It’s hard to believe that the Spring 2020 anime season, which never really felt like it got to truly start due to the whole pandemic business, is finally over. Despite all that, it really ended with a bang, because MAN, it still had a ton of great shows to offer.
Unsurprisingly, good shows bring out great talking points in this episode: we get to exorcise our strong feelings about Sing “Yesterday” For Me, Zack makes the bold claim that Brand New Animal is “a show done by Studio Trigger”, and Matt forcefully takes the discussion into his own hands to say that DADDY! DADDY! DO! is, to quote, “pretty good”. Strap yourselves in, because we’ve got a lot coming your way!
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.
Author’s note: What’s up, nerds! This is your captain, General Tofu, speaking. Our regular Monthly Manga host, Mythos, is not currently helming this month’s selection. Therefore, I have taken it upon myself to fill in for this month’s post, and then to slowly take over the series as if it was mine all along. Nothing sinister at all! Anyway, thanks for hopping in, and enjoy!
Sometimes, I just get the urge to go through a bookstore and peruse the manga section. (Obviously, we can’t really do that much right now, given the whole badness going on, but join me and journey into this mind palace we’re gonna create together. Just imagine you’re doing it.) Most of the time, I’m not going with the intention of grabbing anything specific. I’ll find volumes of series that I love, or that I’ve heard great things about, and I’ll happily grab them. Really, though, what most draws me to a volume or a series is the art itself. There have been numerous series that I knew nothing about, but I dropped some cash to buy a volume simply because it looked gorgeous.
Nothing quite fits this “that’s absolutely coming home with me today” status quite like Aki Irie’s series Go with the Clouds, North-by-Northwest. I literally had nothing to go off of for this series. Where the back of manga volumes usually give you a synopsis of what’s gonna happen in that edition, Go with the Clouds has…well, it’s better to just show you.
Remember how it feels like we just talked about shows in digital worlds, or with an isekai plot, or some combination of those ideas? We just watched another one. It was an awful decision.
Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody is a pretty decidedly “meh” fantasy MMO isekai harem series, and we had to watch all of it. It’s not all bad, of course – we get some pretty good discussion out of some of the show’s clever use of UI elements (until it starts to suck), for instance, or how the protagonist definitely isn’t the same guy as the protagonist in the other fantasy MMO isekai harem series. That being said, what you really want is the complete and utter beatdown that we give the show, and by god, do we give it to it. In a loving, constructive criticism sort of way, of course. Don’t watch the show, but do listen to us tell you why not to watch it.
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.
Collectively as a group, we’ve watched a fair number of anime about digital and physical spaces, like .hack//Sign, Log Horizon, Serial Experiments Lain, and something about swords making art on the internet. But it’s pretty safe to say that we have yet to watch anything quite like Dennou Coil – a story about kids with really powerful augmented reality glasses tech that blurs the line between the physical and digital worlds.
Join us as we talk about some really, really bad computer viruses, tech from the show and world-building elements that we’d love to see more of in other series, and sentient facial hair (it’s actually related to the show, I swear).
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!
The Winter 2020 season ended on quite a lot of strong notes! There were a lot of contenders for what we would talk about on this wrap-up cast, but for the sake of not having this take three hours, we had to narrow it down to some of the season’s best of the best. It’s not like we were doing much else during a global pandemic, but hey.
Although there have been a lot of delays due to obvious reasons, the Spring 2020 anime season is still coming out strong. We encounter a few minor confusions about what shows are what, but it’s all part of the trademark Backloggers charm, tee hee! Not to toot our own horn, but we’ve got some good stuff this episode: we get to explore the absolute trainwreck that is Tamayomi, we find out that Matt thought Wave, Listen to Me! and Sing “Yesterday” for Me were the same show, and, somewhat inevitably, we find out mid-recording that some shows we recommended to each other had been delayed.
Oh, and we talk about some absolute bangers from this season that haven’t been delayed (yet), like Kakushigoto and Tower of God. In short, it’s exactly the kind of anime content we need right now as the world continues to burn to the ground.
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.