Saturday, July 15, 2017
Shimana tried gamely to work up the courage to confess her feelings to Asahi while Zen thinks he's coming down with some kind of disease because every time he sees Shimana his heart feels "funny". While Miku still pines for Taiga and tried to help Shimana look her best for Asahi. While Shimana finds out about Asahi's own unrequited love and the complex relationship he has with his childhood friend Manami. While Shimana also has her arguments with Zen who is still prone to tease her and Taiga remain the adult in the household. Except when it comes to rebuffing Miku's feelings for him because he can't stand women or basks in being praised by High School girls which cause Shimana to stick up for Miku who has become Shimana's Big Sister for all intents and purposes. While volume one felt like the set up of the narrative volume two gets to what Ichigo Takano does best in writing characters taking seemingly simplistic characters on the outside and giving them complex interior lives be it Shimana putting herself down and getting mad at Taiga for Miku and while Zen may be my best boy. Takano takes Asahi and makes him more than the shallow wish fulfillment boyfriend of the first volume making for a sweet and self sacrificial guy who really is a prince not merely because he is pretty but because he is willing to help his friend Manami and let her do what she needs to do given the complex personal issues she has to deal with and while this part of the story feels this way for the sake of drama and probably hold up, in reality, it works in the story's fictional universe and is not so fantastical as to take me out of the fictional universe of the story and nitpick that plot point to death. While Shimana is still insecure and feels self-conscious she's able to be assertive or be shown negative feelings like when she criticizes Taiga which while this is an element that is still not explored as to why Taiga despises women so much. It's nice to see Shimana stand up for someone else and Taiga have another side to him other than cynical adult although I was a little worried he may have ended up written like Shigure Sohma from Fruits Basket. This thankfully was not the case and while I like Shigure his interest in High School girls was always a little distressing. Thankfully for Taiga, it's more that he likes being praised as "cool." Showing an element or vanity to the often gruff lawyer. It's a small bit of character development but it helps make him have some interiority and dimension. Then there's Zen who is the reason I put off writing this review for a day because if I had written this review immediately after finishing this volume it would have just been "Zen is cute" for a paragraph. Zen continues to very much be a Tsundere towards Shimana and while him thinking his burgeoning feelings of love might be some kind of sickness is cliché. He's such a bumbling kid that it's all kind of adorable from him enthusing over pandas or awkwardly trying to comfort Shimana only to be misunderstood and lash out blowing his chance. In short, I want the guy to win something because he's so realistically awkward that at times it hurts to see him flail about and try to be honest with himself or express himself to Shimana. Art wise Takano's character design remains consistent being able to range from realistic to comedic chibi designs and panel layout has a good grasp of the cinematic elements of Manga storytelling from close-ups that get the reactions of characters or black backgrounds used to give a sense of past events. It makes for a visually communicated story that does not use dialogue as a narrative crutch i.e. you can tell Zen is feeling awkward when trying to apologize not because of an interior monolog or expositing how he feels but because you can see it on his face, body language, and framing of the panel. Also, a nice small touch is the little "Easter eggs" like Zen's stuffed panda taking on his emotions or mental state or the Corgi that is hidden throughout the Manga as a sort of game beyond the story itself. In conclusion this volume develops the characters beyond the first volumes in ways that are both endearing and at times wistful while never become either too heavy or too light striking a good balance and laying groundwork for future volumes while some characterization and plot points may seem overly cliché to those familiar with Shōjo Romance tropes Dreamin' Sun never feels stale for it or that it's being written from a template.
Now that the Summer Anime season of 2017 has begun, I'll give my first impressions of the Summer series I've picked up this won't include Kakegurui or Fate/Apocrypha as those series got picked up by Netflix and I don't subscribe to Netflix and my rule is if a series is picked up by a legal streaming service I don't subscribe to and I can't afford it I don't watch it. So I'd love to talk about those series but cold hard economic reality prevents me. Also, I won't be talking about anything that is a holdover from Spring 2017 as they didn't premiere in the Summer and that would defeat the purpose of being the first impression. Also as of this writing some series only have one episode up and others I've seen two of. Love and Lies: An adaptation of the manga of same name this is set in a dystopian universe where the government of Japan decides who you will merry at the age of 15 our protagonist Yukari is a retiring and quiet boy with a crush on beautiful and popular girl Misaki Takasaki who than is assigned his marriage partner in the prickly Lilina Sanada. The dystopian government program aside this is very safe Romance. With two female leads that are sure to appeal to someone. Some have compared this to Scum's Wish but Scum's Wish was self-importantly riddled with all kinds of "angst" and being in the characters heads Love and Lives is a lower stakes how not attempting to be some grand declaration on the human condition or sexuality and instead a very simple love triangle story and that's fine it's enjoyable both female leads have their charm points and while the male lead may have a spine of a wet noodle he is at least trying to fight for his love. It's more the direction and art style that turns me off the story may feel a little cookie cutter but the Dystopian element gives it enough difference to not feel overwhelmingly cliché. It's overly bright at times while having really stock unoriginal character design. The story and it's twists and turns is at least enough to keep me engaged despite the lackluster visuals. My First Girlfriend Is a Gal: The story of a virgin High school student who asks out a "Gal" (A fashion subculture known for being flashy) girl classmate so he can hopefully lose his virginity to her because of the perceptions that Gals are sluts. This is very much a harem series with a number of other girls sure to appeal to the audience while the fan service is heavy it's also heavily censored on Crunchyroll so if one just wants the fan service uncensored Crunchyroll won't have it but overall it's not bad for what it is despite censorship but it's more an entraining trifle that feels like a throwback to early 2000s harem comedies. Aho Girl: A short series about a ridiculously stupid girl and the put upon male friend who can't stand having to mind her and who comedically abuses her. This is very much a series that trades in comedic slapstick violence and an idiotic and obnoxious lead played expertly by Aoi Yuki to play off the put upon straight man. The humor is very often dark but overall enjoyable due to the voice acting and direction. New Game Season Two: The second season of the cute girls doing game design and programming Anime it's really more of the same bright and cute design and color scheme that season one had with some character development from season one. It's, in short, an enjoyable trifle. With some office culture sub plots as of one episode Gamers: A series about a boy who plays video games who gets scouted by the most popular girl at his school to join her Gaming club full of oddballs wich he rejects so he can continue playing Mobile Games simply for fun. It's a goofy comedy and the lead simply wanting to be left alone is an interesting twist but all of it in the first episode feels like placeholding and none of the characters really feel fully developed more like poorly written stereotypes of people who play video games. It's funny in places but as I don't play video games a number of the references are lost on me. Slight but enjoyable. Restaurant To Another World: The Story of a restaurant that periodically ends up in random fantasy lands is a simple slice of life series about enjoying good food while also having various middle brow fantasy characters show up it's episodic and the attention to detail in the food animation is nice while everybody from the half demon waitress to the female adventurer find out the joy of food and honestly this is the kind of thing I like in cooking series is showing the enjoyment one gets from eating good food. With each dish being the center piece it has a decent economy of story telling but the focus is on the food front and center. Making for a calming and relaxing series. Classroom of the Elite: Set in a future Japan and in a school for the gifted that allots points to the students to cover living costs and basic needs while the class feels way too lenient until the last minute twist at the end. It's a dry kind of unpleasant series with a protagonist that feels more like a plot device than an actual protagonist. I think the basic idea is interesting but it's so dry and insular that while not labors to watch it felt overly expositional and needed to build the characters more. Has promise but this will probably be a minor series in my book. Princess Principal: An original series chronicling an espionage team staffed by young girls, in short, it feels like early episodes of Joker Game combined with a steam punk aesthetic looking nice but feeling like an attempt at being mature and confusing cynicism for depth. If the quality of animation continues it could be a nice technical exercise but not much else. Saiyuuki Reload Blast: Caught in an early 2000s time warp this is very much action with not much else with Sanzo and his merry band still trying to make it to India and getting caught in "fight of the week" stories and shenanigans. It's enjoyable but not much is different very much an if it's not broke don't fix it kind of attitude. No real dip in quality but nothing particularly exciting outside of the main formula very much for established fans but enjoyable to have something I liked from the early 2000s that helped get me back into Anime. Tenshi No 3p!!: From the Light Novel series by the author of Fast BReak comes a series about a shut in High School boy who gets blackmailed into helping a band of Elementary school students combined with Loli Fan Service this is a series for a very particular kind of taste. I find it enjoyable but am not particularly invested in any of it simply finding the character design and music fun. While backgrounds are nice and music has the same vigor that early K-On! Had except with a younger cast. Convenience Store Boy Friends: a cheap looking romance with Lawson's knock off being the meetup for the cast it's very much a slow High School romance that honestly feels like those Anime ONAs based on Vocaloid songs that have been released as of late. It's not terrible it's just average. Comparable to Winter's Seiren Anime Clione no Akari: based on a web novel about bullying this one just felt off with the bullying victim simply being held up as a victim waiting to be saved this could end up being insufferable after school special of a series. While visuals are plastic and imagery feel heavy handed could be better in a few episodes but so far it's not really anything other than being manipulatively sad. Action Heroine Cheer Fruits: A series combining Prefectural tourism and live Sentai shows it's cute and has good voice acting while the fight for your dreams ethos is nice as well. Other than being cute and having M.A.O. Is a supporting role not much else but looks fun Made In Abyss: Based on a web Manga chronicles a fantasy world where orphans are forced to excavate artifacts and a young girl discovers a robot that looks like a boy. With its hint at a dark and rather unpleasant world this could have the potential to be a really dark look at a fantasy world from the perspective of a child so far it's the best thing I've seen this season. Mahojin Guruguru: A loving send up of old RPG tropes this is a fun little series that is the remake of an older series based on a gag Manga. It's very much a throw back to things like Dragon Half and the first season of Slayers. Fun and nostalgic while also being aware enough of genre conventions that it does not feels stale.
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Chronicling the adventures of a cat named Plum and her interactions with her owners high schooler Taku and his Mother who runs a traditional Japanese dance studio capturing the happenings of everything from dealing with a new cat when Plum discovers a new kitten she rescues and brings home only to have the cat that Mom named Snowball to decide to take out its frustrations on Plum. Combined with stories like Plum coming to School Mom having to learn not to be such a soft touch with Snowball and various adventures and even a dream sequence at one point. Plum Crazy! While serialized in a Manga magazine specifically aimed at Women is a series much like Yotsuba &! that is all ages in the best sense of the word being able to appeal to anyone who likes cats or simply likes leisurely paced slice of life Manga it wouldn't even be too much of a stretch to call this an Iyashikei (Healing) Manga. With its light domestic comedy interspaced with realistic cat interactions particularly funny are the reactions Plum or Snowball will give be it a withering look of contempt forced into some ridiculous holiday themed outfit at Mom's hands. Or the joy when Plum gets to see Taku when he comes home from school. That both Snowball and Plum are in part based on cats owned by the Mangaka makes it especially realistic. The panel layout is especially good at expressing movement be it of Plum or Snowball or simply the flow of the story visually from the line of shoes of the students of the dance academy to insert panels it's not fussily busy but feels as if thought was put into it being a visual story partially due to things being told from the cat's perspective and Hoshino-Sensei decides to not give the cat an interior monologue like in Chi's Sweet Home. Character design and backgrounds feel old fashioned more akin to Shojo or Josei designs from the Nineties or early Two Thousands. Which honestly I like Mom may be a bit of a "Womanchild" but she can hold her own and Taku has his regular school days and home life. In conclusion, it's a breezy bit of gentle humor with realistically written cats that can be recommended to anyone who likes cats or light slice of life Manga.
Tuesday, July 4, 2017
Recent License announcements at Anime Expo 2017 happened from the various English language publishers so I thought I would cover the titles I am most excited about having been acquired and a brief summary of the title along with publisher and tentative release date if able to be found. First is Reborn as a Vending Machine, Now I Wander the Dungeon licensed by Yen Press this is a title that has frankly become kind of a meme/punching bag for the excesses of Web Novels and Light Novels and in particular Isekai ("trapped in another world") Novels. Some have even jokingly speculated that the title is a giant troll by Japanese publishers. I myself am willing to give this title a read and am excited about it because the concept itself is so odd that you can't help but stop and think "what!" So yes this may not be a heartbreaking work of staggering genius but it will defiantly be unlike anything currently on the English language Light Novel market and I always respect a publisher for at least taking a gamble on something left of center. Next is The Hero and His Elf Bride Open a Pizza Parlor also licensed by Yen Press and slated for spring 2018 release this is a complete stab in the dark as there is almost no information on it other than a picture of the novel's cover and the title. Which honestly that's all I need really I love Pizza and Elf girls if we are going off of middle brow fantasy races are my favorite kind of female fantasy race. What this will be like I have no idea due the lack of any kind of information online but I wager there will be some cute antics between the hero and his Elf bride and pizza will be served and if that is all it is I'll be fine with that. Goblin Slayer Year One: A soon to be starting prequel of the Light Novel series Goblin Slayer written by Kumo Kagyu and illustrated by Noboru Kannatuki. Another Yen Press license which is due out next year. The story of the lone hero who devotes his life to slaying Goblins Year One will show how Goblin Slayer became who he is now this I actually look forward to as the parent series has been one of grounded middle brow fantasy and occasionally emotionally painful word pictures and narration if Year One is able to show the slow molding of Goblin Slayer from greenhorn adventurer into grim merciless slaughterer of Goblins and give some insight into his inner psychology the novel will be a success for me this is probably the title I'm least excited about because I pretty much know what to expect from the novel title alone and the quality of the writing is already solid so this is really icing on the proverbial cake for fans of the original Goblin Slayer series. I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years by Kisetsu Morita and illustrator Dontsugel licensed by Yen Press chronicles the adventures of a dead Office Lady who died from overwork and ends up another world as an immortal witch who looks forever seventeen years old and lives and easy life of slaying slimes and making medicinal herbs and selling the herbs and magical jewels she makes for money. Only that all those years of slaying slime monsters have now made her the strongest witch in this world. This could be a slice of life series or a kind of unlikely hero story, either way, it simply is one of those series that sound interesting just on its face so it being an unknown quantity does not scare me off. If it ends up being a breezy narrative that could be nice as well, a story that might have possibilities while the idea of someone "level grinding" to the maximum level by taking out the weakest possible monster in a fantasy world seems like an interesting take on the overpowered protagonist tropes that exist in spades in Light Novels. Also, a world-weary Office Lady simply wanting a stress free and easy life while also having to deal with being in a much younger body in a world where she has managed to amass massive amounts of power. It will be interesting to see how this is handled both for it being a female lead and a Yen Press's first license of a Shojo Light Novel which makes me want to support it to show there is at least some demand for Light Novels for girls and women in print as there is something nice about having the physical representation and physicality of a tactile book in your hands. Also, I love Shojo Manga so Shojo Light Novels are an excellent addition to that demographic. Silver Spoon by Hiromu Arakawa this was a coup for Yen Press often begged by fans of the Mangaka of Fullmetal Alchemist this was a series thought to be only available through Viz due to the series being serialized in Weekly Shōnen Sunday and thinking that Viz would have first dibs due to it being a Shogakukan title. This is Arakawa taking a sharp left turn from the action she was known for in Fullmetal Alchemist. Creating a winsome school days comedy about daily life in an Agricultural School with its fish out of water protagonist adjusting to hard physical labor and gaining friends and feeling love for the first time. This is a title I've felt was leaving money on the table for years. As Fullmetal Alchemist has been a frankly evergreen Shōnen property and Arakawa has a fan base for her work in The States. Along with this having had a relatively popular Anime adaptation in 2014. I'm just happy it's getting put out as it feels like it's been a long time coming. I've always liked Arakawa as a writer as an artist her draftsmanship can be a little Spartan for some but it has a nice economy of style combined with a honed minimalism that I find refreshing. Combined with an ethos of hard work and camaraderie that makes for a decidedly old school feel. Making Arakawa like a more down to earth and hard-nosed Rumiko Takahashi or Keiji Nakazawa with less political content. Either way, this is a series that captures the feeling of youth without maudlin, mawkish, or cloyingly sentimental. Making for a winsome and light-hearted look at school life I can only hope that Arakawa's masterful use of dramatic tension and pacing is as on display as it was in the buildup to the climactic battle in Fullmetal Alchemist. Still, I expect a capital M manly story with hints of lighter sensibilities as well one can only hope the "Arakawa cult" is still going strong all these years later. Kemono Friends: Welcome to Japari Park licensed by Yen Press: This is one of the first physical releases of media for the surprise hit of the Winter 2017 season and while this title, in particular, is more based on the failed Mobile Game than the surprise hit Anime. I can only hope it captures the effervescent sense of wonder and joy that the Anime seemed to capture for so many. Kemono Friends is a series that is more to be sensed emotionally than analyzed critically. One can only hope the Manga can capture the joy inherent in the Anime but who knows it really is an unknown quantity given how much the mobile game looked like a complete failure. Still this story about a girl who simply wants to care for the newly humanized animals at Japari Park may have some promise and if it means more cute Animal girls I'm all for that. Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts by Yu Tomofuji: Licensed by Yen Press this is a Shojo Romance serialized in Hana to Yume about Saliphie a girl offered as a sacrifice to the terrifying demon king only to learn his secrets and his kindness. this is essentially Beauty and The Beast and as I was not impressed by The Ancient Magus' Bride I'm hoping this take on the old Fairy Tale may prove more to my liking. While it very much sounds cut from the "brooding boy, gentle girl" trope. I love that sometimes a story need not be a deconstruction or subversion to be good sadly I think there is a level of jadedness that has crept into expectations as far as writing goes or the presumption that "True Art Is Angsty" which is a fundamentally rough place to be stuck in as a critic or fan. Well, this has gotten overly meta but I digress. I still hope if anything I can read this and feel some sort of Agape. Made in Abyss by Tsukushi, Akihito licenced by Seven Seas (first volume available for pre-order on Amazon and Amazon Smile for $10.00 now) Chronicling the adventures of an orphan named Rico who lives in a town on the edge of a giant system of pits and caves known as The Abyss she wants to become an explorer of these caves known as a cave raider like her Mother and solve the mysteries in The Abyss and one day she finds a robot that resembles a human boy. The first that drew me to this series is the character design reminding me of Barasui. After that, it's that it is this dark unpleasant undercurrent in latter volumes from what fans of the series online have said. I look forward to seeing where this cute looking series filled with hidden mysteries and struggles go on in later volumes. Orange Mirai and Orange Suwa Hiroto by Ichigo Takano licensed by Seven Seas: Combining the Manga Takeno wrote specifically for the movie told from Suwa's perspective and an alternative universe story. Probably the most personally meaningful one to me as Orange is a series I've said in the past could save lives given its honest portrayal of Suicide, Depression, and friendship. this may not be the one I am most "giddy" over but it is going to mean the most to me for deeply personal reasons. My Boy by Hitomi Takano licensed by Vertical Comics due out April 2018: This is probably the most controversial pick an story about an listless and depressed thirty year old woman named Satoko Tawada who finds herself forming a close emotional bond with a twelve-year-old boy named Mashuu Hayami after she finds him practicing soccer by himself and on a whim decides to help him with his soccer game and slowly the two grow closer together. While I commend Vertical for the bravery they have shown for licensing a title that many would condemn at face value unread. I think this could spark off a really interesting conversation in Manga Fandom, or it could just devolve into moral panic and fear mongering on one hand and a cold emotionally dead moral apathy on the other. As an aside I can remember people threatening to report people in an Anime News Network Talkback Forum on the Kodomo No Jikan Kickstarter and report them to the authorities for possession of child pornography if they pledged to give a certain amount tier in the Kodomo No Jikan Kickstarter (A Kickstarter I helped fund for full disclosure because of my belief in free speech) because it came with a body pillow cover of one of the three pre-pubescent girls on them depending on which amount tier you gave to. I hope it does not sink to this level with this Manga as far as I can tell nothing has happened untoward in Mashuu and Satoko's relationship yet from what online readers have said. Still if this turns out to be really good this could be Moto Hagio's A Cruel God Reigns for Seinen Manga I only hope that fans that can if not approve of but accept titles like Wandering Son, My Brother's Husband, and A Girl on the Shore can find a place in their hearts for this story of a woman and her seeming Intergenerational Friendship with a young boy. Well that's the titles I'm most excited about sorry if it got a little rambly or overly "meta" in places but these are the titles I am most excited about from Anime Expo 2017 and I hope they will be someone else's favorites as well soon because good art is all about fostering conversation, vigorous healthy debate, and understanding. It really is a great time to be a Manga Otaku because companies are willing to take risks or know what appeals to their audience. So hats off to all the American English Language publishers you are what gives me hope for the continued survival of Manga Fandom in The West and as always support publishers, not piracy.
Saturday, July 1, 2017
I want to start off by saying I adore the Anime is based on it is smart, creative and original chronicling an deeply cynical view of heroism while also wistfully longing for it to exist as well it was number four on my best of 2015 list (admittedly it was outranked by Chaos Dragon so nobody is perfect). I say this because I don't want anyone to think my dislike of the adaptation means I dislike the source material or to turn anyone off from watching the twenty-four episode Anime this is based on. Concrete Revolutio chronicles an alternate history where super humans, Monsters, and magical beings exist Kikko is a young girl who also happens to be a witch who gets recruited by Jiro Hitohoshi an agent of The Superhuman Bureau that works as a kind of social services and law enforcement branch for Super Humans under the purview of the government. Becoming involved in cases while also harboring a crush on Jiro and wondering how to balance the needs of the many with the needs of the few. As an adaptation this is an awfully adaptation some of this could be because of it only being two volumes whereas the Anime had twenty-four episodes to build up and develop character and even some side characters some such as Earth-chan the robot with a simplistic black and white morality and conception of right and wrong or Judas the reformed villain are completely removed from the story. I could go on about the large secondary cast that is removed completely and how that weakens the story but that would just be me griping about storylines not being included and the overall series being weaker for it but with only two volumes to cover a series something needs to be cut and honestly the non-inclusion of secondary characters is a minor problem. In comparison to the greater and more glaring writing and characterization problems in the series. From two chapters that focus on a Christmas themed story for no real reason and feels completely superfluous to the overall story. To the weak character writing with Jiro being reduced to a cardboard cut out of a protagonist feeling more like an archetype than a real flesh and blood person. While what Kikko is subjected to is probably the most depressing part of the series as she is little more than a cipher for the audience when she is not being reduced to a fan service object. While almost every secondary character is a one-note surface level version of themselves and almost all of the social criticism is gutted replaced instead for a lame below the surface never resolved love triangle between Kikko, Jiro, and Emi and ham-fisted stiffly drawn action scenes comparable to the wooden and stagnate Mecha battles in the Manga of Kannazuki no Miko. In conclusion, this is an awful adaptation of a great Anime, I wouldn't even recommend this to completest or people who want a cheaper alternative to importing the Blu-ray or DVDs of the series from Japan. as it is simply a really lackluster adaptation of a deep and meaningful series. I really wish I could say something nice but I can't it's just so pedestrian and average it's awful.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
For me, my top three that I'm most excited for is The continuation of Re: Creators which was my second best of the Spring Season after Rage of Bahamut Virgin Soul but I think it takes more risks than Virgin Soul so I'm a little more excited to continue watching it. Made In Abyss at number two if only because it's such an unknown quantity to me and the cute character design combined with the post-apocalyptic storyline appeals to me. At three is Hajimete no Gal for no other reason than I like Gal type characters and I'm a sucker for romance. Honorable mention goes to Aho Girl because it has Sugita Tomokazu, and Yuuki, Aoi playing off of each other in a comedy so that should be amusing. Princess Principal simply because I like to support original content and Vatican Kiseki Chousakan which is a stab in the dark. I'm also excited for Saiyuuki Reload Blast, as the first two season were some of the first series I watched when I got back into Anime in in 2010. so the franchise has always had a soft spot in my heart for helping reignite the love I have for the medium of Anime. Als, Son Gokuu is such a loveable dork in that series.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Best of Spring 2017: #1. Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul: A continuation set years after the original Rage of Bahamut Genesis Anime chronicles what happened after the failed rebellion of the demons and the ascendancy of Humanity under the ruled of a new soveirgn who is at war with the universe's divinities while allowing the enslavement of the demons. This series captures the swashbuckler of an epic adventure blending comedy drama and lovely fluid animation for a series that feels legitimately universal in it's appeal making this number one for the fact that it honestly feels both like a delightful throw back to 80s fantasy OVAs like The Heroic Legend of Arslan or Record of the Lodoss War and shows the growth technically from creaking massive golems and dragons to small bits of comedy intermixed with questions about where loyalty should lie and one episode of real character growth for an character that felt rather flat in season one while being able to balance the epic scale of the story with a real beating heart of humanity. Making for the best of the season for it's consistent quality. #2. Re:Creators This is a series that is meta textual question with in metatextual question about the nature of fiction what happens with fiction and deeper questions of moral responsibility all combined with an almost battle royal of characters from various forms of media with again like Virgin Soul an epic scale with occasional parts of real character building. Yet this is at number two mostly for the exposition heavy episodes as of late which do help ground the world but also grind whatever forward momentum the story has to a grinding halt. #3.Tsuki ga Kirei: Pure sugar encrusted romantic sweetness with a understated dynamic of showing two introverts in love although at times it feels like a route in a school days Visual Novel and sub par CGI and backgrounds distract from the often superb visual direction and understated and naturalistic voice acting. #4. The Laughing Salesman New: An reboot of an older series this one captures an world run by a kind of "Monkey's Paw" morality of poetic justice and while I thought it captured an amazingly grim look at people often times devoured by their own overweening desires. It never ended up being boring and I honestly wish it had gotten a second cour as it's episodic nature made for an easy way to get into while also capturing an old school feel for the visuals #5. Alice & Zouroku: An odd mixture of magical realism and grounded look at the importance of family and questions about the nature of humanity this is one of those odd little series that get lost in the shuffle with big prestige series getting most of the coverage and this si an honestly charming little series that may not be seen by many but had a truly tight emotional core if nothing else Honorable Mentions: Anonymous Noise: In many ways this is simply PG-13 Nana and that is not a bad thing by a long shot but overall this is a series that gets carried by the emotional momentum of the main love triangle and some truly strong and emotive singing and musical numbers Worst of Spring 2017: #1. Sakurada Reset: Oh wow this is like a junior high student's attempt at writing a "profound" novel with out having any idea of how people talk or interact while having a protagonist that if he where not made the hero of this story would be a villain on par with Light Yagami from Death Note. #2. Berserk: Everything that made the 2016 season of this stillborn artistic abomination has only been made worse with this season when it is not being numbingly brutal and grim-dark feels like an badly scripted D&D session by someone with no idea on how to write tension or drama in short this is the incompetence of Chaos Dragon without any of the endearingly awful parts to it #3. Girl Beats Boys: A trifling reverse harem short that will hopefully be gone and rightfully forgoten #4. Kabukibu: Classic on the cheap Studio Deen in short the Cheer Boys of this season forgettable but workmanlike #5. Armed Girls Machiavellianism: Cliché addled battle harem series with no real ending and one note charcters I was hopeing this would have been like Battle Vixens but instead it just came and went without any real impact cheep poorly directed action scenes and a cast that ranges from too good for something this bad to barely compentant Dishonorable Mentions: Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor:This had the potential to be a fun mixture of slacker teacher meets middle brow fantsy but instead it is simply a tiresome slog of cliché badly carried out and an overall shoddy product with nothing ventured or gained in the process only an 12 episode waste of your time and some stupid impractical "meme" school uniform for the female charcters. Worldend: This is an emotionally manipulative over written Anime that tries to force emotions out of the audience but hamstrings it's self due to it's superficially clever writing that forgets to give it's characters any kind of interiority. While having some truly dandy action direction in the last episode that is not enough to save this cloying mawkish mess of a series from feeling like an exercise in forced sentimentality Best Voice Acting Male: Genda Tessyo as Fukuzou Moguro (Laughing Salesman New): Having to take over from a established Seiyuu who having passed Tessyo had to play a charcter that comes off as both sinister and willing to help people and he nails it with an times loud, quiet, quiet, loud delivery making for an unnerving delivery Best Voice Acting Female: Saori Hayami as Nino “Alice” Arisugawa (Anonymous Noise): Saori Hayami is my favorite female Seiyuu mostly known for playing reserved princesses, rich girls, and prim and proper young ladies. In this she plays Nino an often awkerd withdrawn girl who has to deal with the scars of the past so seeimg Hayami play someone who is as quick to give a lme joke, sulk, or scream her feelings out is impressive. Also the singing while out of the normal "sweet spot" of Hayami's J-Pop ballads and uptempt dance number she captures the pain and angst of Nino while also making her utterly Adorkable this role combined with her turn as Yumeko Jabami in Kakegurui might help brake Hayami out the rut of her being typecast in "Princess" roles. Honorable Mention Female: Sakamoto, Maaya as Magane Chikujouin (Re:Creators) Best OP: Wonder Drive by OreSama: a Simple J-Pop song that captures the fun and whimsy of the series with the visuals reminding me of those in Flying Witch Best ED: Freesia by Know Name: Again another simple Pop song this focusing more on vocals than groove and making for a calm cool down for the chilled out adventures of the Sakuraquest crew