It’s a good time to be an anime fan. There are a lot of fantastic shows coming out lately, and I’m looking forward to catching up on my backlog. For now though, here are my thoughts and scores on the shows I’ve gotten around to watching recently.
My Hero Academia Season 3: 4.2/5
Just when I think My Hero Academia can’t possibly keep getting better, it manages to blow my expectations out of the water. Season 3 ups the stakes significantly, building up to the conflict between All Might and All for One, and even does something I never expected. Not only do they fight at the mid-finale, but their conflict is subverted and they’re taken out of the equation in such an incredible way. It opens the door for the younger generation to step up and sets up another conflict between these groups later on, but without their respective leaders.
It’s extremely well done, and for me, the writing for All Might is amazing this season. He’s the prime example of how to write a Superman-esque character in a dynamic and interesting way that makes him human. As always, the animation of My Hero Academia is beautiful to look at, the action is exciting, the characters are relatable, funny, and it’s easy to get invested in their stories. The new Quirks that are introduced continue to be so creative, which is great considering that the superhero genre can get bogged down with powers that aren’t particularly unique. I thought the season ending where it did was a touch awkward (not much of a cliffhanger, but more of a transitional episode for what’s to come), but I’m excited for Season 4.
Steins;Gate 0: 4.5/5
When the sequel to Steins;Gate — one of my favorite shows of all time — was first announced, part of me was both excited and concerned. The first show ended on a perfect note, would the sequel be able to live up to its predecessor? Overall, I think Steins;Gate 0 is a worthy inclusion to the Steins;Gate story. Taking place on another world line, Steins;Gate 0 follows Okabe’s journey of grief and loss over Kurisu, and ultimately builds to the point where he sends his message back in time.
Steins;Gate 0 changes it up by adding some new characters to the cast, and overall, they’re pretty good additions. The animation is pretty good, but going back and watching the first show made me realize that 0 often lacks the same crisp drawings and animation. It didn’t ruin the experience for me by any means, but I did think it was a shame that it didn’t look quite as good. The pacing of Steins;Gate 0 is a little inconsistent — whereas Steins;Gate continuously built on key story elements and the escalation didn’t stop, Steins;Gate 0 ebbs and flows a little more, and the timing of when the show decides to slow down is odd, to say the least. But I have to say, while Steins;Gate 0 may overall not be quite as strong as its predecessor, it has some of the best moments across both shows for me. Those last six or seven episodes are incredible, and easily makes up for the obnoxious fanservice and weird pacing from previous episodes. The post credits scene on its own is absolutely incredible and gives me chills every time I watch it.
Sword Art Online Alicization: 4/5
Sword Art Online Alicization is the best season of Sword Art Online so far. It feels like, finally, Sword Art Online learned its lesson and applied everything it learned to Alicization. Alicization follows Kirito in a new game and world that feels more real than the previous games, with the NPC’s and characters in the world are based on real human souls, resulting in the characters feeling more fleshed out and dynamic. He travels with his best friend Eugeo to find their friend, Alice, who was separated from them. Part of what makes Alicization work better is a whole is that it’s twice as long as the story arcs that preceded it — with 24 episodes to become familiar with the new characters and world instead of just 12-14, we’re allowed to care about them more. The worldbuilding is solid, and the slow, plodding nature of the early episodes allows you to get sucked in and appreciate it more. Even the side characters who usually get dumped to the side had something to do, which was much appreciated.
But by far, the best part of this season is Kirito and Eugeo’s friendship. I’m admittedly biased since Eugeo has risen the ranks to be my favorite character in the entire Sword Art Online series so far, but their friendship is very well-written and genuine. They obviously support each other, but I think I enjoyed their banter more than anything as Kirito teaches Eugeo what it means to be human and to “stay cool,”
a line that now kills me but it’s fine.
Unfortunately, Alicization would have a slightly higher score if it wasn’t for the last couple of episodes where the writing did a disservice to the characters (Eugeo’s jealousy and desire for love was never expressed until it was convenient for the plot, which was frustrating since the seeds could — and should — have been planted way sooner), completely ignored the side characters, and the conflict with the Administrator was bogged down by unnecessary fanservice and dumps of exposition. Still though, there is a lot of good in Alicization, with the new characters Eugeo and Alice being very likable and well-written, which by extension allows Kirito to maybe be the best he’s ever been. Alicization ended on a bit of cliffhanger, and I’m hopeful that the War of the Underworld arc will retain the lessons learned and applied to its first half.
What do you think? How would you score these anime? Let me know in the comments!