Posted by SuperWooper on 20 August 2019 with categories: Other:, State of the Season

Wooper: Like a summer heat wave that just won’t end, anime is forever new in the eyes of seasonal watchers. Here at Star Crossed, we grind out countless episodic posts in an effort to keep up, but today we’re doing something a bit different. We’ve decided to call it “State of the Season” – a quarterly report on what we’re watching, what we’re most enjoying, and what we’ve dropped like a hot potato. This is our first time doing this sort of round table post, so it’s a chance for you to see which of our writers you’re most aligned with, and who among us has bottom tier taste. Ready? Let’s get started!

 

What show are you enjoying that you’re not reviewing?

Amun: Granbelm.  Normally I’m not into Mech or Mahou Shoujo, but this is pretty good.  Latest episode is lit!

Wooper: Dumbbell. It’s this year’s Yuru Camp – informative CGDCT that builds its characters enough to create real friendships between them.

Lenlo: Dumbbell. Everything tells me I shouldn’t enjoy what is basically a fanservice workout show. Yet I am all about that Fitmoe life, I enjoy the educational part of it, and Machio is a lovable beefcake. Sidenote: I hated Yuru Camp >.>

Mario: Two shows for me, the first one being Wasteful Days of High School Girls. I have a soft spot for these slice-of-life comedies that play with character tropes, but even then nothing prepares for this show’s quirkiness. I enjoy the tongue-in-cheek humor and I love every character. The second show is Lord El-Melloi II, which manages to make the whole Fate universe interesting in my eyes. And that is such an accomplishment.

Helghast: Ramming my way through Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba since I heard about the hype surrounding episode 19’s final five minutes. It’s alright so far with ufotable’s stellar animation propping up the show. 

Armitage: Dumbbell for me too. It’s such an easy watch. And each week, I feel more motivated to get off my couch and you know *whispers* exercise.

Unpopular Opinion (AKA Flame Starter)

Amun: I am no longer watching Vinland Saga because I got bored.

Lenlo: Fire Force is mediocre and not nearly as well animated as people seem to think (so far). 

Helghast: Vinland Saga blew its load too early and I haven’t gotten past episode three.

Armitage: Fire Force is really generic, to be honest. And even the Dr. Stone adaptation is falling flat for me.

Wooper: Less of an unpopular opinion and more of a confession: I was wrong about O Maidens in Your Savage Season. The show has already tanked, and it’s only halfway through. Not only did it fall off a cliff in terms of visual presentation, but I vastly overestimated the source material.

Mario: Nothing. None. Nil.

 

Midseason Masterpiece

Armitage: I’d say Vinland Saga. Wit is treating the material with real care because they know what they’ve got on their hands and if the season ends where I think it will, we have one hell of a payoff coming. So, stick around.

Amun: Okay, for a show that’s not in my normal genre – Wasteful Days of High School Girls is pretty good.  Absolutely nothing is happening, but the characters are enjoyable and fresh takes on typical archetypes.

Helghast: Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note. Finally a real serious Fate show without descending into the Holy Grail War, weird magical girls, gacha games or alternate timelines. 

Lenlo: Vinland. Screw everyone else, it’s one of my top 3 manga ever made, and Wit is doin’ well so far. Turns out setting up a 22 volume long series that’s still going strong takes some time. 

Mario: There’s a bunch of shows I wanna mention here, though sadly none of them are straight-up masterpieces for me at this point. Just for sheer ambition and epic feel alone, Vinland Saga still demands our attention. As for my personal favorites, it’s Wasteful Days of High School Girls – a show that runs in the same vein as Asobi Asobase last year, and if you know me, I’m a big fan of the latter – and Lord El-Melloi II – a show that is better than it should be. On a slightly lower range we have Kanata no Astra – a show that is still pretty engaging at dispatching its central mystery, despite its flaws. And finally Araburu, which is focusing a bit too much on romance for my liking, but it’s still interesting nonetheless.

Wooper: Pass. Nothing is impressing me enough to pick a winner here. Both winter and spring had a show I’d have put forward (Mob Psycho and Sarazanmai, respectively), but despite summer’s breadth of interesting series, none of them is a home run for me.

 

Guilty Pleasure of the Season

Mario: Cop Craft. I know it’s bad to promote the show you’re blogging but despite all the technical mishaps and rushed pacing, there’s still a charm that keeps me coming back to it every week.

Wooper: Dr. Stone, I guess? Given the “last man on Earth” premise, the characters’ ideological conflicts feel super important. In fact, every decision they make impacts the future of the human race. Think about the show on a micro level, though, and it’s dumber than a box of rocks.

Amun: Hensuki….okay, hear me out, it’s actually pretty funny and not as bad as Do You Love Your Mother.

Helghast: Still going strong on Arifureta. Embrace the suck that is the Playstation 1 graphics, the mangled storytelling and a recap at the sixth episode mark.  

^ Amun: I am impressed.  And slightly horrified.  

Lenlo: El-Melloi. I don’t know why I am still watching it. I think it’s because Waver/Rider was my favorite pair from Zero. But I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look pretty. Most of the time.

Armitage: I mean, I know everyone hates it and the last thing we want is to promote shit isekai, but it’s Arifureta for me. Maybe I am isekai trash after all.

 

Best Girl/Guy/Anything else

Amun: Yeah, it’s Hestia.

Helghast: Rave, Crave, Deprave, it’s gonna be Grey.

Lenlo: Best Girl? Maki, since I am all about that Fitmoe lifestyle, though Ylva is fightin’ for the spot. Best Boy? Well… Give it until Vinland Ep 8. (Okay, this one might be spoilers. But I love the movie reference.) Also Wooper is a man of culture and Armitage knows what’s up.

Mario: Maybe after watching Wasteful Days I’ll change my mind, but for now, it’s her (Otomi Tachibana from Mix).

Wooper: Machio’s aesthetic physique puts the rest of the field to shame.

Armitage: Ylvaaaaaaa!

 

What show have you dropped?

Amun: Vinland Saga.  So much hype and so much….nothing happening (I’ll probably go back and watch it later) 

Mario: Fruits Basket. I’m not thrilled anymore with all the characters in the series. The comedy is weak.

^ Amun: But the FEELS xD
^ Mario: When they deliver the same FEELS week after week it’s hard to be moved anymore.

Lenlo: Carole and Tuesday. The music was never even that good. Also, Vinland is a slow burn damnit! Can’t appreciate good pacing… Damn kids.

^ Amun:  I’ve already frozen to death waiting….

Wooper: O Maidens in Your Savage Season. I’ve stalled on a couple other things (Carole & Tuesday, Kimetsu no Yaiba), but I plan to complete them once they’ve finished airing.

Armitage: Fire Force (No way am I willing to sit through 4 cours of this). Carole and Tuesday. Sorry, Watanabe. But Netflix really did a number on you. Also, Dr. Stone. Better stick with the manga if the story interests you.

 

What have you watched that isn’t currently airing?

Mario: HUNTER X HUNTER!! I know it took me so long to finally get around it, and I’m at the beginning of Chimera Ant arc right now which is widely considered the best shounen arc ever. So far I enjoy Hunter x Hunter a lot. It has complex characters and some pretty well-developed plots. If I have a minor issue, however, it’s that I feel the killing/murdering is a bit too easy in the show. To get a Hunter license could cost your life. Participating in an arena match for fame and money could cost your life, and if you end up across from Hisoka you are dead meat. Even Hisoka’s motive to get a Hunter license is basically to get a license to kill. In any case, Hisoka is the best boy here.

Armitage: I caught up on quite a lot, actually. Cross Game (Absolute Masterpiece), Golden Boy (Real DAMN good) and am currently burning through the Symphogear franchise.

Wooper: Heidi, Girl of the Alps. It’s slowly becoming one of my favorite pre-2000s series. I’m a Ghibli fan, so it makes sense that I’d love a Takahata-directed show starring a young female protagonist with a strong connection to nature. It’s pretty damn cinematic for a 1974 TV anime, as well.

Lenlo: Aside from Throwback Thursday’s Mononoke? I’ve been working my way through all of Monogatari and I need to start Chihayafuru season 2 soon.

Amun: I actually caught up on the DanMachi movie and Sword Oratoria.  SO was way better than expected – I had heard awful things, but it was really quite good (very in character with the first season).  The movie…I don’t know. I dislike standalone movies, since you know movie only characters are likely to not be around for whatever reason.  Hard for me to get attached. Decent movie though.

 

Let’s talk about Fire Force.

Wooper: The biggest thing I appreciate about Fire Force is that it’s different. I typically tire of shounen series very quickly, but this one hasn’t lost me yet. Visually, it doesn’t use the predictable, workmanlike string of medium shots that plagues the genre. It frequently places machinery or other inanimate objects in the foreground and lets its characters converse at a distance, resulting in a moody tone. Though its characters are all goofballs, it isn’t afraid to be quiet for a bit (take Iris’ chapel scene in episode 5, for instance). Even the show’s slapdash way of introducing characters and plot points is novel, if nothing else. It doesn’t adhere to the template of building a gigantic web with the main character in the center – rather, Company 8’s relationship to the rest of the Special Fire Force is set to drive the story (even if that concept arose rather suddenly). The show has its issues, but it’s never boring.

Lenlo: Well, I suppose you can thank the influx of Shaft animators for that one, Wooper. Fire Force has clearly been affected by the new animators and Shaft’s established style. For me, I was never a huge fan of the style. I enjoy Monogatari in spite of it most of the time, not because of it, for instance. Meanwhile narratively I just think Fire Force is a mess. I can’t stand the Cat Girl who exists purely for fan-service jokes, and I find Shinra, Arthur and the Lieutenant’s character quirks to be rather one note and dull. And don’t even get me started on the antagonists. The only thing I like about the main one is his voice. Meanwhile this most recent “gravel” girl is… well she’s definitely something. I get that we are only 5-6 episodes in, so I am gonna keep giving it a shot. But so far I just don’t care about anyone. Also, side note, the animation isn’t as good as people think. It has the occasional good looking fire effect and little else. For me, it has yet to hit anywhere close to its first episode. And it can’t even claim to have the best flame this season anymore either.

Amun: Shaft’s animation style to me isn’t technically great animation – but it does achieve a great visual effect.  If anything, I would say the fast cuts and correct allocation of the animator’s time results in something very visually pleasing.  I think of Samurai Champloo as a good example – if you rewatch it, the show is innovative for the scene composition, not actually the raw frames per second.  I agree with Wooper on the allure of this show – it’s just something new (and it looks pretty). The characters are admittedly flawed (a serious fighter forgetting which is his dominant hand?  Really?) But I like the more realistic workplace environment and team building exercises rather than just another cultural fair. Episode 3 to me was a complete mess, but the others have been decent – however, I’m not expecting HxH quality or anything like that.  I would say so far, it’s been a cut above something like Black Clover – which is good enough for my shonen of the season.

Mario: It’s interesting that we all mention Shaft whereas this show is animated by David Production. Don’t disregard them, boys. For me, Fire Force has a huge pacing issue. At first, I expected it to go for “Monsters of the Week” formula before delving deeper into the main overarching plot, but instead we have the show charging in with heavy political themes without much of a set-up with half-baked characters. The result is inconsistent, but… I still can’t put my finger on what will happen next. So that counts for something, right? At the same time, we are talking about a bunch of characters who have the IQ and maturity of little kids. In the latest episode, Arthur can’t use his special ability because he was holding the sword in his freaking left-hand the whole time. How is that even plausible? How is that even possible? The way the show treats its female characters as sexual objects is irksome as well.

Lenlo: Mario pretty much hit the nail on the head. And of course, credit to David Productions. But it is true that they have had an influx of Shaft’s animators. So they are going to influence the studio’s style a bit. All the criticisms aside though, Fire Force is still decent fun. It just doesn’t excel in any one area for me.

5 Responses

  1. Avatar Elvin Cline says:

    I can’t wait to see new episodes, thanks for sharing <3

  2. Avatar Kaila says:

    I’m waiting to see them! Thanks a lot for writing it.

  3. Avatar Ronbb says:

    Like this creative take on a mid-season review. Thanks.

  4. Avatar jimtim says:

    I haven’t read the manga for Vinland Saga, but I am watching the anime and to those that have written it off all I can say is ye of little faith.

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