The end of the season has come once again and with likely all my reviews now done, I wanted to take the time to briefly talk about what shows ended up being worthwhile. If you’re interested in learning more about any of the shows, I’ve provided links to their MAL pages as well as links to my reviews which both offer synopses and further insight.
3-gatsu no Lion (March Comes in like a Lion)
Though it hasn’t yet finished, 3-gatsu no Lion was a powerhouse this Fall season. Through its fantastic, visual design and slow-paced reverence for the narrative at hand, it was one of the most emotionally expressive shows of the season. Kiriyma’s profound sense of loneliness and internal strife manifests all throughout the show, however is charmingly offset by the affectionate and loving atmosphere provided by the other characters. 3-gatsu no Lion handled its presentation very artistically and I think it was undoubtedly one of the strongest shows of the Fall season lineup.
The second season of Bungou Stray Dogs surprised me this Fall with a genuinely compelling first four episodes which served as a sort of origin story. The flashback arc took on a much more serious setting and tone which quickly improved upon the tonal issues of the first 12 episodes. Though Bungou Stray Dogs eventually returned its focus to its proper story, this shift in attitude somewhat remained and while it was not completely free of disruptive, off-color jokes, the new season was a significant step in the right direction. You can read my spoiler-free review of this second season: here.
For me personally, Flip Flappers was the breakout show of the season. From the very first episode I think it became clear that it show would become something special. Its imaginative visuals, layered meaning, and fantastic animation came together to create something not only memorable but complex and captivating. Its otherwise incredibly successful run was somewhat tarnished by a lackluster ending. With that said, its raw creativity and unconventionality left its mark on the Fall season, becoming one of its most memorable yet under-watched shows. You can read my spoiler-free review: here.
Fune wo Amu (The Great Passage)
Fune wo Amu was originally my dark horse for the Fall season. It’s measured sense of drama and contemporary, workplace setting set the show up to be just as thoughtful and emotionally provocative as earlier shows this year such as Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. While the show didn’t necessarily live up to the aspirations I had placed upon it, its heartfelt and earnest cast of characters were able to deliver on the modest and refined style of drama I was looking for. The show was rather slow-going at times, but ultimately brought its story into focus near the end, making for a compelling conclusion. You can read my spoiler-free review: here.
Haikyuu!!: Karasuno Koukou VS Shiratorizawa Gakuen Koukou (Haikyu!! 3rd Season)
Picking up immediately after where the previous season left off, the third season of Haikyuu!! brought with it all the familiar action and excitement that by now have become expected of the series. What’s more is that, due to the climactic nature of this season’s premise, several of the story elements and individual character stories come to a head adding to the new season’s profound climactic tone. Though it may have been a bit of a stretch to pace a single game out over the course of 10-episodes, Haikyuu!! managed this pacing surprisingly well.
Hibike! Euphonium 2 (Sound! Euphonium 2)
Hibike! Euphonium was gorgeous as always this season, bringing with it its traditional moody atmosphere and character drama. Whereas before Hibike! Euphonium revolved primarily around the societal politics of the band itself, the second season shifted its focus more towards the drama present in the lives of its characters. The second season also placed a far greater emphasis on competition. For me, these changes were very beneficial as it was far easier to empathize with the characters as emotional people than it was to understand them within the context of high school band. The dramatic developments felt far more intermingled than before as well, giving the second season a more cohesive feel. The second season was just as good if not better than the first.
I originally picked up Keijo!!!!!!!! very tentatively because, traditionally speaking, it didn’t seem like the kind of show that would appeal to me. My hope was that, given its absurdist premise, it would be just crazy enough to be entertaining, and it delivered on this desire in excess. While not an outright comedy itself, its creative choreography and sheer ridiculousness made every episode downright hilarious. By borrowing certain conventions and influences from other more serious genres, Keijo!!!!!!!! gave a unique personality to its presentation and though those same conventions left it feeling all too clichéd, it was far more fun than it should have been. You can read my spoiler-free review: here.
Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku (Magical Girl Raising Project)
The unfortunate trend when it comes to ‘death game’ premises is that, once you’ve seen one, you’ve kind of seen them all. Raising Project didn’t do much to separate itself from other similar shows and unfolded in a pretty conventional manner, rendering it rather unexciting and predicable. Though it produced a remarkably unforgiving atmosphere within which its characters fought, it failed to capture what made several similarly twisted, magical girl shows so captivating. You can read my spoiler-free review: here.
Natsume Yuujinchou Go (Natsume’s Book of Friends Season 5)
Five seasons in and those who are still watching Natsume Yuujinchou got pretty much exactly what they came for. There isn’t too much to say about it and each episode followed the classic pattern of Natsume encountering various humans, youkai, and other occasionally recurring characters. With a sixth season already announced, it looks like studio Shuca will continue to uphold the familiar atmosphere and attitude of the series.
What was initially one of the forerunners for most popular show of the season due to its close relation to Steins;Gate somewhat faltered in its appeal after an exceedingly rushed introductory episode. Though it had a rough start, it still turned out to be one of the more fun shows of the season, appearing energetic and scattered in both its visual style and narrative approach. It’s chaotic nature makes it one of the more divisive shows of the season and opinions range from applauding its hectic storytelling to condemning its nonsensical plot and characters. Occultic;Nine is likely a love it or hate it kind of deal, and you’ll quickly figure out upon which side you fall within the first few episodes. You can read my spoiler-free review: here.
Shuumatsu no Izetta (Izetta: The Last Witch)
What started out as a very promising premise and a very entertaining first episode gradually devolved into an uninteresting mess over the course of the season. Looking back, Izetta will probably be remembered as Fall’s greatest waste of potential as its attractive premise was offset by rather poor writing, unnecessary fan-service, and a lackluster conclusion. You can read my spoiler-free review: here.
Week in and week out, WWW. Working!! was hands down the worst show I watched all season, which is an impressive feat given the presence of Izetta and Raising Project. It wasn’t nearly as outwardly bad as those other two shows however it almost defied the genre tag of comedy in how it went about each of its episodes and scenes. Rather than a cast-driven comedy show, WWW. Working!! was more like watching a handful of mediocre characters stand around talking to each other while providing occasional insight into some of the most muddled romantic pairings I’ve seen in years. The ultimate and simplistic failing of the show was that it couldn’t get me to laugh despite its best efforts with perhaps the sole exception of Yanagiba who didn’t even show up that often.
Last but not least, while Drifters and Occultic;Nine led the pack of seasonal shows early on, it was Yuri!!! on Ice which eventually overran them and became the most popular show of the Fall. While various artistic issues and a variety of pacing problems kept Yuri!!! on Ice from being what it could be, its unique subject, captivating early episodes, and fanatical viewer-base made it one of if not the most iconic shows of the season. The first few episodes of the show were truly fantastic and though I never felt as if it overcame that initial greatness afterwards, it was certainly a memorable and entertaining show. You can read my spoiler-free review: here.