This semester of Anime Club introduced a bunch of new shows for me to watch, thanks to the strong selection of anime that were released in the Fall season. Dabbling in the new shows is fun, but it also gave me a chance to revisit some older anime series too, and even finish one that I’ve been meaning to watch for years now.
Tales of Zestiria the X (Season 1): 4.5/5
Tales of Zestiria the X features the gorgeous animation from the in-game cutscenes and the soundtrack from the game as well. The English dub is fantastic as well, with the actors from the game returning for their roles. The tie-in with Berseria is neat but tonally jarring in spots, not to mention that it doesn’t go anywhere story-wise. I hope the pay off will be smoothly incorporated into the next season, because the possibility that it was just a cheap plug for Berseria to get popular and have no narrative purpose is pretty lame and a missed opportunity. But besides that, Zestiria feels like a stand-alone anime, taking some creative liberties with the narrative and characters to add depth where the game may have lacked it. The action is fast-paced and exciting to watch, and as a nice touch, the previews for the next episodes resemble the skits from the game as the characters interact with each other.
Sweetness and Lightning: 3/5
Sweetness and Lightning gushes with cuteness and tugs at the heartstrings. The best part of the show is the relationship between Inuzuka and Tsumugi, though the rest of the cast isn’t bad. To be honest, I could have done without the huge emphasis on cooking with Kotori. I realize that’s what makes Tsumugi happy and that’s what her dad wants more than anything, but I think the show could have easily focused on their dynamic as father and daughter without that. The food looks great, and their reactions are pretty amusing, but the show sort of falls into a redundant formula that can make it difficult to stay invested in. All of the scenes with Inuzuka and Tsumugi working through their problems together are great, and it’s in those moments that I feel the show is at its strongest. Sadly, these scenes are too few and far in between, and the conclusion leaves a lot to be desired. Overall, as my first real slice of life anime, Sweetness and Lightning is by no means bad, but it could have been better.
I didn’t know what to expect from Trigun but it definitely defied my initial thoughts when I first saw the early episodes a few years back. The tone is pretty lighthearted and focused on developing the characters. Towards the latter half of the show though, the narrative takes precedence and becomes considerably darker, with heartbreaking character deaths and intense battles. The finale is absolutely incredible, with exciting action and epic character moments that add to the experience. There are some ambiguous aspects of Trigun that, while I want to know more about them, the fact that the show doesn’t delve into it adds mystery to the characters rather than hurting the story at any point.
Yuri!! On Ice: 5/5
I know I gave Yuri!!! On Ice a 4.5/5 on the ATB podcast, but that was before I got to the episodes that make this show truly stand out among its peers. Yuri!!! On Ice is a fantastic show. The music is excellent, the animation is gorgeous, and the characters are well-written and extremely relatable, and their problems are handled with maturity. The show participates in using certain tropes while also subverting them in so many ways, making it a progressive anime for Japan. Yuri and Victor’s relationship is extremely sweet and cute, and at no point does it suffer from plot contrivances or weak character dilemmas. The show also does a great job of exploring love and sexuality and femininity versus masculinity in a realistic way that doesn’t generalize or stereotype ethnicity or gender. The finale felt slightly rushed, but overall really quite satisfying and still fun to watch. I can’t wait for the second season of this show, I have no doubt that it will be as enjoyable and wonderful as the first one has been.