Now we are into some deep water here. Is that…one of Fukawa’s steamy visualizations of Togami in the main image!? Yes as the trend suggests, this is going to be a tough top ten and one I never found myself predicting in the slightest. Most of these shows in particular have been close or in my number one spot for this season, yet all have found themselves further down the list because of some problems I had with them. Let the Togami roadrage ensue!
I will be discussing Danganronpa spoilers for the first and second games in the overviews of the two stories from Danganronpa 3. You have been warned.
P.A. Works confuses me…ultimately with how this is one of the biggest oddities in its list of anime. Kuromukuro has the ability to be both intriguing and completely dull almost at the same time with its final half. We get school hijinks as a means of showing the desire to be normal in this entirely odd scenario and how the characters release tension in such a tough situation, yet we also get the world being invaded by aliens called the Efidolg who desire to take over Earth. Add in a character who was a feudal samurai who was frozen and awoken in the present day and you have this melting pot of entertaining ideas that works for the most part. Kuromukuro however, as much as the animation got better in the second half, has a hard time making its CGI mech battles worth watching and those can go on for a long time.
Its leading cast are interesting especially with their growth, but most of the supporting cast border between both annoying and tedious. They are the main reason we have these highschool hijinks, and cause the most cringe and have the least meaning in their inclusion by the end of the day. Most of their subplots go nowhere when it would have been nicer to flesh out the war and its cast more than the high school students and some of those weird teachers, mainly that counselor. That is where I would say Kuromukuro falls into mediocrity, is in its attempt to meld both plotlines together along with a pretty unsatisfying ending that was quite overdramatic if not charming in some moments.
9. Danganronpa 3: Mirai-hen
Unfortunately I am not here to entirely sing the praises of Danganronpa this time. I found myself for the most part mixed about how to take this half of the third season. Mirai-hen has the same problems the original Danganronpa anime has, which is with the time delegated to its cast in fleshing them out. Arguably there are very few new characters that are well fleshed out over the course of this dual narrative, and that is partly due to the nature of this new game. This is a more simple game, one without the necessity of class trials after murder so a lot of the events that take place is these icons of hope fighting each other while also adapting to the special rule. The special rule is a poison that will be administered to its participants if they do their forbidden action, this to me is one of the only elements that keeps the game going as most of the fun is in figuring out some people’s forbidden actions. Besides that one element, this is essentially more of a survival game in the realm of just blatantly killing one another while the traitor puts everyone to sleep in intervals to kill them.
I do still love the series, I just found myself liking and disliking the path they went down. Some characters were nice to discover about, yet others barely had anything really. Some points in the plot lacked any point at all, yet I found myself loving some of the twists and turns. There was never a moment where I found myself fully enjoying the narrative especially since a lot of the lack of judgement or throwaway characters was quite large this time around. I could never fully be immersed since there was mostly a bad moment or hard to understand (logic-wise) moment paired off with a moment I genuinely enjoyed.
I think that overall Mirai-hen is the weaker of the two halves due to its inability to create a sense of suspense beyond the bracelets and the need to constantly have people hunt down each other turning into a discount version of a Battle Royale setting. The fights aren’t that well animated at times and lack even a sense of purpose ultimately other than to force Naegi to leave causing the situation to go downhill. That coupled with easily some of the most throwaway plot points and even one episode entirely that makes you wonder why it was even a focus. Plus some characters were criminally underused especially in something that marks the finality of a trilogy. Lerche kind of does it again for me on not giving this story enough time to truly breathe or even come to a meaningful conclusion or even purpose to the whole affair. This is me discounting the Hope part of the series as that is its own beast to tackle.
8. Danganronpa 3: Zetsubou-hen
The other half of the Danganronpa 3 whole, Zetsubou-hen manages to execute what it set out to do better than the other yet I found myself more upset with how they executed some elements. Watching Hope’s Peak Academy fall into despair is certainly more in tone with the upbeat psychopathy we usually find with the games. The colour palette is much bright than Mirai-hen’s and overall watching the students be brought to life is certainly a treat. I enjoyed the hijinks and the ties into the Mirai-hen section yet I found myself having a hard time understanding the execution of a few scenes. The first killing game was sloppy and rushed as well as turning people to despair (for the most part), the introduction of Junko was fun yet lacking in the end, and the overall set-up has some continuity issues. Those are the core problems with Zetsubou-hen for me, this being said I still have some distinct love for this side.
The light-hearted elements especially as a set up before the inevitable fall was entertaining and certainly nice to see. Chizome was a great character to be introduced to as she is arguably one of the best characters throughout the whole Danganronpa 3 story. Zetsubou-hen managed to make you care for the cast yet again, but I would say a lot of the groundwork was already done previously in the second game which is why you can’t really give it full credit. When it enters into the despair aspects is when the series shows a brutality I don’t believe I have seen in Danganronpa previously. Maybe in Ultra Despair Girls, but there wasn’t really a sense of levity in its poppy vibrant colour palette, but rather having a complete turn that you knew was coming yet still takes you by surprise. Zetsubou-hen manages to subvert expectations with how far they will go in order to prove a point, yet the visual flair was lacking overall for me. Danganronpa has a distinct style that manages to have this visceral yet comedic nature almost branding it as a black comedy. Zetsubou-hen throws off the pitch black comedy and lets you have it in points, and that is where my attention swayed as violence for the sake of violence is boring to watch in and of itself. One could argue that Junko is a sociopath who adheres to violence to cause despair, and for several scenes that does work yet I feel at points it forgets that cheery side and lost a bit of its identifiable tone that we saw in previous titles.
All in all I had my fair share of issues and likes with Danganronpa 3 as a whole. I love both horror and Danganronpa, yet I feel it never has executed a television series able to completely pull off the terror of how cute and cuddly the series is in its darkest moments. It took the avenue of trying to take itself seriously, and loses a part of itself in that attempt and even when they do try to make it a whimsical darkness it never manages to have the same staying power since it was now jarring to the new tone presented. It was just a lot of clashing with my love of the series and just thinking the execution was off.
7. Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin/ Alderamin in the Sky
I am personally surprised that Alderamin is this high up my list with all the problems I have with it. It is not the most original work, with it being distinctively close to Valkyria Chronicles in some elements. Makes for some interesting comparisons between the two, and for people parading around the distinct nature of this show it really doesn’t tread through any new territory we haven’t seen before. No, I was not impressed by its plot or its themes since “War is bad” universally is understood through many wartime dramas. Its characters beside the two main characters of Ikta and Yatorishino are painfully shallow at times and hit stereotypes that have been done far better before. Now to its credit, Alderamin managed to impress me with its second half enough that I look past some of these generic traits. It had a brisk pace that kept the momentum moving with a few interesting subplots along the way and where its themes of war really started to kick in. We saw contention with other nations and religions, and certainly allowed us to see different sides of our protagonists.
Does that offset how minimal most of its elements are? Not really, as when you hear the name of the studio (Madhouse) you expect brilliance quite often. It lacked the ability to be awed throughout the most of the story in terms of animation. The tactics were fun to watch in action and to actually see the wear and tear on war on Ikta throughout his forced military career. Alderamin in the Sky has a lot of interesting elements that get some sort of payoff in moments of the series, yet it lacks consistency in that regard. It often enters into a generic maudlin territory which can be preachy, with some moments predictable from the moment you see a character. It’s interesting, but has the trappings of a lot of other wartime shows and films within its story which makes Alderamin not reach its full potential but you can certainly see it going places if it has another season.
6. Amaama to Inazuma/ Sweetness & Lightning
Adorable and CUUUUUUUUUUTE! Those are the two terms that best describe Amaama to Inazuma. The story of a father and daughter couple coming to terms with the death of the mother through cooking. It is a simple concept with a surprising amount of heart and it shows in very pivotal moments each episode. Tsumugi is one of the most realistic depictions of a child in anime that I have seen and that is both nice and annoying. I myself enjoy looking after children, but even I know when whining can get annoying to the point where the cuteness stops altogether. It does make some sequences more empowering though, as the father tries to adapt to multiple situations and does have that feeling of both a doting parent and one that will bring down the hammer if necessary. The dynamic of the cooking however is for the most part systematic and does take up a good portion of the show. To its credit, it creates a very calming and familial atmosphere yet its consistent repetition is what forces it to become tedious. There is no visual flair like in Souma to make it stand out and that finds me at odds ends with one of the most important plot points of the series.
What makes me look past all that is how much some scenes resonated with me personally. That first episode had me in tears by the end of it and it was only thanks to one moment that was properly built up over the episode. This cast in its entirety are very likable and feel like you are at times there with them seated around the table. The inviting and powerful sense of the series is what will make you stay with it over its flaws. This series however is not for everyone as it becomes quite sickeningly sweet, even for me, in quite a few moments. The children’s jokes and the comedy around them is not really to my liking as it is very basic humour, which is realistic just not soothing or entertaining. This is a very niche series, and if I didn’t have a soft spot for stuff like this may be a bit lower overall.
We are nearing the end of this round up and it certainly has been taking its toll. My schoolwork is beginning to pile up with my English and Cinema classes and I may be unable to put up posts as you can see with my long absence. I’m hoping I come back around Christmas time with revitalized purpose and tackling some interesting subjects like potentially talking more about Perfect Blue and its view on celebrity. I personally love this new try towards blogging for myself as I have a chance to meet and read some very interesting thoughts on things and share my own. I will be finishing the round up and potentially going on hiatus for a while but I shall be back!