Week 47 – The Second Annual “Thankful List”
Because “Second Annual List of Things to Be Thankful For” takes up too much space in the title bar. As I did last year, I’m going to look back through the last 46 weeks of Blogress Reports and list the actual good things about 2017, because I’m fairly certain everyone is tired of hearing about the bad stuff. In very loosely chronological order, let’s go with the pop culture stuff first:
- Little Witch Academia (TV): One of my contenders for Anime of the Year. We all knew Studio Trigger would kill it with this series, but they went beyond the call of duty and delivered a true classic. LWA became something I looked forward to every week, and hearing Megumi Han’s spectacular voice work as Akko never failed to improve my mood. The series ended with one of the best final episodes since Madoka Magica, in my opinion, but that’s not the end for Akko and company, oh no. There’s a LWA RPG coming (!!!) which will get an English release (!!!), set to hit North America early next year.
- Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid: My second choice for Anime of the Year was this title that came out of nowhere, smashed all of my expectations, and delivered bigger belly laughs than pretty much anything else I watched in the last eleven months. The initial buzz for Dragon Maid, at least in Tumblr circles, was profoundly negative… many, including myself, groaned when they heard just the title. But then something remarkable happened: word spread as to how touching, thoughtful, adorable, and legit hilarious the show really was. I eagerly await more adventures with Miss Kobayashi, Tohru, and Kanna next year (come on, KyoAni!)
- KonoSuba Season 2: Last year’s surprise comedy hit came back with a vengeance, doubling down on its insanity. I’ve described KonoSuba to friends as “Imagine Sword Art Online but with the cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia“… but that would be selling it short, I think. True, almost all the main characters are horrible, horrible people who deserve most if not all of the abuse the universe heaps on them, but KonoSuba wouldn’t shine without its incredible satire of SAO and the “trapped in a game world” genre, or the flawless voice performances of its cast, particularly Sora Amamiya as Aqua. There’s another season on the way, and I’m counting the days until its release.
- The Nintendo Switch: After what seems like forever, Nintendo scored a massive hit with the Switch’s launch. They kicked off with what people keep telling me is the best Zelda ever, and kept it going with a string of releases ranging from solid to instant classics, most recently with Super Mario Odyssey. And miracle of miracles, it looks like a mainline Nintendo console will have solid third-party support, something that hasn’t happened since the SNES! I’m still waiting to get mine until early next year, but when I do…
- Attack on Titan Season 3: We had to wait four years for this season, and it may have been only 13 episodes, but holy hell did they make each one of those episodes worth waiting for. I’m not the biggest fan of AoT, but even I was glued to my screen for Season 3. Gone were the pacing problems that plagued seasons 1 and 2… the crew made every moment count.
- Boku no Hero Academia Season 2: Rounding out the returning anime is BNHA, which saw a massive groundswell of popularity as its plot ramped up. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: BNHA is remarkable in many ways, but in my book the most remarkable thing it does is taking the tired old shonen anime/manga tropes and either subverting the hell out of them or breathing new life into them. I was a little late jumping on board, but come Season 3 next year, I’m gonna be there from the start.
- Samurai Jack Season 5: The original cast and crew (minus Mako, RIP) brought Jack back for ten new Adult Swim episodes, and for a glorious few weeks it was on everybody’s mind. Season 5 did everything the original show did so well: minimalist atmosphere, incredible fight scenes, and gorgeous art. In terms of revivals of cancelled cult classics, it ranks up there with the best of them in my book.
- Rick and Morty Season 3: Look, forget the szechuan sauce debacle. All the negative press from the worst parts of the fandom doesn’t change the fact that Rick and Morty delivered another season of winners, starting with a surprise season premiere on April Fools Day and continuing in the summer. There is nothing else like R&M on TV, bar none. It may have a shitty fandom, but it’s still brilliant.
- The 13th Doctor: As I write this, I’m within ten episodes of finally catching up to Doctor Who. I was inspired to go through the rest of what I’ve missed by the bombshell announcement that Jodie Whittaker would succeed Peter Capaldi, becoming the first woman to play the Doctor. Hell yes, I say, and it’s about damned time. And of course, by marathoning from the later 10th Doctor episodes through the 12th’s, I’ve discovered some true masterpieces, episodes that make me proud to call myself a full-fledged Whovian at last. First among those is, of course, “Vincent and the Doctor”, which has two perfect scenes in it that I will remember for the rest of my life.
- Wonder Woman: I’m no fan of the DC Snyderverse, but I’m all for feminism and empowerment. And if there’s one thing the DCEU got right, it’s Wonder Woman. The film blew away critics and audiences alike and became the highest-grossing film ever directed by a woman. Its massive success will have a positive effect on Hollywood, I hope.
- Star Vs the Forces of Evil Season 2 and 3: The final episode of 2016 left people screaming. The screaming continued throughout much of 2017, as fans’ minds were blown multiple times in succession. It was getting there before, but now it’s official: Star Vs is up there with Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, and Rick and Morty as one of the best things happening in Western animation right now.
- Sonic Mania: Though my former #1 fandom suffered another blow this year with the abrupt cancellation of the Archie comic after over 500 issues, and Sonic Forces was yet another mediocre effort, Sega actually got something exactly right in regards to the Sonic franchise this year: they put Christian Whitehead in charge of a truly retro-style Sonic game. And Whitehead and his crew delivered a Sonic title that looks, sounds, and feels perfect, like some lost relic from the Saturn era. I swallowed my pride and played it for myself, and I’m so glad that I did.
- Made in Abyss: My third and final Anime of the Year candidate. MiA (oh, that acronym) hid gruesome darkness under a cute Miyazaki-esque exterior… but if there was any anime that triggered my feels HARD this year, it’s Made in Abyss. Yes, it’s brutal, but it’s also gorgeous, thought-provoking, and absolutely unique.
- Star Trek Discovery: It had a hell of a time getting off the ground, but Star Trek is finally back. It’s darker, and it’s different, but it’s back… and it has Cadet Tilly, the #1 reason I have hope for the show. The midseason finale was by far the best episode so far… where it leads, we’ll see when it comes back in 2018.
And on more personal notes:
- Silent InvenTOYry: What started as a one-off experiment turned into a full-fledged series, with each episode getting increasingly more elaborate (and more solid, I hope!) Filming, directing, and editing SI has been a ton of work, but it’s work that I honestly enjoy doing, and that makes it worthwhile. Seeing people like a Gainax staffer and Internet Personality Vangelus acknowledge the show is even better. I’m thankful to you all for sticking with me, for all your views, shares, and comments, and for your patience when I have to iron out the kinks. I’m proud to announce that there will be at least one more full episode of SI by the end of the year, so keep watching this space for more details.
- Patreon: I launched my Patreon back in January with very low expectations, but it’s grown over time so that I’m now finally making decent money with each new Tasakeru chapter. I haven’t been able to keep to a consistent update schedule as often as I’d like, but I’m making every effort to change that.
- Break My Heart, Break Your Heart: I had the privilege of reading and giving feedback on thesilvergoddess’s Overwatch fanfic, a truly incredible effort that they managed to update without fail every week for over a year. All the work that they put into BMHBYH culminated in a spectacular final chapter that tied together everything that came before it. This story was a labor of love, and it shows. I’m honored to have played even a small part in helping it get out there.
- The Changeling of the Guard: My best friend VDrake’s ponyfic chronicling the adventures of “Bugpone Forrest Gump” had another great year, as Idol Hooves officially joined the Royal Guard after many, many chapters of buildup. VDrake then threw everyone a curveball by having Idol meet a certain someone in Canterlot… CotG continues to get well-deserved fan art, accolades, and possibly even a shout-out in the show itself. I couldn’t be prouder of my buddy for his success.
- Shattered Skies: This year’s chapters have largely focused on the “Rescue Party Arc”, which includes some of those most challenging scenes I’ve yet written for my crossover epic. As a special third anniversary gift to my readers, though, I went completely off the rails with “The Non-Canon Lunatic Crack Chapter”, which was an absolute joy to write, and then there’s the “Viluy’s Database” character profiles that I started earlier this month… I’m still having a ton of fun with the story, and still treasuring every bit of feedback I get for it. Extra-special thanks and gratitude go to ErinPtah, who gave my story two (and counting!) amazing pieces of fan art.
So yeah, we’re almost through 2017. It’s been frustrating, maddening, insane, and often inexplicable… but there’s been good stuff, too. There will be good stuff and bad stuff in the future. I’m trying to be thankful for each new day as it comes, because now more than ever, you never can tell what’s around the corner.
- Tasakeru Book III: Soulsnatcher, Chapter 7: 1 page done
- Tasakeru Patreon: 3 Patrons
- Book II Appendix: 2 pages done
- Shattered Skies, Chapter 31: 6 pages done
- Shattered Skies: Viluy’s Database Chapter 2: 9 pages done
- Silent InvenTOYry Episode 6: In conceptual stage