Spring 2017 Season Wrap: WorldEnd, Girl Beats Boys, & as the moon, so beautiful


Having finished up Tsuki ga Kirei on my flight down to AX, I had a difficult time not crying in happiness watching the final episode. Very few shows push me to this response, so I cannot thank the makers enough for giving us this gem. I waited until coming back home from the convention to write up my thoughts since I needed that crazy weekend to process what I had seen without coming across as an overly excited sap.

Without further ado, here’s my penultimate wrap on the spring season:

*Rating system:

  • 0 dango – average and forgettable.
  • 1 dango – very good in its category.
  • 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
  • 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.

Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasuka Isogashii Desuka Sukutte Moratte Ii Desuka

The third and final of fantasy adventures I watched this spring season, “SukaSuka” initially impressed me with its likability despite the light novel source material and generic setting. I feel like lately light novel adaptations are improving–I’m not sure if that’s because of the quality of the original writing, or mostly due to the production company’s decisions. Regardless, I’m happy as the viewer to receive a higher standard.

SukaSuka takes place in a sky-born, post-apocalyptic world that at first glance appears fairly well off despite the extinction of humans. The population is made of mixed races with animalistic and fantastical roots: cat people, dog people, trolls, goblins, leprechauns, you name it. Anyone missing clear markers of supernatural blood such as fuzzy ears or tails–like our protagonist–are shunned. The aforementioned leprechauns look no different from humans, which makes sense since they are engineered from humans for military purposes. This is where the ugliness steps in.

The force that destroyed the previous known world still exists on the surface below all the floating islands: monsters that destroy and consume everything within reach. Our leprechaun warriors are the only force capable of fighting with the human weapons of the previous age. Their shorter life span and mentality means that despite their little girl appearances and smiles they have a distinctly warped sense of life. They do not fear death for themselves or their peers, and will go so far as to sacrifice themselves to win if necessary. This obviously means that any emotional ties created with the girls will end in tears for both Willem and the audience. As much as I liked the leprechauns, I wish there had been a bit more diversity to their ranks race-wise. The drama felt one-note with most of our sympathies directed to human-look-alikes who look nothing like the majority of the population they protect. We are meant to pity the girls, love them. I could feel the writers penning in my emotional cues with Chtholly as our champion. Did it work? Yes, but I would have liked more subtle prompting.

Despite the obvious directing, I do respect the show for pulling no punches with its ending. SukaSuka knows how to rope in our affections and squeeze the heart to painful results. If you are inclined to fantasy and romance, then I suggest you give the show a try.

Rating: 0 dango

Kenka Banchou Otome – Girl Beats Boys

I vowed to cut down on shorts as much as possible a while ago, yet I persisted in picking up two this season, including Kenka Banchou Otome. At thirteen minutes per episode, the commitment seemed slight enough to warrant inclusion in my weekly queue, and I was hoping the slightly longer episode length meant we’d get more momentum in whatever short story we received. I liked the setting of a girl disguised in an all boys school, particularly a girl with the strength and know how to climb to the top of the boss hierarchy. Unfortunately, my final impressions aren’t as forgiving as my initial one, and I really have no one else to blame but myself. Shorts aren’t meant to break any ground in story, particularly ones with as generic a setting as Girl Beats Boys. There are exceptions with series like Danna ga Nani, but the overwhelming majority are seasonal filler.

Girl Beats Boys follows a formula each week: “Hikaru” meets the next name up in the ranks, impresses with her skill and kindness, and gains another follower. There are no deviations, no surprises, and perhaps most unique of all, no romance. Hikaru is a bro to her group, and will presumably maintain that relationship until graduation.

Rating: 0 dango

Tsuki ga Kirei

It’s not often we are gifted with a show like Tsuki ga Kirei, one that tells its story as natural as breathing. The situations are familiar and nostalgic. For those of us who have already grown up past our middle school years and have experienced first loves, Akane and Azumi’s interactions are bittersweet reminders of a time that can’t be regained. For those who have not yet hit that point in life, the two characters are a beam of light for what can be.

The epilogue aside, the show isn’t told with with rose-colored glasses. Instead, much of what makes this story so lovable is how real it all feels. I can believe that these are middle school kids with their own feelings, interests, and situations. The show also avoids pitfalls that may form from too much drama. I don’t feel manipulated into laughing or crying, so when I do laugh or cry, the response comes from deep inside affected by my own memories and emotions.

With so much realism portrayed in the series, the shortcomings in art and animation are more noticeable. I worry that a fair number of people may have dropped the show on physical appearance alone. The water color style of design is reminiscent of shows like Grimgar and Hourou Musuko, which I very much like. I’m inclined to take the story more seriously because of this style, and unintentionally open up my emotions to the characters. The animation, however, stumbles with the frequent CGI applied to both characters and backgrounds alike. There are plenty of cringe-worthy moments to be found in the setting when pausing playback, so I purposefully ignored them. I didn’t have as much of a problem as other viewers with character movements like Azumi’s dancing; I personally thought it looked pretty damn good. Visual shortcomings fade into the distance with stories as strong as this one.

I also saw a fair amount of complaints regarding the kids’ use of LINE to communicate. I didn’t find their use egregious. I know I touch my phone a lot throughout the day every day. There are plenty of people with whom I communicate solely by social media. And being that LINE is the most popular chatting app in Japan, it would be unnatural for the makers to choose anything else merely to avoid coming across as advertisement.

Now about that epilogue: it wasn’t necessary, nor was it even remotely realistic for the vast majority of people, but it was undoubtedly satisfying. First loves almost never pan out for most. The ones that do are the sort you hear about from old couples at weddings or on cruise ships, and their success always seem the stuff of fairy tales. Akane and Azumi’s end felt like a thank you card from the producers to the audience for our viewership. They gave us something we would have only imagined in our dreams, and made us love them even more.

Rating: 2 dango

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17 thoughts on “Spring 2017 Season Wrap: WorldEnd, Girl Beats Boys, & as the moon, so beautiful

  1. Did people complain about Azumi’s dancing and the LINE portions? I thought the dancing was one of the best animated portions of the show…almost as if they decided to focus on making that look good and forgot about the majority of the series haha. And the LINE selections were sleek and especially real to life in how often they were used and how the communication style differed drastically over LINE v. RL.

    By the way, I’ve noticed in the last couple of these you’ve done that you’re a tough critic. What are some three dango shows for you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • They did! I think it was kViN of Sakuga Blog who I saw discussing the dancing, though it was more of a lament that corrections couldn’t keep up with the ambitious rotoscoping. I definitely recall people on Twitter complaining that all the LINE scenes were advertisement.

      About my rating: I think I’ve gone the extreme in my current direction since I used to rate too many things too highly. I’m trying to be a bit tougher since there are so many more shows I watch these days, and many of them I end up forgetting about in later seasons. I try to consider if I’ll remember the characters names, much less the story, as time goes on. I also judge whether or not the show broke any ground story or visual-wise.

      I believe I’ve rated Akira and Wolf Children 3 dango each, but can’t think of a tv series lately with as high of a mark…maybe the Shouwa Rakugo series. I believe I treat my dango ratings with a more objective stance (something like Michelin stars), while my MAL ratings are definitely more skewed to what I personally love instead of what I think others should watch.

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      • Ahhh, that makes sense. I like that you have two rating systems – I always run into the quandary of figuring out whether my stars on Anime Planet are based on personal tastes or objective judgements of quality; I frequently adjust my ratings as I try to somehow bring those two types of calls together, and also because, as with you, time and experience has changed how I judge anime.

        Thanks for sharing!

        Liked by 1 person

        • There was a period of time where I avoided ratings since I thought it was unfair to slap a number down on works with so many variable parts. But then I realized it could be difficult for readers to figure out if I truly liked or disliked a work since I usually discuss the goods or bads of whatever I watch. I can bash on a show while still loving it, and vice versa.

          And, of course, you’re welcome!

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      • I found the argument that because kids were using LINE in the show that it was some sort of overt advertisement for LINE to be ridiculous. It’s like saying that anime are advertisements for mass transit systems with buses and trains, or that they’re advertisements for sakura trees, or they’re advertisements for festivals. Those things are all just part of life, and LINE is a huge part of life for a lot of kids.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Whoa! Do sakura trees use branding?! Or buses or trains for that matter. LINE very much did this whole show. LIke A LOT! It’s not outside the realm of thinking “Hey, you think they did some advertising” I mean, can’t really prove it from my standpoint, but it’s not ridiculous!

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          • Yeah, but to me there’s “brand advertising and coordination” and then there’s “the whole point of this show is to be an advertisement.” The latter is what the snarky criticism are trying to say, and that’s just not the case. If you’re going to have a series where kids use texts to talk to each other, you can make your fake system LIME (like ReLife), or maybe you can make your anime a little more profitable and get some cooperation from LINE. Either way, the texting is going to be in there.

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  2. I always think that characters are the way the plot gets transmitted to the audience, and so most of the big points are going to be triple strength externalizations of that, with a megaphone or two. IOW I’ve always accepted that anime goes big, subtly be, well not damned, but certainly shoved aside. In that regard I thought that SukaSuka was brilliant in how it manipulated the audience. But now that you have mentioned it, more diversity and range in the kids would have gone much further in that manipulation, and that is something I didn’t catch the first time around.But I loved it so much it’s influencing my setting design for a pen and paper RPG, but then I’ve always been a sucker for sky-islands.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sky islands are definitely a huge appeal to me aesthetic-wise. It’s why I love Ghbli’s Laputa so much, and fell in love with the appearance of U.S. film Avatar. Sky islands also appeared in Granblue, and the idea of flying by a skyship that can equally be used in water seems a dream.

      SukaSuka might be one of the few light novel of its nature I’ll consider reading. I’ve been tentatively testing those waters, since the ones I’ve read so far haven’t impressed me. Here’s hoping the source material for SukaSuka is even better than the anime!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I just put up my thoughts on Tsuki ga Kirei, and I’m one of the ‘rare’ people that had an experience much like Akane and Kotarou’s in the epilogue (which I talk about). For me, I think the series can be aspirational, and I think it’s just fine to show a good outcome that, even if it’s not what people *think* is the norm, is probably a lot more “normal” than it’s given credit for. I think we end up biased by the majority of what we see on TV, of things that create drama. It’s much more rare to depict a relationship that isn’t full of angst or hardship. Just normal life. And I really like that they told that story.

    And as for the authenticity of high school sweethearts (I’ll call it high school, because they’d have been in high school in the US when they met), sure it’s rare to find someone you love that much as your first love, but I think that they justified that with the way that these two fell in love. It wasn’t any sort of anime cliche – childhood friend, “he saved me”, “notice me senpai”, cutest guy / girl in school, or anything like that. It was two people who saw someone who was mostly unremarkable, and in that person immediately saw just… something… that attracted them. And because they did that with each other, and grew that love slowly, based on real interactions, I think that it’s more realistic that they eventually married, even with the long-distance nature of their relationship.

    And maybe that kind of relationship (without the high school first love part) isn’t as rare as we might think. It might be like that misleading statistic that “50% of all marriages end in divorce”. It’s true, but then something like 70% of married people are still married to the first person they got married to. It’s the other 30% that get married and divorced and married and divorced.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhhh, you’re one of the mythical few!! Well, maybe not so mythical, but not as featured in popular media. It’s always strangely inspiring to meet people who have gone through similar experiences. And I’m not complaining about the happy ending–while I would have been fine without it, I was thrilled to see their hard work and love come to fruition the way it did. So many other stories try to give viewers a similar ending, but it frequently comes off as unnatural or somehow less satisfying, if that makes sense.
      As someone who married a little under a year ago, it’s always nice to hear from successful couples like you that the statistics aren’t all they’re hyped up to be. I have no concerns for my own marriage since we had a, shall we say, practical meeting and courtship. It wasn’t the fire and angst I experienced at a younger age; instead if was the slow appreciation and comfort of finding someone who suits you just so.

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      • Well, I can understand that people wouldn’t want to make a TV show of my courtship and marriage. It was pretty unremarkable. My wife and I are both total squares, and we get along great. And really, a lot more people get married and stay married than is the popular thinking. And it doesn’t need to be some burning hot relationship, or even follow anyone else’s stereotypes. People fit together in all different ways. So best of luck with your marriage as well!

        I liked that the show’s ending gave us a definite epilogue with them together, rather than some “Maybe in the future they’ll meet again” stuff. That one really cheeses me off.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I really loved SukaSuka as well, even though I went into that last episode hoping against all hope that there was some way that they would save Chtholly as she was. And then we get the ending, and not only did they not save Chtholly, but they really didn’t save anyone else, either. And yet, they earned all the happiness that they got for their ending.

    I think maybe a lot of what I liked about it was watching it as another show by Satelight. It’s only recently that I’ve come to the realization that I really like most of the shows that Satelight makes, and a lot of the reason is that they always use this full series narrative. They don’t have episodes that “reset” and do another day in the same location, or variations. They’re always moving forward, always progressing. And they’re not afraid to make things hurt, whether it’s killing characters off in Macross or having a lot of crying in AKB0048 (which I just watched). It’s never super flashy, but they always do a good job with story, and that means more to me.

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    • Perhaps we need to both read the source material, because from what I’ve read it looks like they did save quite a few people. And while it’s 100% that Chtholly didn’t survive, there is hope for Willem and Nephren. I would have jumped at reading the fall out, but I’ve discovered that light novels are not my style for the most part. Very few of them grip me like The Twelve Kingdoms, which reads closer to a novel than a light novel.

      I agree that Satelight produces pretty solid shows that usually entertain me. Progression is a good explanation for why that might be, for both characters and story.

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  5. Can’t say much about Girls Beat Boys as it never caught my interest to even try it, but for me Tsuki ga Kirei and SukaSuka were two of my favorite series from the Spring 2017 season. I think Tsuki ga Kirei was probably the series I thought was the best overall, while SukaSuka was the series of the season I was MOST invested in week in and week out. (The other “A rank” level series for me was Natsume s6.)

    Almost everything about both Tsuki ga Kirei and SukaSuka just plain worked for me and while there were teensy quips I had with both series, the strengths of both of them overwhelmed any complaints or the like I had. XD

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t expect any of my readers to have watched either Girl Beats Boys or the other short I saw, Love Rice, since they’re both utterly forgettable. ><

      It's pretty telling of SukaSuka to have affected as many viewers as it did since I don't think anyone had high expectations for it given the source material and premise.

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