I’ve been reading online comics since they were probably a thing. I loved catching up on Penny Arcade, Mega Tokyo, and XKCD, and have kept up the habit into award-winning series like Sunstone, Always Human, and Lore Olympus. Obviously, the art and writing are why I continue to read, but the reason I’m able to pick these comics up in the first place is their accessibility. While it was a little harder back in the day, free or low-cost access to a ton of comics online is an incredible achievement for independent artists and only doubly so in recent years with the start of various sites/apps like Webtoon, Tapas, etc., which not only host these comics and allow for more traffic, but also enable creators to get paid for their comics and make a living off of their art. I’d never be able to find and keep track of all of these incredible international comics, whether from Korea, Australia, Europe or anywhere else, if it wasn’t for platforms like these.
So it’s odd to me that even with these platforms, I don’t see any indie Japanese comics internationally.
In the past five years of being a blogger and almost eight years of being an anime watcher, I’ve personally seen a lot of discourse and discussion over a variety of topics from plenty of angles – opinionated and factual alike. There are always those debates, though, that continuously circle back around after some time again and again, almost as if they are scheduled to appear once a few months have passed. There’s never really any reason for them to re-appear sometimes, nor is there really anything new to add to the discussion, but they reappear anyway and suddenly they become the hot topic of whatever your preferred social media platform is. It’s akin to watching some horrible rendition of Re:Zero where instead of watching Subaru trying his best to reach his goal and making several mistakes that result in his death instead, it’s watching people you know engage in futile discussions until they’ve either said their piece or become a completely different person than you once knew.
This is why when I found that fellow blogger Irina posted an article about this sort of phenomena that occurs so frequently, I was curious to see what sort of community debate overlap or dissonance we were experiencing within the anime community. I found some of these topics discussed in the post lined up pretty well with what I had noticed from the community and definitely shared some of those same sentiments. While I could also add many other topics to the list, I wanted to take some time to focus on what Irina is talking about in the post itself: the nature of how these debates are no longer “interesting” to have.
We all know the trope. A character wakes up in a hospital bed and doesn’t remember anything. Next to them is someone claiming to be their lover. However, instead of lamenting the loss of a relationship with this person, what if this amnesiac is so stoked to be in a relationship that they dive headfirst into loving this new person?
That’s the premise for Cheerful Amnesia, in which a character not only finds that in the three years they’ve lost they were able to find love, but that they’re gay and hella into it. Arisa wakes up to find a slightly older Mari by her bedside, who explains the situation. Arisa is overjoyed and immediately falls back in love with her. They then begin a journey together helping Arisa regain her old life and romance, with plenty of hijinks from the lack of memory. For instance, like when Arisa who only remembers being a kid in high school who seemingly never dated, finds herself sleeping in the same bed as another woman.
This season has led me to two major realizations within the space of seasonal anime and how we perceive it, as viewers and fans of anime.
1) With a lot of shows delayed until this crisis is over, I was initially disappointed by the lack of my “main” shows such as Re:Zero and OreGairu S3 and wasn’t sure how I was going to fill the “anime void” left in my heart. However, I think this also has been ground-breaking and intriguing in its own way. Having an anime season happen that has negated a lot of the “hype” surrounding series such as these has left a lot of space for lesser-known series to make their own name based on their own merits, and likely more people have given them a chance because of this.
2) It’s not necessarily the name or popularity of shows that make them desirable as shows; it’s because of the animation quality and emotion delivered with each released episode. It’s so powerful that these shows can stand on their own, without needing any of the advertising frills or gimmicks to really sell the shows for them; they don’t need any of that. This may seem rather basic, but it can be hard to realize when giant anime companies constantly try to force their own interests into your social media, inbox, or in-person merchandise.
While I don’t think my picks of the season necessarily have all the relations to either category, I think these are things we should be considering when watching seasonal anime. Thinking about “why” we watch anime to begin can be interesting at times, and I think that these shows below capture what I think is “interesting” within anime. I hope that you can find the same sort of shows for yourself within this season as well!
Writing for The Backloggers has always been a unique experience. What started as, more or less, a way for some college friends to stay in touch by having a creative outlet to talk about anime has given us a pretty broad platform to dive deep into a lot of different shows that we love, and has largely motivated us to keep on top of things – what’s good this season? How does this new piece look at X thing? How does it perhaps relate to some great older series?
As much as I love writing those kinds of pieces (I actually had another one in the works before I started on this one, oops), we are worldwide in a pretty weird, unprecedented state of affairs. Looking just at the microcosm of anime as an industry, for instance, we are seeing delay after delay of many anime projects, with many studios and series not looking to resume until the summer. But obviously on a much grander scale, people are, as a whole, not doing great. And as I was sitting and working on a completely different post, I found myself wondering if that post was what would be best at this time.
I’m a bit of a repeatingrecord lately but there’s a lot to say about myth and magic. And sure, it’s fun to think about the classics but what about the here and now? Humanity didn’t stop making up stories when we stopped believing in the creatures in them. Even now, we spread around a lot of fun creatures and ideas, as well as plenty of unique ones. That’s something that In/Spectre seems to be tackling as their main arc this season: how an idea turns from creation, propagation, and then ultimately forms a fluid myth of its own that carries genuine power and weight.
Within the story of In/Spectre, Steel Lady Nanase is a ghost that was birthed not from the original dead idol that had tragically perished, but from a myth that her ghost had come back. Even her form isn’t that of the original woman, but of an artists’ representation of what an idol in her costume would look like carrying a heavy steel beam. Rather than a tragic incident birthing a dark creature, it was the thousands to millions of people that took that idea and fleshed out its mythos that caused a creature made from thought to come to life.
Ah, the classic love story. A shy, quiet girl of common birth falls in love with a prince, far above her reach. However, fate plays its part to bring these two together, though many troubles stand in their way. For instance, the jealous noblewoman, betrothed to the prince finds herself at odds with this common child who opposes the nobility. Spiteful and angry, she attempts to poison her nemesis’ love. However the nobleman and our common girl’s love for each other is too strong, and not only is the day saved but the heroine and prince are finally wed in happiness. The nobleman woman gets her just desserts and ends up destitute and dead.
Or should she? What was her deal, anyway? Was she really a rich bitch or was there more to this that a new perspective would uncover? That is where I’m a Villainous Daughter, so I’m Going to Keep the Last Boss comes in. While a technical isekai, this manga likes to play uniquely and so twists a few things on their head, including certain isekai tropes. Obviously, the story is about the jealous rival rather than the “protagonist” of the love story, who in finding out her fiance is actually in love with the protagonist and not her, finds herself suddenly remembering odd things she hadn’t before. Like, for instance, how this is all a game and because she’s played it to death in a previous life, she knows exactly how this story will play out…
Anime has come so far from the days of having to watch subbed episodes of Evangelion on bootleg video tapes and trying to find any anime streaming site worth its salt that just wasn’t clustered with ads. One thing that I appreciate about modern anime streaming services and availability is being able to just sit down and watch a series when I want to without having to go through the hassle of worrying about where I’m going to find the episode or when the next episode will be subbed and released before I can watch it. It’s something that only now I can appreciate, looking back upon what I would have considered the “golden days” of anime (and I’m sure many others consider it those as well in certain regards).
There’s no question about it; the anime streaming industry has become such an integral staple of everyone’s watching and consumption of anime these days. Crunchyroll, Funimation, and many others (yes, even Netflix…) have created their own sort of anime accessibility bubble that burst when these sites became popular. They’ve popularized a lot of shows that may have been considered “niche” years ago and allowed everyone to enjoy great shows that lots of people had never heard of before, which is fantastic for the medium at large.
Since the winter season’s been in full swing for several weeks, everyone’s likely chosen what anime they want to watch from the seasonal pool of shows. We’ve got all of these Great Winter Anime this season, and honestly it’s probably one of the best Winter seasons we’ve had in recent years. It may be so good, though, that narrowing down what shows to watch can be a huge issue, as it has been for us at The Backloggers.
Well, that’s where the Seasonal Showcase comes in! Perhaps you’re looking for some hidden gems or overlooked shows from this season, or maybe you’re just trying to find a new interesting show to try? In either case, you’ve come to the right section of Anime Town™, where I discuss some of the dark horse picks of the season that are interesting in their own way and may be worth a second (or perhaps first) shot. Anyway, let’s jump right into it!
Some of my favorite stories involve elements of what made classic fables so enthralling to me. Some aspects are easy to see, like the fantasy setting, but I also enjoy the darker world that’s mixed with a child-like innocence which tinges each story, allowing us to take in the horror aspects a little easier. Fairies and other creatures of myth are no joke, and the original stories attest to how devious they can be. However, we always see their pranks rather than their murderous rampages when we read those stories of old. Fables historically were made to teach a lesson and help to educate children on the dangers of life. So the palatability of a darker world that we only catch a glimpse of has always intrigued me.
Shadow House is very much a story like this. The story follows Emilyko, a “living doll” in a very dark and mysterious mansion, who serves Kate, a member of the Shadow Family, who owns the property. Emilyko spends most of her time taking care of Kate but also ponders on the behavior of the Shadows. The Shadows are creatures seemingly made up of some dark material that creates soot, as everything they touch is dirtied with it, along with their negative emotions causing them to release a black smoke that can cover the room in the same material. Added to this is the odd behavior that they have some physical control over the soot they produce and leave behind.