Fading memories: The Anime of 2015

Hello, and welcome to 2016! I can see you're already incredibly excited to have one extra day added to your calendar in which to watch anime, bu- what's that you say? You somehow missed all of the anime of 2015 because you were in a coma/had a degree to do/got a life/someone called you "weeb trash" and made you cry/were living in a country with ludicrous internet restrictions/took a good long look at yourself/[insert some other terrible excuse here]? Well then, boy do I have the blog post for you!

That's right, it's time for me to honour that hallowed tradition (that I've done once before) of giving you a snapshot of all the anime I watched that aired last year. It was a hell of a year for me - what with graduating, getting a job and going to Japan for the first time - but was it a hell of a year for anime? Initially when I was thinking back I couldn't muster up more than a couple of winners, but nor could I really distinguish between what aired in 2015 and what aired in 2014. Upon further inspection, whilst compiling the list of shows I had to include in this post, it turns out that it was actually a pretty decent year! Some very special shows and perhaps fewer awful ones (that I watched, anyway). You may remember the tier system from last year's post - I'll be expanding this to a God/great/good/OK/bad tier system, because three tiers really doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room. Hopefully this might give you some indication of what is worth watching and what really, really isn't.

So without further ado, fasten yourselves in - you're in for a wild ride.

Aldnoah.Zero 2nd Season
The second season of a show about an alternate universe in which the moon has some kind of crazy portal to Mars on it and gets blown up when Martians come through to take over the world with their magic-fueled mechas. Conflict ensues.

Wow. What a note to start on. The season kicks off with everyone coming back from the dead (the lucky ones complete with swanky bionic eyes) to pick up exactly where it left off, doing the exact same stuff - all my points about the first season in last year's post still stand. We return to the "monster of the week" formula for the most part, with gimmicky bad guys falling victim to the powers of SCIENCE. The action sequences, whilst incredibly silly, are at least fun to watch and supported by *the* Sawano Hiroyuki score, and apart from the comically bad dialogue (and stupid names) are the main source of entertainment here. Otherwise the show is held back by its protagonists' complete lack of character - I'm looking at you Kaizuka "I'm not a robot, honest" Inaho and Slaine "What the hell is my motive anyway?" Troyard - and its story. The ending was such a non-event it must be seen to be believed. The one saving grace was the fact that Count Cruhteo had a son.

Verdict: OK tier (higher than bad tier because it's got the whole "so bad it's good" thing going for it, but hasn't quite mastered that to the extent of, say, Mahouka)

Ansatsu Kyoushitsu
Let me just give you the MAL synopsis:
"When a mysterious creature chops the moon down to a permanent crescent, the students of class 3-E of Kunugigaoka Middle School find themselves confronted with an enormous task: assassinate the creature responsible for the disaster before Earth suffers a similar fate. However, the monster, dubbed Koro-sensei (the indestructible teacher), is able to fly at speeds of up to Mach 20, which he demonstrates freely, leaving any attempt to subdue him in his extraterrestrial dust. Furthermore, the misfits of 3-E soon find that the strange, tentacled beast is more than just indomitable—he is the best teacher they have ever had!"

You had me at "Fukuyama Jun voices a crazy space octopus who blew up the moon and is now here to teach your children". In my opinion this one didn't have the strongest first half, but got better and better as each of the students started to develop their own personalities/specialties, building up to a big finale. Some of the comedy misses the mark, and occasionally the "action sequences" are few and far between, but it's supported throughout by that ludicrous premise - which doesn't get as old as you might imagine over the course of 22 episodes. Season 2 has just kicked off (though granted not in spectacular fashion), so I recommend giving this one a go. Can't decide if I love or hate the stupid, stupid opening sequence dances. Probably hate.

Verdict: Good tier

Arslan Senki
A young prince has his world turned upside down when his country suffers a shocking defeat at the hands of an army of religious zealots, thrusting him into a fight for survival as well as a battle for succession to the throne that's been lost.

Loved pretty much every minute of this series. A strong and diverse cast of characters in combination with a slightly historical slightly fantastical setting and a classic story. For me it was practically screaming 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms' - it's even getting its own Warriors game - which is no bad thing at all, as I can't recall seeing an anime quite like it. Aside from various moments where it seemed the animation budget had basically run out (perhaps being saved up for that phenomenal showdown in the penultimate episode), and the odd moment where we're slapped across the face with a "REMEMBER MAGIC EXISTS IN THIS WORLD APPARENTLY" to deus ex machina some tense moments, I can't really find anything to fault here.

Verdict: Great tier, verging on God tier

Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou
I don't even know. There are "superhumans" who I think we're supposed to like, "beasts" who we like sometimes but not all the time, "aliens" which might be "superhumans" but maybe not, and who knows what else.

I loved this series and at the same time, or perhaps because, I had absolutely no idea what was going on at any given time. I like that sort of entertainment every once in a while. Our "heroes" are part of an organisation that are supposed to register and protect superhumans (sound familiar?), and the show mostly consists of their dealings with different outlandish groups and individuals. The world and/or Japan is probably saved innumerate times over the course of the series. I think there's some kind of conflict going on between the protagonists about what their role should actually be and who they're supposed to protect, and there's a freaky timeskip section at the end of each episode where they all seem to be fighting each other in some bizarre future world, but I have no idea. None of it makes any sense. And it's glorious. I'm led to believe you can find people who actually know what's going on in this show online and read what they have to say, but I reckon why spoil something like this? Colourful, fantastical, over-the-top, deep (maybe?), and it's got all the giant monkey (maybe?) vs. robot (maybe?) action you could ever want.

Verdict: Great tier (though low end, as some of the episodes are a bit slow or even more disconnected than the other ones)

Death Parade
When people die they are sent to either heaven or hell. When two people die at the exact same time they are sent to a place of judgement, where they are forced to stake their "lives" on games of bowling and air hockey in order to determine who belongs where.

What a show. I came in knowing sort of what to expect, having seen the one-off Death Billiards previously, but was still blown away. It covers some pretty deep and dark content, fairly unique to the medium, yet manages to offset it masterfully with some great humour (and that opening). As each new pair of players is introduced you're eagerly wondering "What's their story? How did they die? Are they a good or a bad person?". The atmosphere created is unlike anything else I've seen, and the whole thing is supported by a good cast of consistent characters, in the form of the "arbiters", who obviously left a strong impression as we cosplayed them at this October's MCM. Rather than just observing the judgement process week after week we are also treated to an overarching story in the form of the character development of our arbiters and delving into the past life of the girl who is the closest thing we have to a protagonist. Unfortunately the latter is not particularly memorable for me - I imagine that the show's writers thought that they couldn't sustain a whole series of one-offs like Death Billiards and felt the need to have an overarching strand, however in this case I would have been perfectly happy to just watch more individual stories unfold.

Verdict: Great tier (could have hit God tier if the protagonist was more relatable or had a more interesting backstory)

Diamond no Ace
A pitcher with a unique throwing style is scouted by a national-level team, where his ambition is to become the ace! He then proceeds to be massively outclassed by all of his peers, but we love him anyway.

If you've spoken to me in the last year or two then you probably know how I feel about this series - it's my new Kuroko basically. Just fantastic sporting anime goodness from start to finish, with a massive list of great characters, brilliant soundtrack and no real pacing issues (the Achilles heel of most sports anime). It even got me so emotionally invested I cried. Also it's a collaboration between Production I.G and Madhouse?! That still gets me every time. Its only fault was that it had to end, but then it just started again pretty much immediately so hooray!

Verdict: God tier

Durarara!!x2 Shou and Durarara!!x2 Ten
Everyone knows Durarara right? A tale of intrigue and hijinks taking place in the heart of Ikebukuro with a pinch of the supernatural.

It's safe to say I was incredibly hyped for more Durarara. The first season was certainly God tier material, so how did the second season (effectively split into two halves) shape up? Unfortunately it wasn't that great. The already bulging cast was supplemented by several new figures, none of whom were as interesting or likable as the previous main players, who only really served to dilute screentime between everyone even further. Don't get me wrong, it was still a solid and enjoyable show, it was just missing the magic of the first season - the goosebumps you got during the big set pieces when all the seemingly disparate strands of story came together to form one glorious whole. Here's hoping season 3 will up the quality.

Verdict: Good tier

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works 2nd Season
More of Unlimited Blade Works, which was more of Fate/stay night just better animated.

A resounding "meh" I suppose. The Fate universe has never grabbed me in the same way it seems to have grabbed thousands of others, and it was only with some coaxing that I ended up watching both Unlimited Blade Works and Fate/Zero last year (after several false starts trying to get into Fate/stay night previously). Granted it's fairly pretty, and the fights can look pretty darn impressive, but both the characters and the story pale in comparison to Fate/Zero which I did end up enjoying. The deus ex machina and the complete non-event that was the climax were the final nails in the coffin sealing this one's Fate.

Verdict: OK tier

The show follows the exploits of the "Handymen", who are essentially mercs for hire, in a city with a pretty vile underworld. One used to be the heir to a rich and influential family, the other is a deaf "Twilight" - beings seemingly bred for combat who function differently to normal humans, and as such are discriminated against.

I'm not going to say I had high hopes for this one, but the first episode got me sufficiently interested at least. The setting was fairly unique (not a high school in sight), and it looked set to be some kind of gritty crime drama tackling some pretty deep issues. It turned out it was pretty bad. Gangsta plays at being an adult show by dressing itself up in sex and drugs and violence in the same way that a show on HBO might. There's nothing deep here - any meaning that it was trying to impart about segregation or "doing what you have to" or whatever has been said a thousand times before in many better ways. The story itself is a wholly unmemorable affair (to the extent that I've basically forgotten it all), with a smattering of bloody fight scenes to ensure the viewer doesn't give up or fall asleep. It created the perfect "gangsta" atmosphere, it just didn't do anything noteworthy with it. And when will STEREO DIVE FOUNDATION do another song like "Daisy"?

Verdict: Bad tier

Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri (or just GATE)
A "gate" opens up in the middle of Tokyo, connecting our world to one reminiscent of some fantasy RPG. An army from this unknown world emerges to attack us, but is swiftly put down by the superior weaponry of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces who are then inclined to stage an expedition into enemy territory. The series chronicles the adventures of a young officer (who's a bit of on otaku) as he makes contact with the natives, defeats dragons etc.

Perhaps a surprise hit for me, as it borders on fanservice a few too many times for comfort, but a very engrossing watch for some reason. Maybe it's the reasonably unique premise, or the characters in our hero's squad, or the world-building, or how it manages to sustain an interesting narrative of conflict between the two worlds despite the vast difference in destructive power - as evidenced by the above scene, in which Japanese troops happily mimic Apocalypse Now whilst obliterating countless enemy soldiers from the safety of their helicopters. Whatever the reason it was certainly a fun watch, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it's going to go in season 2.

Verdict: Good tier

Hibike! Euphonium
A girl who seemed like she didn't want to join the concert band for some reason ended up joining the concert band and does concert band type stuff?

KyoAni being true to themselves produced this classic tale of cute girls doing cute things, but also having feelings, whilst holding musical instruments. Not much substance to this one that I could discern, but it's certainly very pretty. The "story" of the series seems to revolve around the main girl's inner conflict, the details of which escape me, and tension within the band over how seriously they should be taking club activities. Not much to write home about, and certainly not very memorable, but did I mention it's very pretty? I've seen this one get praise online for having a "relatable" or "realistic" main character, but in my eyes she was just incredibly dull and was constantly having nonsensical inner monologues and contradicting herself - maybe that's what they meant? Very pretty though, and thus reasonably watchable. Also wins points for starring a euphonium.

Verdict: Bad tier

K: Return of Kings
A second season of K! Seven kings have been granted special powers which they are able to share with their subordinates, forming a system of clans that somehow holds the city together.

Looking back on the first season before this one kicked off I couldn't really remember anything special about K, or any reason why I managed to get all the way through it, apart from maybe the art style. Perhaps my memory just wasn't serving me very well (as it often doesn't), but the explosive opening to the second season seemed like a different show entirely - some insanely high-octane 3D-animation action sequences and a pumping electro soundtrack, along with some bizarrely extreme fanservice (from a show that I'm pretty sure exists mostly for fangirls to ogle the pretty guys) caught me massively off-guard. And whilst the story won't be winning any awards, the stunning fight scenes and the introduction of the green and grey kings sustain the entertainment value of the series all the way through to the finale. Potentially worth a look even if you haven't seen the first season.

Verdict: Good tier

Kekkai Sensen
Or the (sort of) aptly named "Blood Blockade Battlefront". I can't promise to have the details right here, but it seems like New York has been surrounded by some impassable bubble and then a path to the underworld has opened up beneath it? And that's possibly given some people blood-related superpowers? And vampires exist? I dunno.

This was a jolly fun show, at least if you ignored all the seemingly depressing bits. Bit of light-hearted fun along similar lines to Concrete Revolutio, i.e. I had no idea what was going on but it looked funky. It even had that great ending sequence! And that episode devoted to the little mushroomesque guy who loved burgers! No deep analysis on this one from me I'm afraid, except maybe to say that the parts where the show was trying to be deep (all the stuff with the siblings, especially in that finale that came out I don't know how many months late) didn't really work for me. Stick to the disconnected tidbits of random fun.

Verdict: Good tier

Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu (or Parasyte -the maxim-)
Boy meets girl, boy is violated by some bizarre alien creature that assumes control of his right hand, boy becomes super strong and cool and doesn't need glasses anymore and protects girl from harm, girl surprisingly chill about the whole alien parasite thing.

I don't really know how to describe this show, as perhaps shown in the above paragraph. The one obvious stand-out point is that it's pretty "messed-up" on a number of levels, from the demented actions of the alien invaders to their twisted appearances, as well as the effect they have on the mental well-being of our initially normal-high-school-boy protagonist. But it's the sort of messed-up that instills that sense of morbid curiosity in you - that no matter how much you want to cringe or look away or throw up you still need to know what's going to happen. Aside from the freaky aliens and mental anguish angles, Parasyte also has some pretty funky action sequences going for it, with some great animation as I recall. Definitely an experience, and a largely positive one at that, though potentially marred by some pacing issues and a lacklustre finale.

Verdict: Good tier

Kuroko no Basket 3rd Season
What, is the picture misleading? You know what Kuroko is by now right? Right?!

You also probably know how I feel about it. Third season, more intense basketball action. The one thing I was unsure of about this season was the pacing, as it seemed like they were extending certain sections and contracting others to ensure that the whole story fit within three series. In the end I think this decision made the Teikou arc (the flashback to when the generation of miracles are all at school together) feel a bit out of place and almost pointless, but everything still came together well enough. They also took "over-the-top" to the next level with the way they animated the climax of the last match, but hey I'm certainly not complaining about super cosmic basketball. Just watch this show already.

Verdict: God tier

Log Horizon 2nd Season
The second season of a show about people who get trapped in an MMO yadda yadda yadda, you know the rest (better than SAO).

After the first season had me pretty much hooked, the second proceeded to really try my patience. There are any number of things to complain about: the switch to Studio Deen resulting in weird looking characters and worse animation, the focus on the younger and more annoying guild members, the switch in plot from surviving and setting up an infrastructure in the new world to trying to find some mystical way to return home, the way they made Akatsuki lame, the list goes on. Only during the one or two big raid sequences did any of the charm of the first season shine through, otherwise a bit of a confused and unmemorable mess. Also it still has "database" as the opening - I never thought that song could outstay its welcome, but 50 episodes.....

Verdict: OK tier

Magic Kaito 1412
A spin-off from the long-running and eternally popular Detective Conan series, following the exploits of a high school magician with a penchant for grand heists.

Now this was a surprise winner and no mistake. I had no prior experience of the Detective Conan universe, and as such some of the cameos and the like were probably lost on me, but this certainly made me consider diving in. Just a really enjoyable wacky heist show, with near Inspector Gadget levels of goofiness. There's nothing especially original here - Kaito inherits the "phantom thief" moniker from his dead (or maybe not?!) father, has an Alfred-esque character supplying him with endless gizmos, is blatantly the infamous Kaito Kid and yet nobody at school - including the shockingly clueless childhood friend/love interest - can figure it out. The pretty flimsy excuse for all his jewel thievery (something about finding a gem that grants immortality before some big bad guys do) is offset by the fantastically kooky dialogue, fun adventures and occasional sit-bolt-upright moments of darkness. All this is supported by a phenomenal soundtrack, including a couple of great openings, and characters like that detective who solves all his problems my shooting them (including catching a runaway cat). If it weren't for the ending that just sort of fizzled out without addressing any of the running story, this would probably be challenging God tier.

Verdict: Great tier

Miss Monochrome: The Animation 2 and Miss Monochrome: The Animation 3
More wacky adventures from everyone's favourite android who is also a wannabe pop star.

More of the same really, but obviously without the charm and originality of the first series. Some of the jokes work, some of them don't - writing-off whole episodes at a time. Given the short nature of the series (each episode only being a few minutes long) and the occasional glimmer of genius I don't really regret watching it all, but on the other hand I could have been using that time to rewatch the "skiing contest" or "magic is actually terrifyingly real" episodes of Magic Kaito again.

Verdict: OK tier

Yes, that colon does in fact mean "season 2". Our hopeless protagonist is back and trying to get his feelings in order for the veritable army of females falling at his feet.

It's the show that everyone loves to love and hate each other over! I know it's fun fighting over who "best girl" is, but I would be more inclined to do so if any of them had any redeeming features. I think I made my feelings pretty clear in last year's post - the only charming point about this show, that sets it apart from the 5,000,000 shows otherwise just like it, is the Shaft direction, and that's not exactly original. I suppose it should be admirable that they've managed to shoehorn in even more characters and got through another whole season without addressing the stupid childhood promise thing without losing their audience, but hey. It's. Just. Not. Good. The crazy thing is though, when the third season inevitably rolls around I'll probably be watching it. Why? I really, honestly couldn't tell you.

Verdict: Bad tier

Non Non Biyori Repeat
Season 2 of this countryside comedy actually kicks off just before the start of season 1, and quickly falls into its same relaxing yet hilarious rhythm.

It's no secret that Non Non Biyori holds a special place in my heart. At first glance it's perhaps not the most interesting of premises, not doing anything particularly new or exciting, but it all just meshes together perfectly. The phenomenal art and sound design work to create an amazing sense of atmosphere - transporting you to the heart of rural Japan, where all your troubles just fade away to the sound of cicadas. The characters, whilst certainly not all endearing by themselves, have the perfect comedic dynamic between them, with their interactions leading to countless laugh-out-loud moments. I made a bit of a misstep in deciding to rewatch the first series basically in parallel with this one, which obviously led to immediate comparisons being drawn - the moments of genius are definitely present in the second season, but are perhaps a bit more spaced out than in the first. Regardless, a great watch.

Verdict: Good tier

One Punch Man
In a world where heroes with special powers compete against each other for fame and fortune, saving the populace from natural disaster and alien incursions alike, a man who is a hero for fun rears his shiny bald head. Our hero Saitama has become freakishly strong, seemingly through the most routine of workout routines, and must face down any number of threats - usually defeating them with one punch.

I haven't seen a show get this much hype in a long time. As soon as the anime was announced it was all over the internet (or the small corner that I inhabit anyway), with people singing the praises of the manga which I had previously not encountered. It's safe to say that nothing could really live up to the hype that One Punch Man had generated, but it sure had a damn good go at it. Consistently funny and with consistently top quality fast-paced action sequences, it really was one of the best "battle anime" I've seen in a while. You might imagine that the whole overpowered "one punch" gimmick gets old, but they certainly did a good job of keeping the series interesting despite that - particularly when contrasting Saitama with heroes such as the fearless and devoted, yet seemingly powerless, Mumen Rider pictured above. How long the allure will last when another season rolls around who can say, but for now it all works brilliantly.

Verdict: Great tier

Ore Monogatari!!
Love blossoms between a huge and unattractive boy and a dainty and cute girl when the former saves the latter from a molester on the train. The series chronicles how they get together and the hijinks that ensue.

A pretty straightforward premise, and when the two start going out within the first few episodes you're left wondering "Where can it possibly go from here?", but consistently entertaining from start to finish. Obviously not your standard shoujo fare as the characters' feelings are clear from the start (and because of the outlandish comedy), and yet potentially the most "real" depiction of a relationship that I've seen in anime thus far. Whilst there is a lot of over-the-top "cutesiness" and wacky scenarios, the issues that the couple have to work through are actually very down-to-earth and that held a refreshing appeal for me. Definitely worth a watch, both heartwarming and hilarious - don't be put off by the protagonist's appearance!

Verdict: Great tier

Our protagonist is living out the final moments of his favourite MMO with fond memories before it gets permanently shut down permanently. However, at shut off time he finds that he has been trapped within the game world - stop me if this sounds familiar.

Despite the tired setup and my unenthusiastic commentary above, this series was actually a breath of fresh air for the "players trapped within an MMO" genre. The opening scene sees a party of heroes mount an assault on a stronghold of evil, led by an imposing skeletal figure - at this point, having not really read the synopsis, my friend and I turn to each other and say "Man, how cool would it be if that evil skeleton guy was the main character?". It turns out that that's exactly what he was. The twist here is that we're not following a band of humanoid paragons of justice who are trying to escape from the game, but instead an inhuman monstrosity who resolves to conquer the world in honour of his old guild. This is made all the more amusing by the fact that his inner monologue is that of a scared and confused young man. There's a lot to love here, unfortunately marred by the terribly cringeworthy female characters so often found in such light novel adaptations.

Verdict: Good tier

Owari no Seraph
Some virus or something supposedly wipes out like 2/3 of the human population, allowing those left behind to be enslaved by vampires a an inexhaustible source of blood. But the humans are fighting back!

This was not a good show. In fact it was a bad, highly derivative show. Boring characters, boring fights, boring and incomprehensible story. For some reason I started watching season 2, but thankfully caught myself a couple of minutes into the first episode. Don't bother.

Verdict: Bad tier

Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold
After the Gold Saints sacrificed themselves to open a path for Seiya and the others in the Hades saga (spoilers?), they find themselves mysteriously alive again in the land of Asgard where something is dreadfully amiss.

It's more Saint Seiya, focused on the Gold Saints, that's pretty much all there is to say. If you like Saint Seiya then you'll probably like it. If you're new to the series you'll probably find the dated art, the massive cast of unfamiliar characters and the cheesy 80s-ness of it barriers to enjoyment. A solid, albeit sort of random, bite of Saint Seiya action.

Verdict: OK tier

Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru
Or "A Corpse is Buried Under Sakurako's Feet." or "Beautiful Bones -Sakurako's Investigation-", which aren't really much better. A high school lad seems to have gotten rather attached to a young lady with an unhealthy obsession with bones, and the two go around solving mysteries together - some of which share a sinister connection.

This was an interesting one. I'm all for it when it's being all Sherlock Holmesy (he's the Watson to her Holmes in case you were wondering) and they're straight-up solving mysteries, but less taken by it when it starts philosophising. Bizarrely the whole bones thing seems almost irrelevant most of the time - occasionally clues are deduced from ancient skeletons and the like, but often she solves the mysteries just by being pretty darn smart. A decent series but sacrificed a satisfying conclusion in favour of setting up a second season - bring it on.

Verdict: Good tier

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso
A piano prodigy, who had given up playing due to the mental trauma surrounding his mother's death, finds himself persuaded to literally hear the notes again by a beautiful and unorthodox violinist, whom he also falls for. The show explores the relationships between our protagonist and those around him - his new partner, his childhood friends and rivals, and his mother - whilst following a series of musical competitions.

This was great, if for no other reason than it was a bit different. Also that guy's hair. Fantastic imagery and fantastic music keeps you hooked for the duration, though there are more than a few annoyances. These are mostly centred on our protagonist's trauma - too much time was spent retreading the same ground in his past trying to draw out some new meaning, and too many times did we see him march out on stage only to clam up and fail - leaving you more interested in the characters surrounding him (especially that guy with the hair). The ending that reduced so many to tearful wrecks was predictable from a mile off, but certainly wasn't bad. Worth a shot, particularly if you're a fan of classical music and extensive inner monologuing.

Verdict: Good tier

The show follows the valiant efforts of a small animation studio as they work ludicrously hard to create anime, mostly through the lens of our ditsy junior staff member who also made a promise with her old school friends to collaborate on a professional anime one day.

This was a show and a half. There's a reason it swept pretty much all of the UK Anime Network awards for 2015. I don't really know where to begin. It's certainly not flawless - the freaky hallucinations that our protagonist has (as pictured above) are a bit random and off-putting, and it took me quite a while to get into the show at the beginning - but once you're hooked, you're hooked. The series does a great job of both shining some light on and massively poking fun at the anime industry, and I'm sure that's something we'd all been wanting to see for some time. Very funny, extensive and fun cast of characters (the show helpfully goes to the effort of labeling everyone with their names pretty much every episode) and some emotional moments thrown into the mix as well. Definitely worth a watch. Also massive kudos to P.A.Works for actually producing episodes of the fictional shows within the fictional show.

Verdict: Great tier (sorry folks, didn't quite hit God tier for me but it's damn close)

Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider
Long story short, a group goes to visit an infamous genius scientist in her secluded island lab where they get caught up in the ultimate locked-room murder mystery case.

This one really gripped me. A pretty cool setup and our pair of protagonists get right down to trying to figure out what's going on - we don't even have to endure the traditional deep dive into their psyches (too much). What made this series fairly unique, at least in my eyes, was that it was entirely focused on one mystery rather than solving one after another - 11 episodes was probably the perfect length for this - and there are no detectives/private investigators/weird bone-obsessives involved. Whilst there are some interesting leaps in logic in places, I didn't feel like it would have been impossible for the viewer to uncover the events of the past that were slowly being revealed, and ultimately the solution to the murder mystery. If that's your kind of scene then I'd give this one a shot.

Verdict: Good tier

Tokyo Ghoul √A
More Tokyo Ghoul, except now Kaneki is inexplicably evil and there are some other shenanigans going on that I don't particularly care to recall.

A bit of a mess, which I'm led to believe is "NOWHERE NEAR AS GOOD AS THE MANGA, TRUST ME". If you've watched Tokyo Ghoul season 1 then I guess you'll probably want to watch this, but prepare for disappointment. If you were thinking of coming straight into this blind, don't. The characters all seem to have flip-flopped and gone mad, and the less said about the story (especially that ending) the better. The one piece of praise I have for it is that I liked the ending sequence - both the illustrations and the music.

Verdict: Bad tier

Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji Love Revolutions
Third season of Uta no Prince-sama, and yes I did watch the other two as well. Exactly what you would expect it to be.

What can I say? The series has been going downhill since season 1 - legitimate comment. Five main criticisms: 1) This season seemed to focus more on Quartet Night than STARISH themselves; 2) The whole season was spent building up to STARISH competing for the right to perform in what is essentially the Olympic opening ceremony, but not only is that event itself going to be far off in the future but we don't even get the result of the contest at the end of this season until the next one; 3) Not enough Shining Saotome; 4) Cecil still exists; 5) That freaky-as-hell 3D-animated ending sequence.

Verdict: Bad tier

A show about a woman who unwinds after work by finding good places to eat and drink.

Nice bit of fun. Could maybe provide some inspiration if you're whipping up a Japanese meal or planning to eat out in Japan in the near future. You spend most of the time waiting for her trademark "Pushushushushushu-" upon tasting some nice food, which is a sentence I never thought I'd type.

Verdict: Good tier

Third season of Working (you can tell by the exclamation marks), the 4-panel romantic-ish comedy set in a family restaurant. Except this time there are actual developments and the series (almost) concludes.

This was a turn up for the books. I was sitting their happily, fully expecting another season of running jokes and no relationship progress from any of the characters, but no! It all started happening! People were getting together left, right and centre! Probably for the best, as if they hadn't then I probably would have given up and stopped watching, but as it is it was carried out pretty well. The comedy, which for the most part is pretty tired by the third season, still has some fantastic redeeming moments and is otherwise supported by the satisfaction of seeing Otto's wife coming back if nothing else. The one disappointing thing was that the season didn't really end - it left the big finale to a 50-minute special a few months later. Only worth watching if you're invested in the characters really.

Verdict: Good tier

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku
Second season of....Oregairu. Our protagonist is a member of a club that helps people out with odd jobs and problems, but he tends to attract negative attention due to his conniving methods and speaking harsh truths. At least I think that's the sort of synopsis it's going for.

Despite most of the opinions I saw being pretty negative, I thought I could remember liking the first season quite a lot. Difficult to say the same of the second season. Frankly it's just really depressing throughout - everyone is really upset with one another all the time for some reason. And whilst, looking back, they were probably a staple of the first season as well, there are far too many high-handed monologues that give off that impression where you're not sure if they've been badly translated or they just didn't make all that much sense to begin with. I think the take-home message is something along the lines of "taking the quickest or the easiest way out of a problem is often a bad way of doing things", which probably didn't need multiple seasons of setup, you know?

Verdict: Bad tier

Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road
Second season of everyone's favourite cycling anime, concluding the grueling Inter High competition.

Well this was just great. Putting aside the part where the pack turned into a giant snake and started eating people, this season stayed true to form with fantastic characters and a great sense of tension - you really didn't know who was going to win. Mandatory watching for those who have seen season 1, and also for those who haven't (once they've fixed the 'watching season 1' thing).

Verdict: Great tier

And that's it! FINALLY! You deserve a break, I deserve a break, everyone deserves a break. Hopefully you found some of my humble opinions helpful, and not too controversial or rage-inducing. Maybe this year I'll keep the post open and edit it as the seasons pass by rather than trying to do it all over an entire weekend again.


No comments:

Post a Comment