Welcome back to Anime Pocket Reviews!
Now that the Summer ’18 anime season is over, we’ve got plenty of series to look back upon over the next few weeks! We’re staring off this chain of reviews by looking at two series that started at totally different ends of the spectrum – later, we have a look at arguably the biggest anime franchise around right now, but first of all we review an almost unknown series that has brought the anime world to life over the last few months:
Cells at Work (2018, S1, 13x23mins)
Check out our Half-Term Report on Cells at Work here!
Cells at Work takes place inside the human body, following the everyday jobs of the trillions of cells keeping your body working. The story primarily follows a young rookie Red Blood Cell struggling to get her head around her job – delivering oxygen to cells all across the body. Frequently getting lost at first, she often finds herself discovering first-hand the many catastrophes that threaten the body, developing a relationship with a White Blood Cell as he strives to protect everyone from foreign invaders.
Basically Plot: Follows the inner workings of the human body as countless cells work their hardest to keep it functioning everyday against all sorts of ailments.
This has to be one of the most refreshing anime series I’ve seen this year, and it comes from one of the most interesting and creative stories you can imagine. A story about the inner works of the human body could have looked like almost anything, but the way this story does it has almost trademarked the idea in my mind. This is a series that has a childish front, with young kids running around the body looking after each other, and tiny little platelet kids stealing the show with their cuteness whenever they are on screen. However, this is not a wholly childish series. Cells at Work is a scientifically accurate story, and it is really interesting to watch how the body manages – or, more accurately, stumbles around trying – to cope with issues that, for us, are just a part of everyday living.
As you can imagine, there are some episodes that are easier to watch than others. The flu episode was part of the series’ incredibly fun opening episodes, whereas as two-part conclusion on haemorrhagic shock was a much less enjoyable watch. Overall though, this was an incredibly inventive series that was not only interesting to watch but also nailed how to make childish anime appealing to the masses – fun without being overly cute, interesting without being overly heavy, Cells at Work is well on its way to being the cult classic of this year!
ANIME RANKING: #29 – A fantastic score for a really good series, Cells at Work is ahead of series such as Honey and Clover and Anime Gataris!
If you liked this you’ll love: Shiro Bako (#11) – It’s hard to find a series in our history that does such a good job of being smart and childish, and it’s incredibly hard to find a childish anime series that doesn’t revolve around romance. While this recommendation sounds a bit far-fetched at first, there are actually surprising similarities between the two female leads. A show about the many cogs in the wheel of anime production, Shiro Bako combines informative story with genuine fun, while the added character depth makes this one of the best anime series around!
My Hero Academia (2018, S3, 25x23mins)
Check out our Half-Term Review of My Hero Academia 3 from all the way back in May here!
An epic that has run every week since early April, My Hero Academia is something of a runaway train at this point, and its third season shows that it has no intention of stopping.
Following on from the events in season two, MHA 3 starts with the students of U.A High School sent to a special Forest Training Camp. Run by the superhero team called The Pussycats, the students are tasked with reinforcing their quirks in preparation for gaining provisional superhero licences. However, when the League of Villains attack their base with all their might, the ensuing disaster turns their whole world upside down.
Basically Plot: The third season of My Hero Academia, following the students as they try and become professional heroes, until the League of Villains launch their most powerful attack yet.
The most instantly recognisable anime of the last few years, leaving big-hitters such as Attack on Titan and Black Clover as second fiddle, My Hero Academia is a show that is rightly in the firing line for a lot of criticism, which is why the fact that I’ve come through these 25 episodes with only a handful of disappointing episodes as something of a great achievement.
With the show having aired weekly since the early stages of 2018, it’s no surprise that I’m having trouble recollecting the early episodes. However, the passing of time is not the only reason for this. The first episode of MHA3 received almost historically low praise, and the series’ early training camp – a time-passing plot that is becoming very overused in My Hero Academia now – was not very inspiring. The opening of this season seemed to want to focus a touch more on character building, and it’s in these moments that the hollow nature of this show’s lead rears its head. Midoriya is a character full of morals but not much else, a flaky individual who, left to handle emotional moments on his own, leads the show down a very predictable, one-dimensional path.
Then in episode 4 a fight breaks out and, all of a sudden, the season comes to life. Midoriya plays his ideal role as a pivot for the array of excellent characters dotted around him, lighting up the screen with an array of exciting elements. The first few fights are decent affairs, but when we arrive at the meat of the season concerning All Might there is a real sense of gravity and importance, unmatched by almost every series I’ve seen this year.
However, despite the exciting events mid-season, it’s the most recent arc that is the most impressive, for me. A return to the franchise’s best moments so far, the need for our young heroes to fight against new heroes in the licence exam showed MHA at its best. My Hero Academia is not going to win any awards for its storytelling, and it’s certainly not going to win any awards for its characters, who in the majority can be characterised in three words, maximum. However, what it’s cast lacks in character it makes up for in colour – heroes and villains that, creatively, could stand against any created in any other comic book or film, when they are left to take part in expansive fights there are few anime as watchable out there right now as My Hero Academia.
If you didn’t like MHA before season three, you are not going to like it now – MHA is not going to change, and it has absolutely no reason to. My worry is that there will come a time when these ‘events’ like the exam and the earlier festival become too normal, and there’s only so many new characters that can be introduced to this franchise before that loses its interest, also. Eventually, My Hero Academia will have to solve its character development problem, but for now it’s doing just fine!
ANIME RANKING: #9 – My Hero Academia gets a deserved boost in ranking following this season, jumping into the Top 10 and overtaking giants such as Gurren Lagann!
If you liked this you’ll love: Akame ga Kill (#15) – As the leading name in the incredibly saturated ‘super action’ genre, you are spoilt for choice in terms of alternatives to watch. Our recommendation would be Akame ga Kill, a superhero series with a slightly darker storyline but still keeping that colourful cast that makes these series as entertaining as they are.
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