There's more to the Winter 2018 season then can be discussed in just one article, so here's a look at some of the other shows that appeared this season.
Love is Like after the Rain
After injuring her leg, Akira Tachibana quits the track team and takes on a part-time job. She finds herself falling in love with her awkward, middle aged manager, Mr. Kondo.
The Good: Despite the potentially icky premise, this is a beautifully done anime. The art is lovely, the sound track is auditory bliss, and the characters are lively and intriguing. The character's feelings are made quite clear by small gestures and subtle cues. No lie, it's one of the most well-done anime I've seen in years.
The Bad: The basic premise is an uncomfortable one, and while that's not inherently bad, it has the potential to be. If the end game is a 17-year-old girl entering an actual relationship with her middle aged boss, I will hurl my laptop out the window and demand that Wit Studio pay for the damages. That's an abuse of power that, if depicted, really shouldn't be romanticized. That said, without knowing how Love is Like after the Rain will resolve its thorny premise, one can't truly judge. I remain cautiously optimistic.
Score: A tentative 5/5
Yowamushi Pedal: Glory Line
Picking up where we left off in Season 3, the race between Sohoku High School, Hakone Academy, Kyoto Fushimi, and any other bike team prepared to take them on during the Inter-High is on. Tensions are high, but who will take home the gold?
The Good: I'm tempted to answer this by smashing my face against my keyboard and groaning, "it's biiiiikes" but I feel like that might not get my point across successfully. The first episode focuses on side characters, jumping from telling us about how stretchy Kuroda's muscles are and how much he loves it when people touch them to showing us how much Sugimoto has grown since Season 1 - he's now capable to biking fast enough to deliver much needed supplies to his team. The end theme video, which featured a band AU with the Sohoku team playing different instruments, was also a delight.
For viewers who have been watching these characters grow and change over the course of three seasons, this was a great reintroduction into Yowamushi Pedal's world.
The Bad: Not much happens in the first episode. While the details are charming to loyal fans, those who aren't invested in the characters may find themselves bored. This show isn't one that's easy to jump on partway through.
Score: An extremely biased 5/5
After their parents die in a plane crash, Ryuuichi and his baby brother Kotaro are adopted by the chairman of an elite private school. In exchange, they must work at the school's daycare center.
The Good: I didn't expect to like this show as much as I did. The premise seemed hokey, and I was planning on overlooking it. Honestly, I only watched the first episode so I'd have a fifth series to talk about. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by how emotionally resonant it was. In the first episode's most poignant scene, little Kotaro develops a fever from the stress of being in a new environment without his parents. Ryuuichi is about to call his parents, but then realizes that even if he calls them, they're gone, forever. He starts to cry. Both brother's reactions were age appropriate, human, and profoundly affecting.
Aside from the sad stuff, the children in the daycare are so cute it ought to be illegal. I'm looking forward to what School Babysitters has in store.
The Bad: It's a little alarming to watch a middle school student be solely responsible for a baby and five toddlers, even if he does have child care experience. I teach 6th and 7th graders and I'm reluctant to leave them alone for two minutes while I go to the bathroom. I definitely wouldn't leave them alone with a bunch of babies. That said, Japan definitely does give more responsibility to its children from an early age than America does, so that might just be my American bias speaking.
DARLING in the FRANXX
In the distant future, children pilot machines called Franxx to help defeat monsters called Kyōryū, which threaten the safety of humanity. A young boy named Hiro has been disgraced by his community because he cannot successfully pilot a Franxx. One day, his world is turned upside down when he meets a mysterious girl with horns.
The Good: The series does a great job at presenting its world to viewers, giving just enough information that it avoid confusion without bogging things down with unnecessary backstory. The background art and character designs are pleasing to look at, and over all it seems like a well-produced show with potential.
Also, given that this is a Studio Trigger production - you know, the guys responsible for Kill La Kill? - the fan service was blessedly light. As a grown adult who really did not enjoy Kill La Kill's detailed outline of a teenage girl's labia, the more subdued nature of this show is an improvement.
The Bad: So far, DARLING in the FRANXX seems to be following a trope I'm not fond of - a male protagonist who isn't very interesting, and a female deuteragonist who is intriguing and sexy in a vaguely objectifying way. Not only is this dynamic just plain over done, it also makes it obvious who the audience is - it's certainly not girls and women. That said, the series has only just begun, and exactly how they'll develop Hiro and Zero Two is still unknown.
A slice of life series in which a group of girls bond over their mutual love for the natural world and going camping.
The Good: Laid-Back Camp is exactly as its title promises. It's a calming, gentle slice of life series that's a great way to just chill out and relax. If you don't want to watch something that will raise your adrenaline or stress you out, this show is a great choice. Besides its mellow atmosphere, it also has a unique setting - the great outdoors - that most slice-of-life shows don't bother with.
The Bad: The same elements that make it a great chill out show also might make it kind of boring. You really have to be in the mood for Laid-Back Camp, and personally, I'm rarely in that mood.
What are your thoughts on some of the season's offerings? Let us know in the comments.