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.
It’s been a good year for platformers. Consistently I’ve been filled with that kinetic joy that only smartly composed platforming can give, that immediate gratification from clearing every little jump and obstacle that builds to a rich rewarding experience. And yet here’s Sonic Forces, which just happens to exist. It breezes past you, not being bluntly agitating like many of its 3D predecessors but not containing any committed attempt at an ambitious hook either. After the clever and effervescent and genuinely cool Sonic Mania earlier this year it’s fair to say I wasn’t the only one hoping that Sonic Team could deliver something special, but thankfully I didn’t set my expectations on that. Sonic Forces is a modern Sonic game. Not one of the best, not one of the worst, just one that exists and takes you through its motions.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was special to me. Still is. For six years it’s been one of my post shameful admissions and yet I see no real reason to be ashamed. I like things gosh darn it. I like sincere things that fill me with joy, I like things that are funny and exciting and genuine and touching, I like things that inspire a little goodness in me. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic gave that to me at a time when I needed it most, and no matter where it goes it’ll always be special to me for that.
Sadly My Little Pony: The Movie is a little late to the party (insert hackneyed Pinkie Pie joke here). The once booming curiosity of its adult fandom has dwindled in numbers comapred to the default market of incredibly young and impressionable girls, with the presence of young boys and adults and equally enthused parents at my local premiere only being a footnote. And yet My Little Pony: The Movie still manages to ooze with happiness and love. It takes Lauren Faust’s original adventure-driven concept and elevates it to a scale that I only ever dreamed was possible, leaving me more enthused about My Little Pony than I’ve been in a long time.
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.
Sonic Adventure 2 is a pretty good game. The original Sonic Adventure was overflowing with ideas and constantly vying to be on the cutting edge of its era, but it spread itself thin and ended up being seen as an awkward product of its time. By contrast Sonic Adventure 2 is a noticeably tighter game, with a more singular and solid focus that brings everything into a more complete experience. It’s a similarly bumpy ride to the original, but it manages to hit a lot more highs along the way.
Sonic is… well, Sonic. Very few things can compare to the way people react to Sonic. The adoration, the hatred, the obsession, the ridicule. For a lot of years I was an outside observer of the strange roller-coaster phenomenon of Sonic despite dabbling in most of the games. But thanks to the stellar Sonic Mania I’ve become genuinely hooked. I’ve been able to fully appreciate the original games for being truly great platformers but probably more importantly I’ve started to find the personality of the series endearing – quirks and all. So here I am with that mindset getting into the nearly 20 year old Sonic Adventure for the first time.
Little Witch Academia: Enchanted Parade, even more so than its predecessor, embodies the sheer fundamental joy of animation. The sincere joy of seeing images come alive, images bound only by the limits of imagination coming into motion. Enchanted Parade is sometimes breezy and whimsical, sometimes awesome, sometimes funny, sometimes intense. But through genuine mastery it makes all those moods look like second nature. It’s Little Witch Academia‘s ongoing love letter to the traditions of animation and so much more.