The Ancient Magus’ Bride–Anime Early Impressions


The Ancient Magus’ Bride (Crunchyroll) was one of the most anticipated anime series of the fall season thanks to buzz from fans of the original manga and a well-received 3-part OVA prequel (The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Those Awaiting a Star, also on Crunchyroll.)

(Strunk and White say that it should be “Magus’s Bride” but I’ll stick with the official title. The Japanese title is “Mahoutsukai no Yome” or “Bride of the Magic User.”)

The series has a lot to offer including a rich, original fantasy world. The animation looks terrific (at a time when even Japanese animation all too often looks like crap.) The story has some problematic elements but I have reason to hope that they will improve as it progresses.
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Made in Abyss

4 Stars

In my opinion Made in Abyss (Amazon) was by far the best new anime of the Summer 2017 season.

This is nothing like the derivative by-the-numbers anime that we see too much of. This is a imaginative story that delivers a unique blend of cuteness, humor and terror. The high production values show a team that really wants to deliver something great.

One thing (so far) keeps it from being a true classic. The season ended at a reasonably satisfactory stopping point, but this is the sort of quest story that demands a resolution that shows the end of the quest. It seems obvious that the team that produced the anime wants to deliver future seasons that will complete the story. However given the economics of the anime industry and the fact that this is based on an ongoing manga there is no guarantee that this will happen.
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Cardcaptor Sakura Update

I finally got a chance to see the promised Cardcaptor Sakura OVA. Naturally as a devoted fan of the original series I had to watch it and nit-pick.

The OVA actually turned out to be a bit of a letdown since it is just a remake of the final episode of the original anime series, but with some minor differences. (Most of the differences involve who gives what to whom and where.) Though the differences may seem unimportant they have some consequences. For one thing they pretty much establish that the Sealed Card movie cannot be canon.
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Spring 2017 Anime Season in Retrospect

I can put a positive spin on this or a negative spin. If you count continuations and sequels then the Spring season was actually pretty strong. On the other hand if I look only at new shows this seems to have been an unusually weak season. This could be a bad sign for the future, but my philosophy is to hope for the best.

Notable Continuations

Little Witch Academia

4 Stars
(Started Winter 2017.) Little Witch Academia (Netflix) is basically a children’s story, clearly influenced by the Harry Potter series, but not nearly as dark or self-important. If you are willing to accept it on those terms it’s pretty darn good. It has a fine story (though fairly predictable) and the animation is outstanding.
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Heads Up! Cardcaptor Sakura sequel

As you can see from the video below there is going to be a sequel to Cardcaptor Sakura.

Apparently there will be an OVA released next September followed by a new TV series next January.

I have very mixed feelings about this. I think the original is one of the best-written anime series ever. The thing is, it had a perfect ending and there’s a real risk that any attempt at a sequel will diminish it.
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Your Name–Anime Movie Review

5 Stars

Your Name (Kimi no Na wa) is a new film written and directed by Makoto Shinkai. It’s now showing in American movie theaters. Even better, it’s being shown in both dubbed and subtitled versions. I strongly recommend the subtitled version. But act fast–it’s not going to be in the theaters very long.

The animation quality is quite good and the writing is top-notch, probably the best thing that Shinkai has ever done. The plot is intricate but it hangs together very well. Unlike many of Shinkai’s stories it has a fully satisfactory ending.

I’m not going to say too much about the story to avoid spoilers. It involves two high school students. One is an awkward boy living in Tokyo who hasn’t given much thought to what he wants out of life. The other is a frustrated girl in a rural town in the mountains. She’s embarrassed by her duties as a miko at the local shrine, and wishes she lived in an exciting big city.

For some reason they start waking up in each other’s bodies on a regular basis. Afterwards the experience seems like a dimly remembered dream, but their friends tell them that they were acting strangely. Once they start leaving notes to each other they quickly figure out what is happening, but don’t know what to do about it.
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March Comes in Like a Lion Ends

4 Stars
March Comes in Like a Lion (Crunchyroll) is a fine show, but limited by the fact that it is based on an ongoing manga. As a result we have to settle for an ending that is basically OK, but leaves a lot of questions unanswered. This might still turn into something great if it gets another season or two to really wrap up the story but there is no guarantee that this will happen.

This is a challenging cerebral anime where much of the action takes place inside the head of Rei, the protagonist. It took some time for me to get drawn into it but I ultimately found it rewarding.

We have a morose withdrawn hero who initially seems off-putting but when we get to know him he turns out to be quite likeable. Rei is young and naive and he has suffered things that in an ideal world no child should ever have to endure. Yet he has an unbreakable spirit and always strives to do the right thing, assuming that he can figure out what that is.
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Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju S2 Ends

5 Stars

This completes the series Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju (Crunchyroll) which turned out to be everything I could have hoped for. I can only urge everyone who hasn’t seen it already to watch all 24 episodes from the beginning.

OK, it won’t be to everyone’s taste. It’s not anime with catgirls. It’s a serious drama, anime as high art. Attempts to do that fall short more often than not. This one doesn’t. This one is witty and warm and poignant and wise.
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Winter 2017 Anime Early Impressions

Let me state right from the start that the two best anime series this season are continuations of existing series.


Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju: Descending Stories (Crunchyroll) should wrap up the story that I praised here and here. This is a sophisticated drama, well worth your time. (If you haven’t seen the first half, be sure to watch it first.)

This will probably be the final cour of March Comes In Like A Lion (Crunchyroll.) This is a smaller-scale story without the grand historical sweep of Showa but it’s an effective personal drama that is sometimes chilling but often heartwarming. See my post here.
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March Comes in Like a Lion–Anime Midseason Review

March Comes in Like a Lion (Crunchyroll) was one of my two favorite shows last fall. (The other of course was Girlish Number.) (The Japanese title is Sangatsu no Lion “The Lion of March,” sometimes written 3-gatsu no Lion.)

This is sort of a sports anime, but an unconventional one–and not because the “sport” is a board game. In anime and manga any competitive activity can be the basis of a “sports” story, but the usual convention is to start with some young people who love the game but aren’t all that good at it, and follow them as they become champions through dedicated practice and teamwork.

Here we have a protagonist who is extremely talented, obviously a potential champion, but who started playing for the wrong reasons and now feels trapped. The real question is whether he can overcome the emotional scars of his youth and learn to love the game. (Or failing that, find a way to be happy doing something else.)

Rei Kiriyama is a 17-year-old professional Shogi player who lives alone in a barren Tokyo apartment, constantly practicing and studying the game. He feels alone and afraid, and has felt that way since he was a young boy when his parents were killed in an accident.
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