Thursday, November 5, 2020

Anime Roundup: New Seasons Edition

Over the last few months or so, Netflix has released new seasons of some of my favorite anime shows. Well, not exactly new new, as all of them (except for one) had already been out for a while in Japan and probably some other places. But they hadn't been available on the streaming service until now, so naturally I was pretty excited to check them out. What did I think of them? Read on and find out!

Food Wars!
I had been looking forward to the third season of Sword Art Online (see below) for quite a while. When the time finally came, I discovered that - without much in the way of advance notice - season 2 of Food Wars (called Food Wars! The Second Plate) had been released the very same day! So what did I do? Why, I put SAO on hold, of course, and devoured this one (heh) in short order. Most of the show is just an animated, dramatized version of Iron Chef, so I really don't know why it's so compelling, but it is. In fact, after I finished the new (not really new - it came out back in 2016) season, I bumped it up on my list of all-time favorites to third place, behind K-On! and Aggretsuko but ahead of Madoka Magica, Akame ga Kill, and others. There are three more seasons, the final one of which just finished its run in Japan, so hurry, Netflix, and serve them up already, would you? 

Sword Art Online
Okay, and then I moved on to Sword Art Online. The third season (which ran from 2018-2020 elsewhere) adapts the "Alicization" story arc of the original manga, which introduces some new characters (one of whom is named "Alice") and takes place mostly in a new virtual world setting called, naturally, the "Underworld." Overall, it's still very watchable, albeit a bit slower-paced than the first two seasons - there is a LOT of expository dialogue, with characters sitting or standing around, talking and explaining things to each other, even in the middle of battles - and much darker in spots, with one scene in particular that is pretty disturbing and definitely not for the younger viewers who may have been following the show up until this point. Also, semi-spoiler alert: what Netflix apparently considers "Season 3" doesn't include the whole second half of the arc, so we'll just need to wait for, I guess, "Season 4."

The only actually "new" season in this roundup. I've already said everything I wanted to say about it in this post.

Blue Exorcist
This show's second season (called "Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga") - which has actually been out since 2017 - is shorter than the first and mixes some fast-paced action with continued character development, apparently retconning part of season 1 to be more faithful to the original manga (I kept thinking, what is Yukio talking about? Everyone knows he's [SPOILER]).

Black Butler
I was little surprised to see that there was a new season of this show (although I shouldn't have been - it came out back in 2010) as the first season seemed to wrap things up pretty nicely (or maybe "completely" is a better word). At first I thought it was maybe just some random one-off adventures until I realized that there was actually a new storyline going on, complete with a new rival lord with his very own demon-butler. It's faster-paced and a little less quirky than the first season, and it weaves the main arc through the various episodes in an interesting fashion, culminating in a cool twist near the end. And then there's a "season three" as well, which is not the actual third season - which came out in 2014 - but rather a bunch of OVA ("original video animation" - the explanation of which is here) episodes that are more like what I was expecting of season two, with random one-off adventures that may or may not be part of the true continuity, including an absolutely delightful meta episode in which the characters play themselves as actors on the show.

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