My Anime Watching Slump of 2018

Hai to Gensou no Grimgar (A-1 Pictures, 2016)

I didn’t watch much in 2018, if at all. And what I did watch I wanted to write about, but plans fell through without fail. I’m not really sure why this is the way it panned out last year, but one of my New Years Resolutions was to watch more anime this year and tackle some of my massive backlog. I thought it’d be a good idea to talk about some of the stuff I did watch. This is super self indulgent and messy, no proofreading or eloquence! Let’s have fun with this.

Will mostly be discussing shows I watched by my own volition, but that doesn’t mean I won’t talk about stuff I watched with friends. The focus is on the former though. I basically put pen to paper without brainstorming much. Another resolution was to actually use this blog! I started Black Ryvius a whooping three or four years ago and I’ve published a grand total of one post. I’m ashamed of myself. Really. REALLY. I’ve started and abandoned about… give or take, five posts. Most didn’t even make it past the drawing board. Okay, all of them. But 2018 was a fairly bad year. 2019 will be better! If it won’t be better, I’ll just make it better.

Sekkou Boys (LIDENFILMS, 2016)

The first anime I’ll talk about is the short episode format anime Sekkou Boys. I wasn’t sure what to think when I first walked into this, aside from “wow, what a kookie premise”. I’ll say this off the cuff: I hated, no, loathed the bust boys or whatever the hell I’m supposed to call them. They were highly unlikable pricks with ikemen idol type personalities you’d find in any cookie cutter throwaway otome show. I think that was the point, and if it was good on them. Had I been in the shoes of their manager, I would have taken a sledgehammer to them without second thought. Let’s talk about their manager. Let’s say her name. Ishimoto Miki, disgruntled and jaded from having to paint busts all her life from compulsory art classes all the way to art school, decides to quit on her dream and try for a managing gig. She gets the job, but the idols she in her care are fucking busts. FUCKING BUSTS (I really hated them). The show chronicles her driving them around, lobbing them from place to place, chiding their selfish and chauvanistic requests…

In its core, I think this show is a hidden gem if you think of her as the main character. I know I did. If you’re in it for the boys… eh. I watched the entire thing in one sitting for her. Her tenacity and will to do her job right no matter what in the face of these ungrateful little marble assholes hit me hard. The humor is honestly meh save for a few genuine unexpected chuckles, and most of the misfortune falls on Miki’s shoulders. It’s a bit hard to find funny when I assume any normal functioning human being would immediately pick her side. And that’s how its explicitly painted in the last few episodes. I think it was intentional, tricking people into thinking Sekkou Boys was just a gimmicky meme show when behind the surface lay a fairly nice coming of age story. The boys were written to be unlikable for sure, as the show shifted focus to Miki more and more as the story went on. The pacing was very natural for a show like this, weirdly enough! I actually finished this one, last show I watched on my own actually, so this rating is pretty much final.
Episodes watched: 12/12
Rating: 6.5/10

Initial D First Stage (Studio Gallop + Studio Comet, 1998)

Oh, Initial D. I love your sausage hybrid humans, painfully well drawn cars, laughable CGI, your eurobeat… but most of all, I loved your protagonist, Fujiwara Takumi. I wanted to write about him extensively on Black Ryvius! But I didn’t, too bad. I do want to do it eventually. One day. It isn’t a secret that Takumi will get in his father’s tofu delivery car and race. You know he’ll come through, so I would rather not pretend that it’s any sort of huge spoiler. Alright? Alright. Needless to say this was my favorite anime of the year. My top 10 on my MAL profile have not changed for three years… until I watched this. After I finished it I logged in, opened up my favorites and slapped it in.

Initial D feels like an accidental character study. I’ll save the nitty gritty for whenever I feel like writing that Takumi essay I outlined, but needless to say he is not the stock sports anime protagonist. Yeah no shit, you’d say, but I really came to love him. I don’t mind genki characters at all. In fact, a lot of my favorite characters probably fall into that category. Takumi easily makes it in my top 20 characters of all time! He’s a good boy that grows throughout the series and if you don’t like him you’re just wrong. YOU’RE WRONG!

Initial D First Stage features a race every three or four episodes, so the pacing might come off as a bit slow. Despite the predictable nature of the show, what goes on during the races still inspires shock and awe– especially when danger is thrown into the mix. There’s always a nasty surprise lying in wait. The show in general is surprisingly mellow outside of the drag racing sequences… and boy those races are such a delight! The music is probably one of the best parts. As mentioned previously, eurobeat is a big part of this show. Running in the 90’s memes eat your heart out! The quality CGI is ranges from Tumblr Y2K aesthetic blog to WOW jesus christ what is that. Curiously enough, I had a ball taking screenshots. There was plenty a moment where shot composition was clearly deliberate, many bolstering the impact of an already emotionally charged scene. Unfortunately I couldn’t include anything particularly powerful, because spoilers and I actually want people to watch this on their own. The hand painted backgrounds are gorgeous, as are the cars when they’re not in 3D. The character design leaves much to be desired, but it communicates what needs to be communicated, so why not? This was the first show I watched in 2018, and by far the best. I can’t recommend it enough.
Episodes watched: 26/26
Rating: 9.5/10

Dai Mahou Touge (Diomedea, 2006)

Dai Mahou Touge.
I have a knack for these odd, edgy slapstick OVAs. I will admit it. I like whacky early 2000’s OVAs in general, I’m reminded of buying dubbed anime DVDs and the products always being some form of mac n’ capital C cheese. That being said, Dai Mahou Touge is a product of the time through and through. Hell, it feels outdated in the face of its contemporaries. Haruhi aired while this thing was being released. When I went to double check the release date for this I was very adamant it was released in 2003. Bzzzzt. So why? It’s not bad for what it is, and reviews (from over 10 years ago no less) seem to like it a lot. Because… again, it is a product of the times. Hating on magical girl shows was also in vogue for the average western anime watcher. This was around the whammy of big boy shows like Elfen Lied and Death Note.

Now in my opinion, it wasn’t particularly awful, and what I did watch I did somewhat enjoy, albeit with a lot of eyerolling, coupled with a whole lot of suspension of disbelief. Lyrical Tokarev, kill them all! The show is basically this heavy handed. I don’t recall anything particularly offensive, but subtlety was thrown out the window in the making of this product. Tanaka Punie, the show’s protagonist, is a psychopath. There is no sugar coating this: she is violent and easily provoked, quite the vile character to come across on a bad day. She flips personalities like it’s nothing. Being next in line for queen in her home planet, she was sent to Earth as a sort of hazing ritual. While there’s fun to be had with Punie and friends, the joke gets tiring fast. Even when new rivals and enemies get introduced several times an episode, you know they’ll be bested somehow. This is understandable for a slapstick show but still… eh. I wanted more out of this! Damn you, Tanaka Punieeeeee………
Episodes watched: 2/4 (each episode is half an hour, mind you)
Rating: 4/10

Kakumeiki Valvrave (Sunrise, 2013)
Zera really likes this screencap, so I used it.

Something a little different, I didn’t watch this one on my own. My wonderful friend, Zera, would sit me down every few weeks and we would watch this until I feel too mentally overwhelmed or to continue. Kakumeiki Valvrave is special. It has rare, something precious and wonderful. I’m not even sure how to describe it. Despite it being downright nonsensical and sometimes outright chuunibyou, I found myself increasingly invested no matter how long I put it down for. It really keeps you guessing. It is a prime example of a spectacle, and an excellent one at that.

Well… is Valvrave any good? Yes and no. It’s really bad… but also amazing. It has crazy entertainment value, and the ideas, characters, themes and setting truly are there. It has its heart in the right place. There’s a sense of intrigue to it even in its dumbest moments. For every sliver of brilliance, at least ten funny things that make no sense occur right after. That’s not to say that the show doesn’t have any crowning moments. They’re so well timed to keep you invested you’d think the showrunners did it on purpose to keep people from shutting off their TVs and doing something more productive, like going for a jog. I really loved a bulk of the characters, so that was a major anchor as well. The cast was like a well oiled machine. Their grip on me seldom released. The relationship between Haruto and L-Elf in particular is the best, followed by Shouko and Akira’s. One gripe I have is that the romance element of the show is unnecessary, especially when the show itself seems to give zero fucks about pairing Haruto up. The mech designs are especially strong as well, being both memorable and unique. I particularly enjoyed how each one had weapons and niches that suited their respective pilots quite nicely. This was nothing new, but I think Valvrave did it well. Overall, for how stupid and bad it is, I’m currently enjoying it nonetheless. I look forward to “waifu wars on the moon”, whatever that means. Feel free to check out this gallery of assorted reactions I had to episode 19 of this wonderful trainwreck.
Episodes watched: 19/24 (Currently watching)

I did watch quite a few seasonals with friends, most notably Seishun Buta Yarou, Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight (two whole posts on that at the very least, whew) and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind (I host it weekly!). There were some clear snubs for this post, like Grimgar. I don’t think it would have been fair to write about it, since I only stopped watching it to recover from the twist at the end of the fourth episode and still want to continue it. There were plenty of shows I watched too little of to even have a real opinion on as well. I briefly considered including Togashi Yoshihiro’s zany Level-E, but I watched that in November of 2017, not making the 2018 cut off. It felt good to write this without doing much thinking, but I do hope that it was cohesive nonetheless. Hopefully this won’t be my only post this year.

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