I don’t think it’s all that controversial to state that New Game!!, the second season of the 2016 Kirara adaptation, is a significant improvement over the first season. That’s not a jab at the first season; I had a great time with it, and it made it on to my 2016 top 10 list. But the second season goes beyond the first in many places. It doesn’t simply settle for being more of the same; it takes everything a step further, in the process becoming a significantly better show, not merely a slight improvement. It’s hard to cover every way in which it’s improved, but I’ll try.
Monogatari’s main story arc has come to an end with the release of Owarimonogatari 2. Of course, this ‘End Story’ isn’t the true end of Monogatari; there are plenty more books left to be adapted, and evidence points towards the idea that plans are already in the works. But we’ve now seen the end of Koyomi Araragi’s final year of high school, and with it, the end of an era. This story that’s been going on for more than 8 years has finally ended, and it’s done so in great fashion. The ending feels utterly conclusive, and though I’m certainly eager to see the coming stories, I’d be willing to accept it if we stopped here.
Action Heroine Cheer Fruits is a very fun ongoing show. It focuses on a group of girls living in the fictional Hinano City, as they create a local tokusatsu show in order to represent their town. Cheer Fruits is watched by a very low number of people, which is a shame given how well it’s been handled. It’s not a show that boasts an amazing production or the most originality, but it’s doing a very good job at using what it has in order to tell an interesting story with tokusatsu elements.
How many anime characters can be said to be more iconic than Char Aznable? I’m sure you could name a few, but there aren’t many. Char is the most recognizable character of one of anime’s biggest franchises, a franchise that made all of the shows we watch possible. Char spans generations, carrying with him a mix of lofty ideals and heinous crimes, wondrous battles and deep depressions. Char is one of the best written characters in anime, a stand-out amongst Gundam characters as well as amongst anime in general. Char Aznable, the Red Comet, is one of my favorite characters, and his legacy is one worth examining.
Dragon Maid is a story about unorthodox families, but it goes much deeper than that. Unorthodox familes are a dime a dozen in anime, and while Dragon Maid does a good job at portraying them, I wouldn’t say it does a better job than, say, The Eccentric Family. What makes Dragon Maid stand out is how it focuses on the family’s effect on the main character. Dragon Maid is ultimately the tale of an introvert, someone who’s used to minimal interaction, and how her newfound family helps her to open up and become more comfortable around others.
There have been a lot of comparisons between the movie and manga versions of A Silent Voice, and to an extent that’s understandable. The movie did cut a lot of material, and I can see why that would leave some people less than happy with the adaptation. Personally though, I’m fine with the changes from the source, and I think that the cuts generally made the film a better work.
All art is political, but anime is an art form which tends to shy away from engaging with that fact. It isn’t hard to tell where a show like GATE’s ideological biases lie, but shows like this rarely engage with ideology on a more explicit level. It’s rare to get shows like Ghost in the Shell or LotGH that not only explicitly engage with politics, but make it totally apparent where their opinions lie, and it’s always nice when it happens.