Highlight: Summer 2018 anime season

My head is still spinning from all the time travel shenanigans this season.

There aren’t enough good titles to pick up this season; and to be frank, I could hardly find time to follow more than a handful anyway. Shingeki no Kyojin seems to be a lot milder these days and I’m inclined to think this is mostly because they are saving meat for the grinder next season. Meanwhile, the rest of Boku no Hero Academia (HeroAca) is much weaker than the epic battle last season. In retrospect, the decision to highlight HeroAca last season was a huge blunder on my part.

After writing the review last season, a friend of mine texted me and recommended Hinamatsuri along with the greatest accolades he could give to a show. I concur, Hinamatsuri definitely would have made the highlight last season have I picked it up earlier. Might as well mention it here so that I can stop hitting myself with an empty tissue box now…

SEASONAL SELECTION

Show Expectation Rating
Steins;Gate 0 Cash cow Highlight
ISLAND Question mark Runner-up
Shingeki no Kyojin 3 Cash cow Excellent (Pending)
Boku no Hero Academia 3 Cash cow Excellent (Pending)
Asobi Asobase Question mark Excellent
Overlord 3 Cash cow Decent
Isekai Maou to Shoukan Shoujo no Dorei Majutsu Question mark Decent
Persona 5 the Animation Question mark Decent
SteinsGate_header3
“I, Hououin Kyouma, against you fools and even fate, will prevail!” — Okabe Rintarou

HIGHLIGHT: STEINS;GATE 0

Steins;Gate 0 has truly redeemed itself this season. Much to my delight, not only did it pull its own weight as a spin-off but it also widened my perspective of the main season.

The story this time is a side arc covering the scenario in which the protagonist, Okabe Rintarou, gave up on saving the main heroine, Makise Kurisu, after countless time leaps. He abandoned his persona as the mad scientist Hououin Kyouma and moved on with his ordinary student life. However, he soon ran into Kurisu’s lab colleague, Maho Hiyajo, and discovered the dark legacy Kurisu left behind.

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“Precious memories are completely negated by other theories”…why must you hurt me too, lyrics?

The strongest aspect of the show’s production is the music. The vocal tracks at the end of episode 22 and 23 are truly chilling. Even more so when they are accompanied by the determined proclamation from Rintarou and the philosophical monologue from Hiyajo. These are incredibly powerful scenes in Steins;Gate 0 where everything; the lyrics, the animation, the lighting, and the dialogues; are all aligned to deliver a powerful punch in the gut.

There is no holding back when it comes to rebelling against destiny. Sacrifices must be made to advance the cause. This is the core dilemma and the theme of the entire franchise. This fact was made quite apparent when, over the course of this season alone, Rintarou had to cast aside the existences of Amadeus, of the time machine (at the same time banishing Mayuri and Suzuha to the dawn of history), and even his own future to open the path to Steins Gate world line for his present self.

SteinsGate_snapshot
The die is cast. Good luck. El Psy Congroo.

At last, the missing pieces of the puzzles in the main story were revealed. The opening soundtrack of the main season rolling at the intersection of the main story and Steins;Gate 0‘s story was a particularly nice touch. The loose ends were resolved and a fresh new perspective of the events in the main story was open to the viewers, just like the path to Steins Gate was finally open to the characters.

Overall, this has been a spectacular season for Steins;Gate as a franchise. The build-up was a bit on the slow side but the payoff was worth it. The visual novel is also available for pick up on Steam at the time the anime is broadcasting and I can’t wait to get my hands on it this Christmas sale.

RUNNER-UP: ISLAND

ISLAND in all caps is, in all technical senses, so absurd, so convoluted, it’s epic!

Being an adaptation of a visual novel completed with the oh-so-boring “common route”, ISLAND took its sweet time, five episodes full of cringey harem romcom cliches, to reach the first character arc. Actually, Karen’s character arc was garbage, skip that, the real story only began after Sara’s arc.

In Sara’s arc, the show convinced me that time travel was possible, grandfather paradox was somehow averted in this universe, and divine powers existed. Then, one by one, the show turned these notions on their heads and revealed an alternative explanation that I could not think of as though teasing how silly I was to actually believe in those absurdities in the first place.

Exactly one episode later, ISLAND did another backflip, this time telling me time travel and singularity existed in this world and it even showed me the alien-tech capsule capable of taking a human through time. Half an episode later, it told me the heroine was dead and the protagonist embarked on a journey through time to save her.

ISLAND_snapshot
Setsuna: “I am your father!”, Me: “Nooooooo!!”

Just when I thought this could not possibly get more Steins;Gate-ish. It pulled the rug under my feet and slapped a brand new setting in a dystopian future the very next episode. Then, it implied the two main characters were biblical names from “sacred scripture” and they might as well be Adam and Eve and God’s existence might not be too far-fetched after all.

At this stage, I had given up on disbelieving already when the show tossed a bootstrap paradox in my face by stating the future Rinne constructed a time machine through the information of this very time machine from the past…and so on and so forth all the way until “I am your father” and topped it off with the cyclic model of the whole damn world.

The crazy part is, I can neither deny nor confirm these hypotheses! They actually make logical senses! I would love to know who created the stasis capsule and the original Rinne in the first place but I fear they would pull an “acceptable” Cthulhu explanation for that if I probe deep enough so I’ll just ask my Willing Suspension of Disbelief to take that last bit at face value.

All in all, ISLAND is the kind of “a-few-screws-loose”, “mad scientist” shows that should be watched first-hand. No amount of spoilers could ruin the actual thing. It is entertainment! Pure entertainment!

 

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