Winter 2018 Mid-Season Review

Feels like I’m a week or so late on this, but lets get this done before it gets even later! So halfway and a bit into this season, where do things stand?

As always, shows are alphabetical within each tier

S Tier

Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (8 Episodes)

[HorribleSubs] Sora yori mo Tooi Basho - 08 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.41_[2018.02.20_18.51.48]

Yorimoi is still the best show of the season. Its only gotten better from its spectacular opening episodes. The best part is how effortless it makes things look. The show weaves the relationships of the four main girls together in a way that seems so natural that by the end of the episodes where Hinata and Yuzuki are introduced, it feels like they’ve been there forever. A real standout was episode 5, where Kimari’s friend Megumi admits how jealous she was of Kimari, and how she’s always used Kimari’s dependence on her as a way of propping herself up emotionally.

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Now that they are on the boat, and actually almost at Antarctica, it’ll be very interesting to see where they go from here. It took them more than half the series to actually get to their destination, how much of the time thats left will be spent there? And just what answers will Shirase, Gin and the others find?

Yuru Camp (8 Episodes)

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If Yorimoi is blowing things out of the water, Yuru Camp is just calmly walking along being subtly spectacular. Rin has turned out to be the real lynchpin of the show. All the best moments have involved her, and usually her relationship to Nadeshiko. The ending of episode 5, where Rin and Nadeshiko share a moment of intimacy despite being miles and miles apart is a particular standout.

[HorribleSubs] Yuru Camp - 08 [720p].mkv_snapshot_23.19_[2018.02.22_18.14.40].jpg

Rin and Nadeshiko’s camping trip in episode 7 also is a great example of how comfortable they’ve become with each other. Rin particularly has opened up in a way it feels she probably never has to another person. The only real downside to the show is that the segments with just the Outclub don’t really reach the same heights, and episode 8 in particular suffered from Rin having almost no screentime. But still, its one of the best shows of its type in a long time.

A Tier

Citrus (8 Episodes)

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Citrus has been surprisingly spectacular of an adaption, with a good eye for what elements to compress and which ones to expand on. Its kept a solid pace of one volume every three episodes, and has always found the perfect moments to end on, even if those aren’t always the same moments the manga ended chapters on. Yuzu, who was always one of the best protagonists in history, is only enhanced by being animated. Whatever you may think of Citrus overall, Yuzu is a treasure.

[HorribleSubs] Citrus - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_00.26_[2018.02.17_11.23.26].jpg

Mei’s development has been particularly well handled. Her actions aren’t ever shown as being appropriate, and was told off rather spectacularly by Yuzu, which has caused a major shift in their relationship. Of course, the recent arrival of Matsuri hasn’t exactly helped, and Mei still has some very strange notions of how kissing works. But she’s getting better, slowly.

Kira Kira Precure a la Mode (49 Episodes Complete)

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So KiraKira ended a few weeks into the season. As Precure series go, it was perhaps the most consistent in a long, long time. It kept a generally mid-to-high level of quality with none of the dips many series have around their 1/3 or 2/3 marks. That being said, its not my favorite of all time. There are elements of it I really liked. Yukari and Akira being officially and undeniably a couple was fantastic, of course. Ichika was a pretty great pink all in all, and Ciel was a lot of fun as the mid-series Cure.

[anon] KiraKira Precure À La Mode - 48 [1280x720].mkv_snapshot_07.03_[2018.01.21_13.53.25].jpg

As for flaws, mainly the fighting just wasn’t as interesting as it was in some other series. They tried really hard within their “no punching” restrictions, but by the end it just wasn’t quite working. There were a couple physical hits landed in the final battle, but it never really felt as visceral. This was rather explicitly demonstrated in the epilogue episode when Cure Yell shows up and just starts kicking the heck out of a monster. Still, a great show overall and highly recommended!

Hugtto! Precure (4 Episodes)

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Three episodes in and Hugtto! Precure has been almost shockingly good. Despite lots of potential red flags (baby, mascot that turns into an ikemen) its deftly turned both into strengths, and introduced one of the most instantly endearing pinks in ages. Hana is a lot of fun and has had no trouble carrying the show so far. Saaya has been a pretty standard but fun “Smart Blue” and while she’s not a Cure yet, Homare is set to bring back the Yellow Bias.

[anon] Hugtto! Precure - 04.mkv_snapshot_20.13_[2018.02.25_14.27.24].jpg

Of course, it can’t be ignored that this series is directed by Sato Junichi, who is, to put it mildly, a bit of a name in Magical Girl shows. Just having him direct a Precure series was a pie in the sky dream for many years, but to have it start out so strongly and distinctively is even better. The fighting and general animation is also the best its been since GoPri at the very least.

Slow Start (8 Episodes)

[HorribleSubs] Slow Start - 08 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.39_[2018.02.24_14.04.22].jpg

Something that you need to know to really understand why Slow Start is the way it is, is that the mangaka Tokumi Yukio has spent the better part of the half-decade before making Slow Start drawing Saki doujins under the name “Hakka-ya”. Anyway, Slow Start is possibly the most ostentatiously gay show of the season, which is saying a lot considering its competition includes a show with regular make out sessions.

[HorribleSubs] Slow Start - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_11.32_[2018.02.17_13.33.30].jpg

The show isn’t really about much overall, its a fairly standard “Four girls hang out and talk about random stuff” type show, just with an extra lay of blatant lesbian subtext. Most of this is provided by Eiko, though not all. She’s the most interesting aspect, however. Episode 7, which featured Eiko flirting with their teacher and then ending up spending the night tied up on said teacher’s apartment floor (yes, really) was quite the experience. Hana and Tama are more in line with your standard cute girl show subtext, compared to Eiko just radiating an aura of lesbianism wherever she goes.

Toji no Miko (8 Episodes)

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Somehow this show has managed to become one of the most entertaining shows of its type in quite some time. Though this genre hasn’t really had its hayday since the mid-to-late 00s, though Toji no Miko feels like it would fit in right along side things my My~HiME. Its biggest flaws are that it doesn’t look that great most of the time, and the use of CG for a lot of the fight scenes is pretty obtrusive. But the characters are fun and the plot is pretty entertaining.

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It rather surprisingly has kept to the “characters on the run from the authorities” concept that it set up in episode 1, only just in the most recent episodes bringing them to a place where they have allies and can actually relax. The flashback in episode 7 helped to shed a lot of light on what is going on. Hopefully it can keep this up, especially if it really is two cour.

Violet Evergarden (7 Episodes)

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After a stretch of being merely “ok”, episodes 6 and 7 really showed what the show is capable of. Episode 7 in particular was fantastic, an amazing episode in general that will probably go down as one of the best single episodes of anime this year. More than any of the others it really showed the strengths of the premise. Hopefully it can get some more episodes along those lines.

[Vivid-Asenshi] Violet Evergarden - 07 [0813C882].mkv_snapshot_18.32_[2018.02.21_20.33.22].jpg

Violet herself has also come into her own as a character. There are still some issues, for example her being 14 is utterly ridiculous. Her difficulty at reading emotions and understanding nuances of interactions has begun to feel more like integrated aspects of her personality than just weird quirks mined for comedy. She’s also showing a lot more emotion in general, particularly noticeable in episode 7.

B Tier

Märchen Mädchen (7 Episodes)

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So Märchen Mädchen has turned out to be a remarkably sweet show, that is mostly suffering from just not looking very good most of the time. The art and animation is serviceable, but rarely more than that, and sometimes significantly worse. The characters however are fantastic. Hazuki in particular is a great lead character, and the main secondary cast is a lot of fun. Hazuki’s growing relationship with Shizuka is a pleasure to watch, as is her increasing self confidence.

[HorribleSubs] Marchen Madchen - 06 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.33_[2018.02.15_22.06.55].jpg

Her declarations in episode 6 about how she wouldn’t stand for just being Cinderella, and how she was going to write her own story going forwards was a great use of the show’s basic concept, and a good payoff for waiting six episodes for her to finally use her powers.

Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san (8 Episodes)

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Unfortunately after the fantastic episode 3, the show has basically entered a holding pattern regarding Koizumi’s relationship with Yuu, or really any actual character development at all. Its still a pleasant watch and amusing, but nothing really ever seems to happen. At this point it seems more likely that Misa will actually admit she’s interested in Yuu before Koizumi does anything.

[HorribleSubs] Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.13_[2018.02.18_21.30.54].jpg

Its had some good segments though, the one with Koizumi and the little German girl was a major standout, and its sense of humor remains on point. It has also continued to be fairly respectful to Yuu, though Yuu could stand to be more respectful of Koizumi.

Takunomi (7 Episodes)

[HorribleSubs] Takunomi - 07 [720p].mkv_snapshot_07.40_[2018.02.25_15.46.03].jpg

Its cute. Not much more to say about it really, its a show about four young adult women who live together and like to drink. It doesn’t aim for much beyond that, but it achieves it pretty handily. Michiru is a likeable enough focus character, and her relationships with the other three are nicely developed. She and Makoto need to kiss.

Dropped

Hakumei to Mikochi (2 Episodes)

A very pleasant show with a nice artstyle and relaxing atmosphere. I just couldn’t really get into it and never felt compelled to watch any more.

Mitsuboshi Colors (4 Episodes)

The show peaked when the girls pointed an RPG at a cop.

Pop Team Epic (2 Episodes)

Two episodes was precisely enough Pop Team Epic for forever.

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