Autumn 2016 anime review

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With the Summer 2016 line-up now at a close, I thought I would take a quick look back over the anime I have reviewed this season and do a swift summary and conclusion on them all. Many of my reviews were written only a few episodes in, and some of my opinions may have changed since all those months ago. Besides, one of the things that I think makes a good anime (or book, film or game, for that matter) is how good the ending is. Here I will take a look at those very important endings and rate them, in reverse order. Since these are ending reviews, there will be spoilers!

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11. Brave Witches
One of the more consistent watches of the season, but the biggest drawback of Brave Witches was that there wasn’t any twists, turns or anything out from far-left field to surprise you. I spent the first half of this anime waiting for something big to happen, and when Takami finally came out of her coma I could pretty much see where everything was going. When Hikari had to compete with her elder sister for a place in the 502 Joint Fighter Wing, I knew who was going to win. So when Hikari left the group, all I had to do was wait for an attack that would inevitably bring her back to the 502, have her use her Contact Eye, be welcomed back into the group because she saved the day and so finally achieve her ambition to fight alongside her sister. A little on the bland side, but cute girls doing cute things saves this one from being a complete write-off.

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10. Izetta: The Last Witch
Strangely enough, this one padded out pretty much like I thought it would. Izetta was an interesting watch but did get the odd lull in action. When Izetta herself was riding around in the air on her gun, don’t get me wrong, things were very interesting. Especially when Sophie was introduced – the battles between the two White Witches were mesmerising. I pretty much guessed the ending. As soon as the view switched to Fine I thought “Nah, she’s still alive”. And lo and behold, we see the archduchess visiting her (albeit gravely wounded) friend in a cabin in the woods. This one had its moments, but the storyline could have been a bit more consistent.

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9. Girlish Number
After a little bit of a lull in which we had to watch Chitose get really sulky about insignificant things (it’s hard to feel sympathy for a character that is so amusingly obnoxious and rather selfish) things started to pick up in the last few episodes. Whatever slump our protagonist was finding herself in (from where I was sitting, it looked like she realised she was surrounded by more hardworking, talented and younger voice actresses and got sulky because she was no longer the centre of attention) she finally pulled herself out of it to complete the second season of Millennium Princess x Kowloon Overlord successfully. It started and ended well enough, but that slump in the middle really affected the pace of this one.

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8. DREAM FESTIVAL!
After watching the endings to Yuri!! on Ice and Sound! Euphonium I was thinking “If these guys don’t even make it to the top I’m going to lose all hope of ever seeing an anime protagonist actually achieve what they set out to do.” Thankfully, DREAM FESTIVAL! was a bit more cut-and-dry and DearDream found themselves getting their music debut with minimal drama (Kanade decided to go walkabouts ten minutes before they were due to go on to help a lost kid find his way back to his mom, but don’t worry, everything worked out. Phew). And there’s also a second season in the pipeline. See? Anime protagonists don’t always have to fail to achieve their dreams in order to guarantee a season 2. DREAM FESTIVAL! never claimed to be any more than what it was and, dodgy dips in 3D animation aside, it delivered everything that it set out to.

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7. Bubuki/Buranki
Things did get better for this one over time. More characters meant that there was plenty of action and lots of questions were addressed. It was also nice to see the Japanese Buranki children trying to get back into normal life: going to school, making friends and thinking about what they want to do career-wise. Bubuki/Buranki often gets a lot of stick for one reason or another, but overall I quite enjoy it. I love watching the dynamics between the characters, their bubuki and how they fight together inside their buranki. I always questioned where Azuma’s sister was and I enjoyed the person she has become – a good balance when compared to her brother. Loved the ‘neon-ness’ of the battles also, which is something I don’t remember ever seeing within an anime before. The effect is pretty impressive.

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6. Lostorage incited WIXOSS
Of all the ways that things could have gone down between Suzuko and Chinatsu, I have to say that this was the most satisfying. There were quite a few twists and turns in this anime, which I did enjoy and it did seem that none of the characters were exactly ‘safe’. Either they had their wish granted by winning five coins or their body was overtaken by their LRIG. I wouldn’t have thought it would have been a fitting ending if Suzuko hadn’t at least saved Chinatsu in some form by the end. She may have lost her memories of Suzuko (or memories completely? It wasn’t very obvious what exactly happened to her), but the two were till together. In the extended ending scene we also saw certain people having been taken over by certain LRIGs, so this could lead to interesting developments in future.

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5. Sound! Euphonium
Things were ticking along quite nicely with Kumiko and the gang. There was this season’s worth of drama, she found herself becoming closer with Asuka and the other third years and I was enjoying the musical scores that were coming together ready for the nationals. And then… what? They didn’t win gold? They got bronze?! Is that what everything was building up to? So it would seem everyone was disappointed, the third years left without being able to redeem themselves and the group now find themselves back at square one and having to try and recruit new first years to fill all the spaces that their senpai left behind. Oh. Okay. This sort of shock leads me to believe that we will be seeing more of Kitauji and the orchestra club, because they can’t just leave things like this… can they?

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4. Magical Girl Raising Project
The dark magical girl anime of the moment definitely had to have and equally dark conclusion. Even though she was completely broken, Swim Swim ended up being one of my favourite characters. At the same time, Ripple was equally bad-ass. The defeat of Cranberry was actually quite a shock given how she battled against other magical girls in the earlier episodes, but it was definitely unexpected. And in a genre as broad as this one, this is what I look for. Magical Girl Raising Project was on of my favourites of this season (to the extent that I tried to ration the episodes), probably because  it turned out to be a cross between magical girl and elimination anime – almost like a magical girl Battle Royale, complete with gory bits. A great watch from start to finish!

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3. Yuri!!! on ICE
Couldn’t help but get a little bit emotional with this one! The last few episodes were so intense because of all the emotion packed into every skater’s performance (I never thought I would get emotional at any skating performed by JJ, but I did). The dances were absolutely mesmerising and I can see why this is shaping up to be one of the most popular anime of 2016. I wish the ending had been a bit more climactic, though! To see Yuri narrowly miss out on that gold after having such high hopes! After the let-down of Sound! Euphonium I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. But this obviously means that Yuri refuses to retire, wants Viktor around for another year and that almost definitely means a second season in the future. And the partner performance at the end… brilliant! Even though the ending didn’t turn out like I expected, it’s been a fantastic and entertaining watch these last couple of months.

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2. Uta no Prince-sama
After watching four seasons of the group getting better and better, getting to know the characters and enjoying their songs, I would have thrown something at my television if it got to this stage and STARISH didn’t win the competition to play at the Triple S opening. But still, there was plenty of drama and tension in the last couple of episodes, with characters going missing, groups falling off the grid completely and management manipulations. The final performances from Quartet Night, Heavens and our STARISH guys were all toe-tappingly catchy topped with bishounen overload (I actually saw one audience member scream and faint after the performances and burst out laughing). What topped this off is there’s another series on the horizon, so I haven’t even seen the end of Ren Jinguji. Always a plus in my book.

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1. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable
I have watched enough JoJo now to know that something’s going to have to go dreadfully, dreadfully wrong for me to rate the ending of its season as ‘more to be desired’. I thought every episode was gripping and they still managed to ramp things up right at the very end. Not sure what to make of Kira’s untimely demise, but the battles and the risks had me glued right until the very end. The fact that a new arc wasn’t announced right at the very end annoyed me as I like to know when I’m next getting my JoJo fix. It never disappoints and each arc brings something new to the table whilst at the same time staying quintessentially JoJo. I can’t think of another anime that succeeds in doing this.

Continuing series’

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