What do you think Laozi's favorite anime would have been? Would he have preferred anime with warfare and politics or would he have been more of a moé Slice of Life fan? Perhaps only the filthiest of hentai would do.
The Manga Was (Not) Better
Let's start with the fact that I didn't watch as much anime this year. I mean, I still watched a lot, but I also played some video games and read a handful of manga. Namely Blame!, Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Berserk, Made in Abyss, Battle Angel Alita, Crying Freeman, 20th Century Boys, and Dorohedoro. Whew!
So, let's talk about Shirow Masamune's Ghost in the Shell for a moment. As an anime-only fan up until this point, the first installment of the manga was certainly a surprise. It's got this light and goofy tone to it, not too dissimilar from Patlabor or Dominion Tank Police (also by Shirow Masamune), and the artwork is decidedly more late 80's, fully in-line with those other series. The GitS movie is a huge departure from the source material in this regard.
Basically, if all you've seen is the 1995 movie, you've never seen The Major make these faces before. And how about this Batou? The Stand Alone Complex series has a little bit of this playfulness, but it's toned way down by comparison, and mostly limited to the oft-silly Tachikoma.
Overall, I found the manga enjoyable and easy enough to follow. It's a competently written futuristic police story with a likable cast of characters. The frequent and occasionally verbose author's notes in the margins give the manga this air of hanging out with the author while he geeks out about his favorite things. It's fun.
The only real damper on my enjoyment was the episodic nature of it all. The chapters don't really have much to do with each other. The Puppet Master case - the one depicted in the movie - is introduced early on, then a lot of mostly unrelated things happen, until finally it returns to relevance at the end. I wish it were a more focused narrative.
But, after one reads Ghost in the Shell, the obvious follow-up is…Ghost in the Shell 1.5, which isn't as good as the first and not really of any note. Moving on…
If I were to sum up the Ghost in the Shell 2 manga in one word, it would be inscrutable. Somewhere between the hacking scenes in Hackers, and the Turboencabulator video, it legitimately reads like it was written with the Star Trek Technobabble Generator. So much of this manga is just jargon about viruses, reverse probes, maze stacks, attack barriers, and all manner of e-things; laid out over nude-looking women - with a real penchant for crotch shots - spread across stock-photo-looking "cyberspace" backgrounds.
When it's not this, it's panty shots in military bases and panty shots in office buildings. Oh, there's a section of panty shots in an alley while Motoko fights robots. GitS 2 feels like an unrelated project that got the Ghost in the Shell name slapped onto it so that it would sell.
I read Stand Alone Complex too, but let's move on.
Dorohedoro is of note for being the first time I've read a manga prior to watching the anime adaptation! Will they adapt the whole manga? Will it be any good? I'm excited to find out. I hope they manage to keep the humor, the grossness, and just the general ramshackle and disheveled feel of the world and its inhabitants.
As for the other things I read, Akira and Berserk were also quite good. Breezy. Engaging. Surprising. Enjoyable all around. I don't really have anything else to say about them, outside of wishing they'd make proper anime adaptations of both of them. Imagine it, a 75+ episode Akira series! What a thing it could be.
And now, a brief review of Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water…
That was a fart noise.
Remade With Love
Magical Circle Guru Guru. Holy shit. Did you watch this thing? It's good! Which brings me to the more general statement of:
I love bright colors.
I'm way into the clean, bright, highly-saturated look that some modern anime achieve, and Guru Guru is one of them. It's quite the appealing look to my eyes, and basically the best aspect of Concrete Revolutio next to the handful of excellent animation sequences. I'd seen a few gifs on Sakugabooru, only to watch the show and realize that those were basically it. There's like 5 really cool cuts and they're entirely conveyed in the few gifs floating around the net.
Getting back to remake talk though, perhaps it's also time to address Chi's Sweet Adventure, the 3D CG partial-remake-and-continuation of Chi's Sweet Home. A delightful show all-around that I generally find more enjoyable than its 2D predecessor. I think the Chi series translates perfectly into 3D. I've also found every iteration of the Chi series to be emotionally affecting at least a few times a season, something I wasn't anticipating when I started the series some years ago. Especially since it was a show I had watched a few episodes of many years prior and thought was absolutely not for me. I was wrong. These adorable kittens keep making me cry, man!
The standout story arc in Season 2 of Chi's Sweet Adventure, this year's installment, was the story of Kocchi; lovable stray and Chi's best friend. The arc follows Kocchi seeking out his long-lost younger brother before setting off on a train-hopping journey of self-discovery and acceptance, and it's good stuff. I want a season 3!
The Blog Blog Fruit
In my previous anime update I was 241 episodes into One Piece, about a third of the way through the Water Seven arc, which quickly turned into one of my favorite arcs, followed by Enies Lobby, another easy favorite. But it didn't stop there, Thriller Bark was also pretty good, and I even enjoyed the Spa Island filler, after which another high-point was reached with the Sabaody Archipelago arc. It's even good post-time skip, having just finished the Fishman Island arc! In short, the hits just kept on comin'!
I'm now up to episode 579, the start of the Punk Hazard Arc in the Dressrosa Saga, and you know, One Piece is really good. To think, I could have been watching this show for years before I did, and didn't mostly because of the unusual character designs. It just looked kinda dumb. Now that I'm onboard though, this train makes no stops. It's exciting to know I'm only 288 episodes away from catching up.
That said, I'm certainly feeling the adaptation stretch / slowdown. It doesn't bug me much, but who knows if things will stay that way. I wouldn't jump ship to the manga as it currently is, but I must now abandon the English dub if I wish to continue, as the well of English content has run dry. Fortunately, the Japanese dub sounds almost identical to me outside of a few characters, namely Franky and Brook. I think English dub Franky is superior, so I'll miss his gravelly gusto, but I have no strong feelings about the other Straw Hat voices.
Anyway, let's close the door on this blog with some numbers!
Some stats from my 2018 anime rampage:
- 51 TV Series.
- 21 Movies.
- 30 OVA.
- 8 ONA.
- 17 Specials.
- 01 Music.
- First of the Year: Devilman: Crybaby
- Last of the Year: Kuroko's Basketball: Last Game
- Longest series: Dragon Ball Kai (+ All Systems Goku!)
One Piece Progress: 578 episodes, 12 movies, 5 shorts, 3 OVA, & 8 Specials
- Aggressive Retsuko (Netflix version)
- Sukeban Deka (Yo-Yo Girl Cop)
- Magical Circle Guru Guru (2017)
- One Piece
- Gantz: Season 2
- Dragon Ball GT
- Shin Cutie Honey
Tearjerkers / Made Me Cry The Most:
- Chi's Sweet Adventure (Season 2)
- March Comes In Like A Lion (Season 2)
Biggest Surprises / Didn't Think I'd Like That:
- Agent AIKa
- Tobira wo Akete (Open The Door)
Most Disappointing / The Hype Is A Lie:
- Girls' Last Tour
- Nadia: Secret of Blue Water
- Fullmetal Alchemist (2003)
Started but not finished in 2018:
- Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind
I Watched It Because I Heard It Was Bad:
- Captain of Cosmos (Gundam knockoff)
- Super Kid (Dragon Ball knockoff)
- Iron Virgin Jun
- Roots Search
I also watched some great Not-Anime:
- Castlevania: Season 2
- Thunderbolt Fantasy
Other Series of Particular Note / Did You Watch ____________?! (this year):
A Place Further Than The Universe
Attack on Titan (Season 3)
B: The Beginning
Berserk (2016, season 1 and 2)
Cells At Work
Chio's School Road
Girls und Panzer
Haikyuu!! (Season 2 and 3)
Jewel Demon Hunter Lime
Kado: The Right Answer
Legend of the Galactic Heroes (2017)
Natsume's Book of Friends (Season 5 and 6)
Pop Team Epic
Prefectural Earth Defense Force
Skull-Faced Bookseller Honda-san
Space Battleship Tiramisù
Twilight of the Cockroaches
You're Under Arrest
Full list here: Hamst3r's MyAnimeList
My Annual Anime Recap Blog:
- Anime Overload 2017: It's Over 950!
- Anime Overload 2016: The Number of Anime I've Watched Can't Be This Many
- Anime Overload 2015: The Anime That Hamst3r Watches: My Conquest Is The Sea of Anime
- How Anime Consumed My Life in 2014: Hamst3r's Bizarre Adventure
Also, Anime Buttholes is still a thing.