Happy New Year! Chroma's 2017 Anime Awards
Happy 2018, everyone! Did everyone enjoy their year ending festivities? Now, let's immediately retread that ground by looking back at the previous year of anime. This year, I wanted to tackle the annual ritual a little bit differently, by giving out my insanely opinionated awards as a separate post as I work on a larger video of all series' impressions together from 2017, which is coming soon.
As always, this is fully my own opinion and is not intended to steer you in a particular way with a certain series. We write to advocate your own discovery and will also release content to promote that outlook. With that in mind, let's jump right back into my 2017 awards!
Favourite Series: Shojo Shumatsu Ryoko
I went into this show with almost no information past "two girls venture together in a motorbike", but I came out with so many deliciously intriguing questions to a setting that turned a post apocalypse into a miracle.
Chito and Yuri are the main protagonists, slowly progressing through varied terrain under the hum of a Kettenkrad bike. At first, it seems overly simplistic; the idea of two girls searching for ways to stay alive in this post apocalyptic world, and at its base, that's exactly what it is. But as the show went on, I was thrown into a grander picture where the girls discover exactly what happened to the world through their observations around remaining landmarks and gadgets.
The genius of it all was the chemistry Chito and Yuri share. Minase Inori and Kubo Yurika were auditioned as a pair like everyone else was, and this matchmaking style of auditioning proved to be the ribbon that brings everything enjoyable in Shojo Shumatsu Ryoko together. Although one is a bookworm and level-headed, the other is a gunslinger and quite reckless, they appreciate that they only have each other left in this world.
From beginning to end, this show gave me things to be curious about. Originally, it was just little head tilts at finding things like a food storage container that survived this apocalypse. As it goes on, that evolved into rewatches of scenes to see if any closer inspection would explain exactly where someone would transmit radio signals from, or for what reason these strange elongated statues were erected in large numbers. All I'm begging for is a second season of this.
Least Favourite Series: Love Live! Sunshine!! 2nd Season
I'm sorry, but I just couldn't wait to put this on my personal list this year as the least favourite contender. This wasn't even close for me, no other show irritated me and caused me more annoyance than Love Live! Sunshine!!'s second season.
Now to be immediately clear, the second season alone isn't the only offender for me, it's the entirety of this spinoff. From Day 1 when I first saw this new cast of characters, it only took one scene with each of them to know their exact checkbox they ticked in the production and only that. Each girl offers nothing more than the catchphrase they were designed to sell, and they lovingly say them so much that they need individual counters on screen.
It got worse for me to find out that what could loosely be called their "plot" to once again "save the school" is constantly thrown aside to spout memes and slapstick that completely sucked me out of any chance of immersion in wanting them to reach this goal of theirs. It just was not enjoyable to me in any way, and even for a music-related show, I can't remember most of the songs at all. It's sad to me because while I didn't supremely enjoy Love Live! School Idol Festival at the level of some other idol shows, I still remember a lot about it and what it presented. This however, I will be happily forgetting. Now the question is, do I watch the movie in hopes that it might try and fill in what the anime didn't over two seasons? From my personal standpoint, I'm just not sure. Maybe I'll decide that closer to its release.
I want to keep the negativity away as much as possible since I just start to go off on a personal rant, so I'll limit it to just this category.
Favourite Original Soundtrack: Aikatsu Stars!
Completely opposite to my experience with Love Live! Sunshine!!'s soundtrack where I forgot almost every single song it offered, Aikatsu Stars! has an OST that I just can't get out of my head, no matter what I do.
Sure, Aikatsu as a whole is a musical idol series and has a strong focus on that aspect. However, this series doesn't just excel in its opening/ending/insert songs for me, but also in its incredibly diverse and memorable BGM as well. It always makes me sad that this series is not very widely spread in its exposure, but I want to do my part in giving out that first exposure to as many people as possible. It's okay if it's disliked due to its "children's show" demographic, or its cast that is moe-centered. To me, there's a lot of good lessons to take away from it, really unique character designs, and best of all, a killer soundtrack.
My personal favourite from this year in Aikatsu Stars? It'd have to be 'Message of a Rainbow' or 'Bon Bon Voyage'. I've listened to those two songs over and over and over and over since they were introduced.
Favourite Character: Kino
A traveler at heart, Kino has the opportunity to experience the lives and worlds others never see. Her viewpoint on life's greatest questions are given a very open interpretation, allowing the exposure of the world itself steer her moral compass in the moment. This doesn't mean that Kino herself is a blank slate with no ability to think on her own, but it just allows less of the societal acceptance hurdles get in the way of what she wants to do with her life.
Characteristically, Kino is many, many things. She can be sharp-witted, a risk taker, compassionate, ruthless and unbelievably cute. Just being on this personal journey with Kino and her talking motorbike Hermes was more than enough enjoyment for me, but it was Kino's stance on how towns she visited acted that really drew me in. On top of all of that, she's just downright fun and knows how to kick ass when necessary. There's this mysterious allure to Kino that you can't necessary explain, but can almost always relate to in some way. I adore her.
Favourite Opening: Deep in Abyss - Tomita Miyu, Ise Mariya
Perfectly fitting to its episodic content, 'Deep in Abyss' gave me an opening that encapsulated the mystery of the dangerous but wondrous crevasse in the Earth. Tomita Miyu and Ise Mariya, despite playing different gendered characters in the show, work well off each other and keep the vocals from sounding unbalanced. Actually, it really shines to me how these two very young voices are about to plunge into the abyss filled with intriguing landmarks and potential dangers.
I also really loved how the opening gives you very short glimpses at the important things, but doesn't necessarily disclose if they are good or evil, or just a pure unreadable mystery. It leaves a lot to the imagination and left me curious as to when I'd get to experience these locations and characters for myself. Yet again, as a quick tie-in, Tomita Miyu also stars in the aforementioned Aikatsu Stars!, if you really enjoyed her stellar performance as Riko in Made in Abyss.
Favourite Ending: Baby's breath - (K)NoW_NAME
Absolutely gorgeous, I can't sum it up better than that for Sakura Quest and (K)NoW_NAME, and the ending that has been enriching my auditory life since it was played for the first time.
Providing us with a great chunk of Sakura Quest's entire soundtrack including the BGM, (K)NoW_NAME are powerhouses of music in my eyes. While I enjoyed their contributions to the Hai to Genso no Grimgar soundtrack as well their earlier works on the opening and ending to this show's first cour opening and ending, it's 'Baby's breath' that I can never forget. It's fundamentally simple with its presentation, but the soft colour palette mixed with the characters just bathing in the gentle warmth of the sunset or losing themselves against the wind breezing through a radiant field is exactly what I think made Sakura Quest so great.
But make no mistake here, I still think the entire soundtrack to this show warrants checking out. I know I will definitely be revisiting all of these songs over and over.
Guilty Pleasure: UQ Holder! Maho Sensei Negima! 2
Just...wow. This one takes me far back to my earliest years of anime exposure, when YouTube hosted episodic anime by the pound and any show you could think of was probably on there. After finally experiencing Kanon (2002) as my first proper anime in original Japanese, I jumped onto Maho Sensei Negima in the related videos and was strangely charmed by what turned out to be my first harem-related series. It had an odd premise of a 10 year old transfer teacher who was loved by his entire class of girls, all while he had to keep his magical powers a secret. Yeah, it got a bit bonkers a lot of the time.
That said, it was yet another culture shock for me, with grand exposure to many great seiyu, colourful character designs and memorable songs I had listened to for a long time. It may have been chock full of fanservice and was a bizarre mix of comedy, magic and ecchi, but it left an impression on me.
So imagine my surprise when 12 years later, I see a show on the upcoming seasonals list with the title UQ Holder: Maho Sensei Negima! 2. It was flooring, for lack of a better term. I knew around the end of my previous encounter with the series, there were a couple extra bits of content around the Negima universe, but I never found out about its direct sequel, UQ Holder. Wanting to rekindle my earliest years of anime, I picked up this show without hesitation, and it was equally bizarre but still somehow charming after all these years. Probably the best thing to return for me was an updated version of the opening song, 'Happy Material'. Still catchy beyond belief.
Most Anticipated Continuation: Mahotsukai no Yome
Finally, 2017 may have come to an end, but some shows are continuing on even now. Out of the ones I saw with a continuation into 2018, Mahotsukai no Yome is the one I keep anticipating the most.
Honestly, I'd put it at a tie between this and the recently announced second season of Made in Abyss, but the thing is...I caved for Abyss and ended up reading the manga. An adaptation will be very much appreciated, but Mahotsukai no Yome leaves a ton of curiosity in me that I want to bring to light. The truly magical adventures of Hatori Chise and her discoveries into her own powers only gets more and more captivating every week. I dare not ruin the experience for anyone else, but I can say with a big smile that this series has been beyond stellar up to this point for me. I can only wait in anticipation for Chise's return from the holiday break to show us an even more wondrous world filled with danger, beauty and imagination.
And that, my friends, is my list of 2017 awards. For an overall impression of each individual series I watched last year, stay tuned! I apologize for the delay, but I'm not used to editing such large videos as this, so I will put it out as soon as I'm able. Thanks as always for reading!