This roller coaster of a spring season has finally drawn to an end, with a few stragglers an episode or a few behind. Quite a few turned into gems that’ll remain favorites for a long time, while others barely clung to my weekly interests. I was sad to say farewell to a couple, notably Hibike! Euphonium, Sidonia, and KinMosa, but the seasons refuse to stay longer than necessary, and I can only hope we’ll see them again soon.
*Please note that there will be obvious spoilers in my final thoughts. The series are discussed as they were finished, and in no order of preference.
- Owari no Seraph
- Hello! Kiniro Mosaic
- Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku
- Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken 2 Sure-me
- Hibike! Euphonium
- Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka
- Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha ViVid
- Plastic Memories
- Houkago no Pleaides (TV)
- Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki
- Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (TV) 2nd Season
- Kuroko no Basket 3rd Season
Owari no Seraph
A post-apocalyptic setting filled with vampires and human soldiers with funny hats–what isn’t there to love? A lot, actually, and we don’t even have an ending to help viewers wrap up and forget about the series; a follow up in October is already slotted to air. The main saving grace to the series is Hiiragi Shinoa, a sarcastic smart mouth with a tendency to tease. Her lines were almost always the only ones worth quoting, and she kept me watching when the characters spewed stupidity.
But let’s be clear, this is not show that excels on either the character or plot fronts despite attempting to drive forward with both. The opening episode was deceptively engaging with the virus that decimated much of humankind forcing its children into the vampires’ embrace. We saw an underground world far larger than imagined, and I was excited to explore its depths. Instead, Serpah catapulted us into a quick escape back to the surface. Everything that followed: the school, new friends, the court, felt empty in comparison. I sympathized with the protagonist and his irritation for his supposed seniors and their seeming inaction.
Secret ingredient: Mika’s transformation came as no surprise, but his disdain for humans did. The show also succeeded in piquing my curiosity for both the reason for Mika’s distaste for man in the vampires and goal. If Shinoa is the one who kept me returning, the Mika is the one who has me more than likely watching the continuation. Go figure that it’d be the two ‘lovers’ of Yu who caught my interest in place of Yu himself.
Hello! Kiniro Mosaic
As unexpected as this sequel was, Hello! grasped my heart easily once more and had me dreading the final episode. Give me more Karen! More Aya and Yoko! More Alice and Shino! More Kuzehashi-sensei and Karasuma-sensei! I do hope to “see you” again soon. I could always count on the episode each week bringing me to laughing tears, no matter how down I might have felt.
Some of the major additions to the season included the new teacher, Kuzehashi, Karen’s friend, the backstory on Alice and Karen’s friendship, and Shino’s future plans. Yuri fans across the globe united with Honoka in her squirming affections of Karen. She also provided a refreshing change of pace from our main group and let us see yet another side of Karen’s awesomeness (can you tell I’m a Karen fangirl?). Then there was the episode that reflected back on an Alice and Karen shortly after Alice’s first homestay in Japan. She was so absorbed in past experiences and on learning Japanese for the future, that she neglected her present surroundings, including Karen. It was a little heart wrenching to see Karen try so hard to catch her friend’s attentions without luck. When they finally came face-to-face with one another, it was as if they were really getting to know each other all over again.
Secret ingredient: I feel a special connection to Shino and Alice, one which became even more apparent with Shino’s declaration for her future plan. I, too, have hosted a couple of Japanese girls when I was younger, and remain close to one and in touch with the other. My closer Japanese sister also went on to translate in various fields between English, Japanese, and even Spanish. I never would have imagined that kind of career for her based on her younger self, but she blossomed into adulthood with a purpose always in mind.
Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku
I fully didn’t expect this show to make it to the end of my spring season, yet here it is completed with surprisingly decent affections. Right from the start, Eruna set herself apart from most other female protagonists with her blatant desires. There was no hidden agenda, no drama resulting from underhanded actions or unspoken intentions. She is one of the most open characters I’ve come across recently, and it’s a nice change from the usual. Sure, she first views other girls as objects of pleasure instead of seeing them as people with many sides, but she eventually starts speaking of them first as friends.
The setting never really progressed beyond my initial feeling of strangeness. The concept doesn’t really sink in until some backstory is told about its founders, but I still never got why it took attendance at the school for students to use powers they supposedly always had. I imagine it should something like in Harry Potter–the occasional stress should induce a magical reaction. Yet, that’s never mentioned. I also didn’t understand why the clubs had to be geared towards the liberal arts. Is it because of some natural connection between the arts and magic, or is it due to the founders’ preferences?
Secret ingredient: I’m totally with Eruna here on her love of the school’s uniforms. One of my favorite comfy outfits in the cooler temperatures is a short-sleeved shirt layered on top of a long-sleeved shirt, much like Eruna and Seisa’s versions of the uniform. I also favored the school colors of red, white, and black, which were also my high school colors back in the day.
Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken 2
I always find it strange when shorts like these get sequels, but I wasn’t going to say no to this one since I was so fond of the first season. The sequel actually turned out a lot different in style and format from the original, opting for episodes with either a single storyline or an easily seeable progression of events. Gone were the random cuts of life, and much of the slapstick comedy had disappeared in favor of a more serious outlook on married life and Kaori’s pregnancy. It was sad to see the original silliness almost disappear, but I also appreciated seeing the couple’s increased focus on their relationship and the upcoming changes their lives would undergo.
Secret ingredient: I really liked seeing the moments of insecurity for both Kaoru and Hajime, where they evaluated themselves and their spouse. Questions, doubts, and fears are all natural and healthy parts of any relationship, and should be addressed to take things to the next level. By ignoring them, I think you only set yourself up for eventual failure. I absolutely love this couple’s openness and acceptance of one another.
Watching this series was thoroughly unlike anything that I expected—it was so much more beautiful, inspiring, and touching than I could have imagined. In a couple of posts, I mentioned my own experience in concert band. I figured Hibike! would be some kind of K-ON!, only with band instruments and a small goal like a cultural festival performance. I instead felt almost like I was re-living my high school and college band years full of practice, stress, and competition. The anime’s characters had to honestly face themselves when deciding the group’s goals. More than often, they found themselves lacking, either in skill, motivation, or some combination of the two.
Hibike! also struck a nice balance between main characters and side cast members—though the large ensemble comprised of many different people of various ages, the chosen highlights made it feel like I really understood the opinions of everyone involved in the journey to Nationals. I was struck by Reina’s stand-off, daresay battle, with the trumpet section. I picked up percussion quickly, almost too quickly for some of my peers. When the results of All-state auditions in high school came out, there was a bit of an awkward vibe from older students who hadn’t made it in when I had qualified. Then in college, I felt like I was suddenly on the opposite end of the ladder with Natsuki, the second year euphonium player. There were so many people better than me who had played for much longer that I almost felt competing was hopeless in light of my better rivals.
Secret ingredient: Auditions are always a terrifying experience, and even more so when done publicly. I had to applaud Taki-sensei for his idea to stop the gossip from the originally private auditions and re-do them in front of the entire band. The spotlight not only provided a more realistic stage for the performers, but also served to silence the grumbling regarding the first results. There truly is no denying the sound quality, and both Reina and Kaori performed wonderfully. With Kaori’s concession to Reina as the soloist, I felt like the band finally came together as one group.
Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka
I never quite knew whether we were in a hyper-realistic video game, or a fantasy with game-like qualities, but the aftertaste of DanMachi is a mixed one. There were many aspects never explained or given any depth, like the very existence of the dungeon, and the presence of the gods. We get a pathetic snatch of a moment with Hestia glowing, but there’s no further demonstration of her powers—I guess she stopped fighters by compelling them? Or perhaps striking fear into their hearts? Whatever the case, she apparently has very few moments where she can actually act a god, since she prioritized Bell’s life over the entire floor’s population when threatened by a floor boss. Maybe it has something to do with the gods being forbidden from entering the dungeon at all, like a ban on their intervention with dungeon events.
As ridiculously overpowered as Bell’s skills and magic made him, I still enjoyed the quests and look of the show (don’t get me started on Hestia’s ribbon). It’s interesting seeing characters venturing into the dungeon with game-like attributes, but facing actual life-threatening situations. I had to keep reminding myself that, yes, a death on a quest means a permanent death. While there’s healing magic, there’s no mention of resurrection other than monsters respawning.
Secret ingredient: Forget Bell’s odd attributes and Welf’s troubled history; what is up with Lilliluka’s ability to carry a pack several sizes larger than herself? It seems like carrying heavy weight is just an inherent skill for supporters, but I would like some explanation about it since she frankly looks ridiculous carrying her bag. Other than her role, I found Lilli’s character an odd one. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t just leave the Soma Familia and join another. She painted a sad image of a victim too afraid and self-belittling to escape for a better place. Bell and Hestia really earned my respect when they understood that about Lilli and accepted her into their everyday lives.
Having just finished the first season and rushing through this second season, I’m happy to say that there is zero resolution to the mystery set forth from the very beginning. We have no idea which girl is the matching key to Raku’s lock, but the sequel ended on the right note about there being plenty of time for our young characters. With how Raku is with the girls, any forced pairing would just feel out-of-place. That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t have my favorites, because I do. I definitely do. They just haven’t changed much from the first season, other than a couple of them swapping places on my preferences.
Chitoge really climbed up to take Onodera’s spot in my favorites. She can act like a stupidly proud brat, but I like even that about her. Her life almost seems a fairy tale with her glamorous home and beautiful parents. If it weren’t for Marika, I would dub Chitoge the princess of the group. She’s talented in almost everything she applies herself, yet remains appropriately humble in her confidence. The pairings of wealth and simple wishes, honesty and shyness, and beauty and physical strength make her an admirable young woman with whom I would love to make friends. That the final episode was dedicated more to her than to any of the other girls made me really happy.
Secret ingredient: There’s a wealth of delicious foods sprinkled throughout the show, not exempting our main character. The Onodera family pastry shop, Raku’s family food stall at the festival, the girls’ stress of Valentine’s chocolates, and Raku’s okayu—I kept feeling pangs of hunger in my stomach and cravings for food not in my pantry when watching the anime. As much as I love the idea of Raku and Chitoge forming the perfectly balanced team, I also adore the image of Raku and Kosaki working side-by-side making traditional Japanese sweets. You have to love a partner who can cook well.
Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha ViVid
I feel like this sequel, which was neither expected nor requested, was a huge nostalgia trip for its franchise fans. You can arguably enjoy without knowing anything at all about the previous series or the huge cast of characters, but it should feel pretty obvious that there’s a lot of history acknowledged yet not discussed. With the wars of the past long finished and much of the animosity diffused and redirected, ViVid could have easily gone the predictable route by destroying its peaceful period with a revival of some old grudge or evil. Instead, the entire season is dedicated to friendly competition between the young girls participating in a martial arts tournament. We are treated to a bevvy of different faces and styles, including a rare witch demonstrating arts long thought lost.
I assume that ViVid will get a sequel, because we never get to see the final match of the tournament. Though we have seen Vivio and Einhart face off in unofficial fights, we haven’t seen them on the tournament stage. Then there’s the previous tournament’s champion who has already recognized Einhart’s skills, promising an exciting match to come. I look forward to a sequel to ViVid where we do get to see these fights, but I also would be ready for some extra conflict and drama thrown in now that we’ve had our season to re-establish the setting and learn about our new young cast. The repeated discussions of Einhart and Vivio’s ancestry has me expecting some development that pits the two against one another.
Secret ingredient: The final match of the season, featuring Einhart and Corona, was a pleasant surprise. I really didn’t expect much out of Corona since she was overlooked for a good majority of the episodes. Her determination to win, or at the very least, do her best, likely shocked everyone witness to her fight. Who knew that this sweet-tempered girl seemingly reliant on her golems would have the grit to pull off some of the magic that she did, including manipulating her own body. I have to agree, however, with Einhart and Corona’s trainers that controlling her body past its capabilities was horrifying to see, particularly in a setting like the tournament’s. I’m glad she was brought to her senses and finished out the battle without using that tactic.
There were so many more intriguing directions this show could have gone, but I do have to give Plastic Memories props for one thing: its display of the human reaction to death. Each of the retrievals demonstrated a different series of emotions in the face of loss. I’m inclined to compare the human-Giftia pairings to human-human relations rather than analyze the show’s definition of the soul. Seeing people’s strength of connection with their Giftia, who only live a short lifespan of about 10 years, made me realize just how quickly relationships can be forged into something irreplaceable. Instead of thinking of Isla and other Giftia as robots with expiration dates, I viewed them almost as terminally ill human beings. There really wasn’t anything differentiating them from us, and over the course of the series, I didn’t care anymore. The feelings and emotions were as real as any.
But let’s talk about Tsukasa and Isla’s partnership, shall we? I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in my skepticism about their romance. We’re told she had less than 2,000 hours left as a Giftia, which pans out to almost three months. Three months is nowhere near enough time to really get to know someone, much less fall in love with him or her. And if you want to argue love at first sight, then I’d point out that it isn’t love, but something closer to curiosity, fascination, or maybe even obsession. I admit that I teared up a bit when Tsukasa and Isla sat on the ferris wheel, but I was fully cognizant of the fact that I was giving in to a hastily constructed romance.
Secret ingredient: One of my favorite moments in the series was when Tsukasa and Isla decided to cook together. This is a fantastic bonding activity, and something I make sure to do every week with my boyfriend. When you work together to create a meal, the flavors somehow seem much more precious as the fruit of your combined labors.
Houkago no Pleaides (TV)
Magical girls, alternate realities and times, space travel, high school daily life—so many things could have easily gone wrong, and quite a few did. But the mish-mash didn’t lose me. I didn’t fully understand the concepts of, well, everything, yet I was able to let go of over-analyzing the particulars and just ride. I ended up strangely invested in our girls’ hunt for the alien’s engine fragments. In the beginning, curiosity was mostly piqued by Subaru somehow triggering magical doors to both the clubroom and later to the observatory garden. My skepticism of the Pleiadian’s request faded with each of the story arcs covering our girls. Like them, I started to treasure the world as they had come to know it, almost hoping that the fragment search would never end.
Minato’s part in the story always felt a tad disconnected from the rest of the story. Yes, he shared an obvious physical resemblance to the magical boy who frequently interfered during fragment gatherings, but his listless presence in the garden slowed time each time Subaru entered the door. Like her, I was entranced by the separated space and Minato’s apparent inability to leave it. Subaru’s love of stars more than likely contributed to her fascination with Minato. He dazzled in his oddity, and felt distant in the room’s inconstant existence.
Secret ingredient: My absolutely favorite story covered Nanako’s encounter with the alien and her inspiration for envisioning and naming it. I don’t think the show ever really explained why only she of all people was able to hear the Pleiadian’s thoughts, as well as imagine its form into reality. The tie in of her family’s separation and her own withdrawal from her surroundings to her discovery of the alien timed beautifully with the transition into Minato’s own backstory. Plus, how can you not be impressed by the actress’ skill in covering two completely different voices. Fujita Saki seamlessly jumped back and forth from the Pleaidian to Nanako.
I’ll repeat my support of this anime from an earlier post. Etotama is a tricky show full of stupid, self-conscious jokes, bouncy boobs, and charming characters. I know quite a few viewers disliked the frequent breaks to the fourth wall, but I thought it invaluable to the tone of the anime. The eto-musume’s battles were televised for their own entertainment. It stands to reason that we, the audience, would in turn get to joke with the eto-musume through our screen as we watched their every day antics. This easy camaraderie with the characters made them feel a heck of a lot closer to me than if they had never acknowledged the viewers. I almost felt like I was also supplying the girls with Sol/Lull each week, like Takeru.
The reason behind Chu-tan’s strikingly different attitude in comparison to the rest of the Eto-shin, as well as her hatred for the Cat Clan, was actually very well explained. I’m happy that the anime veered away from straight up evil and provided a path for the Rat god’s change in character. Given the common notion that the rat and cat hate one another due to the rat’s deception, it didn’t make any sense that Chu-tan would harbor as strong of a hate for Nya-tan the way she did. We got to see Chu-tan at the start of her leadership, and the too heavy load that quickly overwhelmed her. Nya-tan’s actions could have been easily misunderstood by everyone, particularly someone with as much stress as Chu-tan.
Secret ingredient: To the very end, the CG battles were beautifully done. Chu-tan and Nya-tan’s long-awaited battle was just as exciting as I had hoped. It also helps that Pretty Mode is the perfect excuse for more simplistic, shiny character designs and movements. Along with Sidonia and Ronya, Etotama has really changed the way I anticipate CG-centered works.
Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki
Holy goodness. I don’t think there’s another series from the spring that ended with the drive of Sidonia. I’m glad I saved up finishing the anime until all the episodes were already out, or I don’t think I would have been able to handle the weeklong wait between episodes the final month. I knew that our pilots would eventually go up against the hive, which turns out won’t happen until a possible third season, but I could not have imagined a more titillating recon mission than the one at the very end on Planet Nine. I was legitimately on the edge of my couch, gripping the edges and anxiously wishing for Izana’s safety. Ending the way the battle did with Tsumugi having barely survived and Tanikaze covered with Gauna placenta.
This sequel, while still full of its fair share of fights and deaths, still felt far less urgent than the first. More time was spent on Tanikaze’s personal life, particularly after he purchases a home along with Izana. While KWoo felt that this in turn made the show feel slow, I instead appreciated the downtime to learn more about Tsumugi and her very human emotions. Despite her lack of a human face, the worm-like, human-sized appendage she used as her representative in Tanikaze’s home easily displayed her feelings. It’s amazing how much of a person’s thoughts can be conveyed by hand motions. The human-seeming Shizuka felt more alien than the clearly Gauna-created Tsumugi. When Tsumugi went up against Benisuzume the final time, her fight was obviously one she needed to reassert her identity.
Secret ingredient: I seriously wanted to pump my fist in the air when Izana finally became female. As charming as she already was in her undetermined state, I was getting tired of her indecision and moodiness. When her body changed, it reaffirmed Izana’s true feelings for Tanikaze and also seemed to make her a calmer person. I absolutely loved the scene between her and her grandmother, where Yure guilted Izana into wearing her skimpy outfits. I was so afraid that Izana and Tanikaze’s intimate moments just before the recon mission foreshadowed her demise, much like it had with Hinata and Akai.
Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (TV) 2nd Season
What started out a shockingly fast-paced start staggered to a horrifying series of speeches midway through with characters Archer and Gilgamesh. Dialogue has always been a sore point for the franchise, specifically several of the characters’ philosophies on humanity and life itself. With Fate/Zero, I felt that choking idealism less prevalent, but it certainly was still present. The first part of FSN UBW was less elegant, but still had enough action and preferred interactions between Rin and Emiya for me to forgive it. Then this second part aired, and it was immediately clear that whatever I knew from the 2006 series was about to drastically change. I wasn’t opposed to the transition as long as the series continued in its recent predecessors’ path and focused more on art, style, and more singular human convictions. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
I was somewhat intrigued by the increased coverage of Archer’s character and his “heroic” history, but the interest quickly fizzled out as he opened his mouth more and more. While I do love to look at the man, particularly in team with Rin, I cannot stand it when he starts talking about his beliefs and hatred for Emiya. I never thought I’d find another character other than Emiya whose dialogue would exhaust me, but Archer has won that award. When the big reveal was given, I wasn’t surprised (mostly having been spoiled a long time ago by discussion of the visual novels) considering the relationship between the two main males of Rin’s life.
Secret ingredient: The final episode helped a lot for me in saving my final thoughts on the series. It was satisfying to fast forward to the future in England and see some familiar faces (Luvia, and…a grown up Waver???). Rin looks so much like her mother, and she seems to have picked up some of her gentleness as well. I was glad that the show refrained from showing much of the class setting and centered more on Rin and Emiya’s decision to go to England, and their later visit to King Arthur’s final resting place.
Kuroko no Basket 3rd Season
Please, please let this be the end, because I don’t think I can take anymore vamping up of players. Plus, the cool seniors are on their way out and they were the ones who made the rest of the basketball gods a bit more bearable. I honestly used to really like this franchise, and I’m still fairly fond of many of the characters, but the charm really wore off during the second and especially third seasons. I about shut my laptop when the “zone within the zone” first presented itself. From the start, I found the whole concept of the Zone a cheat for making some characters more superior than others, and they kept expanding it until the ridiculous final game between Seirin and Rakuzan. Maybe it was because Akashi was written too omnipotent that they had to desperately write in a loophole for Seirin. Or maybe our team had to unite in the coolest-looking way possible, so team zone was imagined. Whatever the case, I “zoned out” and felt disappointed by the end of it all.
This two-cours third season began around the quarterfinals of the Winter Cup, and I found most of the earlier episodes moved quickly, almost too quickly, in a rush to get to the big baddie, Akashi of Rakuzan. I was curious to see what kind of guy this was to lead the Generation of Miracles we had come to know over the past few seasons, and wasn’t very surprised at his regal bearing and terrifying Emperor Eye. I even sympathized with him a bit in his upbringing. Parental expectations can be a heavy, terrible burden, and Akashi obviously did what he thought would best protect his interests by compartmentalizing his seemingly weaker side. I just didn’t expect it to take so many episodes for Akashi to realize how his “strengths” were actually weaknesses that made any fall all the more disastrous.
Secret ingredient: Kuroko has always been my draw to this series, and I’ve loved seeing him evolve over these years into the confident player that he is, surrounded by team mates he completely trusts. I appreciated it when the anime finally realized that all of his misdirection and learning to dribble and shoot would eventually draw the spotlight and neutralize him. Pitting him against Akashi’s “upgrade,” Mayuzumi, was a great way of forcing Kuroko to return to the shadow for the climactic last seconds of the championship.
- Arslan Senki
- Baby Steps 2nd Season
- Diamond no Ace: Second Season
- Kekkai Sensen (just one more episode!) – Will likely get its own review
- Kyoukai no Rinne (TV)
- Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu
- Ore Monogatari!!
- Shokugeki no Souma