I have been watching a lot of anime lately, and I just finished two series, so I thought I would let you know how I felt about them. First up is Darling in the FRANXX.
I started Darling in the FRANXX because there was a lot of excitement online about this show, but after the first episode I was confused. It seemed like the standard girl in a skin tight outfit with a crush on a whiny dude who pilots a giant robot mecha-anime. To make matters worse the guys have to get behind the girls in a very compromising position to pilot these mechs, but it was well drawn, and the action was cool, so I stuck with it.
It turns out the looks can be deceiving. While Darling could have very easily turned in to just another cheesecake affair, it morphed in to something deeper. The ‘children’ driving these mechs had real feelings, and the bonds they were creating were fascinating. The mystery of the world around them was intriguing. By the end of its twenty-four episode run I was tearing up on a regular basis. Sure hearing “Darling” and “Zero-Two” over and over got a little annoying, but I will forgive it just this once. I am not sure how they could create another season, but I would watch it if they figure out a way. You can watch all of Darling in the FRANXX on Crunchyroll or Hulu now.
Now for Children of the Whales!
Children of the Whales was another anime that took me by surprise. At first it is a bunch of happy kids on an idyllic island, but then everything goes sideways and there is blood everywhere. The fact it is TV-MA should have tipped me off. While I didn’t like it as much as Darling in the FRANXX, it is still a well done show.
The gist is that there are a bunch of kids on an island, the ‘Mud Whale’, on a sand sea that floats around all over the place. There are two types of people on the island, the ‘Marked’ who can move stuff with magic, and they die around 30. While the ‘Unmarked’ get to live long lives, but they don’t get the cool powers. They believe they are all alone until they come across a new island with a lone girl who also has magic powers. That is of course when all sorts of bad things start to happen.
Netflix only has half of the twenty-four episode arc as of now, but I am dying to find out what happens to the “Mud Whale’ and her passengers. If you can handle a few crazy people and a lot of blood, Children of the Whales is the type of anime that reminds you that Japan can do more than just fanservice-y nonsense. It can also create weird and interesting mysteries to solve.
Netflix recently went on record saying they were going to be putting a lot of money towards licensing and creating anime. They also followed that up by raising rates for all but their most basic service, so it seems that more content requires more money. Amazon is also aware of this, but instead of raising rates for all customers, they charge you an extra $4.99 a month for their ‘channel’, Anime Strike.
While on the surface $4.99 doesn’t seem like a lot for a streaming service that supposedly has more than 1000 series on it service, but you can only get Anime Strike if you have a Prime account. Which is $99 a year, so $8.25 a month, but that includes a lot more than just streaming TV. Anyway, Anime Strike plus Prime works out to $13.24 a month plus tax. Which makes it a pretty expensive compared to other services. Though to be far, most people already have a Prime subscription, and unlike the base Prime membership you can add and drop Strike at will, so if there is a series you want to see that you can watch it in a month you can cancel Anime Strike after you are done.
While it makes sense on the surface to charge people who want to watch niche programing more than people who don’t, I am just not sure it will pay off. With all the services people are having to pay for now, I just don’t see that many people excited to spend another $5 on top of something they are already paying for. In the end it will come down to content.
Amazon got me to try Anime Strike with their free trial because they were the only place that had ‘Sword Oratoria: Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side’, but they didn’t have enough to keep me past the seven day trail. This will be a problem for Amazon. If they can’t get people to pay for its anime channel, than they will not have enough money to get more anime to keep up with Netflix, Hulu and Crunchy Roll.
It is just interesting to see Amazon going about this differently than everyone else, and I am not sure it is the right path to take. We will see, I may end up spending an extra $4.99 month if they end up with the only place to get the content I want, so far that is not the case.
Splitting the latest Voltron season in to two parts didn’t do it any favors. It killed the momentum of the first half, but thankfully what they are calling season four delivers on goods promised in season three. It is action packed, full of drama, and it is nice to see team Voltron making some headway. There are also quite a few twists in this half of the season, so I can’t wait to see how those play out in seasons five and six, provided they split the show yet again.
However, I am hoping that this show has an end point planned out for the near future. While I love watching it, I would hate for it to get full of filler and randomness just to keep it going. There is nothing worse than a show just making stuff up as it goes along just because they don’t want to cancel it. I am looking at you Naruto! BELIEVE IT!
So while season four of Voltron only clocks in with six twenty-two minute episodes, they are all quite good, and I am ready for six (or thirteen) more whenever they want to drop them. Sooner or later I will not be able to justify the price of Netflix, but thanks to shows like Voltron, this is not that day.
In the early years of Netflix, their anime library was a bit of a wasteland. There was nothing to see except a couple series that just about every other service had too. Netflix’s only upside was that they didn’t have commercials. I complained about this a couple of times on this very blog. However, it seems like they have learned the error of their ways.
They have announced several new shows and movies that will be distributed by them exclusively in the USA, and that they are going to start working with Anime development companies to create new shows just for Netflix. Apparently, according to The Verge, a large portion of their $8 Billion programming budget will go towards getting more Anime on their service.
While there still isn’t a ton of Anime on Netflix, it has picked up. Whenever I am in the mood to watch some Anime I am able to find something interesting. In fact I just finished the Netflix Original: Kuromukuro, and while it wasn’t earthshattering, it was pretty entertaining. This is just after watching Little Witch Academia which was excellent, so the quality is improving as well. Not to mention their American animation arm which is pumping out great things like Voltron (season 4 just hit!).
I am not the only one that is happy, Netflix is adding millions of subscribers, and they attribute a lot of that success to Anime fans. Yeah us! So apparently big companies do listen to their customers, and I look forward to all the new Anime I am going to get to watch.
Have you been wanting an anime that isn’t full of fan service, preachy dialog, and is just sweet fun? Little Witch Academia might be what you are looking for. It follows a young girl, Akko, with little to no magical ability on her quest to become a witch so she can be like her hero Shiny Chariot, and I have been enjoying watching her struggle to become the best.
I find it refreshing that none of this comes easy for Akko. She doesn’t instantly become the greatest witch of all time just because she is the hero, like so many other magical kid anime shows. She has to work hard and study to just stay in school let alone perform any magic, and the ‘B’ plot of magic slowly depleting from the world and how it connects to the witch that inspired her is actually interesting.
If you are on Netflix, you may also see a thirty minute mini-movie with the same name and a slightly longer Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade. While those ‘movies’ feature the same characters acting pretty much the same way, the series is newer and reboots everything, so while those short films are good, they are not required viewing for the TV show.
Little Witch Academia is a fun show, and it has been refreshing to watch after the slog that was the second season of Sword Art Online. Will Akko become the greatest witch of all time? Probably not, but her show is easily one of the best anime series on Netflix.