We are finally rounding the bend and close to my top ten at last. Been quite a while, why I decided to do my opinions on twenty something others is beyond me but it most certainly has been fun! I have never been too crazy about the Spring season of the past few years, yet it is the one season I find myself watching the most shows. I see potential often in Spring, yet more often than not I’m let down. Here we are closing in on what I consider to be the ones that are potentially worth a watch, but these next few are potential shows I feel others may like if they are looking for specific niches. We are almost finally done and it is about time to move on in the hopes of me not rambling on for too much.
Joker Game was many people’s interesting historical anime of the season. Heck it was even mine as well, so why is it only 14th? Joker Game did indeed fall flat for me like many others as well. What seemed like an interesting romp into a story about spies screwing one another over in a game of espionage, turned into an episodic story about different spy stereotypes. You have the gentleman spy, the cold and calculating spy, the amnesiac, the young spy, and of course the master spy. What the first few episodes showcase is not a cohesive 12 episode long plot, but rather a showcase of many different spies in multiple countries. While this can be entertaining in its hijinks, we are never truly given depth to any of the characters but rather stories or characterizations of some. If you want a character to latch onto for the series this is not the series for you. We keep on replacing the main character usually each episode and often are only privy to minute details about said character.
The thing is though, Production IG does a great job of animating this and that coupled with its OST make up for the lack of a cohesive narrative and bland characters for the most part setting up the tone pretty well and the World War II era setting. I originally defended Joker Game on its similar character designs stating that they are real spies and must be able to blend in, but that was while I thought it was one narrative. In an episodic format at times it is harder to pay attention to which spy is which especially with some looking similar to others in facial features. Due to its episodic format, there is now next to nothing distinct about the characters we follow besides the stereotype. This form of storytelling is not bad if you have characters to ground you in some overarching story as we see more development gained from each episodic adventure much like Cowboy Bebop. Joker Game does not live and die on its characters, but it certainly makes for a less than interesting ride with each new trick being uncovered each episode without a distinct character to help ground us back in the world. While Joker Game may feel like a bunch of short stories of intrigue or interest, it would have worked better with one narrative instead of feeling like a 12 episode side story OVA to an already existing show.
This is where my list may start to turn people off based on what I enjoyed. Kiznaiver is all about connections between people, even to the point of bluntly forcing it into its plot with the Kizna System allowing people to share their “pains”. You can tell mostly how Kiznaiver will go down for the most part, but what spices this up from the usual highschool hijinks is studio Trigger and their style of animation. While the series may not be the most subtle in its themes about understanding, most of its characters breathe life into the average everyday antics with their own over the top personalities. That can’t be said about every character as both our main characters have a distinct lack of personality, and this can be a problem when they are the focus as it can come off as really boring with their dialogues towards each other. I will say this as well, the voice acting is something that I resonated with in this anime as some scenes called for some powerful emotion and the cast brought it.
Kiznaiver for all extents and purpose reveals its story too late in the game as you will find yourself asking what the plot is even by the end of the series due to how ridiculous it can get with its finale. That being said, as far as character antics go this season this may be the best of the bunch for essentially its “Triggerisms”. It won’t be groundbreaking with its blunt themes and over the top drama, but Kiznaiver can still be enjoyable if you like Trigger’s style of characters and antics.
Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge/ Tanaka-kun is Always Listless
Tanaka-kun is always listless started off as a simple comedy premise. A teen who always tries to be the laziest he can be no matter the scenario, while in theory that sounds like a fun idea. This idea however is my biggest problem with the entire series, its main character. It is not because of the caricature being portrayed wrong, on the contrary I think it is portrayed far too well that it is boring to watch for the most part. Tanaka is a lazy guy, the epitome of laziness, yet to that very point I find his comedy one-sided always rushing back to the point of laziness and that follows through with each episode.
My main concern is the supporting cast juxtaposing a more active life than Tanaka’s in every episode. Yes at the beginning this refreshing especially due to how mind-numbing Tanaka’s personal philosophies are, but there becomes a problem. The series becomes far too reliant on the juxtaposed nature of its supporting cast that all jokes have the same conclusion. There is only so much one can do with the punchline of “he’s lazy” and they do run it dry by the end of this twelve episode series. I certainly did enjoy this series, but found myself either yawning or tired after the episodes because the comedy was putting me to sleep due to its predictability and its content. It needed new characters to stay afloat and that just never meshed well with me. Certainly others will find the comedy more amusing and can withstand Tanaka’s comedic caricature more so but it never resonated with me and I am a very lazy guy.
Koutetsujou no Kabaneri/ Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
I have problems with this show, and I also adore what this show did. This is what a blockbuster as a television show should be (well not exactly but about around this quality of aesthetic with much better writing): high octane action that steps itself up, not as complex with its plot or characters, but also managing to make us enjoy the cast enough that we want to see them succeed. Then there is the problems of how people believe that camp can bring complexity and be a saviour in the world of anime. In its own world, Kabaneri works exceptionally well in making a drama about people on a train fighting iron-hearted zombies. It sounds crazy, and it can’t be taken seriously enough to deliver the complex scenes most hope for yet it still manages to maintain an aura of suspense/tension for the most part. An ever-looming threat of zombies needs that tension or else this would be more of a comedy.
Then you have the main third act bloodbath that falls far too short and understandably so with such a shaky antagonist that comes in more than halfway through the show with a stupid idea that makes even more over the top action set pieces happen. They remove the focus from the main cast onto Beeba and his weird political revenge plot. It is like Independence Day, over the top with some memorable sequences and has a lot of camp. It kind of reminds me of the ridiculous nature of some action films back in the 80s and 90s. The action and the charming characters should be what grabs you and that was all it needed. Well some can say Mumei is more of an arrogant brat than anything else, but most of the characters are charming at least to me (and I actually thought Mumei was one of the better characters). The design aspect of the series is breathtaking and you can rattle off fantastic design choices left and right that just breathe “rule of cool”. It never meant to be more than a popcorn flick, and while that may be sad in a lasting effect, in that moment where you see samurai attacking hordes of zombies I enjoyed the bombastic nature.
So hopefully no enemies were made with putting some of these series this far down my list. I seem to be pushing out these a lot faster and that is because I finally have both my last show finished to know its placing and some stuff on the backburner I hope I’ll get some time to finish soon. What did you guys think of the anime above? Put it down in the comments below and thank you all for reading!