Fall 2017 Season Wrap: Girls’ Last Tour, Kino’s Journey, Children of the Whales, & Animegataris

Happy New Year!

I hope your holiday was filled with warmth and cheer, and that you’re ready for more fall anime reviews. We have four more shows to discuss, so sit down, read up, and let me know which ones you saw!

*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.

Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou

I had no way of knowing Girls’ Last Tour would be the miracle it was when I glanced over its description at the start of the season. I thought the anime would be a dark comedy, and, in a way, that’s true. From the get go, our characters and their Kettencrad crawl through the darkness, seeking the light like all living things do. But Chi and Yuu don’t simply survive. They talk. They argue. Despite not understanding much of the world they discover, they still manage to find meaning in it. Each day is a push forward to find food and fuel, yet I’m completely distracted from these necessities thanks to Chi and Yuu.

There are several moments throughout the anime where we’re faced with the fear of solitude. When Yuu points her gun at Chi and demands her food. When Kanazawa and the girls nearly fall from a lift high above the surface. When Yuu gets gobbled up and whisked away. Every time this happens I suddenly realize that these two girls are, for all we know, the last humans in this strange world. The times we spend with them are entertaining because there are people to share these experiences. If two become one, then the world seems a much more threatening place.

It’s interesting how this combination, the ever-serious Chi and the always-upbeat Yuu, became everything to me in this show. At the start of the season, I thought the limited cast a potential problem. Unlike in Kino’s Journey, there were usually no other humans to bounce ideas off of, no conflicts to rival their own. There were just the opinions of two young girls. Chi and Yuu proved me wrong. Girls’ Last Tour enchanted me from start to finish and, while I don’t think it’s for everyone, is certainly up there among my favorite anime of the year.

Rating: 2 dango

Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World – The Animated Series

It’s a sad, sad day when something I care about gets remade, especially when the final product makes me doubt my nostalgia for the original. That’s exactly what this 2017 version of Kino’s Journey did. I stared at my high rating for the 2003 series and was tempted to knock down the score out of sheer disbelief in my sanity. But I held off. Someday after the bitter taste of this season fades I’ll go back and rewatch the original series. Maybe I’ll re-rate it, and maybe I won’t.

The real kicker about the 2017 remake, though? A bit like the fourth season of Hell Girl, there are entire episodes that re-tell the same stories from 2003, like “Coliseum,” and “Land of Adults.” Instead of taking us on wholly new journeys from start to finish, we backtrack for the protagonist’s history and a cool gunfight. Part of me understands the decision to do this. Here we have a Kino for a new generation, where a whole new audience can fall in love with the journey and Kino and Hermes’ experiences in countries strange and terrifying. Kino’s origin story gives the viewer satisfaction about a protagonist who largely keeps confidence only with Hermès the motorrad. We can make more grounded assumptions about why Kino is Kino, and see where Hermes entered the picture. But I also don’t think it completely necessary. There are other days early in their journey I would have liked to see, where Kino is still perhaps unsure about traveling. The same effect of satisfaction may not have been present, but I trust a capable writer could have created a scene of equal merit.

I concede that the visuals of 2017 Kino’s Journey look much more polished; however, there are certain frames burned into my mind that I wish I could forget. I struggle to think of an anime in recent memory with such a bad final episode. As much as I hate to say it, I would have preferred “Land of Adults” end the series rather than what we got. There were some decent stories interspersed throughout the season, and even some I thought very good, but I could never get away from my feeling of injustice and disappointment.

Rating: 0 dango

Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau

If you look back on my initial impressions of Children of the Whales, you’ll see the hope that sparkled in my eyes. I thought we had been gifted a work of art to rival Land of the Lustrous and Girls’ Last Tour. Instead, this anime proved to be an exercise in poor pacing.

In only twelve episodes, we are immersed in a fantastical world where instead of water, we have sand. The Mud Whale wanders uncontrollably, its people die young, and not even death gives them permission to cry. Before we can even really get to know the characters—their dreams, fears, and personal quirks—they’re nearly wiped out by a foreign group of people who wield an inexplicable hatred for our barely known cast. Several battles are fought and countless people die, and I know I’m supposed to feel something, anything. Except I feel more like the villains whose emotions have been conveniently sucked away in exchange for their powers. All of this and so much more is crammed into twelve episodes, which is enough to make me want to shake the writers for their ridiculous ambition.

As beautiful as Children of the Whales looked from start to finish, there was no denying the rushed conflict, the forced drama, and the shallow character writing. That doesn’t mean I don’t like this show, because I do. I love the look and the idea of this world and its people. I wanted it to improve. If a sequel comes out, I will watch it. But I’ll still look back on my feelings from now and remember my regret in what could have been.

Rating: 0 dango

Animegataris

Animegataris—a show about anime that’s so bad, it’s actually quite good. I do mean that sincerely. Lots of comedies try to reference other works, but often seem more like that lame friend we all know who thinks he’s funnier than he actually is. In contrast, Animegataris is actually pretty damn humorous. I frequently found myself impressed by the level to which the show dedicated itself in name dropping show after show from recent anime seasons to the medium’s very beginning. Everything we bloggers use to review anime, the good and the bad, makes an appearance in some shape or form. If Shirobako is the story about creating anime every fan should watch, then Animegataris is the story about anime fans we need to see to hold ourselves accountable for our ridiculous standards.

Not everything is shits and giggles, though, and I certainly didn’t give this anime a 10/10. You could argue that the repeated threat to the Anime Club’s existence is a joke in itself, but I couldn’t help but get tired of the formula. The constant stream of references can start to sound like filler. And the ending, THAT ending, still boggles my mind. Granted, I was smack in the middle of one of the worst sinus infections I’ve ever had when I finished the series, but I know it couldn’t have been just me feeling like I was high on way too much anime by the last two episodes. Part of me wants to rewatch the last half of the show to see if my fuzzy head warped my appreciation for the writing, but the more sane part assures me that my memory is correct and I should let Animegataris go.

Then again, I just showed the first episode to my husband and now he wants to see the rest.

Rating: 1 dango

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9 thoughts on “Fall 2017 Season Wrap: Girls’ Last Tour, Kino’s Journey, Children of the Whales, & Animegataris

  1. Something about Kino (2017) that puts the whole thing in a different light – the stories were chosen not by the production staff, but by fan poll. Creatively speaking, the series started out with both feet and one hand stuck in a bucket of cement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now that you mention it, I think I did hear that somewhere along the line earlier in the season. I guess that just goes to show creators shouldn’t pander too much to fans, since we don’t have a full view of project and its vision.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It works in some places, Love Live Sunshine had a huge amount of fan involvement. But most places, esp where there’s broad scope or significant character change, not so much.

        Like

  2. I never did up watching Animegataris, but I’m in complete agreement with you on Girls’ Last Tour, Kino’s Journey, and Children of the Whales. The former wasn’t perfect but packed a decent emotional wallop the entire way through, and the latter two were just plain disappointing – not so much in terms of plot or even characters but in terms of execution. Children of the Whales especially looked spectacular and I think started off incredibly promisingly, but petered out fast after the first handful of episodes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, as much as I loved GLT, I know it’s definitely not something I can recommend to just anybody. I know there are people out there who would hate it.

      Children of the Whales still fascinates me even now. It was easily one of the best looking shows of the season, yet still failed. I wish the creators would just start over with the same visual team.

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      • Thinking back, Children of the Whales was actually my favourite premiere of the whole season, so it was doubly disappointing to me at just how much it floundered after those initial few episodes.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I actually enjoyed Kino’s Journey, but I’ve never seen the other series. So I really thought it was fine, from start to finish. I didn’t feel like it was beholden to any particular order, it just told random stories throughout, and that was fine. Some were better than others, some were not as good, but in general it was fine and enjoyable.

    Girls Last Tour was good, but frequently had me nodding off. I found myself distracted by the things that you need to tell yourself “Just let it go”, like that there’s no way they actually had enough food, and how many things were going to poison or sicken them. But in general just thinking of them as rather superhuman helped with that.

    I enjoyed Anime-Gataris well enough as well, but it gave me the impression that it was trying to be a bit too clever quite a few times. And yeah, the repeated “NOW we’re going to shut down the anime club” boomerang plot did get tired. I really liked that Minoa kept a great perspective throughout: It’s fun and it’s important, but it’s not nothing and it’s not all-encompassing.

    I gave up on Whales after 2 episodes. When that crazy person showed up with absolutely no restraint, I was like “Yeah, don’t need to watch this.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think I would have been as harsh on Kino’s Journey if I had not seen the original series. I know I would have still been skeptical of Kino’s so-called off hands approach and still hated that last episode for the most part, but my aversion to recycling certain episodes wouldn’t have existed. So I can understand how others can still enjoy the show.

      I could have sworn when first watching GLT that my husband would fall asleep within minutes of the first episode, and somehow he loved it. Like you, I was appalled when they ate that odd-looking fish that was in the water for who the hell knows how long. But yes, perhaps this is so far into the future that humans have been modified with iron stomachs.

      Regarding Whales, I was right there with you on the crazy kid. I couldn’t understand how someone who obviously retained his emotions was a part of this emotionless enemy nation. That’s actually explained at the end, along with some interesting details about the country itself and some of its people who circumvent the laws. It’s a shame they couldn’t have included that earlier in the series for better context of who these people are, but I can see how the creators might think that would “ruin” the horror of the initial slaughter.

      Like

      • I really didn’t have that bad a reaction to the last episode of Kino. It wasn’t as good as Land of Adults, but it just seemed like an “eh” episode to me. I can understand not wanting to see the same story again (on top of the ridiculousness of the whole universe, this is what cheeses me off about the whole Index-Railgun franchise; they just tell the same story again and again), but it also was over a decade since those came out.

        For Whales, I couldn’t be bothered to stick around watching a pointless murder show long enough to care about why there are some amoral criminals tolerated in society. But on top of that, a lot of the time I really don’t care about the reasoning. I didn’t care about it in Psycho-Pass, and frankly I felt that it ruined that whole show for the sake of a cheap horror moment (which sounds similar to your description of Whales).

        Liked by 1 person

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