Fall 2019 Final Thoughts

It’ll be New Year’s in less than an hour but it’s still technically 2019 here in the U.S. and by golly, if barely squeezing in our final thoughts on seasonals at the last hour isn’t the most On Brand move possible, I don’t know what it is. We’re making it work, though; 2019’s coming to a close and we’ll have some year-in-general posts throughout January, but before that, it’s time to qualitatively rule on what we thought of this fall’s offerings. Buckle up and never mind the inevitable lapses in proofreading.

ASCENDANCE OF A BOOKWORM (HONZUKI NO GEKOKUJOU)


Yatahaze:
I can’t honestly say Ascendance of a Bookworm was my favorite show at any point in this topsy-turvy season, but it rarely let me down either. Won’t deny that I probably would’ve liked it even more if it confined itself to a fantasy landscape without mana and magic and all the generic fantasy trappings that it indulged in during its second half, but for what it is, the series mostly traversed those inclusions thoughtfully. Even after their introduction, Bookworm remained a slow burner—slow enough to earn a second season, in fact—and with that ace up its sleeve, I adjusted my expectations and just let the story unravel as it pleased. And it…certainly did that.

To recap: in the second half alone, Main sold her many assortments of Earth-based products as a guild member to fund the paper business, (sloppily) spilled the beans to Lutz that she’s “not really Main, but she is, so take it or leave it,” fell increasingly ill thanks to the Devouring and learned how to theoretically keep it at bay if given the expensive tools, had her coming-of-age baptism, and applied to join this world’s Church, taking down a noble with her for making fun of her parents’ meager wealth in the process. This sounds like a lot, and it is, but I hold firm that Bookworm is a slow-burner; it flows these events together relatively gracefully, even if each new turn seems like it comes for the sake of moving forward at first. The chain of causality remains consistent, and that’s good enough for now.

Speaking of consistent, holy cow, Main remained a wonderful character to follow around, and her family and business partners delicately buffered her naïve ambition with a much-needed loving dose of reality. Lutz and Benno filled their respective roles as the sidekick and the mentor well and Main’s family unit understandably gave her something to treasure other than books, to the extent that even when her illness was at its worst, she would rather live out the rest of her days with them than disappear under a noble’s wing forever. Even when Bookworm stumbled (I was notably not a fan of how Main conducted herself when Lutz called her out, that was manipulative as hell and glossed over afterward), I almost always got the sense that it would explain itself with time. As such, time will tell if all these recent developments pay off in the end, but the series’ first half was characterized by a gradual and comfortable build to where we are now. Most importantly, its cast is lovely, and even if it’s hardly a visual marvel or the most novel concept, I enjoyed my time with this title and will be looking forward to its second season.
Final score: 7/10
Completed after 14 episodes.

BEASTARS


Yatahaze:
Prospective favorites rose and fell this season, but it was Beastars which, for better or worse, maintained an even hot streak and took the cake as my favorite non-sequel of the fall. I might as well frontload the praise with the studio itself: Orange catapulted themselves to CG fame a few years back with their prior effort Land of the Lustrous and this new franchise proves that they’re hardly a one-hit wonder, imbuing Beastars with a wide assortment of experimental visual styles, a clean and atmospheric general aesthetic, and wonderfully expressive character animation. It’s probably not a controversial decision, but they’ve done themselves favors by adapting two already-beloved manga whose main characters are pointedly humane but inhuman, reducing the uncanny valley and all that.

Since their casts aren’t human, Lustrous as well as Beastars both in turn feature societies where death has different connotations. In this case, there’s a fragile, animal social order that’s essentially dependent on meat-eaters voluntarily holding themselves back from going to town on any passersby they see. But they sometimes…don’t hold back. Beastars didn’t conclusively rule on a number of the thematic ideas it juggled, but after seeing the seedy underbelly of this world, I’m not sure I want it to. Because the stakes are intrinsically different than ours, its commentary about power and perception don’t form a thorough parallel—bits and pieces might apply, especially in regards to gender politics and upper class cover-ups—but we don’t exactly go around cannibalizing each other. Even simple murder through an ethnic lens doesn’t work as a clear substitute to what Beastars is going for. Beyond the polished versatility of its visuals, the world itself and those very uneasy dynamics were paramount to the series’ knack for getting people intrigued; I haven’t really seen anything like it before, at least.

That unease was best exemplified by our duo of protagonists, Legosi and Haru. Both characters’ respective seiyuu turned in some of the best voice acting this year, absolutely nailing the timid wolf’s guilt-ridden indecision and the perky rabbit’s up-front independence. I’m frankly not inclined to weigh in on Haru’s abrupt kidnapping and Legosi storming a pagoda of mob bosses to rescue her yet; even though Louis, one of the series’ most prominent characters, was hinted to go down in the ensuing fight, I have the hunch we haven’t seen the last of him (or his legacy, if that’s the route the story takes). Once the frenzy quieted down, Legosi and Haru snuck around town and in the days afterward, confronted their own feelings about their (by some accounts “immoral”) affection for each other. These two characters are both really kind and easy to root for…but for all the ways their personalities complement each other, there’s also a distinct jitteriness whenever they’re alone, the sort that makes me wonder if a romantic relationship could even work between them on their own, to say nothing of the stigma they’d have to battle. Haru in particular is starting to doubt it’s worth the effort—but last we see, Legosi doubles down.

Will the series? There is a second season in the works, and I’ve gotta imagine Juno won’t back down on her crush, let alone Louis if he’s still kicking. There’s so much Beastars has thrown at us and I feel like we’re still barely scratching the surface of this setting and all the people inhabiting it. Not to say this first season doesn’t end on a relatively complete note; the festival continues, an innocent child is saved from death, and the main duo share some intimate moments. But there are plenty of places this tale could still go, and I’m very excited to where it treads next when the time comes.
Final score: 8/10
Completed after 12 episodes.

CAUTIOUS HERO (SHINCHOU YUUSHA)


Yatahaze:
Cautious Hero certainly wasn’t one of the most consistent shows this fall, but thanks to an enriching final arc and enough hilarious high points along the journey, it wound up among my personal faves anyway. Unlike my comrade Haru here, I’m not particularly fond of isekai as a genre anymore—its ceiling is rather high in terms of versatility, but rarely do the newest seasonal isekai attempt to do much of anything with it, to the extent that I’ve ultimately found “isekai parodies” just as immersive (if not more, and certainly funnier) than the thing played straight. Such was the case for KonoSuba, which is still the gold standard, but Cautious Hero is the best time I’ve had with a spiritual successor to that show yet.

But let’s actually start with its key flaw, because part of why I came to love it even more is how it eventually eschewed this defining problem from most of its middle stretch: since Seiya is so absurdly prepared for anything and Ristarte herself is immortal, there are no stakes whatsoever for nearly all the action bits as soon as the gang starts taking on Demon Generals. Thankfully only every other episode or so bothered to make this a focal point; anytime Seiya was back in the Divine Realm instead of on Gaeabrande, shenanigans ensued and ensued hard. The denizens of the S-class world weren’t often characters in their own right, and when they were, they were some of the series’ weakest. The gods and goddesses, however, were all hilarious, not a single wasted role among them. Even better, they pushed Ristarte (who, if we’re being honest, was still the real main character here) to her limit one way or another.

But that had been my take all season. The end capitalized on the good and redeemed the meantime. I don’t often mark my spoilers for Final Thoughts, but this was unexpected, so consider yourselves warned if you want to give the series a shot (and I certainly recommend it):

Honestly, to say this final arc was unexpected is an understatement: it ushered in a weapon that could hypothetically kill a hero and a deity for good, and as Seiya hadn’t actually received the tools necessary to kill the Demon Lord per the prophecies, it forced him to sacrifice himself in the process. Trying to keep his sidekicks out of it, he initially encountered the Big Bad alone to Ristarte’s chagrin, but when she (and us) found out why, cogs long overlooked for the sake of laughs began turning; before this, Seiya had already been summoned as a hero, and his carelessness got him and his party, including the mother of his soon-to-be child, killed. That person was Tiana, who was Ristarte before she was reincarnated and got a…restart at life as a goddess for her good deeds wow I really should’ve seen that coming goddamnit. Did Seiya know all this? Based on his reaction, probably not, but it does explain his hardline disposition to err on the side of overcautiousness, as well as why he intentionally tried to limit his new party’s fighting presence as much as possible. Almost to the end, he was still a bit of a dick, but the “heart” the show had hinted he harbored became less of an excuse for his snobbery and more a natural result of his redemption arc.

He’ll get another try, too: though he did successfully seal Gaeabrande’s Demon Lord at the cost of his life and Ristarte violated divine rules in an attempt to assist him, Ishtar took pity on the goddess. While she’ll have to abide by a tribunal’s verdict and attempt to salvage an even tougher planet’s situation without magic, she can revive Seiya anew once more to help her out. Combined with the flashbacks the episode before, this isn’t just a cheery ending for an often-meaner show, but its last-minute dose of sobriety just made all the snark before it even funnier in retrospect. Agnostic as I am, I find it fun when deities in art are depicted as just as petty and weird as everyday people (but with p o w e r), and Cautious Hero absolutely nailed that dynamic in a handful of inventive ways. Despite its production setbacks, the animation remained lively throughout and Ristarte herself is Character of the Year potential (huge props to the animators and Aki Toyosaki for their respective roles in that). I can understand why the synopsis and supposed mean streak might’ve turned people away—but give it a fuller shot and you may find, like me, that Cautious Hero is one of the year’s most overlooked successes.
Final score: 7.5/10
Completed after 12 episodes.

CHIHAYAFURU SEASON 3


Yatahaze:
Chihayafuru has calmed down a bit since the early high of the Yoshino Society Tournament, but there’s been no shortage of lower-key drama to bask in. The Master and Queen qualifiers are in full gear, and still reeling from his loss to Chihaya, Taichi dedicates his field trip time to practicing karuta and promptly fails anyway because of course, why would anything good happen to this young lad. Harada still made it through, in part thanks to some timely forfeitures, but even if age is slowing him down, it’s not dashing his troll tactics. Out west, Arata overcame ill-timed gastric distress to also advance, and as Suo and Shinobu wait their turn for their own big day, our finalists are Harada and Arata for the men and Inokuma and Megumu for the women, the two championships each pitting a youngster from the West against an elder from the East.

We’ve had some chuckles from the less significant players interspersed with the build-ups and matches, but for the most part Chihayafuru knew it wanted to prioritize the journeys of these specific players (Megumu aside, kind of) and aptly used its time the last few weeks to re-establish the stakes and showcase how each character was attempting to prepare. Which is to say it’s kind of business as usual; I won’t deny that I slightly miss the Chihaya/Taichi-heavy nature of this season’s first arc, but you can’t crowd in a personality as big as Harada’s, and he’s been such a boisterous, hilarious fellow to follow through this second quarter of season three that I don’t even mind the disproportionate screen time. The scripting still rules, the soundtrack still kicks ass, and we’re only halfway through a sequel I’m still surprised we got at all. You can never count your blessings enough, and I still have to pinch myself for taking more Chihayafuru for granted sometimes.
Current score: 8.5/10
Still watching after 12 episodes.

FOOD WARS: THE FOURTH PLATE (SHOKUGEKI NO SOUMA: SHIN NO SARA)


Yatahaze:
Yes, I have a cold and diminished appetite as I write this, but no, I haven’t had those symptoms for two months now, so I think it’s time to address the inevitable: all good things must come to an end, and you can’t eat to infinity. There are reasons the average “full” meal is three courses. Four plates or more start to feel like overkill unless you’re downright famished. And 2019 may not rank among my favorite years in anime, but it certainly wasn’t devoid of hits either. I wasn’t this desperate for more Food Wars, and it shows when I reflect on its own Fourth Plate.

I do still enjoy this cast—the episode-length epilogue for this season was certainly proof of that—but let’s face facts: Food Wars is a series dependent on its ability to whimsically outdo itself, and this entire cour lacked surprises. Confined to an in-universe period of a few days with the same, monotonous shokugeki formula week-in and week-out, stakes that really didn’t change until the final few episodes, and a handful of the series’ less intimidating personalities (sometimes at odds with their actual rank, isn’t that right, Tsukasaaaaa?), The Fourth Plate had no room to expand. What should have been a monumental capstone to an arc all about reclaiming an educational institution from a tyrant and his lackeys instead became a total slog and honestly watered down the inherent drama of the cour that preceded it. Everything proceeded like business as usual each week, and I quickly found myself having to work up the resolve to actually tune back in, not because it was actively “bad,” but because it simply wasn’t exciting anymore. A “good” episode turned from, well, a good episode, to one that did the bare minimum of holding my attention.

All’s well that ends well, I guess; the final two episodes did their best to remind me why I stuck around with Food Wars for so long, pitting Souma and Erina against each other despite their need to work together. Souma went for broke and made an entrée-worthy appetizer which, while tasty, Azami rejected on principle, but then Erina went and angrily changed her recipe with ten minutes left (and a bit of team assistance) to top the two-course meal off with Souma’s own signature bonkers flavor combo: squid and peanut butter. Can’t say I was expecting that one, much less for it to work, but I’ll be damned, my mouth was watering at those two final dishes and I couldn’t even eat half the shit in them (fucking allergies). The aforementioned epilogue was just as fulfilling; separated from the claustrophobic shokugeki hall, the Rebels and some of their non-graduating opponents all shared a turn in the spotlight of the standoff’s aftermath, including Erina taking over as the new Headmaster of Totsuki and Souma snagging The First Seat of a new Elite Ten whom anyone has the ability to challenge at any time.

That’s the sort of thing I missed when The Fourth Plate was too head-ass to prioritize the bigger picture and too dry to keep the smaller ones entertaining. I’m eager that the upcoming final season due out next spring won’t run into these same problems since the setting will be a bit different in both time and space. But this was also a trying seasonal to the extent that I’m probably not going to watch that final cour weekly. I’ve also heard the rumors about its manga’s lackluster ending, and I’m not eager to drudge through another cour without the promise of a Great Justice resolution similar to this one. If nothing else, this is a good spot to let Food Wars rest for a while, and I’d rather pump the brakes after the first extra platter than go for a second without learning anything from this experience. I won’t take the check for good just yet—but I’ll need to let this settle in my stomach before I think about ordering even more.
Final score: 6.5/10
Completed after 12 episodes.

HIGH SCHOOL PRODIGIES HAVE IT EASY EVEN IN ANOTHER WORLD (CHOUJIN KOUKOUSEI-TACHI WA ISEKAI DEMO YOYUU DE IKINUKU YOU DESU!)


Harubruh:

Well, Choyoyu certainly stuck to its own brand of Absolutely Batshit Crazy right until the very end. Rather quickly, we’ve gone from the prodigies simply taking over a nation with a mayonnaise religion to attempting to nuke a human weapon of mass destruction off the face of the planet. Very normal high schooler things, am I right?

It’s always had this sort of vibe for me, but Choyoyu really strikes me as the kind of thing that got written as part of a silly, potentially drunken bet. I mean, I can’t fathom any rational ways someone comes up with “mayonnaise as a tool to win over the masses” without either writing while wasted or because somebody bet the author that they couldn’t do it. However, they stuck to their guns (or condiments, I guess) and made a generally fun series out it. This show definitely was at its best when it indulged in its special brand of absurdness it had built up, as the show’s more gut-wrenching moments and that good old “potentially-open-for-more” finale really didn’t do all that much for me.

It’s certainly winning no awards for direction or production, what have you, but Choyoyu ended up being a decent time-killer for me. That’ll do.
Final score: 6/10
Completed after 12 episodes.

MY HERO ACADEMIA SEASON 4


Yatahaze:
Fresh off the Nighteye-All Might drama at the start of the season came a lengthy, in-progress raid on Shie Hassaikai, and it’s gone every which way except according to plan. The heroes and police have been clustered apart, key powerhouses have gone down against each other, and at this critical juncture, Togata has finally found Chisaki and Eri, but they’ve got company and it’s taken a while for backup to arrive. For all the mayhem though, HeroAca’s recent weeks have felt very collected and workmanlike; Kirishima and Tamaki each got focus episodes with copious backstory padding, and while I don’t really mind that since I enjoy both characters and their new network of partners, it’s made this momentous event a tad less momentous.

The good news is that appears to be changing; with Toga and Twice in the mix too, sent as double agents from the League who somehow haven’t totally spilled the beans despite not abiding by the yakuza’s protocol, the heroes still pressing on now have to contend with two sets of enemies with different goals. Or has that been the case all along? The Hassaikai may have the numbers, home field advantage, and the element of surprise on their side, but one thing they don’t have is a unified brotherhood; as their one-for-one strength against the heroes has mostly cancelled itself out, control looks like it’ll be the deciding factor of this war, and even then, both sides have sustained serious dents to their formation. I’ve heard it rumored someone will, uh, you know, kick the bucket somewhere during this season, and while previous foreshadowing had me assuming it would be All Might, I’d be stunned if every force of good makes it through this botched, improvised ambush alive. The fact that HeroAca can still keep the stakes this intense despite heaps of exposure and some questionable mid-episode filler is pretty impressive.

Like any arc that keeps you chomping at the bit for weekly viewing though, I’ll admit I kinda want this raid to end soon. In battles of attrition, the first loser is the spectator, especially when climactic battles are reduced to still frames cough cough episode eleven hey how ya doin’? Maybe they’re saving up resources, maybe they’re already exhausting them, who’s to say? Bones have never seriously crumbled in crunch time with HeroAca and I don’t expect them to suddenly start doing so here, but it reinforces the fact that this action has gone on for a while with no clear end in sight, and great as that may be once everything’s available, it is making the weekly experience in chunks a bit harder to appreciate. As long as the payoff is worth it—and with this franchise, it always has been—I’ll suck it up though. Hard to nitpick too much with a Great Justice title this great at justice.
Current score: 7.5/10
Still watching after 11 episodes.

ORESUKI: ARE YOU THE ONLY ONE WHO LOVES ME?
(ORE WO SUKI NANO WA OMAE DAKE KA YO)


Harubruh:

With the qualification that the whole story is yet to be finished, I’m actually kind of surprised that Oresuki stuck the landing, for the most part.

It was almost a little bit too on-brand for Oresuki to smash the 4th wall completely to announce that the true ending to the anime would be in the form of an upcoming OVA after all of the zany nonsense this show has pulled this season. From the beginning to the end, the treasure trove of reaction faces, outstanding voice work, the plethora of visual gags, that aforementioned penchant for breaching the 4th wall, the unforgettably ominous Bench of Doom, or right down to Joro completely playing himself with his underhanded scheme to chase Hose away from Pansy, Oresuki really surpassed all the expectations I had when I first started it.

Fun story, amongst all of the plot twists this show had, it took me right up until the final episode to realize that in addition to singing that earworm OP song, Shuka Saito also voiced the token background tsundere girl Sasanqua. Normally I’m better about keeping up with seiyuu casts, especially considering my fondness for anime credit songs sung by a show’s own cast. I actually kind of appreciate Oresuki’s seemingly unorthodox and I daresay gutsy selection of a practical background character’s seiyuu for the opening credits, rather than opting for one of the main three girls’ actresses.

It’s kind of a shame that we’re probably not going to see anything more from Oresuki after that OVA. This stupidly subversive little rom-com has been an absolute blast to watch, and I can only hope next season will bring something even close to as entertaining as this for my Wednesday watching.
Final score: 7.5/10
Completed after 12 episodes, and waiting for that OVA.

STARS ALIGN (HOSHIAI NO SORA)


Yatahaze:
Whew. Remember mid-November when I was like “yeah Stars Align may be dark, but it’s got a heart of gold and plenty of time to navigate its misery and hope. I’m confident it will tie everything together conclusively by the end?”

That might be the wrongest I’ve ever been.

I got the feeling early, at least—by episode 8 or so, I began to realize the show was quickly running out of opportunities to resolve subplots, and even worse, it continued to introduce new ones. It didn’t feel scripted like a one-cour show. Perhaps they had a second season in the works? But you’d think some announcement to that effect would come sooner rather than later, especially with a studio like 8bit, who, to put it politely, aren’t always known for work this high-quality. Well, the next few weeks happened, and those fears were realized: director Kazuki Akane took to Twitter and informed fans that the series had been composed with two cours in mind, but after two years of work were already completed, business executives instead demanded they cut the series length in half. That first half was already done and they didn’t have sufficient time to keep re-working the ending and editing it all down in a manner that would support the numerous subplots it was trying to juggle.

What we got is a half-complete show that signed off decently on its sports threads, if nothing else. Thanks to Maki and Touma, the team got through several rounds at their first tournament before ultimately falling to the prodigy Itsuse brothers, but not without a valiant effort. The club’s charisma was palpable, the animation for the tennis matches throughout was inventive, immersive, and fluid, and if nothing else, Director Akane accomplished the goal of showing off his staff’s already-finished talent instead of wrangling them to re-animate a multitude of new scenes. To that effect, I understand the decision, and it also leaves open the potential for a sequel, if enough money comes in to justify it.

Here’s what I don’t appreciate, though; even if the stars ironically seemed doomed to not align, the team behind this show had ample time to adjust the tone of the series by omitting subplots it knew wouldn’t go anywhere. Not only did this not happen—Kinuyo and Yuu’s subplots respectively held a wealth of potential and were completely forgotten about after their (half a) focus episodes—but because the series sought to say something poignant about overcoming family trauma and blatantly didn’t let most of its protagonists do that, this entire series instead transformed into a pessimistic, cartoonishly vile world where virtually everyone’s parents were abusive without consequence. Even down to the final minutes, Rintaro’s birth mom “I’m at emotional capacity right now, let’s not meet after all”s her son, Touma’s mom (whose disgust at Touma is never really explained, other than he might not have been a planned child) disowns him, and Maki decides to track down his deadbeat dad with a knife and intends to murder him.

It’s all the more painful because way back in October, Stars Align looked like the sort of show that understood the nuances of childhood trauma and the importance of finding people to lift you up for who you are, even if they aren’t related by blood. Hell, Kanako to some extent did just that, taking Tacky-sensei’s advice that art being for its creator is enough. Nao also rebounded from his breaking point and simply abandoned his means of communication in an attempt to ignore his helicopter mom, which, as far as we can tell, sort of temporarily worked? But it’s too little too late. I can’t judge a show for what it could be once it actually ends, and the fact of the matter is all this anguish in Stars Align has no payoff at present; it was rarely seamlessly intertwined with the tennis plot enough to warrant remaining as was, nor was it given the space it needed to say something tasteful about child abuse.

What else is there to say? I haven’t watched a show with such extreme high ceilings and such a dismal, wholly unsatisfying ending in a long, long time. You have the right to blame whoever you want, but I don’t think any one person should bear the brunt of the backlash. Stars Align has a half-decent sports arc with a plethora of unresolved violence on the side. This final product is one of bitter compromise, many lose-lose decisions, and pleases nobody except fans convinced that Akane will eventually get the chance to finish the story on his own terms. I’d love it if he got the chance to as well—but until then, Stars Align just is what it is: unabashedly and vitally incomplete.
Final score:
5/10
Completed after 12 episodes.

SWORD ART ONLINE: ALICIZATION – WAR OF UNDERWORLD


Harubruh:

Throughout this whole year, Sword Art Online’s Alicization arcs have kept impressing me, weaving together a stronger narrative than all the SAO arcs not called “Mother’s Rosario.”

In the last couple of years that I’ve come back around to actually enjoying the entirety of Sword Art Online, even with its foibles and all, Alicization and War of Underworld have taken the franchise to that next level. While the massive battles between the respective fodder armies could use a little polish, the individual fights between Actually Important characters have conveyed a much better sense of weight than the clashes of SAO past while remaining as dynamic as they’ve ever been. Having not read the novels, I do get a sense that there’s perhaps a fair bit of material from them getting glossed over for expediency’s sake, but the overall story still has me glued to the screen. While the size of the cast has really exploded as of late, the show has made pretty intelligent use of its limited free time to give decent moments of characterization to some of the standouts such as Integrity Knights Renly and Sheyta, or dark army pugilist honcho Iskahn. Sometimes, small fleeting bits like these can go a long way for me.

I’ve always enjoyed the soundtracks Yuki Kajiura has composed, but her work for Alicization has been some of her most outstanding work yet, as they really help add to the gravity and the dramatic atmosphere of the ongoing battles. I eagerly look forward to adding her material for Alicization and War of Underworld to my growing collection of anime soundtracks. Let’s also not forget the set of fantastic OPs and EDs that this series has treated us to this year! Even today, I’m still jamming out to “ADAMAS” and “Resister,” among all the other great old SAO jams.

Anywho, next April should bring us to the closing act of the Underworld arc, and I’m excited for what the future has in store for us.
Final score: 8/10
Completed (for now) after 12 episodes.

WE NEVER LEARN SEASON 2
(BOKUTACHI WA BENKYOU GA DEKINAI SEASON 2)


Harubruh:

After all this nonsense, you know what? Sure, I’ll take the (iirc) anime-original ending that we very suddenly got here.

For nearly the breadth of Bokuben’s two seasons, this show seemed to outright indulge in the Mafuyu-centric scenes at the expense of the girls with actual redeeming personalities. I mean, I get it—she’s somehow dominated BokuBen’s popularity polls over in Japan for a hot minute. In spite of that slightly vexing fixation, this show managed to remain an overall entertaining watch. The school festival arc did a pretty good job of breaking the tedium that had begun to make this show feel like more a drag than it should have been.

It has been genuinely rewarding seeing Furuhashi, Ogata, and Takemoto blossom during this show’s two runs. Even though they individually probably had more spotlight time than the Teacher, I just wish they (along with Kominami-senpai) got even more of the focus; BokuBen really was at its strongest when it focused on those four with a fairly even balance between them. I wish we could’ve had a more substantial ending than the kids simply departing for their universities, but as someone who was on the Takemoto bandwagon from her introduction, I did get a bit of joy at the finale not-so-subtly alluding to her being the one to take Nariyuki’s hand during the fireworks display. I appreciate even the smallest perceived victories in shows like this, you know?

Alright, time to send this goofy little harem off with a cheap low-blow!

BokuBen: it’s the Official Anime of the song “Hot for Teacher” by Van Halen—well, the latest of many titles over the years, I guess. It’s definitely the Official one in regard to Fall of 2019.
Final score: 6.5/10
Completed after 12 episodes.

Yatahaze:
Editor’s note: Fumino best. Episodes 9 & 10 ruled. Agreed with the bro on everything else.

And that’s it for this For Great Justice 2019. We’ll see you in 2020…sooner than you may expect, in fact.

2 comments

  1. OreSuki surprised the heck out of me through and through. I went into the first episode thinking it’d be pretty terrible, but kept being surprised as each episode went on. It was very enjoyable and the bench is the character of the season, for sure.

    There were some pretty good comedy anime this year, but that one has gotta be up there with Kaguya-san near the top. I might even be brave enough to have a take of OreSuki being better humor-wise than Kaguya (although I think Kaguya had the better overall package).

    Anyway, I’m glad to see it getting lots of praise this season! My tastes in very obscure harem/romcom anime feel validated to say the least.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Like any arc that keeps you chomping at the bit for weekly viewing though, I’ll admit I kinda want this raid to end soon. In battles of attrition, the first loser is the spectator”

    At the end of the day, HeroAca is a shonen… And while it’s *mostly* avoided the pitfalls of that genre, it’s really showing in this arc. The raid has already gone on too long, and it shows no signs of ending soon. I fear this season won’t advance the story progression as much as we the viewers might like.

    Liked by 1 person

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