March (Anime) Comes In Like a Lion,
July Comes in Like a Storm! . . . Of Emotions!
By: Head Writer – J.R Tafoya
Hello again, Giga-Landers! J.R here again with another patented (?) anime review for this past season of Spring anime!
This season had a lot of really good anime, so I hope you have a lot of free time to watch! While things like Renai Boukun and Hinako Note were cute and fun to watch, we also had things like Busou Shoujo to round out our martial arts needs. Sadly, our second season of Attack on Titan was fairly disappointing and left much to be desire, but that’s where this article comes in!
This time I take a look at three of my favorite anime that ended this Spring! We’ve finally come to the end of Studio Trigger’s Little Witch Academia that was extremely fun to watch and whimsical to boot. Following up was an emotional family tale that was WorldEnd, which may have been bitter-sweet, but beautiful nonetheless. Finally was Grimoire of Zero which ended up being a fantasy that was pulled along by an adorable pairing and a very well-rounded world. All bringing together a strong season of anime, there’s definitely a lot to watch this past season!
If you’re the kind to wait until the end of a season to know which ones are good so you can binge-watch them all, then look no further! As the wind beneath your wings, I welcome you to read on and be amazed at how astonishingly good these anime (and maybe my writing) are!
Little Witch Academia
Verdict: FINALLY! A Win For Studio Trigger! –
Most people remember Little Witch Academia originally aired a few years ago at Anime Expo which was just a short one-shot animation. It captured the hearts and minds of so many people for a lot of reasons but whether or not we’d get a full-fledged anime out of it was TBD. Thankfully, as of this previous winter, Little Witch was given it’s own 2-cour anime and finally received the love and devotion it deserved!
True to its one-shot counterpart, the new anime is whimsical, loveable, and absolutely ridiculous on all ends. However, the biggest and probably only change is our heroine Akko. As a child, Akko was inspired by a Witch known as “Shiny Chariot”. Having seen one of her amazing shows, Akko was enamoured with the prospect of becoming a witch just like Chariot so she could make people all over the world smile. However, unlike her one-shot counterpart, Akko doesn’t exactly have a gift for magic. Unable to use even simple spells like riding a broom, Akko seems desperately lost until she’s somehow chosen by the “Shiny Rod” which belonged to none other than Shiny Chariot herself. With her two friends, Lotte and Sucy, Akko sets out to find out why she has the Shiny Rod, and why friendship (and yuri-shipping) will save not only her, but the world.
To be frank, Little Witch Academia was not only my favorite Studio Trigger anime to date, but the only one I actually liked. So take that as you will (probably with a grain of salt). What I think is the biggest selling point for Little Witch is just how damn whimsical it is. Neither here nor there, but many places at once, Akko runs into all kinds of adventures from week to week. It wasn’t only funny, but some episodes had me choking down tears while we learned about other characters’ backstories (Constanze best girl). It never felt like it was trying to be something more than it was: a show about love, friendship, and being REALLY bad at magic.
That’s not to say it doesn’t have some serious moments as well. The entire point of the show isn’t just about Akko’s (terribly) slow maturation into a respectable witch, it’s also about how she changes the people around her. Akko is serious about being carefree and lives her life how she wants, when she wants. Her dreams are everything to her and it often hurt emotionally to watch other people crap all over her, just for having dreams. But, when she finds the strength to stand back up, even when her closest friends doubt her, I can’t help but root for the poor girl even if I know she’s going to botch something in the end.
The show itself takes a fanciful approach to storytelling as well. It introduces several different characters and jumps from person to person while explaining their backstory through standard anime tropes: flashbacks or exposition. However, that whimsy works in its favor as introduces several different types of stories, none of which really feel out of place because, well, everything was already all over the place to begin with. The main story, what the Shiny Rod is and what being chosen by it entails, almost takes a backseat to all the fun you should be having from episode to episode. While it’s prevalent in the second half of the show, the overarching story is usually only explained in tiny details near the end of every episode. In fact, the only time the story really, truly tries to push a 100% serious story is when Akko’s teacher/tutor, Ursula, is involved. Hell, even the finale was more fun than it was serious. So much so that I caught myself cheering for Akko and her
yuri-ship friend Diana as they fought a giant shape-shifting missile guided by hatred and proceeded to win with the power of love and friendship.
While the show is amazing, and I personally love it, Little Witch tends to shoehorn a lot of characters into the plot and completely bypass others. Hell, one of the nine witches at the end didn’t have any backstory whatsoever! Another character by the name of Andrew had a recurring role in the show, but he was never really fleshed out as a character and seemed like he was there more as a tool to make Akko grow. And also for shipping purposes, let’s not forget that.
All in all, Little Witch Academia is most definitely worth your time. While things like Inou-Battle or the acclaimed Kill la Kill were both funny and fairly popular, both of them had serious flaws that drove them into a pit of mixed reviews. Kill la Kill ended up being highly infuriating with it’s predictable storyline and MC, while Inou-Battle took itself much too seriously and tried to be too many things at once. Little Witch finds a fantastic medium in which to tell its own story, and sticks to that. With all of that included, the big “Studio Trigger Twist” at the end was nigh unpredictable and amazing to boot.
If you want something fun and whimsical to watch, a fairly good cast of characters to grow with, and a show that never really takes itself too seriously, I highly recommend watching this anime. I have to admit, the soundtrack was just absolutely stellar as well! It made the show just that much more enjoyable and brings a new life to the anime as a whole. The character development might be a little slow and some of the plot points might be fairly obvious, but you’ll be glad you watched this show when you realize how much fun you’re having.
Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka?
(WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?)
Verdict: Good Husband, Great Dad –
If you remember my shameless plug – I mean – article from back in the day, you’ll know that I think that this anime has a really long name. Also, that I went in with no expectations and got something much better than your run-of-the-mill anime starring little girls with strong powers.
After a fairly grim-dark cold open, Shuumatsu leads us into the life off Willem, a (hu)man tasked with taking care of an orphanage full of young fairies. However, fairies in this world are used more as weapons than anything else. Though they look like young girls their powers are immense, even allowing them to wield legendary weapons used to defeat the scourge of their planet. Their biggest weapon, though, comes from their overuse of magic. When that happens, their bodies basically become living weapons in a way that doesn’t benefit anyone except for the people watching from far away. Nevertheless, these girls, not even in their late teens, are bred to fight and die in a war without any end in sight.
This unnatural mixture of a man finding his home and trying to take care of little girls bred for the sake of dying, military tactics, and love sprouting outside the battlefield led to a genuinely good story that never really felt forced until the final couple episodes. While Willem was good enough to stave off advances from a 15yr old fairy for a large portion of the show, it’s genuinely hard not to root for the poor girl, let alone root for their relationship to eventually blossom. The romance aside, the overarching story was amazing to boot. The demise of Willem’s race and how the monsters that destroyed them came to be was an incredibly compelling story that had my wrapped around its finger the entire series long. The best part of the show is how it didn’t need to blatantly tell you what happened to the humans during the big reveal, you’re given enough information to draw that conclusion on your own. And believe me, it’s worth the effort to get there.
The only real problem with the show is the pacing and how it forces the watcher to make a lot of assumptions on what specific words mean, while not explaining much of it as the show goes on. Shuumatsu definitely takes its time telling a good story, but at the cost of a couple things certain watchers might prefer; fighting, for instance. There are very few fights in this anime, the most being in the final two episodes. Instead, we take the point-of-view of Willem, the one waiting for his kids to come home from war. But, this works extremely well in two ways: 1) It’s puts us in Willem’s shoes and makes us feel the same kind of helplessness that he does and it really adds to the suspense of the show, and the feel of satisfaction when certain characters make it back. 2) Most anime would jump at the chance to show you all the fighting. Not being able to see the skirmishes puts you in the a different state of mind for almost the entire show that genuinely helps tell a different, better, story as a whole.
While it’s incredibly slow, and certain episodes are very philosophical and even existential (something that I thought was actually a benefit to the show), Shuumatsu isn’t for everyone. If you’re more into the fantasy shows that are all about fighting, T&A, and fighting the “Evil Demon King”, you’ll be sorely disappointed with how this plays out. But, if you want a strong familial story with a main character that learns to open his broken heart, a cute romance, and a compelling thought-out world and history I will highly recommend watching this anime. It leaves off with hope for a season two, but even if that doesn’t happen it ended in a way that still made it feel right. You’re gonna carry those feels.
Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho
(Grimoire of Zero)
Verdict: Tiger & Witch . . . -y –
Well, in my initial article, I did mention that I would be getting a couple “HNNNG”s out of this show, and I was definitely right (for once)!
As a quick overview, if you didn’t read my initial reviews article, which you should (or I hate you), the titular Zero is an extremely powerful witch known for writing the “Grimoire of Zero” and spreading magic throughout the kingdom. She had met up with our main character, the Mercenary, and contracted him to guard her until she could recover the Grimoire of Zero which had been stolen from her while she was locked in her home/cave. Mercenary, who is extremely keen on hiding his name from us, is a “Beastfallen” – a human born with the spirit of an animal inside of him. That animal? A bengal freakin’ tiger. So we can at least assume that he’s as strong as he looks.
The overarching story is always about the two of them searching for the Grimoire of Zero that had been stolen by Zero’s compatriot to bring witchcraft to the common folk and about the war between the Church and Witches. What we find out, though, is how that magic had affected the lives of every person living within the kingdom. We never stop to think about how much our lives would change if, just randomly, one day magic was introduced into our society. Would people use it to better their lives and make living more simple? Or would they become more hateful and cause harm to the innocent people unable to use such wonders?
The show goes to great lengths to explore how such things not only affect the common man, but the world at large and no matter how innocent and loving Zero’s intentions, people will always use what they can to get ahead. While the matters of Church vs Witches takes to the forefront for the largest portion its run, the show does well to straddle the middle line between both, letting us know that neither side is right, but not guilty for defending itself against their aggressors. In a sea of anime that seem intent on telling you what’s “good” and “bad”, Grimoire of Zero definitely deserves some props for exploring a different point-of-view on what “war” is.
Like I mentioned in my earlier article, I genuinely love the character interactions in the show but it does suffer from some pacing issues throughout its run. The relationship between Zero and Mercenary isn’t just cute, it’s something that pushes the story along at an acceptable pace. Zero is extremely open about how she feels about her Mercenary, going so far as to even propose they stay together forver. But, the Mercenary, knowing his line of work and past, isn’t so quick to let emotions sway his actions. We learn later on, after the two are split apart for a few episodes, just how awfully the Beastfallen are treated in his world. His emotions toyed with by cute girls and pitted against his own kind for the sake of “making it easier” on everyone else, it’s heartbreaking to watch someone who only wants to do good deep down, be crushed under foot so often. The whole ordeal makes it easy to understand why he acts so “tsundere” and defensive for a large portion of the show.
Those few episodes when the main two are split apart do cause the show to falter in that it takes away its own titular character and source of real entertainment. Even after they get together again, the antagonist has a change of heart that takes place within seconds and generally doesn’t feel like it makes sense in the story. One might think they were pressed for time and may have rushed an ending to either fit in the time frame, or skipped out on some important details to fit it all within 1-cour.
If you’re looking for a fantasy that focuses more on fighting and killing, you’d likely want to look elsewhere. However, if you’re looking for a fantasy that sets up a fantastic world, characters, and background I would love to recommend this show to you. The pacing might be all over the place, but the relationship and dialogue between Zero and her Mercenary really helps the show feel more real and makes the characters more likeable. I personally loved it and am hoping for another season. Zero got her own figure and Mobile Game for a reason!