12 Days of Anime: 12 – KUMA SHOCK

Yuri Kuma Arashi

Yuri Kuma Arashi was the perfect show for me. And yet… I just could not come to love it. Because despite everything… it lacked heart. It’s characters did not feel real and endearing to me. Though I was happy, and pained, to watch their tale, in the end the most important thing was them and they just fell flat for me.

But though Yuri Kuma may not be my AOTY, I think I’ll always remember it in high regards. After all, it would be the finale to my 12 Days if it wasn’t special in some way, right?

The last episode was… well, it made up for a lot of bad the show had done. There were lots of cliffhangers and twists that felt there for the sake of having cliffhangers and twists. Maybe it was because it was Ikuhara’s first 12 episode show that the pacing was so bad. Maybe with 24 episodes, my problems with characters would have gone away and the twists and turns wouldn’t have felt so forced.

 But alas, we cannot change what is already done.

Yuri Kuma Arashi

Anyways, episode 12 features two major events. One is Kureha becoming a bear and joining Ginko in an absolutely beautiful scene where they kind of just ignore the haters so much they fuck off to gay heaven or something.

The second is my favourite scene in the entire series (and there was a lot of great lesbian bear storm action for me to eat up so this is a big thing to claim) where a rando, Ai Uchiko, rises above the hate surrounding her. She may become the evil they hunt next but she’s doing what she believes in.

Ai and Konomi

To the bear they’ve tortured and used, she offers her love. In the end, Kureha and Ginko have inspired at least one person (and at least set doubt into the hearts of some of the other girls) to change. To give up their hate and ignorance and embrace that which they don’t understand, even in the face of the danger their fellow humans may present.

That scene was beautiful to me. The whole episode is. Yuri Kuma Arashi is worth everything just for that final episode.

Please read my actual post about the episode where I go into detail about my feelings for it (as well as link to a lot more cohesively written pieces that illustrate why YKA hates yuri anime as much as I do and why it’s so great).

12 Days of Anime: 11 – What is a Hero?

I was hesitant to include Insight on my list but since I’ve already included one AOTY, why not, right?

Just like Crowds I have trouble thinking why this anime is so good and why I just love it. But in my heart I know that it’s good and great. And I did enjoy pretty much every episode, even when things got tense and tough.

Maybe that’s a part of what makes Gatchaman Crowds and Insight so good though. That it lingers in the back of your mind, remebering watching it and realizing how good it is while watching.

My favourite scene of Insight was when our heroes go toe to toe with Gelsadra near the end. It was obvious during the fight who it really was. It was such a fantastic detail having Gel’s movements be the same as who it really was. But it made it so much harder to watch.

That whole scene, during the reveal, with her commentary and hearing our beloved and precious hero face her punishment for not acting sooner, hearing her in pain and suffering was too raw and hard to watch. Which was the point, of course.

But it’s a scene that’ll stick with me for a long time.

12 Days of Anime: 10 – Best of the Absolute Worst

Cross Ange

Cross Ange was an awful terrible show and if someone tells you the opposite in earnest, please run away. However it is incredibly entertaining if you need to watch a trainwreck that just never stops crashing and exploding.

This show manages to pull twist after twist, each more stupid than the last. Frequently gross, constantly bad, this show was a goddamn hoot to watch and I sometimes miss the spectacle of it all. Truly, I’ve never watched something that is so awful and yet never boring. Lots of times watching bad shows because they are bad (like World Break) gets boring quickly but not with this.

Goddamn Cross Ange. You’re the best at being the absolute worst and I love you for it.

12 Days of Anime: 09 – I Wanna Find This Love I Can’t Forget

So I didn’t watch anything in this season except for Norgami Aragoto so I’ll do a longer post about that after the final episode this week. Because of that and the fact that it’s one of my AOTY, I won’t go too much into it right now. I’ll be talking enough about it soon, that is.

Suffice to say, I was shocked at how much I loved Aragoto. I finished the first season while this was a few episodes in and once I got past the Yukine part that was insufferable in the first season, it actually was decent!

The second season, however, is fantastic. To the point where I don’t want to call it just a shounen. Which then brought up a personal debate with myself about why I’m uncomfortable with calling a show with good drama and characterization a shounen when it still mostly fits the bill of being a shounen. Well, it could be rather because Noragami doesn’t feature as many of the standard shounen cliches and plots?

Perhaps writing it off as another shounen when it’s better off as action/adventure is a mistake. Which doesn’t address why I’d get heated about calling it a shounen though, why not accept that?

ANYWAYS, Noragami Aragoto kept me on the edge of my seat with every episode. Though it still had quite a few problems that prevent it from being a 10/10 show, the amount of enjoyment I got out of it was almost incomparable to anything else I watched this year.

My own personal enjoyment of the show is enough to get it on the list but if not that, have one of these other suitable reasons: Bishamon and her unexpectedly fantastic arc and also her great fashion sense holy shit, Yukine’s character development, Nora as one of Rie Kugimiya’s best roles (FIGHT ME) or Taku Iwasaki’s fantastic, strange and controversial soundtrack.

12 Days of Anime: 08 – Ultimate Precure Wish and Neko Atsume

Cure Scarlet

There was one thing I always secretly hoped for in a Precure but never dared speak aloud. My all time favourite voice actress, Miyuki Sawashiro, as a Precure character. Well, in a big role as a Precure character. I thought it was something that would never happen.

But it did and it was fantastic. It’s a rather subdued role for her since she’s playing a gentle hime-sama (with a godawful design holy shit) but it’s still better than nothing.

Also from Go! Princess Precure is a certain episode. My favourite episode of the entire series (and there have been some good ones!) and quite possibly my favourite unserious Precure episode of all time.

Episode 33 introduces a new (cat) fairy, I won’t spoil the deets, who is very shy and reserved. Resident (also cat) fairy teacher Shamour (voiced by Mayumi Shintani aka Nonon from Kill la Kill) takes said shy fairy to meet with regular cats in town where they have a cat fashion off???

Shamour also teaches the Precures about respecting your enemies and Shut gets a lot of great moments as well. Someone punches a shark.

Overall the episode was hilarious and played to my weakness of cute anime cats. Especially the new fairy who I was so ready to buy merch of the moment I laid my lil eyes on his ugly and adorable little self.

The episode was so ridiculous and I can’t believe I enjoyed myself as much as I did when I watched it.

Openings.moe

As a curator and wannabe creator of all that is random and generated, seeing something like openings.moe pop up is really fun. I wanted to share if you didn’t happen to catch the wave of it on twitter that seemed to swamp it all at once.

It’s such a simple concept. Random anime openings (and sometimes endings) play in glorious creditless HD (whe navailable). It’s purpose? Up to you. I’ve seen people making a game of it but I think I’d enjoy just putting it on in the background as I work. So far I’ve seen one opening for some anime I’ve never even heard of and remembered a lot of songs I’d long forgotten about.

It’s got lots of nifty features too. You can loop one video, pick just opening and endings, a list of videos in rotation (I think, I haven’t checked because I want to stay surprised) and you can even bug the creator to add stuff if you really want to (though you probably shouldn’t).

Anyways, it’s novel as heck so go have fun with it. I look forward to seeing what the creator does with it in the future.

 

12 Days of Anime: 07 – Walking Dead Quote

In a rare turn of events, an adaptation of a manga I loved turned out fantastic. There was hardly anything disappointing about it. A few changes that I wasn’t too pleased about but hey, I understand why they were changed at least.

The Gakkou Gurashi anime did what I hoped, played the first episode straight and caught a lot of people off guard. It blended the drama of their day to day lives with a sense of wonder and fun that’s incredibly sad in its own special way. I teared up at moments I didn’t think I would, I laughed at moments I didn’t think I would. It was enjoyable in so many ways.

To be honest, I can’t really talk about Gakkou Gurashi too much more just because of how satisfying it was. It just… was good. I’m disappointed one of the most poignant and dramatic moments in the manga was changed (something that changes a lot about Rii-san and her grip on reality) but other than that… it was just good.

Look at this goddamn angel

It seems like lots of care and attention went into the series (the OP changing was fantastic and set the tone of the episodes really well as things got worse and worse) and I’m glad that people who were otherwise unfamilliar with the series enjoyed it as much as I do the manga.

Hopefully we’ll get a second season (well, with that final scene I should hope so) because it starts to feel like a different series after that and I’d love to see it animated. Until then, I’ll at least be grateful that this series turned out so dang well.

Also I love me some Rii-san oh my god do I ever.

12 Days of Anime: 06 – Imperfect Virgin

It was complete chance that this followed the Maria entry on this list. Truly.

Anna Nishikinomiya is one of my favourite characters this year by a goddamn mile. Shimoneta was a lot more clever (and raunchy) than I could have possibly imagined and Anna was an interesting villain to be sure. Though, that isn’t to say she was villainous because she was so thirsty that she’d break his goddamn dick off if it meant she could have it but rather that she was constantly getting in the way of their plans (and uh, threatened to kill one of them w/e).

I found her over the top sexuality and lust to be really interesting, even if it was played for laughs. The “for humour” aspect is especially egregious when we dismiss the fact that she was still trying to rape him but since it was female on male, it’s just hilarious rather than awful. But all that godawfulness aside, her Dr. Jekyll and incredibly horny Mr.Hyde scenario was a surprising factor of the show that I would have never guessed from just the opening and previews of the show.

Like the cookie thing? Never have I heard that Boku no Pico yooooooo’d so hard in my goddamn life. That is some next level shit right there.

I never thought we’d get a second season of this in the first place but with the tragic passing of Miyu Matsuki, Anna’s voice actor, I hope that we never do. It’s a shame one of her final roles was such a horrible and fantastic character but Anna stands out because of her amazing voice work so I’m grateful that she did such a great job.

We’ll miss you, Miyu Matsuki. Don’t know how they’ll do the Tales of Zestiria anime without you. :(

12 Days of Anime: 05 – Perfect Virgin

Maria the Virgin Witch

Maria the Virgin Witch may not be anywhere close to my AOTY but it’s definitely one of the most interesting shows to have aired this year. It scratched an itch I didn’t know I had.

Accesible (though comepletely off the wall ridiculous) historical fiction with colourful and unique characters who constantly, constantly defied the expectations I had set for them that spoke freely of female sexuality like it wasn’t no shit at all? Damn. Sign me up for some more of that.

Viv was (unexpectedly) the absolute biggest bro ever

The thing is with Maria is that I don’t know another show that’s even a little like it. Either the sexuality aspect or the historical fiction that isn’t boring and insufferable (and I say that as someone who seriously enjoys historical fiction novels a whole lot).

So while I can’t pin point one thing to credit Maria the Virgin Witch for, I’d give it this spot just for being so fresh and unique. It’ll be a long time before I can find such a refreshing show again.