Halfway or a little more through the season, and as the (American, at least) school year draws to a close, lets take a look at how all of these shows are shaping up for us!
Aikatsu Friends (6 Episodes)
Aikatsu Friends continues to be an excellent example of just what Aikatsu is all about. The drama and conflict is low-key, but the character work is spectacular. Aine is a fantastic protagonist, possibly even better at this point than Ichigo was at the same time in the original. Mio continues to be amazing as the second lead as well. She’s the experienced idol of the two, but suffers from lack of confidence in places outside of her idol work. Its clear that “making friends” is something much harder for her than it is for Aine, and her path to becoming “Friends” with Aine, both in terms of Aikatsu and just friends is the clear thrust of her early arc.
The two other main characters have also been introduced, and are a lot of fun themselves. Maika is a passionate girl, reminiscent of Juri from later on in the original. However her passion is a little less spicy, and perhaps a little more festive. Ema is very much unlike what most people probably expected. Cheery and outgoing, but a little more mature and much more perceptive than her appearance would let on. Very excited to see where these two go along with Aine and Mio!
Hinamatsuri (7 Episodes)
Continuing to be just shockingly good, Himatsuri has turned out to be its most interesting when its not about Hina at all. Instead the show is basically stolen by her two, well ‘friends’ is pushing it, but same-age acquaintances Anzu and Hitomi. Anzu’s story this first half-season has been crushing and tragic. Thrust into homelessness, she managed to find her way among a group of older homeless men, but now she’s been integrated into a more normal household, and while this was clearly something that had to happen, seeing her cope with the aftereffects of her homeless period is hard to watch.
Hitomi on the other hand suffers from an excess of competence, and an inability to not let herself get dragged into things. Her constant distress when Hina and Anzu are up to things is amazing, but somehow she always manages to pull it all together. Despite her best efforts to not. At least she has a well paying job.
Comic Girls (7 Episodes)
Comic Girls has turned out to be one of the most hilarious Cute Girls Doing Cute Things shows in quite a while, and is making a concerted effort to be the absolute gayest one ever. Which considering last season had Slow Start, is saying a lot. Kaos has become one of the most endearing protagonists in recent memory, with many highly-relatable issues exacerbated by the fact that she’s so horny she almost can’t function.
Thats not to say it can’t be sweet and heartwarming, which it can. The episode about Koyume’s crush on Tsubasa was very sweet and delicately handled. Hopefully the show can go even further, with both Koyume and Kaos, but even if it doesn’t its right up there with Yuruyuri in managing to make a comedy about girls in love with girls, without making the joke being that they are in love with girls.
Gun Gale Online (6 Episodes)
With the first Squad Jam over, Kohirumaki “LENN” Karen has discovered that she is actually very good at this sort of thing! She’s also gotten herself a fanclub of a half-dozen high-school girls, who think she’s just the coolest. She’s also learned her best friend in the game may be plotting to do something very, very bad. Hopefully Karen/LENN can do something about that.
GGO continuing to blatantly and without any apologies take the absolute piss out of Sword Art Online is amazing. They actually let Sigsawa write a story where he not very subtly makes fun of some of the founding concepts of the entire SAO universe. What an amazing show.
Hugtto! Precure (16 Episodes)
Hugtto Precure seems to have decided its goal is to see just how much it can traumatize its primary audience, while simultaneously blatantly trolling its secondary audience who knows too much about what is going to happen. The current arc involving Lulu has been spectacular on every level. The last two episodes in particular are easily two of the best episodes of Precure *ever*. And considering that episode 16 marks the 700th episode of Precure, that’s saying a lot.
Episode 15 was a comedy masterpiece, playing Lulu and Emiru off each other in ways no one really expected. The followup episode is just as amazing, a true directorial feat, and ending on one of the most shocking and disturbing moments in Precure history. We’re barely even past the 25% mark now! What is even going to happen when the real climaxes start?
Umamusume (9 Episodes)
After a bit of a rough start Umamusume has settled down into being “significantly better than it probably should be”. The last few episodes, involving Silence Suzuka’s injury and recovery have been particularly well done. The show has done an excellent job of centering things on the girls, their desires and feelings, and how those affect their ability to run. And how they are affected by the outcome of their races. This seems like an obvious thing but a surprisingly large number of shows don’t manage it.
As for the Trainer, he’s been surprisingly perfectly fine outside of a few gags that really should have just been deleted. The last few episodes he’s been pretty much exactly what this sort of character should be. So while the show isn’t exactly improved by his presence, its hurt a lot less than it seemed at the time. Also its going to sell well due to Granblue Fantasy. Yay?
Hisone to Maso-tan (6 Episodes)
Its fallen a lot since the beginning of the season, but the two most recent episodes have shown a lot of improvement. Its started to actually make some firm statements as to why its even telling this story, and why these women were chosen to fly with the dragons. With four pilots and dragons its managed to turn into a pretty good ensemble piece. The story about Hoshino and Norma in particular really helped gel the show together into something coherent.
The problem with the show continues to be the tertiary male pilots are just, the worst. Intentionally so, of course, but its still pretty bad and unpleasant to watch them. Hopefully at some point a good comeuppance will happen, but at least unlike 99% of all anime ever, it has managed to show a male leering at a woman, make it very clear that that is bad and not leer at her itself. Unbelievably rare.
Toji no Miko (19 Episodes)
Toji no Miko continues to be Toji no Miko. This continues to be the most anime anime to ever anime, feeling like it should have aired somewhere around 2004 alongside My~HiME. That being said, its pretty good at it! The stakes are high, but not too high. The characters are fun, if not amazingly memorable and the action is decent, but not great. Pretty much exactly what you’d want from a mid-tier action anime of this sort.
I have some questions about how much anyone will care about the Mobage this is supposedly advertising though.
Amanchu Advance (4 Episodes)
We’ll talk about this at the end of the season.