Well there’s another season gone – a season that overall seemed pretty stable and solid, but which (unsurprisingly) each of the staff members reacted to differently – Setsuken thought it was a very strong season overall, while I thought that while it was indeed steady it was characterized by a unusual number of series falling short of their hype (whether generated from their preview material, the fans themselves, or in some cases both). For FlareKnight it was enjoyable, but at the moment the upcoming Summer 2015 season is looking extremely promising.
In any event, in a first for Anime Evo, we’ll highlight some notable things from this season. We hope to this every season from now on!
Best Series of the Season:
Flower: Bones hitting it out of the park for me this season – both Kekkai Sensen and Show by Rock!! are my biggest surprises, but the former became my favorite series of the season overall. This series is lots of things at once, but it is especially effective black comedy mixed with a surreal Planescape style setting…in New York City of all places. Its interesting, but somehow the strange setting/world sometimes feels as if it were one of the main characters.
It is because of its presence that it seems to make the “common anime themes” jump off the screen and possess a freshness that might be harder to produce in more everyday settings. Whether a bizarre, surreal setting or a piercingly real everyday setting, though, either one takes skill to come alive – and for me it is definitely doing so thus far in this series. In some ways it reminds me a tiny bit of the effect books like Flatland produce – messages are somehow able to be driven home a little easier because the viewer/reader/listener/whatever is kind of off his bearings and so it is harder to “sit back and be complacent”.
Shokugeki no Soma (1st Cour):
Setsuken: I must admit, I wasn’t expecting myself to like Shokugeki no Soma as much as I did. At first the series seemed like a more crass version of Yakitate Japan! with a more general cooking theme, but it quickly rose to become a pretty entertaining and engaging series in its own right. So much so that I’ve taken up blogging it weekly now!
FlareKnight: This show had some strong moments right from the start. It felt like every week with Hibike! Euphonium was an impactful episode. It told a great story and gave us characters that actually felt like people. The issues within the band and the growth of the characters was believable to me. I could understand Kumiko’s struggles to reconnect with Reina or how it was a monumental task to turn the band around. The show did a nice job giving hints of what happened in the past to Kumiko especially. It gave time to appreciate what was going on and guess at the truth of the matter. The show had a massive cast to work with and yet it found a way to give small bits of characterization to various members of it. The show managed to give the feeling that this was a large social group.
But maybe the best part was just how utterly loyal the show was to the music. There were times they hid the finger movements of the characters, but they often showed people playing instruments. The details of people playing to match the music we were hearing, seeing people have to take quick breaths as they played the music, and just hearing the various skill levels of the cast. It wasn’t like everyone sounded the same, but rather they sounded like what they should. Time and effort was put into making this anime accurately represent the music it was playing and I liked that.
It was just a fun show. The drama was excellent and I was often pulled into the scenes and feeling the intensity of what was going on. The drama wasn’t over the top, but felt accurate to what was happening. It was a really good ride. Watching from the first moments that Kumiko arrived at her new school to the big competition, it was all good. This was also just one of the nicer looking shows of the season, you can tell how much time and money was put into making this show look good. The characters, setting, and instruments were all nicely animated. It’s my top show of the season. Not an easy call to make, but in the end that’s how I feel about it.
Most Disappointing Series of the Season:
Flower: Re-Kan gets the nomination for most disappointing series of the Spring 2015 season from me. I was hoping for it to be more along the lines of a it being a bit more serious and touching more on the relationship between the visible and invisible worlds – sort of a ‘la Natsume Yuujinchou, Kamichu!, or Gingitsune. Instead it seems to have opted primarily for extremely light, “stock” dumbed down humor that was repetitive and not especially effective much of the time. It has had good moments, and they increased more and more as the season went on, but the conscious decision to keep going back to the poor humor and actually fairly poor production values (especially a lower standard of VA work for some reason) ultimately ruined it for me. Oh yes – the cat was totally unnecessary and not funny! Hmph!
Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatieru Zoku:
Setsuken: If you’ve read my episode blog posts on Yahari, or the full series review, you know that I actually quite loved the series throughout its 13 episode run except for… that ending. Lets say that for how good Yahari was this season, it ended on that much of a painful, soul crushing point at the end. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go cry in the corner.
Kyoukai no Rinne:
FlareKnight: I had to think on this one, but at the end of the day this show was the most disappointing to me. The idea of a Rumiko Takahashi manga adaptation (the creator behind Inuyasha) seemed like an exciting idea to me. I had heard going in that this wasn’t her best stuff, but nothing really could have prepared me for what I actually got here. So much of it felt like a practice run before she wrote Inuyasha….instead this actually came after. The main characters weren’t all that interesting, I didn’t much care for their voice acting, and the story itself was boring.
A half-breed shinigami who has to use change in order to buy and use special tools just felt too silly, but not in a funny way. Not much action to speak of and after a few episodes it just felt like I was wasting time watching it. It goes to show that just because you enjoy one work from a person, it doesn’t mean everything they create will be interesting to you.
Most Surprising Series of the Season:
Show By Rock!!:
Flower: When I first heard the announcements for the Show by Rock!! series I had a vague feeling that there was something about the series that I would just like, even though it looked odd – it looked to be one of those series that would completely fail or else be a complete success. And not only was it a raving success for me, it also turned out to be a huge surprise, even moving me to take up the series and blog it – something I was not expecting to do before the season began.
Possibly the best aspect of the series is the careful, meticulous world building and storytelling that goes on – for an adaptation based on a mobile phone rhythm game Bones studio certainly put a lot of effort into this. The art is fantastic, the story setting is surreal and effective, and the VA work was really well done, I thought. I doubt it will get a second season or sell well, but I definitely appreciate the effort poured into this unique, quirky little series that paid off big in my book!
Setsuken: I had a very oscillating reaction to Kekkai Sensen. The first episode gave me all the wrong kind of vibes. I am personally not a huge fan of over the top stylish stuff like FLCL for example, and it seemed like Kekkai Sensen was just being flash for Flash’s sake. Thankfully, that was hardly the case, and by episode 5 or so I was completely sold. This ended up being a series that had style, cool characters, a very interesting and unique world and some really resonating emotional moments.
Houkago no Pleiades:
FlareKnight: This didn’t seem like a show that would be anything special. Just another magical girl series with some space focus as seem from promo material. But, instead it actually impressed me out of the gate and I found myself enjoying every episode of. It’s a lot more complicated than I ever would have thought with a focus on the idea that there are alternate versions of ourselves that exist. It’s like the time travel idea that each possible decision happens creating a branching universe to near infinite levels.
I enjoyed the idea that the main characters are all versions of themselves that were basically nobodies. They were isolated and never going to reach their potential or make big decisions. But the alien who needs their help (yeah aliens and magic) gathered them all because despite being nobodies they have the potential to be anything they want. It’s been a really fun show where the girls are collecting pieces of an alien engine, but going into the sky, under the sea, and even into space to find them. There is a lot of mystery in this show with the antagonist, a guy who is getting in their way.
The show manages to tell a nice story every week and show off some really beautiful visuals. I enjoy both the focus on developing each girl and also just the adventure of it. Easily the most surprising show of the season for me and one I reviewed as well.
Favorite Male Characters of the Season:
– Played By Daisuke Sakaguchi – From Kekkai Sensen
Flower: The VA for Sunohara from the Clannad and Clannad After Story series (and that of Candy’s older brother Pop from Smile PreCure, among other series) is absolutely perfect for this role – it works in almost every possible way, and especially in the comedic dialogues.
– Played By Takuya Eguchi – From Ore Monogatari
Setsuken: Takeo’s just been a breath of fresh air in the shoujo genre. He’s definitely something truly unique, nice and very likeable. And man, does Eguchi Takuya just nail the right combination of sincere and “burly” teenager.
– Played By Taishi Murata – From Baby Steps 2
FlareKnight: It’s hard not to like this character. Maruo or “Ei-chan”, the main character in the Baby Steps franchise, is one of those hard worker types that deserves the successes he has. He did have a natural gift that helped him in developing his tennis, but he had to work extremely hard every step of the way because of how late he got into the sport. It’s been a fun journey in the first season and this one to see this guy not only chase his dreams, but actually find them. He was someone who didn’t have anything that really excited him and just worked hard in school because that was what he was supposed to do. Ei-chan cares about his friends and doesn’t take anything for granted. Plus I appreciate the fact that he isn’t completely dense and acknowledges that he is in love with a girl, but is just not as confident about expressing that.
Favorite Female Characters of the Season:
– Played By Eri Inagawa – From Show by Rock!!
Flower: It would be harder to imagine a more quintessential “cat girl” than Cyan, who is also the main character of the anime Show by Rock!! – she is a great lead and it was a delight to see such a genuine yet painfully shy person slowly, slowly coming out of her shell.
– Played By Megumi Han – From Ore Monogatari
Setsuken: Yes I really liked Ore Monogatari this season. The reason Yamato just ended up winning my heart was not only how sweet and nice she was, but the fact that she’s a very confident and forward flung female. It was Yamato who confessed to Takeo and pursued him, and that combined with just how nice, flexible and good natured she is, wins her my top spot as Female Character.
And man… Han Megumi. First voicing Gon in Hunter x Hunter (2011) and now this? She might be quickly be rising to become my favorite seiyuu based on her range alone!
– Played By Kana Ueda – From F/SN Unlimited Blade Works
FlareKnight: Yeah, it’s hard to look at this season for me and not give it to Rin, the female lead in the Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works anime. A classic in some ways being a tsundere, but just such a likeable character. You can’t help but love and laugh at seeing her get flustered by Shirou’s increasingly open admissions of his feelings. She’s also a pretty crucial part of the story. Rin has her share of fights and action, but also serves as a sense of sanity when dealing with Shirou’s mindset.
Rin really is a great mage and it’s no wonder that various characters in the show acknowledge how gifted she is and how rational. She is the character that people like Shirou, Archer, and even Lancer respect and believe in. While she might stumble along the way, her thinking and goals are usually perfectly correct. I mean come on she actually fights a servant 1v1 in this series, that deserves praise. The voice work is outstanding for Rin. Kana gets across both her confidence, her occasional teasing of Shirou, and her ability to get frazzled because of her own feelings. There are a lot of great female characters this season, but I’ve got to give it to Rin this time.
Favorite Moment of the Season:
Kekkai Sensen: Leonardo sings the Heinz Ketchup song:
Flower: It was really tough choosing between this scene and another scene in episode 4 where Zapp goes on and on about the “ultra-sorcerous whatsit” being hit by a meteor, but the scene in episode 5 that I settled on only squeaked ahead a millimeter in it’s pure comedic (albeit black comedic) genius. It is a tough one to talk about and describe, especially because there is a play on Japanese words involved. Essentially Leonardo unexpectedly stumbles into the hands of the Aligura, the Queen of Monomania, who may possibly be the most crazed and intense love struck yandere character I have ever seen in anime – in my opinion both Yuno from Mirai Nikki and Kaede from Shuffle are fluffy kitties compared to her.
Anyway, as Aligura is occupied with her gigantic vehicle’s continued rampage in search of her lover Leo is contacted secretly and responds “HAI!” at the top of his lungs, which, of course, draws Aligura’s notice. To cover it up after a few seconds of silence Leo begins to sing “HEI-nz ketchup was on my sandwich yesterday….” Needless to say, he succeeds in deflecting Aligura’s attention with his sing-song rambling. ^^
Kekkai Sensen: Leonardo and Nej meet for the second time:
Setsuken: This was one of those emotionally resonating moments that just made Kekkai Sensen such a solid show for me. The fact that Leonardo and Amagranoff Luozontam Ouv Lee Nej (Nej for short) meet in the start of episode 6, become such good friends, and then lose their memories of each thanks to Nej’s power is heart breaking. Seeing them just run into each other again and become friends because of WHO they are, was one of the best character based payoffs in Anime. Burger Kudasai!
F/SN Unlimited Blade Works: Gae Bolg vs Rho Aias:
FlareKnight: There are a lot of good moments in this season. And even some that aren’t in Kekkai Sensen XD. For me the fight between Archer and Lancer in episode 17 was outstanding and one of those moments that makes this season worth watching. You have Lancer who is just completely serious about taking down Archer and isn’t holding anything back. You can see Archer just struggling like crazy to keep up with this guy and not get overwhelmed.
Then Lancer prepares to just hit him with one of his best attacks and it was truly amazing to watch. Lancer launching into the air before throwing Gae Bolg with all his might, turning the spear practically into a missile that ended up decimating the surrounding area. Archer preparing his defence and doing everything he can to not get annihilated. Rho Aias was an awesome defense and the struggle between attacker and defender was great. You could see the lance just punching through each layer of the beautifully animated shield had me completely pulled into the moment.
You could just see Archer struggling and getting beaten down by trying to hold back that attack by Lancer. At the end Archer was alive, but he looked like hell. While on the other hand Gae Bolg just flew back to Lancer in a cool fashion leaving that fight settled. The whole scene was just handled amazingly well. The visuals were outstanding, the music was spot on and intense, and the voice actors came through to really command their characters. So far the best moment of the season for me.
Favorite OP of the season:
Flower: “Hello World!” by Bump of Chicken from Kekkai Sensen.
Setsuken: “Boku no Kotoba Dewanai Kore wa Boku-tachi no Kotoba” by UVERworld from Arslan Senki.
FlareKnight: “Brave Shine”, the second OP, by Aimer from F/SN Unlimited Blade Works.
Favorite ED of the season:
Flower: “Asayake no Starmine” by Asami Imai from Plastic Memories.
Setsuken: “Walk like an Egyptian” by the Bangles from OP1 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders.
FlareKnight: “Koko kara, Kanata kara” by Fragments from Houkago no Pleiades.
Favorite OST of the season:
There were quite a few excellent soundtracks this season, but as far as staff favorites go … for Flower the OST from Kekkai Sensen was the most effective, while Setsuken greatly enjoyed the soundtrack from Ore Monogatari and for FlareKnight Hibike! Euphonium stood out the strongest.
Series we wish we could have Blogged:
Hello! Kiniro Mosaic:
Flower: Anyone who has been frequenting the site for the past few seasons has perhaps heard my going on and on about how much I enjoy Kirara manga anime adaptations – last season I blogged Koufuku Graffitti, for example, but other series I have watched and enjoyed include Hidamari Sketch‘s four seasons, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desuka (which is getting a second season in Fall 2015!), Hanayamata, and, of course, the first season of Kiniro Mosaic. Season two is exactly the same material as that adapted in season one – no surprises here, although a few new characters are introduced. I love this cheering, upbeat comedy series and the endearing characters really are what make it happen. I was able to do a “You Should Be Watching” Post on it at the very least.
Setsuken: If there was a series that I really wished I could blog but simply couldn’t find the time for, its Arslan Senki. Arslan Senki has a very Persian influence, and its based on a manga adaptation by friggin’ Hiromou Arakawa! Its got everything, a lovable main character, a great bunch of side characters, a thrilling plot filled with swords, battles and magic, and its filling a void that I’ve long felt since Kingdom ended a few seasons ago. Maybe I’ll do some kind of post regarding Arslan soon, as the series conclusion is still a cour away.
Flareknight: There are a few shows I would have loved to cover this season if I had more time, but none more than DanMachi. Despite having the most ridiculous title of the season (the light novel writer really should have come up with something better than Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka) the show itself has been great. I’ve greatly enjoyed watching Bell as he becomes a stronger adventurer and meets new characters. Hestia is the girl who has launched the internet sensation of the season and for good reason.
Easily a great source of energy, passion, and acting as a great support for Bell as he chases his goals and works to become stronger. We’ve met various characters like Lili and Eina, who are both likeable individuals. The show has moved at a fast pace, but that if nothing else would have made it easy to talk about every week. Bell is constantly getting into tough situations and the action has been good so far. We’ve been given both emotional moments and awesome ones. This would have been one of the more fun shows to just discuss every week. But sadly there is only so much time and so many shows I can actually cover. At least it was able to get a “You Should Be Watching” post treatment.
Well, hopefully you enjoyed reading about that. And we hope to do these regularly from now on!
Tags: anime, anime blog, Arslan Senki, Baby Steps, DanMachi, ed, Fate Unlimited Blade Works, Hello! Kiniro Mosaic, Hibike! Euphonium, Houkago no Pleiades, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Kekkai Sensen, Kyoukai no Rinne, op, OST, Plastic Memories, Re-Kan, screenshots, Shokugeki no Soma, Show By Rock!!, Spring 2015, spring 2015 anime season, Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru
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