Still Too Much Anime!
Alright, the Spring 2021 season was stacked, and after taking a closer look, I realized I watched a pretty big chunk of the shows. Rather than do a bunch of individual reviews, I thought it’d be fun to do a best and worst of list featuring five shows for their respective categories. Today I’m looking at the shows that left a bad taste in my mouth or otherwise missed their mark, along with why I thought this was the case. You’ll likely disagree with some of these, and if you do, that’s fine! I’m glad some folks enjoyed some of these shows, even if I don’t agree. Of course, just like last time, let me know what would have made your list in the comments below.
Before we jump into the list, just wanted to explain what criteria was used to determine what got to appear on the list. The big rule was that the show had to air in part, or in full, during the Spring 2021 season. Other than that, I had to actually watch the show to completion, so you won’t see anything I only watched an episode for or shows I simply didn’t watch at all. I watched a majority of the shows sans some sequels to things I didn’t watch originally, so I would consider this fairly comprehensive. Order is my personal tastes which factor enjoyment, production/animation/sound, and a few other more minor variables roughly in that order. Again, if you disagree, feel free to make your own list in response or tell me your list in the comments below.
5. Joran The Princess of Snow and Blood
Have you ever looked at a show and known instantly that it was going to be unique and that you knew you needed to watch it? That’s my experience with Joran. By all means, this should have been a good show, I mean, just a glance at the promotional art alone is enough to convey that, but after watching it….
In my Discord, I described this as 75% of a good show, with the missing 25% being the vital bits. I’m paraphrasing a bit, but that’s about how everything shakes out. Most of the time it looks good, has nice music, and the story’s concept is sound. What kills it is any sense of pacing, which is to say, it doesn’t have any. Character motivations switch at the drop of the hat (even if they make sense, it still feels really weird), and at the end of it all, nearly the entirety of the plot could have been avoided. Impossibly, the plot is also a garbled mess, completely comprehensible, but lacking in any real logic for why or when anything occurs on screen.
To give you an idea of the story, it’s about a woman named Sawa who is basically an assassin for the corrupt government. Oh, civil unrest is at an all time high, but that is TOTALLY unimportant (no seriously, the show says it but it really doesn’t matter at all even though a whole episode is devoted to this). She’s in the game to get revenge after her family is killed in front of her, something her mentor promises he can help her achieve. This is good. Where it gets muddy is that there are also demon people? She’s also a demon person, but a special demon person, everyone wants her blood to make super soldiers or whatever. During a mission Sawa saves a little girl and decides she wants out, things go badly… or do they?!? Then some obvious twists happen and the show kind of just ends tragically because it had to, even though there was no reason for it. Like I said, it all makes sense, sort of, but…
I really wanted to like this one so it pains me to put this on the list. However, it’s boring, the lack of pacing and presentation of the story beats is off-putting at best, made worse by the fact that it’s just kind of dumb. This might sound kind of rude, but it also felt like a huge joke when Joran confidently announced a second season, as if it had it in the bag, but I’m skeptical it will ever get one. This was clearly someone’s pet project that, under better circumstances, really could have been an underground success, but the reality is that this one is fated to fall to obscurity. In short, I wouldn’t watch it.
4. Moriarty the Patriot
A couple of caveats on this one, when I put Moriarty on the list I did so solely for its second half. I actually liked the first half, and even then, this second half is only about half terrible. If taken on the whole, it would be lower on the list, or not even at all. Decided on this position because at least Joran was an original story and took some chances, they didn’t pay off, but it tried. With this, it left a bad taste in my mouth and filled me with immeasurable disappointment.
Before I get into my complaints, look at Moriarty and watch the opening for the first half.
Good, you done that? Now look at this picture of the Count of Monte Cristo from the anime of the same name.
What do they have in common? That’s right, both of these people are framed like vampires but neither of them are! Seriously, I’ve never seen a guy framed so hard as a vampire who isn’t one since Count of Monte Cristo.
I mention this because I actually think the show would have been a lot better if he were just a vampire and they leaned into the absolute insanity that they decided Moriarty needed to have. The plot is about him wanting to dismantle the wealth inequality in London and give the people rights, so wouldn’t it have been better if he did that by literally eating the rich? I’ll tell you one thing, it would have played well in today’s market.
Instead, the show has Moriarty taking down his fellow noblemen by pinning crimes on them or by straight up murdering them, well sort of, he usually does this by getting somebody else to do it if not the nobleman themselves. This part of the show is pretty good. Holmes gets involved, and the back-and-forth is what one would expect. Where it goes off the rails is at the introduction of Irene Adler. Suddenly a bunch of weird (and largely irrelevant) plots are introduced, Irene becomes, and I’m not joking here, “James Bonde”, complete with an “e” to tell you she’s a woman, and at the end of all that, she just fades away into obscurity, her character doesn’t even matter. Furthermore, Moriarty just makes baffling decisions. He’s supposed to be smart, but by the end, his schemes are almost incoherently stupid.
The world of Sherlock Holmes adaptations are weird, and I appreciate more inventive approaches. While, Moriarty isn’t unique necessarily, following that tale from the villain’s perspective should have been great. At least one good thing came of this though, and that comes in the form of me learning about the weird copyrights on some of the Holmes stories. However, that’s a story for another time, and undoubtedly one that’s better than whatever this mess ended up being.
3. Vivy – Fluorite Eye’s Song-
I’m well aware of the popularity that Vivy has in the community, and while I can certainly see why it had such a great reception, it doesn’t stop it from appearing on this list. Since Re:Zero author, Tappei Nagatsuki, is the one who penned this original story, this hardly surprises me. In many ways Vivy features the most annoying aspects from Re:Zero without any of the occasional charm that one came with.
On paper this is a good story for those of you unfamiliar. Vivy is an android tasked with bringing a smile to everyone’s faces through the power of song. She struggles to identify what singing with “all your heart” means, a driving force for a lot of the narrative through lines. One day though, an AI from the future visits her and she must now save humanity from a disaster in the far future. The tale spans 100 years or so, as Vivy attempts to use her songs to save humanity.
It’s an oversimplification of the plot, but that’s the general idea. To Vivy’s credit, the music is easily the best part of the series and one thing I can say I earnestly enjoyed. If it had just been about an android using the power of song to save the world, I would have liked it a lot more. What complicates things is the time altering, pseudo time travel garbage.
Practically every arc of Vivy goes the same way. A crisis is going to happen, Vivy needs to stop it, terrorists show up, Vivy also needs to stop them, she attempts to save everyone against the advice of her AI partner, she inevitably goes off-script, the timeline is “fixed”, but some unforeseen wrinkle occurs. Rinse and repeat.
It’s irritating because in the early episodes the audience is told that X is the problem, but the whole show is spent ignoring this problem in favor of solving every other variable first instead of the constant. It doesn’t really make sense, and surprise, it doesn’t work. Additionally, all of this isn’t helped by the fact that the writing for the individual stories just isn’t that good.
I do like the dub trailer though, Matsumoto is much more tolerable
At best, they are predictable/boring, and at worst, they actively hurt the overall narrative. I feel like I’m starting to write a proper review here, but that’s how irritating this whole anime was for me. The characters were frustrating, the plots weak, and at the end of it all, I don’t think it really justifies any of its core ideas. Robots v humans, and discrimination of this fashion has been done countless times, the time altering concept too. I wanted this to be good, the framework is there, but in the end it just doesn’t work. Again, I can see why people like this but for me it was a huge flop.
Contrasting what I just wrote, going to keep this one fairly simple. I took a look at this recently alongside another Netflix series, Trese. Really, both of those could slot here pretty easily even if Trese is the better show. If you want the full story there, just click this link. The short version: it’s a mess. Only 6 episodes long, all over the place, and caught up in needlessly referencing a ton of pop culture in neglect of its own story. A shame because it has unique selling points that should have been the focus instead of what we got.
Honorable Mention – Wonder Egg Priority Special
The only reason Wonder Egg Priority’s special isn’t in the number one spot is because I didn’t think it was fair to put a single episode of something ahead of a full show. Yes, this is really that bad, it’s the only TV anime I’ve given a 1/10 to. However, it really is just the special this applies to.
Wonder Egg itself has its moments, and aside from the baffling final few episodes coupled with this special, is a pretty good show. I wasn’t confident that this special would “save” the series, or even offer a satisfying conclusion, but it was so much worse than I could have imagined. At about 45 minutes long, 25 of those minutes is dedicated recap, the rest introducing a bunch of ridiculous plot points (out of thin air), MORE recap, and then it just says “the end”.
That’s the end, this image right here…
A waste of time, money, and talents. Absolutely one of the biggest stains on the industry in modern memory. One good thing to come from it is the heighted awareness that the anime industry is overworked and underpaid, with far too much production at an unsustainable level. Even still, to see it come at a sacrifice of promising ideas, really sucks.
In any case, it was bad. I thought it was an exaggeration, tried to find the good in this, literally couldn’t. So again, if it weren’t for the fact that this is a single episode, it’d easily take the number one spot but I gave it the HM in service of keeping the list consistent.
1. I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level
We’ve arrived at the end of the list, and while I did enjoy some episodes of this ridiculously long titled anime, henceforth referred to as 300 Year Slime, it was the series I absolutely loathed watching week-to-week. Everything else above, while I didn’t like them, weren’t series I wanted to just up and drop. 300 Year Slime came close, a lot.
Woman is overworked, she dies, gets reincarnated into an easy life as an immortal 17-year-old witch, title, and profit… right? The first episode was already enough to have me hesitate in the show’s quality and where I wanted to stop. However, for some unknown reason, my friend convinced me to give this one another episode (big mistake). After introducing the first dragon girl, episode two dives right into a plot about the main character’s slime loli daughters. Obviously I liked that episode, and decided to forge ahead!
What follows is a continuous flow of character introductions every episode, with each character (mostly) becoming worse-and-worse (read annoying) as the main character’s whole philosophy slowly whittles away in service of becoming a generic “comedy” slice of life thing that also wants to toss a little fanservice your way too. I really didn’t like it.
I have a policy of not dropping anything I formally pick up, and not for that, I would have dropped this in a hurry. Now, if you liked this show, great, power to you, I can see some good stuff in here, but man was it rough for me to watch. Even in the top position, I did still find some joy in the show, but my soul was very tired after it was finished. The series set this kind of expectation that we were going to be this slower, comfy show with some more bombastic comedy here-and-there to keep it interesting. We kind of get that, but due to the continuous flow of new characters and the actual plots of each episode, the experience lacks any real breathing room or reason to like any of its characters.
The final nail in the proverbial coffin was when the Demon Lord loli got introduced. At first, I kind of liked her, but she quickly wore thin, and worse yet, made the show kind of uncomfortable. Her whole schtick is that she wants the main character to be her older sister, it’s meant to be funny, but it’s so painfully obvious that the main character is NOT comfortable with this. The implication of the episode is if she DOESN’T do this, the Demon King will kill all her friends and family, which I don’t like. Not to mention the general uncomfortableness that is generated by how pushy this character actually is.
From that point on, the show also got a lot bolder with its fanservice. This got to the point where it would introduce a plot just to give characters an excuse to get naked randomly. Take the episode where they need to hunt boars or whatever, then the one dragon character just randomly rips off all her clothes, and that becomes half the episode. I just don’t get what was going on here. It wasn’t funny, mostly, it was just awkward.
I never watched this trailer and it’s, uh, not very good but it’s the official trailer so enjoy I guess…
Thankfully the Spider Isekai voice actress does voice the main character here (once you hear that, you can’t unhear that), so some energy is pumped into the show in that regard. The few plots I did like were ones I think nobody would be surprised in, but even then didn’t offer much. Too many characters, not enough breathing room, the abandonment of the core idea, and the comedy just not working was a fatal combination that just made this one a chore.
That does it for the worst of Spring 2021. Be sure to check out my best list if you missed that and let me know what made your lists in the comments below. If you enjoy my work please consider a donation via the buttons below. As always, thanks for reading and see you on the next one!