Final Thoughts on Just Because (But Mainly the Final Episode)

So the last thing I put out was on a show airing last season that I thought deserved some more attention than it was getting: Just Because. It was a show I was largely ambivalent towards until about the third episode, then liked it more and more each new one that aired.

Seeing as it’s now over, I thought I’d do one more so I can talk about the overall package. Though you may have noticed I’m not calling this a “review”, and that’s because the final episode gave me some extremely conflicting emotions. This is mainly going to be me spilling those inner thoughts on it out for all to see.

Normally I like to put out things that make people think about a particular aspect or topic where I argue a specific point, then it’s a matter of thinking about and agreeing or disagreeing with the conclusions I reach. However, seeing as I can’t manage to reach a conclusion on my conflicting thoughts, this is going to be much more a stream of consciousness rather than a structured argument of some kind.

If you want my non-spoiler thoughts on the show: it’s a really good show that you should watch if it sounds like your type of thing. It doesn’t have great production value most of the time, but it’s a solid character show about high schoolers about to graduate and trying to understand who they are through their romantic feelings towards each other. I compared it to ToraDora before, and while it doesn’t reach the lofty heights that show is at, I stand by the comparison.

One more thing before we get into spoilers and end this needlessly long intro: I know the audience for Just Because was not very large, so if you know you have no intention of watching the show and don’t mind being spoiled, I’m going to try and word what I go over in a way so that you can still engage in the conversation and whatnot. I won’t guarantee you’ll have the full context for everything, but I’ll do my best.

With that out of the way, let’s finally get started.

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The Understated Drama of Just Because!

There are quite a few shows this season getting attention, and they’re all pretty different. There’s the action-packed and weird-as-hell Juuni Taisen which has some surprisingly strong production value behind it; the dark but thoughtful Inuyashiki; the highly anticipated, beautiful fantasy Ancient Magus’ Bride; the well-crafted but surprisingly relaxed Girls’ Last Tour; the long-awaited return of Kino’s Journey (which I’ll probably cover at a later point); etc.

But one show has managed to slip through the cracks in the process: Just Because!. I don’t know whether it’s due to a dislike of the show, lack of viewership, there just not being anything about the show that’s big enough to lead to widespread discussion, or because it’s one of those annoying shows that has unnecessary punctuation as part of the title, but I wanted to throw a bone its way since it’s ended up being one of the more interesting shows I’m watching this season.

Admittedly, it’s due to a few minor reasons rather than any huge ones, so this probably won’t take very long, but if I can get a few more people interested in the show or help add to the enjoyment of those already watching, then it’s worth it. I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but there are some recent aspects that I need to mention in order to make certain points. I’ll try to be as vague as I can in those instances.

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Character Writing in My Hero Academia vs. Attack on Titan

This past season there were two big shounen shows that had their sequels airing at the same time (hell, even on the same day): My Hero Academia, and Attack on Titan. Though while the first seasons of both were pretty popular, it was the latter show that became a cultural phenomenon when it aired.

However, with their second seasons – again, having been airing at the same time – it became blindingly apparent to me how much more I enjoy My Hero Academia compared to Attack on Titan.

Normally that alone wouldn’t be enough to get me to write up something – My Hero Academia is doing well enough for itself, so who really cares – but two things made me change my mind. The first was seeing the viewer numbers on MyAnimeList for both of them driving home just how wide the gap is between them. The second was Crunchyroll releasing their map of which show is the most watched in each state for the season, and that’s when I knew I had to make this.

I won’t talk about the manga version for either, but it’s free game to discuss everything that’s currently aired as of the release of this.

With that said, welcome to another round of “Riyoga Tells a Bunch of People Why He’s Right and They’re Wrong”. …Though, maybe it’s not. It’s actually been getting harder for me to tell which show people like more.

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Top 10 (and Worst 5) Anime of 2016

2016

Another year, another top ten list. Albeit, this one late beyond all belief. I suppose that’s what I get for holding off so I could finish some of the shows. Fun fact: none of them even ended up making this list, so it turned out to be a giant waste of time. At least in regards to making this thing, they were all mostly solid shows.

Anyways, last year was alright. Normally I make a joke about how people are really negative about current anime and how that’s massively overblown (which is still true), but this list was definitely easier to make than last year’s. The only shows that were rough were the mid-ranked ones, the top shows were quite easy and one stood at as the clear winner right from the get-go. The choice won’t surprise anyone if you paid attention to what I was saying and the videos I put out, but it’s still nice to have a formal list.

Before starting, remember that I start this list with the five worst shows from the last year, since I prefer ending this whole thing on a positive note. As for the rules of what qualifies for the list, the show needed to end at some point in 2016. Doesn’t matter when it started, it needed to come to an end in that year. Some shows also won’t qualify based on whether they had (or have) a second season that didn’t finish in 2016 or just how they’re marketed. This is largely a personal call I make based on whether I think the season works enough as a standalone.

For example, Iron-Blooded Orphans didn’t qualify because it’s second season is actually the second half of the show, nor does My Hero Academia despite working well enough on its own since it advertised its second season at the end of the first season’s last episode. However Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju does qualify despite the obvious second season lead-in because of just how self-contained its first season is.

It’s kind of confusing, but basically I just try my best to gauge shows as a complete experience, and some of them I feel need more than one season for that.

With all that out of the way, let’s get started.

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Pokemon Designs Have Gotten More Creative, Not Less (and That’s the Problem)

In celebration of Pokemon Sun and Moon coming out and my previous Pokemon post years ago getting over getting a bunch of traffic, I thought I would cover another topic about the series that I find interesting.

Though admittedly it is something I don’t hear as much about recently. Whether people have gotten over it or just aren’t as vocal about it anymore, I don’t know, but as someone who grew up with Pokemon it was something that came up frequently each new game that came out, and it tended to be more prominent each time.

And that was arguing about Pokemon designs.

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Why Re:Zero is the Best Anime That Has Aired in Years

I’ve watched a lot of anime in recent years that I’ve enjoyed quite a lot. Some were more low-key that I enjoyed on a personal level, usually because I got more out of them than I expected, like Chivalry of a Failed Knight. Others I loved for their character writing, like both seasons of Silver Spoon. Then there are the ones that fascinated me with their specific character arcs and themes, like both seasons of Tokyo Ghoul (though I seem to be the only person for that one).

But it’s been ages since I’ve seen a show that was so good at being a show, something that’s thrilling on a basic level. Re:Zero manages to be entertaining in a way that’s easy for a general audience to enjoy, but without sacrificing the depth and attention to detail that make it so good. I feel like it’s an approach that isn’t appreciated as much as it used to be, which is a shame. People are more than willing to praise shows that handle complicated themes, but for some reason it’s made people lose sight of how focusing on being entertaining is also an art. There’s a lot of nuance to almost any approach, the more quote-unquote “mature” shows are just easier to view as good because of the way they carry themselves.

So, as I am wont to do, I’ve decided to go over everything that makes Re:Zero stand out in meticulous, excessive, and probably annoying detail. Mainly because of the positive reception, surprisingly. I’m tired of seeing people say the show is great but then not actually backing it up with anything other than “it does neat things with Subaru and it’s dark”. I mean, yeah, it’s nice to see a protagonist that bucks the current trend of “I can do everything on my own because I’m the best at everything and the world rewards me for being that way” protagonists from light novels that are getting adapted lately and I’ll absolutely go over him when I get to that part, but that’s not what elevates the show so much. Subaru is just kind of a neat side show, he’s not being developed 24/7, it’s really only a few episodes that focus on it.

If you want to know my thoughts without being spoiled since you haven’t seen it yet, this intro should have already made my feelings obvious. Re:Zero is the perfect example of not only how to do a “stuck in a fantasy world” story the correct way, but is also a fantastic show in general. For everyone else, strap in because we’ve got a lot to go over. Feel free to take this in multiple sessions, I won’t be surprised if this ends up being absurdly long.

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Kabaneri and the Art of the Dumb Show

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress ended last season, with the general consensus being that it was anywhere from mildly to extremely disappointing. When it ended, two of the bigger names in the Anime Youtube community put out videos on it. One was from Gigguk, which largely echoed the general issues people had with the show, primarily in the second half. The other was from Digibro, who questioned the argument that the second half was bad due to being dumb since the show had always been that way.

While my personal thoughts on the show align more with Gigguk’s, Digibro’s is the more interesting idea to talk about. Though that may just be because amusingly dumb shows are some of my favorite things to watch, and yet I hated Kabaneri.

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