This hasn’t been that great of an anime season for me. The problem with all of the ones I watched boiled down to overuse of tropes and tics.
Beyond the Boundary is the first and best example. It’s a gorgeous looking series, with some amazing battles and great characters. But having your characters say “That’s unpleasant!” “I’m a siscon!” and “I love glasses!” gets old, very fast. It didn’t help that a rushed resolution made it feel like the creators were pulling a happy ending out of their rear, or introducing something we should have known early on at the end.
Yu-sibu was another. The core story of a magical world slouching towards the mundane was excellent, and it was a legitimate competitor to the Devil is a Part Timer! But the constant, almost oppressive fan service (also fully censored) literally drew the power out of the anime. It felt like wasted time, and the series was not a long one to begin with.
Infinite Stratos 2 raises this to an art form. There is so much filler and so much fan service that it literally left maybe five minutes in each episode for plot. It wrapped up with an action episode that would have been only one arc in a normal anime, and still no closure or explanation. You have to understand, I came into this knowing it was a bad anime, and I STILL was disappointed beyond my low expectations.
Wanna Be The Strongest In The World! fared a little better. There were times when it forgot it was an ecchi series and tried to tell an actual story. It wasn’t worth sitting through all the crotch shots, bad animation, and squealing. To be fair, it wound up being better than anyone expected, and there was some fun talking with others about wrestling in it, but again, another story ruined by what essentially are involuntary tics.
Outbreak Company was good, but it couldn’t really balance its serious points with the otaku humor. It made being an otaku kind of stupid when they made a school and started to lecture on zettai ryouki or boys love, and having the fantasy world people take it seriously. There was too much cognitive dissonance. Not that anime culture in a fantasy world is a bad thing, but OC was making some good and serious points about culture clash and unjust societal structures. The otaku pandering came across as too flimsy to hold up its end of the deal.
Non Non Biyori honestly was the best of the season. It had a sly wit and deconstructed some of the tropes slice of life anime has. Like having the typical foursome be all different ages and yet in the same class. Or lampshading the absence of men in it by having a big brother also in the series who is always around but never opens his mouth once. Or having kids act like kids, instead of proto-adults, and contrasting this well when Hotaru is mistaken for a strange adult by Koma.
It helps that the background of slow, country life is charming, too. But even Non Non Biyori suffered for tics, with Hotaru’s one-sided and secret crush on Koma. Why is it we always need some form of yuri subtext in slice of life shows? You get more of this than any desire for boys, for heaven’s sakes.
Little Busters Refrain disappointed me greatly. The payoff wasn’t worth removing Komari, Kud, and all the rest for 13 episodes. It felt worse than just about all the other Key anime I had seen, and it disabused me of Key storytelling some. When you hide a secret for 30+ episodes, the payoff needs to be worth it. It wasn’t, and the effort it took to constantly hide the secret of the world from the viewer wound up making the second season a dull, angsty mess.
I started some series but didn’t continue with them. Here are some thoughts why.
Log Horizon there was little point. I’ve watched every dot hack anime there was, played all the games, and started on SAO. There’s little at this point that struck me, because you can only do so much with the “trapped in a fantasy MMO” concept. The first episodes were okay, but after three nothing hooked me.
Nagi No Askura started good, but I never finished it. I might later, but the “this isn’t going to end well” feeling I got put me off of it.
Golden Time…look, it is NOT FUNNY to have stalking, abusive women in a show. There is no way I can or will ever treat this as humor, any more than I’d expect a woman to feel the same about a stalking, abusive man. Especially when Banri immediately went to throw his new friend under the bus and argue that HE didn’t have any idea; that made me drop it fast, because that was a dick move. Toradora had elements of this with Taiga, but Golden Time in the first episodes didn’t seem to balance it out with any vulnerability on Kyouko’s end.
Kill la Kill. If I wanted to watch Go Nagai, I’d watch him. Two episodes with nothing but tropes sped up to the point of silliness. Why bother? Just watch Cutey Honey to see something better animated and less spastic.
Attack on Titan I didn’t watch the second half of. The first half was insanely intense and hardcore, but it started to drag at the midpoint, and once Eren blocked the hole it was like “yeah, I’m good.”
It wasn’t a bad season, but I just found myself less than satisfied. I wish there had been less self-consciousness and winking to the audience, and more straight storytelling. The tropes in anime aren’t bad, and especially not in a comedy. It seemed though that a lot of non-comedy or part-comedy series tried to include too much of them in it, and it led to a lot of verbal tics and bad storytelling. It can work sometimes, like in Martian Successor Nadesico, but most of the shows I was interested in seemed to suffer from this. Not always enough to ruin it, but to, well, make it unpleasant some times. *removes glasses and wipes them nervously.*