nobunaga no Shinobi Question mark Decent
Bungou Stray Dogs ss2 Star Decent
Occultics;Nine Star Decent
Nanbaka Question mark Decent
Shuumatsu no Izetta Star Trash
Classicaloid Question mark Trash

Highlight: Hibike! Euphonium 2

Sound! Euphonium 2

Hibike! Euphonium is hands down the best anime KyoAni has produced since…Hyouka. I might have a faint memory of Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai but it’s definitely not on the same level as Hyouka, et al.

Hibike! Euphonium tells a story of Kitauji high’s brass band club on their journey to the National competition. The story follows the perspective of Oumae Kumiko–a freshman who plays euphonium–as she discovers club drama and personal insecurities of people around her, and grows as a character. This show is essentially the longer, better thought out and more serious version HaruChika.

I indeed made one of the two shows worse by making a comparison. My apology.

Behind the gorgeous lighting, ingenious camera placements and beautiful hand-drawn backgrounds was an industry leader: Kyoto Animation studio. There is one thing that has never changed about KyoAni. Their production quality is consistently top-notch, comparable to that of Madhouse and ufotable, and a notch higher than that of P.A Works and White Fox.

Even bad KyoAni shows like *cough*Musaigen no Phantom World*cough* or *cough*Amagi Brilliant Park*cough* has some of the best audiovisual money can buy. When I pick up a KyoAni show, I can expect 1) distinctive moeblob character design, 2) detailed background with soft lighting and 3) girls showing off the curve of their hip while a catchy tune is playing in the background in the opening.

See what I mean?

KyoAni never fails to deliver those features regardless of the execution or the story.

On the other hand, they are terrible at anything remotely fantasy or magical. Unfortunately, that includes everything they have produced since Kyoukai no Kanata. The fact that Hibike! Euphonium is the first show they made in a long time without fantasy tag and it is an instant hit just reinforces my suspicion. I think KyoAni is best at heart-warming Slice of Life sprinkled a bit of light-heart drama. Anything else, especially fantasy, will just throw their shows into disarray.

And, thank God, Hibike! Euphonium is right up their alley in term of genres. The heaven aligned and a brilliant star was born as predicted.

More on the show itself, the strongest point of Hibike! Euphonium is its cast. The characters felt real. Most of them didn’t wear their heart on their sleeve. They kept secrets and lied to one another in order to avoid hurting or getting hurt. They ran into conflict, dilemma, and, when they couldn’t reconcile, they were not afraid to make the difficult, and sometimes cruel, decision. These people were braver than the average anime character.

Quit the band for good because it’s not going to enjoyable anymore? Aoi did that and the show kept reminding me of the fact by making her appear wherever possible. Leave the house and move out in pursuit of her dream? Been there, done that. Denying someone from joining the band because they had a history with another band member? Looking at you, Asuka-senpai. Denying a talent for the lead role because of a senior–oh wait, that was the first season but you get the point.

And to let go of the past, and to make friends anew

If there was a crime Hibike! Euphonium had committed, it would have been the lack of the final performance. KyoAni delivered first two performances and even the marching band event and yet they refused to show that one singular performance the entire show had been all about!? I have one word for this outrageous omission: “Sad!”

In any case, I highly recommend this show to seekers of that fuwa fuwa fuzzy feeling and daily people drama. I don’t think Hibike! Euphonium will do much for those who are looking for romance, or comedy, or tear-jerking shows but give it a shot nevertheless. There’s a little bit of all the above in there (Action fans keep clear!).

On another note, KyoAni will have a Slice of Life, Fantasy show next season (Kobayashi-san no Maid Dragon). I’ll watch it just because but I’m putting a Question mark expectation on it because Fantasy and KyoAni don’t mix well, ever.

Runner-up: N/A

Picking the runner-up was very problematic.

My top picks are Sangatsu no Lion or Saiki Kusuo no Psi-nan and they are double-season shows. I normally give highlights to double-season shows at the end, not in the middle of it, so Sangatsu no Lion is out of the question as it is still airing. As for Saiki Kusuo no Psi-nan, I made a mistake and didn’t check that it was double-season so I gave runner-up slot to it in the last season. Doesn’t seem right to give it runner-up slot again.

Third choice? Nobunaga no Shinobi is also a double-season show so…damn me! No runner-up this time then.

Extra: Shuumatsu no Izetta

Izetta: The Last Witch

The premise of Shuumatsu no Izetta was enticing: a story about the last witch fighting for a fictional Austria, dubbed Elystadt, in World War 2 against a fictional Nazi Reich, dubbed Germania. On the production team was Wargaming Japan, the people who made World War 2 related games like World of Tanks, World of Warships and World of Warplanes. Yes, these people know the dreadful machines of war better than most, if not all, people who are in anime production and their name on the staff list means the show won’t fail history.

Except that, and the Ghibli-like enchanting soundtrack, they failed everywhere else. From logic to fanservice, to character development, and to how to make witches…witches and not someone from Dragon Ball universe!

Fighting to the death and having a casual conversation. Plus, subpar quality for a close-up shot

I could hear logic’s scream of anguish when the GENERAL discussed the national military secret to the head of state intelligence on the river bank in the wood instead of, I don’t know, how about a bunker!? And they were eavesdropped on too! By pure COINCIDENCE! Then, the guy who eavesdropped on them immediately shared the secret (or at least planned to) with his platoon leader who was COINCIDENTALLY a spy.

Then that spy conveniently discovered a secret room and a secret map that holds the key to Izetta’s only weakness. By some MIRACLES, the map was not destroyed and the passage there was not sealed shut with dynamite blasts. They got a copy of the map at the HQ and they decided to keep the original lying around unchecked because of what?

What’s next? Oh yes, the badass captain from episode 2 got a new top-secret fighter jet and he ended up using it ONCE before the show just conveniently forgot all about his existence. So Izetta would need a new counter-balance and who better fit the bill than ANOTHER WITCH?

Wait, wait! I thought the show was the LAST witch.

I might not read Japanese kanji but I do know German and “Die Letzte Hexe” on the title card is literally “The Last Witch”. Oh just fantastic! She was not just another witch, it was a zombie, vengeful, vampire witch resurrected with the power of Frankenstein’s pseudoscience!

By the way, when an unidentified, mysterious intruder decided to smooch off your national superpower weapon at a ball. The natural reaction should be “Sound the alarm and lock down the entire castle!”, not “Oh, it’s nothing, never mind then”. That is Rewrite‘s garbage-tier reaction, don’t copy that crappy show!

This is getting ridiculous but that’s still not the end of it. They topped it all with a clash of two giant spheres of untamed powers, Dragon Ball style, and an ultimate sacrifice of self for the greater good before undermining the sacrifice with an “Oops! She’s not actually dead!”, Kyouka no Kanata style.

Oh my God! This rant is getting out of hand. I’ll stop here. Shuumatsu no Izetta is a massive failure, characters are idiots and so are the writers, period!

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