WARNING: SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!! THIS IS AN ACTUAL PROPER SPOILERIFIC LOOK AT EVANGELION 3.0+4.0. AS OF WRITING THERE IS ***NO WAY*** TO WATCH THIS FILM OUTSIDE JAPAN. IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS THAN YOU’RE NOT GONNA WANNA READ FURTHER. THIS IS NOT A JOKE.
I feel truly blessed to have seen Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0 in its original run. For those who don’t know, I live and work in Japan! My Japanese isn’t perfect, so I’m not crystal clear on every last detail. But I got the majority of the film! I’ll be going into a lot of the juicy details, and my current feelings about this final installment in the Evangelion rebuild series. So if you don’t want spoilers, THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING!!
NOTE: This is a rewrite of something I did many years ago.
Barakamon is an easily endearing show. It’s a series brimming with warmth and passion, one that even people who don’t watch anime could easily get drawn into. It’s easy to gush over stories like these as a creator of any kind. One that connects with how many of us feel, brimming with self-doubt and constantly trying to get in touch with why we do what we do. Barakamon doesn’t always nail the full extent of these ideas, but it’s an immensely charming work that makes some wonderful statements.
I don’t think there’s anything I can say about the Kyoto Animation tragedy that hasn’t been said. It was a senseless act of cruelty that’s going to be felt in the anime industry forever. 34 animators gone in a heartbeat. It’s a crushing loss of human life, a crushing loss for the families and friends and fans of these people, and a crushing loss for the entire animation industry. Tragedies of this scale tend to create a lot of morbid and soul-crushing discourse, but this has mostly been different. From the niche corners of Twitter to the global mainstream news people have unified in giving recognition to the work that they’ve done. In dark times people have acknowledged the lasting legacy of Kyoto Animation: a legacy of love.
I don’t know if this is as much of a thing anymore, but back in the day there were a lot of people who really couldn’t stand Neon Genesis Evangelion’s religious imagery. People would call it pretentious, say director Hideaki Anno was a hack who was trying too hard to be deep, all around try to discredit it as a thing to be made fun of. Considering Evangelion is on its way to Netflix I figured it was a good time to talk about that subject.
Anime can be questionable. Like, extremely questionable. It’s not always like that, but more than enough happens to be premium Don’t Show This To Your Parents content. To some being mindful of this comes with a sense of responsibility to condemn messy works. To see them as not only problematic, but also morally wrong. To tell people that they shouldn’t like the things they like if they do questionable things. So I guess we need to talk about why it’s okay to like anime despite all the crappy stuff it does.
2017 has been a pretty good year for anime. Not a great year but one filled with plenty of shows that delivered. Funny shows, weird shows, touching shows and absolutely stunning shows. I didn’t find any all-time favourites but some shows got darn close, and a lot of the shows that didn’t reach that level were still satisfying and good at what they did. After a lot of marathoning and thinking and writing I put together a list of my ten favourite new anime, and here it is.
But first a few things to note. This is my list and everything here is my opinion. In case you wanted to know why I placed one show above another… it’s because I liked that show more. Secondly this is only a list for new anime. I’ll compile a list containing sequels in the future but shows like My Hero Academia and Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju won’t be featured here. And finally I obviously haven’t seen every single anime to come out this year so this isn’t a definitive list, it’s just my experience of new anime in 2017. If there’s a new series I haven’t included here please feel free to recommend! With that out of the way let’s talk about the new anime of 2017.
Miss Kobayashi‘s Dragon Maid is a very silly show, and a very warm show. It’s easy to call things “comfort food” but no other animation studio can craft the endearing low-key stories that Kyoto Animation does. And while Dragon Maid may not have the versatility of K-ON! or A Silent Voice it most certainly has a lot of the heart. It’s like meeting a good friend, a friend who’s fun and trustworthy and always pleasing to be around. It has its quirks and issues but you’re glad you came to know them.
Content Warning: Discussions of slurs, as well as discussions of erasure and violence against trans people. Be aware if you find these topics confronting in any way.
Okay, let’s get some things out of the way. I love anime, and I love it for its trashiness. And I think it’s totally cool and okay to like crossdressing characters in anime. But I have… an issue with the word “trap”. The word “trap” has been floating around online for over a decade now, particularly in western anime communities, but it’s especially picked up steam in recent years. It’s often used to refer to crossdressers and transgender people both in media and in real life. And heck, I know trans people who refer to THEMSELVES as “traps”. But even with the intent to reclaim the word it doesn’t sit right with me at all, so let’s talk about it.
I used to be an avid defender of sorts for slice of life anime. Now I’m less enamored by most of them but they’re still an easy watch. If Kyoto Animation’s works stand as the peak of the genre then Doga Kobo would be the middle point, generally not hitting the craft or subtlety of a K-ON! but usually being competent at fun character animation and comedic timing. To that end the first season of New Game! is well up to par, a standard slice of life wrapped in a mellow workplace story with a few good laughs and some surprising sincerity.
Rick & Morty has been all the buzz lately. And that’s great because it truly deserves it, it’s an intricate and funny and moving series. Its third season has been its most profound yet, giving genuine introspection into the character of Rick Sanchez and how toxic and destructive a human being he truly is. But that’s not what my social media feeds have been interested in. They’ve been talking about the fandom, the would-be real life Ricks who find themselves in almost every online community spewing indulgent nihilistic hatred on everything they touch.
Some friends have even expressed being turned off the series by this, which just really sucks. On one hand I can’t blame them but on the other it’s really just not fair. It’s not fair that people find themselves unwilling to have new media experiences because of hostile fan culture, and it’s not fair on the creators of earnest good works that they need to be accountable for crappy people. So what should you do if something you want to get into has a rubbish fanbase?