The topic of fanservice comes up pretty frequently in discussions about anime, and for good reason. Every season has at least one show that obviously just exists as a vehicle for fanservice, and even anime that doesn’t prioritize it sometimes has fanservice. Some people like it and some people hate it, so the question I’m looking at here is whether fanservice is inherently a bad thing.
Considering it’s popularity, it’s not surprising that Sword Art Online got a second season. The first season was easily the most popular anime of 2012 and given the number of novels that hadn’t yet been adapted, it was obvious that a second season would happen eventually. What’s more surprising is how different SAO II is compared to season 1. Season 1 was mainly action driven, while season 2 balances that with more plot and character development. This method doesn’t always work, but it clearly shows how Kawahara began to improve as a writer after the Fairy Dance arc of season 1.
Just like the title says, these are my thoughts on the shows I’ve seen so far this season. I rarely watch more than 4 or 5 anime per season, but this seems to be shaping up to be a strong season. There are a few things that I want to watch that I plan on getting to later, so just because something isn’t included here doesn’t mean I don’t plan on watching it.
Nisio Isin has become a pretty big name in the anime industry in recent years. The anime adaptation of his Monogatari series was a hit in both Japan and the US and has had multiple seasons and movies and is still ongoing. What isn’t as well known is Katanagatari, an anime based on a series of novels by Isin that, despite the name, has nothing to do with Monogatari.
It’s pretty common knowledge that most anime is an adaptation of something. Manga, light novels, visual novels and even mobile games all provide source material for anime. There are a few original anime, but they’re vastly outnumbered by all the adaptations produced every season. As with any adaptation, there are plenty of people who are fans of the original material and complain if the anime changes things and that following the original work is always better. The problem with this mindset is that there’s nothing inherently better about following the source material. All that means is that the anime will have the exact same strengths and weaknesses as the original, so if the original did something badly, so will the adaptation. That said, in my experience, adaptations that stick closer to the source material tend to be better, but not for the reasons people normally give.
While he’s not as well known as Hayao Miyazaki or Mamoru Hosoda, Makoto Shinkai is still one of the most famous anime directors currently working. Prior to seeing Your Name, my only experience with Shinkai’s work was the 2002 OVA Voices of a Distant Star, but I already had high expectations when I saw Your Name at Anime Expo last weekend, expectations that it more than lived up to.
If you’ve been involved with the anime community at all in the past year or so, chances are you’ve heard of a little show called One Punch Man. Based on an already popular manga and webcomic, One Punch Man has exploded in popularity since the anime first premiered last year. The big question here is why. The easy answer is “because it’s really good,” which, while true, doesn’t actually answer the question. There’s a lot of really good anime out there that, for whatever reason, never got as popular as OPM, which means there has to be more to it. It’s not just the flashy action scenes either, although that definitely helped. OPM started to get popular back when it was just a webcomic, and the comic didn’t look very good. The story and the fight scenes were basically the same, but the art was pretty bad and obviously amateur. It says a lot that something that looks so unappealing at first glance was able to get so popular.
My first impression of Kiznaiver after finishing the first episode was that, regardless of whether it was good or bad, it would definitely be interesting. The premise was unique, albeit convoluted, Trigger has a strong style and writer Mari Okada (Anohana, Toradora) has written a lot of highly regarded anime before. The first episode also made it very clear that Kiznaiver wanted to explore complex themes about human connection. As it turns out, I was right.
If you’ve been involved in the anime community at all in the past five years, you’ve probably heard two things about Sword Art Online: it’s the greatest anime ever and it’s the worst anime ever. It was hugely popular when it first aired in 2012, and the backlash that inevitably comes after that much popularity was just as intense. It’s almost popular to hate it now, and I can’t say that SAO’s detractors don’t have plenty of good reasons, but it’s nowhere near as bad as they say, and there are plenty of good parts as well.
Warning: this editorial will contain unmarked spoilers for the Evangelion Rebuilds, especially 3.0.