Summer 2015 First Impressions (Part 1)

I’ve been very busy this past week, with 12 hour workdays every single day. I watched 5 of the 10 shows I intended to, so here’s a first part first impressions. There’ll be part 2. I should have more time again from next week, so expect a return to normalcy in the third week.

As I actually wrote something longer for each of these shows, I’ll keep it brief, and link to the lengthier impressions post. As always, the list is ordered by how much I liked the episodes, combined with how good I thought they were, in a descending order (first is best, last is worst).

1) Durarara!!x2 Ten Episode 13 (Durarara!! Season 2 Cour 2 episode 1):

Durarara!! X2 Ten episode 13 anime overview - Orihara Izaya sees the darkness

Durarara!! is back, rejoice!

Durarara!! is back! True to the way the first season, and the second one started, we had a sort of quiet episode. “Sort of” is exactly right, because as we saw characters going about their daily lives, it was still full of small paths that criss-cross, and we’ve had some time inside Izaya’s head, narrating his life, in a manner similar to both how we’ve had for Mikado when we first encountered him, and mirroring the girl in the 2nd episode whom Izaya tricked. Izaya is a jerk, he’s a scary villain because he understands people deeply, and uses this knowledge to crush their hopes and dreams. But he’s still great to watch in terms of screen presence. Things are going on in Durarara!!, and although in this episode we supposedly took a break from “the main plot”, there were plenty of signs in the background, true to show’s fashion.

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OreGairu Season 2 Episode 13 (Finale) – A Selfish Sacrifice

Pre-Episode Spiel:

It’s been quite a season for OreGairu, hasn’t it? But here we are, 8 AM on a Saturday morning, all ready to watch the finale. I’ll leave talk of the season as a whole for the post-episode/season write-up, but man, this is the season where all the things left unsaid in the first season were said, and acted upon, and drama and the quest for maturity were embarked upon in earnest.

So what did we have last episode, that was filled with notable scenes? I’d say the most common refrain was Haruno’s jealousy of Yukino (because “I hate [x]” in this show is now code for “I’m jealous of them”), and how she kept meddling. That’s on the plot-level. Thematically, it was all about how we handle our self-image in the face of expectations, how we think others expect us to behave, and trying to navigate between our image for ourselves, and the image we think others have for us.

Yukino, Hachiman, and the rest, are all dealt a blow when they realize they’re “not being genuine,” by their own definitions. And it seems as if Yui is going to take matters into her own hands, one way or the other. She’s always been the one driving everyone forward. We’ll have to see how it shakes out, and at what cost. Everybody hurts, and that’s what relationships are like.

Post-Episode Thoughts:

OreGairu S2 episode 13 anime notes - Yuigahama Yui tried her best to no avail

Ok, we’re going to start with the post-episode write-up and then a short something about the season as a whole. Just so you’d know how this section is going to be organized.

This episode was relatively quiet, as many of this show’s second half has been, with one half being relatively light and quiet and “easy”, and the other half being more “impactful”, or “heavy”, if you wish. But while nothing much happened on the surface, the whole water park trip was fraught with constant allusions by the characters to themselves and one another, by way of the marine animals. This isn’t something that was just “happenstance,” not even merely the author using this angle to have the characters comment on things. No, it’s the characters trying to act as if everything’s “normal”, and as episode 3’s write-up spent a lot of time talking about, it’s a lie, and when everyone knows it’s a lie, then everyone is uncomfortable, and things leak out. There’s also the other side of it here, which is that the characters want to be understood (while also fearing it), so they keep dropping hints and waiting for someone else to make the first move for them.

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Summer 2015 Anime Season Preview and Expectations

There’s a week until the Summer 2015 season begins in earnest, so it’s time to put behind us this underwhelming Spring season in order to clear the plate for new and exciting shows! Wait, I’m only excited for 4 shows, and half of those are returning or continuing shows? Welp. Well, let us see what’s what.

As always, in these posts I cover shows I plan to follow, or have thoughts on why I will not follow them, or considered following and decided not to. As always, I try to strike a balance between giving you enough information on the show, and telling you why I think it is or isn’t worth watching. Shows ordered by day, and by expectation within the day, as that affects pick status. The “Almost In” category returns, describing shows that I’d pick up in prior seasons, but decided to put aside in order to make more time for backlog, after growing unhappy with how many of the shows I pick up ending up “not worth the time”, let alone “good”.

Most of the information about the shows can be had from the helpful Neregate Chart, and what I’ve happened to see on various sites, such as The Cart Driver. Check them out if you want more information, or information on shows I didn’t cover (such as follow-ups to shows I don’t watch).

Sunday:

Almost In:

God Eater animeGod Eater – Shows (and films) based on video games almost always suck. The more of a storyline the game has, the worse it usually is. Exceptions, such as last year’s Rage of Bahamut: Genesis exist, but they’re few and far between, and atrocities such as the BlazBlue show are much more common. God Eater is a Monster Hunter clone, so expect team dynamics in the face of monsters to be the draw, which is a pretty standard fare as far as anime goes.

The stand-out aspect here is that this is made by Ufotable, who make really pretty shows, and that the voice acting talent is pretty respectable. Hirao Takayuki, the director, is the man behind the best regarded Kara no Kyoukai (Garden of Sinners) film, the 5th, Paradox Spiral. The art-style in the preview is interesting, somewhere between CGI and water-colours, of all things. The faces seem not very expressive, and while it is definitely interesting, it reminds me more of indie video games, or short flash animation. Dunno.
Interest Rating: 1/3. It’s likely to be really pretty, but as Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works has shown, pretty is not enough. And hey, if this ends up being surprisingly good, as has happened with Bahamut, I’m sure people will let me know and I’ll pick it up.
Airing Date: July 5th. Preview.

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OreGairu Season 2 Episode 12 – The Outwardly-Dictated Self (Doubt)

Pre-Episode Spiel:

I really enjoyed last episode, where the focus was on Hayama, with his own troubles, with his own humanity, and dignity, and trying to do the right thing where everyone, including himself, is happy. He knows there are no magic solutions, but he’ll try. He knows who he is, and he owns it. He’s more mature than most of the rest of the cast, but he’s still trying. Hayama is jealous of Hachiman, just as Hachiman is jealous of him. It’s much easier being jealous of masks when you don’t see the situation from inside someone’s mind. We all have our crosses to bear. Heck, last episode was filled with moments of people carrying their own crosses, full of great scenes, with Miura’s confession of weakness and caring, to the Haruno scenes, to Iroha and Yukino.

But where are we now? Well, done with novel 10, so no more LN-reader spoilers/teasers/complaints. New material for everyone. So, what are we going to have? Hachiman is still growing up, he’s still using his Hachimanism to get things done, but he knows it is a tool, and a dangerous one at that. We have the group of friends living life together, and we still have Yukino’s home situation, looming around behind every scene, every moment where she’s shown for the last 3 episodes, and also in the background of much more content. Will we keep exploring Hayama’s “arc”? I suspect not, his thematic arc feels “done” for the moment, but we’ll still see its ramifications, because that’s life.

Post-Episode Thoughts:

OreGairu S2 episode 12 anime notes - Hikigaya Hachiman, Yukinoshita Yukino and Yuigahama Yui have been slain by Yukinoshita Haruno

Being understood, being labeled is scary. As scary as being misunderstood?

Before this episode was over I was going to comment on how this episode continues the trend of most episodes since episode 8, where one half is pretty light, but then there’s one half, or at least parts that are much more light-hearted. Well, it’s certainly true, and the Waifu Wars or Waifu Bowl had certainly had a go at it this episode, with Yui, Iroha, and Yukino all acting seemingly protective over Hikki, and Hikki showing some purported interest in Iroha and Yui, and of course Hayama and his followers, and the two “anime-ism jokes” thrown in for good measure (Ebina and Totsuka).

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OreGairu Season 2 Episode 11 – Not Nobility; Maturity

Pre-Episode Spiel:

So, subtitles of unproven provenance, after I woke up 14 hours ago for an episode that did not arrive, and these subs went unnoticed by me for 3 hours. Welp. Anyway, last episode for the most part was a continuation of the episode that preceded it, with busy Hikki going on essentially 3 dates in one episode, and there being the long-awaited smackdown of Tamanwa, and Iroha finally taking charge of her Student Council, and although nice, the true focus of that scene was where Yukino and Hikki spoke to one another and of themselves, and Yukino did not let Hikki sacrifice himself once more while stepping back.

And then, fitting for Yukino’s little speech about how you can’t progress without speaking clearly and being willing to be hurt, we finished the episode in an extremely uncomfortable position, with Yukino and her mother not-speaking in front of everyone else, and no one knowing what to do about it.

Post Episode Thoughts:

OreGairu S2 episode 11 anime notes - Hayama Hayato speaks of choice

Hayama Hayato is a character I like. It’s how somber he is, how much you can see he’s hurting, and how hard he’s trying, trying to not hurt, trying to make sure everyone else is alright, trying to be the best person he can be, while hurting, and not knowing what the “right decisions” are. So what does he do? The only thing he can do, his level best.

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OreGairu Season 2 Episode 10 – Growing Pains

Pre-Episode Spiel:

So, last episode was, rather than a return to normalcy, our cast taking their first step on their renewed path of togetherness, friendship, and willingness to be hurt, it also had a lot of fun and shipping-ammo moments. Yui told Hikki she wants to spend time with him, Yukino told him she was envious of him, and Iroha confessed to Hayama who turned her down. All the girls revealing of themselves and trying to bridge the gap. Now we still have a party for the elderly to organize, and the party and emotional repercussions of Iroha’s confession – let us see what Hachiman deprived Tobe and Ebina of in the 2nd episode.

Post Episode Thoughts:

OreGairu S2 episode 10 anime notes - Yukinoshita Yukino doesn't like fake things

The quest for genuine continues, and the maligning of everything else as fake.

The post-ED segment dovetails perfectly into what I wanted to open this discussion with. In my weekly round-up where I covered episodes 8-9 I pointed out that in most movies, series, and books, episode 8 would be either the final shot, or the one preceding it and the denouement, if it weren’t one that actually came up early. It’s the conclusion of a long journey Hachiman has been undergoing since before the series even started, from knowing he’s miserable to admitting it and then acting on it. But it’s also the start of a new journey, because as the final catalyst for the change and the episodes since have kept pointing out, it’s the actual effort you make that brings about change and is worthwhile. “Yay! I need to change!” is only the start.

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Spring 2015 Anime Overview – Weeks 8-9 (Anime Power Ranking)

Still busy with real life schoolwork, but here’s what I think of the past two weeks’ worth of anime episodes I’ve watched. Still need to catch up on Sidonia, but hey, we watch what we can! Some stuff was great, and some stuff was terrible, that’s how this season is.

As always, the list is ordered by how much I liked the episodes, combined with how good I thought they were, in a descending order (first is best, last is worst).

1) OreGairu S2 Episodes 8-9 (SNAFU Too!):

OreGairu S2 episode 8 anime - Crying Hikigaya Hachiman wants something genuine

Episode 8 was the dramatic core of the entire show up to this point. This is the big conflict everything was building towards. Hachiman overcoming his biggest enemy, his fear, his own self, and comes right out and declares to his friends, to the world, and to himself, the truth he’s been hiding from – that he’s scared of being alone and not understanding others, and that it hurts. And his friends hurt because they suffer from the same issues (Yukino), or because their friends are hurt (Yui). We also had a chat from Sensei where the author took time to explain to us how relationships work, how hurt works, and that once you grow past something that seems all consuming, it doesn’t seem nearly that bad. The author also explained almost every character in that scene, from Tobe and Ebina, to Hayama, to… everyone.

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