Let’s start off 2019 with something positive. I’m not too proud to admit that my first impressions can occasionally be a bit, harsh. Not wrong mind you, just possibly fail to take certain things into account. And so, I do occasionally change my mind about shows after a little time has gone by.
In this case, I’ve put together the top 5 series that have grown on me in hindsight. These are shows I either didn’t care much about or actually disliked on first viewing that I now remember fondly.
5 – Megalobox
Let’s be clear, I never disliked Megalobox at all. In fact the first episode absolutely mesmerized me. I called it a mix of Battle Angel Alita and Hajime no Ippo which happen to be my childhood favourite manga and my childhood favorite show, so there.
However, having to watch it on a weekly basis and review it each time, I believe did a great disservice to the series, making its lack of character development much more glaring and kneecapping the smooth action based progression. Moreover, the almost fanatical universal praise it seemed to be receiving at the time, left me a bit dissatisfied as I was seeing some clear flaws. In the end, the last few episodes won me over and I left the show feeling generally satisfied.
As time passed though, I’ve grown to realize that the story was simply not a character driven one and more complex personalities would have taken away from the world building and fighting progression which where the backbones of the show. Seeing the episodes closer together allows you to enjoy the steady ramp up and form just enough connection to feel the full punch of those emotional moments without giving you time to forget what was happening. With time, the series has slowly become one of my favourite of 2018 and I recommend it to any of ou that haven’t had the chance to watch it yet.
When I first watched Reborn! I thought it was a shonen. You know, an action fighting series with a lot of episodes. Granted it had an even more bonkers than average premise but in the end it would blend in with all the other ones. It should be said that I quite like shonen so this wasn’t a bad thing it’s just that Hunter x Hunter is my favorite and the rest are all in the not Hunter x Hunter category.
I can’t quite put my finger on it but I find that I think back to Reborn! a lot more than most shonen and I am more attached to those characters than I would have imagined. The pacing of the series is rather good and it generally stays away from the preachiness that can mar these shows at times. And making all the characters absolutely crazy can be a bit exhausting in the moment but it also makes them all rather memorable.
It’s still no Hunter x Hunter but it’s earned its own distinction as a fine shonen in my book!
3- Your Name
I know I know, how dare I!?! This time I would like to blame the circumstances. We don’t really have much of an anime market in Montreal, despite having a pretty decent con every year. As such, Your Name only played in one hard to get to, hard to park around and rather expensive theater. Getting there in the first place was a chore. Combine that with the fact that one of my very few anime loving friends had organized it as a group outing, dragging a whole bunch of rather disinterested people along, and I ended up watching it surrounded by visibly bored people I barely knew who were playing on their phone half the time.
I have to assume that this served to dampen my mood because I found the movie dragging in places and considered it reasonable pretty (although not my peculiar taste) but rather dull. In the months since though, I find that particular scenes will jump in my mind from time to time and those scenes are utterly delightful.
I have since rewatched it at home on my computer, a much less grand experience, and enjoyed it considerably more. I still think it has a few problems with pacing in some parts but it is a delightful film that has earned its stellar reputation an I now regularly tear up at screencaps.
I really did not like how Another ended. Not so much that I didn’t like it, but as the show started to trade tension for bloodbath in the last few episodes I completely stopped caring. I realized then that as a byproduct of keeping that beautiful tense and mysterious atmosphere, most characters hadn’t been developed at all. It’s difficult to get your audience to truly know a character while keeping them suspicious enough to be a potential bad guy. Especially with only one cour at our disposal.
Upon finishing the show, I felt like that hackneyed and rather boring ending was a betrayal of the fantastic opening arc and generally declared the show a failure. That knee jerk reaction was not completely unjustified but may have been a touch unfair.
Fact is, for most of its runtime, Another is a fantastically suspenseful mystery with a superbly sustained atmosphere that more than makes up for the silly horror trope contrivances of the plot. I would say a good three quarters is some of the best classic horror anime I have seen. With a step back, I find that I’ve mostly forgotten those last episodes while the build up is still fresh in my mind an I can’t deny that it was a great build up.
I am quite happy to have seen it. And having since then searched uot horror animes atively I can also say, it compares quie favourably to most, even with that ending.
Psycho Pass – Did that take you by surprise? I’m not including it in the list because I always liked it but the year I saw it, it was just one of the animes I saw that year. That’s it. I don’t know when I started to realize that the classic science fiction dilemas it asks happen to be my sort of thing and as a result I constantly discussed it with anyone who would listen. It’s one of my favourites now of course. But it was not love at first sight like with some other series.
Poor Toradora is probably a victim of circumstance more than anything else. You should know that by the time I got around to watching this series, it had been recommended to me by everything and everyone. This was the gold standard. This show would have me getting a six pack from all the uproarious laughing I would do and rekindle my faith in man and love. This was he IT anime. Suffice it to say expectations were pretty high.
I also didn’t have my romance bias at the time (this show may have started it). I had only seen Kare Kano and Fruit Baskets that could count as romance animes and hadn’t started considering how I tend to enjoy them less than the average viewer. So I went in, no reservations, completely ready to get my mind blown and…
It started off ok but I really didn’t like any of the cast except for Ryuji. I didn’t like them all. As time passed, I liked them less and less. I’ve come to understand that you’re suppose to forgive characters for being unpleasantly aggressive, walking talking basket cases or just plain self serving as long as they have some type of emotional pain but I still don’t buy into that. If you’re going to make a character a jerk, then own it, don’t try to make me buy that they’re not a jerk… Anyways, I also just don’t care that much about needlessly complicated romantic progression so I was mostly annoyed and bored while watching it. And it really wasn’t very funny most of the time.
Even at the time, I did realize it was a well made show. Beautifully produced, nicely crafted, well directed. With some distance I’ve also come to realize that a lot of the elements and plot points that I didn’t care for are actually dictates of the genre that I should have expected and really, Toradora does them better than most. In fact, it does more than a few things fantastically well. I still don’t understand why they chose to follow 4 of the most unlikable puberty ravaged teens they could find and throw in perfect wonderful Ryuji just to make them seem even worst in contrast. OK, so I can’t say I love this show now but I am willing to watch it again some day and remember more than a few episodes being rather fun, which is a huge step forward.
There you have it, these are 5 shows that I like much more with some distance. Just goes to show you, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover…or pages… I’m sure you have some examples of animes that have aged well in your mind! Share them with us, we’d love to know.