Happy 2016, Year of the Monkey! The 2015 anime season ended on an exhaustively long, yet exhilarating run, launching us into a new year full of hopeful anticipation. I completed 14 shows this fall, and retained 6 ongoing series. It was a whirlwind, so hop on and let me know what you thought of both this past season and the year as a whole. Cheers!
- Gakusen Toshi Asterisk
- Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry
- One Punch Man
- Kekkai Sensen
- Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider
- Owari no Seraph: Nagoya Kessen-hen
- Working!!! Lord of the Takanashi
- Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan
- Noragami Aragoto
- Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru
- Ushio to Tora (TV)
- Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka??
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk
Yes, I really am starting here, not only because I finished it first, but also because I’d like to get the tasteless out of the way as soon as possible. I’m really not sure why I stuck with this show, other than a slight interest in the opening scene featuring a girl and a weapon. Unfortunately, she doesn’t show up again for the rest of the series and we are instead saddled with her younger brother whose name I have a difficult time remembering.
From the opening introduction of Ayato and Julis, I repeatedly found myself distracted by poor production quality in plot, characters, art, and animation. Strangely enough, the music, alone, redeemed itself in a tasteful ending. It felt as if no one really cared about the cohesion of all the pieces. Scenes popped in and out disjointed from one another and the overall story and characters formed bonds with no development actually being shown to the viewer. The fights were flashy and the weapons mildly interesting, but a lack of theory and proper execution hacked away at any sense of reality.
Rating: 0 dango
Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry
The doppelganger of Asterisk, Cavalry follows almost the exact same format of story, setting, tone, and characters. And like the other, I could never really remember any of the names of the cast–I frequently confused the two with one another, even to the end. Dull male (except in battle) pairs up with a fiery (literally) tsundere at a high school centered on magical battles and aims to dominate a tournament between students of different schools. We don’t need names of characters or schools since everything is just rinse and repeat!
Okay, to be less cynical, this show was bad, but not so bad that I would drop it. I wanted to see Ikki one-up his jerk of a father, and I thought it was nice for him to have supporting friends after a childhood devoid of compassion. Although his romance with Stella came out of nowhere and had all the depth of a kiddy pool, I always wish the joy of love for others. I very likely will not be on board for a sequel whenever it airs, but I’m sure it will be just as predictable as this season was.
Rating: 0 dango
One Punch Man
Having stolen the #1 slot in my 2015 12 Days of Anime, One Punch Man strutted its style and substance across the screen and my affections. I welcome any imitations that may arise over the following years–the best form of flattery. Maybe others will do even better, or maybe they’ll just highlight everything that OPM did extremely well. From its lead characters to its setting and dialogue, the anime took a popular genre and played on its conventions in creative and memorable ways. I mostly discussed the main characters, Saitama and Genos, in my 12 Days post, and didn’t touch upon the other areas. But I do want to call attention to the Hero Association and its questionable Hero Rating system.
I found it interesting that though we were shown Saitama’s physical exam, we were never shown in detail his verbal test; we are just informed that his poor rating in one eclipsed his record-setting rating in the other enough to knock him down to C status. Genos, in turn, immediately receives an S rank due to high scores in both areas–yet he, and we, can attest to the fact of Saitama’s superiority in field. Even after many following battles demonstrate Saitama’s unlimited abilities, he only makes incremental movements upward in the system. As the manga is still ongoing and this anime season did not address the mysteries of Metal Knight and Amai Mask, I’m certain we’ll receive a continuation.
Rating: 2 dango
Another entry for my 2015 12 Days, Kekkai Sensen (or Blood Blockade Battlefront) was hands down the most stylish show of the year. My approval of this show was strong enough to almost completely forgive them not making their expected air date for the last episode. So here it is, now, in my fall round-up instead of summer’s covered in tears, snot, and slight bewilderment.
If I told you I totally understood the show’s ending, I’d be a liar. From what I remember of the penultimate episode compared to the first half of the last, I am nonplussed on how in the world Leo escaped alive and somehow still saved the world. Boredom on Femt’s part, perhaps, but it comes across as awfully convenient. The following lead-up of Leo’s confrontation of the King of Despair reunited us with the Libra members whom I had semi-forgotten in the three-month wait to this finale. If the last episode had aired on schedule with the rest of the season, I probably would have found the greetings overly long and cheesy, so here’s one area at least where the delay helped my interpretation of events.
Rating: 2 dango
Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider
My feelings on Subete ga F ni Naru are mixed–on one hand, I was quickly enthralled in the thrilling mysteries of the seemingly closed complex murders and Dr. Magata’s strange life and, on the other hand, I frequently tired at the drawn-out dialogue between Saikawa-sensei and Moe and at Magata Shiki’s preaching. I frequently struggled between boredom and irritation in each episode. The one area in which I found Subete ga F ni Naru continually impressed were its demonstrations of human emotions, namely through Nishinosono Moe.
For the majority of the series, I thought the relationship between Moe and Saikawa odd. Other than the connection of her father, I didn’t understand how two such seemingly different people kept connected. The two reminded me of those couples where one person puts in all the effort and the other just accepts without any return of action or heart. It took multiple almost yawn-inducing conversations between them for me to start picking up on Saikawa’s muted ways of showing his feelings. Moe stands completely opposite him with an open heart and mind; she is just the type of girl I’d want to befriend with her sharp wit and honest interactions. I can see why “Magata” took such an interest in her during the interview and why Saikawa goes along with her whims.
Rating: 1 dango
Owari no Seraph: Nagoya Kessen-hen
NOT ANOTHER ONE!!!!!!!! ACKKK!!! And here I thought Seraph would wrap up in this second season…
Regardless of my irritation, I’ll likely sign-up for subsequent installments since hardly anything found resolution by the end of the the battle for Nagoya. In fact, even more threads grew from the already tangled nest of lines: Guren’s dual identities and similarity to Yuu; the angels of the apocalypse in Yuu, Mirai, and likely others; Hiiragi Kureto’s motivations and intentions for seeking control of the Seraph of the End; Mitsuba’s sister Aoi and her bond to Kureto; vampire politics and Krul’s deal with Hiiragi Mahiru; and the list goes on.
On top of the never-ending directions and sequels, another source of irritation was the change in Shinoa’s character. She was the sole reason I stuck with the first season and moved on to this second one. Yet the writers saw fit to suck her dry of her sly humor and mischief and turn her into a wet nurse for Yuu and wet blanket on the team. Come back to me, Shinoa-dear!
Rating: 0 dango
Working!!! Lord of the Takanashi
Like with Kekkai Sensen, Lord of Takanashi makes it onto this list with its single episode wrapping up the events of the main series. As a standalone episode, there’s obviously a strangeness in trying to reconnect with all the characters; however, the ease of immersing myself into this sitcom is much easier than when I attempted to get back into the correct frame of mind for Kekkai Sensen. The comedy was solid as usual, and with our matured (a bit) characters and developing relationships, this final episode was exactly what I needed to wrap up Working!!! Never mind that I actually believed the initial teaser that this would be some fantastical RPG adventure 😉
Rating: 1 dango
Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan
With the trend in super-short duration series, I’ve found my lists these past couple of years littered with two to three per season. Thankfully, I only had one this time around with Hakone-chan, and adorable hot spring spirit hailing back to the Edo period. Her most commonly seen form is what you see above, that of a little girl. But when she channels the full strength of the spring, she suddenly transforms into an adult version of herself. The three-minute episodes follow mostly an episodic format with individual cuts in the lives of Hakone and the modern-era humans whom she befriends. It’s only really at the end where a couple episodes here and there connect in an attempt of closure for the fall season. Hakone-chan was altogether forgettable, but in a childhood daydream kind of way.
Rating: 0 dango
The second season of Noragami surprised me in airing as soon as it did; I had no idea the show had enough backing to continue only a little over a year later. The first season was for the most part lighthearted, with only a couple of serious subplots added in for substance in each half of the show.
Aragoto took notes from its predecessor and immediately confronted the strained relationship between Yato and Bishamon. Instead of focusing more on our main god to explain the reason for their enmity, we were instead treated to a delightful background exploration and present conspiracy revolving on Bishamon the War God. Everything we learned about regalias through Yukine from the first season came into great use when evaluating the huge numbers in Bishamon’s house. The danger of just one regalia gone astray magnifies untold amounts with larger households, and Bishamon struggles with health and pride to maintain appearances. She was a fascinating character to get behind and the perfect place to open the sequel.
Then the second half of Aragoto took the burdens of godhood several more steps by questioning Yato’s identity, in turn questioning the importance of each god’s individual reincarnation. Yato and Ebisu pushed off beautifully from one another. I would like to see more of this world and further test Hiyori’s connection to it.
Rating: 1 dango
Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru
Beautiful characters, bones, and mysteries came together in Sakurako-san in a manner most intriguing to this blogger. I’m certain there’s much more to come for this series given the revealed mastermind behind many of Sakurako’s discoveries and that final scene post closing credits. The show may have ended on a hopeful note with Shoutarou’s declaration of continued friendship, but I’m betting a sequel will bring Sakurako’s fears to light.
I actually thought this series would have more of an overarching conflict apparent right from the beginning. The deceptively episodic nature of Sakurako and Shoutarou’s findings didn’t bother me in the least–it just wasn’t what I had expected. But my early assumptions finally found fruit once Sakurako started piecing together the past several incidents into one disturbing trend. I’ve always been a fan of eerie, uncanny settings and events, and I’m wishing that any continuation will bring more horror along with it.
Rating: 1 dango
Ushio to Tora (TV)
Ushio to Tora leaped onto my list two seasons ago full of a youthful energy that reminded me a bit of my beloved HxH series. Japanese folklore? Check. Promised adventure? Check. It didn’t take long for me to invest myself in Ushio and Tora’s strange relationship and the ensuing battles against other youkai. I am not at all familiar with the source material or the OVAs from the early 90s, but I was curious about the strange power of the spear and its origins.
With the early episodes, I didn’t tune in regularly each week since the tone was still light and full of cheesy banter between characters we were just starting to get to know. But as stakes were raised and goals were set–finding Ushio’s mother, learning about Hakumen no Mono–I started to push Ushio to Tora higher and higher on my priority list. I particularly enjoyed the various female characters, like Ushio’s close friends Mayuko and Asako, as well as the main villain who most frequently appeared as a fox-eyed woman. Each played her part in revealing Ushio’s many weaknesses, as well as his unlimited potential.
I’ll see you next spring, Tora!
Rating: 1 dango
Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka??
Is anyone else with me in hoping to see Chino travel to Cocoa’s home for a brief visit? The first season of GochiUsa was an immediate hit in my books, and picking up this sequel was a given. What differentiated this season from the previous was that we focused a lot more on the younger generation of Chino and her elementary school friends, Maya and Megu. There was still plenty of screen time for my favorite trio of Rabbit House, but I was very happy that this season wasn’t just a rinse and repeat of the original.
The series ended on a note that really aligned with my own holiday season–Chino found a hobby in photography, and spent the last couple of episodes flitting around taking pictures of her surroundings. I, too, spent the majority of my Christmas in New York playing with the new Sony camera KWoo gifted me shortly before our trip. While I do enjoy the goofier type of posed shots of which Cocoa is so fond, I much prefer cameo shots like what Chino was attempting to capture for Mocha. This is actually also how I chose my wedding photographer, someone who prides himself on cameo and photo-journalistic shots. I love photos that tell stories even at just a glance.
Rating: 1 dango
This all-male cast show could honestly have been instead all females, and it wouldn’t have made a difference. It would’ve instead been more appropriate since I cannot even begin to imagine real human guys talking to each other the way Hoshitani and his friends do in every episode. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like there’s been a dry spell for guy-centric series–other decent recent examples include Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE!, which worked much better with its aims, as well as Kimi to Boku., which similarly suffered from dialogue better suited for the opposite sex. It’s not that I think guys shouldn’t talk the way these shows portray; I just never, ever hear genuine examples of it.
Regardless, I did enjoy Starmyu from start to finish since it exceeded the expectations I had for it. I’m usually a big fan of the fine arts settings, particularly featuring music. UtaPri was a pretty big disappointment when it first aired, and I was scared I would think the same of Starmyu. Happily, the cheese factor only overwhelmed me during the short musical moments–the rest of the time, I was invested in seeing Otori’s team prove their determination and skills on stage.
Rating: 0 dango
Owarimonogatari very nearly got dropped due to my own negligence and distaste for a couple of its prequels. Thankfully, due to the flattering comments I read by fellow bloggers, I kept it on the list and charged past my initial two-episode stall and finished the show last of all my fall series. I am so, so glad I kept with it, because Owarimonogatari was solid in story, characters, and dialogue.
My biggest beef with almost all of the individual series in the Monogatari Series are its inclinations for over-complicated discourse and visual symbolism, both of which in moderation are also its strengths. I always find myself teetering on fascination and boredom, and have fallen asleep at least once per season. Then there’s the sexualized nature of almost all of Araragi’s encounters with his 99.9%-female cast members. Most of the time, I find them extremely comfortable. Pretty much the only times where I don’t mind, and even take pleasure in the clever banter, are when Senjougahara, Hanekawa, or Kanbaru are the ones taking part. Innuendos and blatant invitations abound with Kanbaru this time around, and, surprisingly, I looked forward to it. Her and Araragi’s relationship became my favorite of Owarimonogatari, and is now second in the overall franchise only to Senjougahara.
Rating: 2 dango
- 0 dango – average and forgettable.
- 1 dango – very good in its category.
- 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
- 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.