Did you have a fun year?

By the time this has been posted, the holidays will have all been over. We will be worn out from food, drink and excess anime watching/manga/light novel reading. I always like to keep my holidays quiet, and this one was no different.

Beginning with Kino’s Journey, which is finally over.

I use the word ‘finally’ as it has actually been quite a ride following this for 3 months, and not necessarily in a good way.

Kino’s Journey is doomed to have one of those ‘What I saw/What I expected/What I got’ memes hanging over it for eternity.

What I saw: Cute tomboy and her talking motor-rad travelling from country to country in a sea of colour.

What I expected: A simple road story with some action along the way.

What I got: Sociopathy, despair, misanthropy, dread and death.

While the final episode ends on a relatively positive note, the entire show itself has been one long essay in how humanity can be such a terrible thing, and that we (with our primitive human emotions) are capable of destroying ourselves over the tiniest of things. Kino has traveled from country to country, meeting characters like Shizu, Riku and Ti, and the show has passed by characters like Sakura and Photo…each character represents the good and bad sides of humanity, from the kind and thoughtful to the silent, methodical and sociopathic. I’m not totally sure if the writers of this remake/rebuild of the original Kino’s Journey had despair on the mind whilst writing this, but you can’t deny that they wanted to stick very closely to the original script, and bringing the characters to the present day and showing us all of their good and bad sides has, to be honest, depressed the hell out of me.

Episode 2 has a very apt scene that sums up Kino herself: after being stopped by border guards who mock her believing she is weak and only has a cute face and adorable green eyes as her redeeming factors, she whips out her modified pistol in a split-second. That episode, in particular, proves to us how uncaring Kino can actually be, when she wins the gladiatorial contest, and creates a battle royale law, in effect forcing the country’s population to kill each other off.

The show itself looked pretty, and I will admit that Kino’s adorable face made me have a tiny crush on her, but Kino’s Journey is a very depressing watch…when it didn’t really need to be.

Land of the Lustrous chose to end at this point too, and its finale has given us one thing: Phos’ journey is by no means over, so a second season is as good as guaranteed.

With Phos growing more and more suspicious of Master Kongo, they decide to confide in the reawakened Padparadscha, who tells them that they were as much of a troublemaker as they were in their youth, and so offers a piece of old gem advice: trust no-one.

After a Lunarian attack leads to Phos doing something on-the-spot (having forgotten their sword) and attempting to capture a Lunarian alive, they learn they are not the emotionless figures they are made out to be, and are capable of communication. Taking the advice from Padparadscha though, Phos decides to not report it and turns to the only one they feel they can confide in: Cinnabar.

It was a bit of a surprise to see this season end so abruptly though, leaving us with a lot of things unanswered. Will Phos team up with Cinnabar properly? Will the other jewel people even welcome Cinnabar back to the school? What is Master Kongo hiding? Will the jewel people ever be able to communicate with the Lunarians? Will Bort ever find a suitable partner now that Dia has accepted they are better off not working together? Will we see more of Padparadscha?

Studio Orange would be very foolish to just end this here. Land of the Lustrous has developed such a loyal fan following in the space of three months; more if you count the readers of the manga. I for one would love to see Phos back in action; the end of the episode was a tiny nod at them looking back at their past self…a more reckless, selfish and thoughtless jewel. Meeting Cinnabar, being resurrected from a snail, losing their limbs, meeting Antarcticite, taking their place when they go, and now discovering that Master Kongo is not a pariah he has been made out to be…I actually want to see more, and this guy who is too lazy to read the manga is a little impatient, for once. Land of the Lustrous has also made sure to put Amazon and HIDIVE on the map. Everyone’s mainstay, Crunchyroll, could have easily picked this show up and it would have received as much fanfare, but by acquiring the license early, Amazon/HIDIVE have shown us that they are very serious about getting the rights for high-quality shows, thereby influencing the viewer to subscribe. A pain for some who don’t want a second anime streaming subscription, but with shows like Land of the Lustrous, it’s worth it.

Season 2 of Love Live! Sunshine!! isn’t quite done yet, but I can more or less see where this show will end up going, which is a bit of a shame.

Aqours arrive in Tokyo for the Love Live finals, although episode 12 is essentially a “look at us, we’ve come so far” episode. Call me a sap for missing the filler episodes, when this journey to win Love Live was the main plot, and it’s weird that, when it finally arrives, I don’t actually feel anything…or rather, I don’t feel the hype like I am expected to.

Chika, Riko, You, Yoshiko, Hanamaru, Ruby, Dia, Kanan and Mari all have varied redeeming qualities, but the nine girls are still essentially split into three groups: first, second and third years. Ships are, for the most part, all kept in their respective years (ie. Chika x Riko, Yoshiko x Hanamaru, Kanan x Mari), even though this season introduced the Yoshiko x Riko ship, which actually works, although we all know Riko only has eyes for her Chika. ‎μ’s had the same three groups, but they at least had a strong chemistry as a 9-girl group, whereas the Aqours girls don’t quite have the same chemistry.

I think Love Live! Sunshine!! warrants a second watch (as in both seasons together) in order for me to get the same feels as I did with ‎μ’s…that is unless a movie has already been decided…and I would not actually be surprised if that happens, as we have not yet touched on Dia, Kanan and Mari’s graduation, or the actual closing of the school.

So…my top five shows for 2017:

  1. Little Witch Academia (Trigger) (Available on Netflix)
  2. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (Kyoto Animation) (Available on Crunchyroll)
  3. Land of the Lustrous (Orange) (Available on Amazon & HIDIVE)
  4. Saga of Tanya The Evil (NUT) (Available on Crunchyroll)
  5. Love & Lies (Liden Films) (Available on Amazon & HIDIVE)

I know there have been a lot of highly-rated shows I’ve missed, and would likely be ranked in the top five; my only excuse is that I missed the chance to catch them this year. Shows like Made In Abyss, Girls’ Last Tour, Princess Principal, Anime-Gataris, Recovery of an MMO Junkie and Tsuki ga Kirei.

At least I managed to save myself from Eromanga sensei before it was too late, although I know the others at OASG are never going to let that one slide.

What turned out to be your favorite anime series of 2017?