Fall 2014 is over, and I’ve barely watched any series, roughly 7. But enough with that, the season that just ended was apparently pretty great, but we need to look ahead! Winter 2015 begins officially tomorrow, with Tsukimonogatari’s release. Most everything else begins on January 4th, which is next Sunday. This season is a bit sparse, but continuations (Shirobako, Parasyte) and returning shows (Durarara!!, JoJo) pick up some of the slack.
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, since I might pick or not pick a show up based on how busy that day is. That’s only sensible.
Most of the information about the shows can be had from RandomCuriosity’s page, 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).
Junketsu no Maria / Maria the Virgin Witch – The Hundred Years’ War. Maria decides to stop the war by summoning a succubus and incubus to sleep the armies’ commander into a happy stupor. Heaven intervenes and decrees Maria will lose her powers if she were to lose her virginity. Manga-based. I am often tired of “non-humor gags” that proliferate through anime, but I actually laugh at many such gags when they appear. Speculative pick of the season for me. Of special note is the director behind the show is Taniguchi Goro, knows as the director behind Code Geass and Planetes. Not exactly known for comedy, but a solid pick.
Interest Rating: 1.5/3. I’m not a huge fan of anime comedies, but I do enjoy them when they work. It seems the combination of humor and comedy might work out for me. Hope springs eternal.
Airing Date: January 11th. Preview.
Didn’t Make It In:
Seiren Tsukai no World Break / Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman – Up until watching the preview, this show was actually in the above section. Memories of past lives, a school for magic casters and magic swordsmen, protagonist is the first one to be both. Pretty standard Light Novel adaptation, right? Watched preview, saw it’s got a heavy dose of tepid harem action (made me think of Strike the Blood), and decided I’m going to nope out of it.
Absolute Duo – Another preview casualty, combined with researching it some more. Boy seeks revenge, joins super-powered school, gets to live with a mysterious and beautiful silver-haired girl. Preview and research show that aside from the usual LN adaptationitis, we’re going to focus on the harem! Joy! I’ve got better things to do with my time.
Overall Sunday Thoughts: Honestly, all of these shows might be dropped at a moment’s notice. I like silly shounens, but as I noted, I’m growing weary of many of the shows produced in the genre lately, and I’ve realized watching them weekly is really not the best way to enjoy it. A mindless action day, but one that can easily stop amusing me.
Update: Well, after research, I’m only picking up one show, and since anime comedies are extremely hit or miss for me. Well, Sunday looks like a crowd-pleaser for those who like harem-action LN-adaptations, and pretty sparse for everyone else.
Yuri Kuma Arashi / Love Bullet: Yuri Bear Storm – Girls’ love, school work, symbolism and setting that will blur the lines between the real and imagines, symbolic and literal, are all expected. It seems ridiculous, and it just might be. Ikuhara’s new show. Go watch that preview. Arakawa Miho’s voice, who also portrayed Himari in Ikuhara’s last show, Mawaru Penguindrum immediately places us in a sort of fairy-tail or nostalgic mindset, perhaps nostalgic to that show. Though the preview truly reminds one of Penguindrum, it also reminded me of the school episodes of Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita (Humanity Has Declined), which features much of the same feel.
Interest Rating: 2.5/3. Ok, it’s more like 3/3 interest, but combined with how I might or might not like it entirely. That it’s only 12 episodes is worrying, and for this type of show I really hope it’s not split-cour.
Airing Date: January 5th. Preview – 3rd preview, English subtitled, long.
Write-ups?: Very tempted. Doing write-ups for a show like Mawaru Penguindrum might have fried my brain though.
Overall Monday Thoughts: Just one show, but a show that’s deserving of brain-power. Ikuhara shows are always speculative picks, because they’re always speculative and weird in nature. Sui generis is a good way to put it. Though this one seems the most “like his others”, like Mawaru Penguindrum. I’m glad this show isn’t going to compete for my time with other shows, especially if I try to take notes for it.
Overall Tuesday Thoughts: Tuesday always is the loneliest day. I think over the past year and a half, I’ve watched about 2-3 shows that aired on Tuesdays.
Parasyte: The Maxim / Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – This show had been pretty good thus far. It knows horror is about coming to terms with yourself. Well-acted, well done. The question is what sort of message is it going for? The action had been relatively low-key, but it’s never been the true focus. I’m enjoying it, for the most part.
Current Rating: 8/10. Worth catching up on, I’d say.
Write-ups: I have minor write-ups for every single episode. I should hopefully upload them this week. I usually have a main point or two per episode, which are better handled via “Week in Review” posts.
Kantai Collection / KanColle – If you’ve somehow missed it, Kantai Collection is a mobile game about moe (cute) anthropomorphism of battleships and submarines (from World War 2 era?) into the form of cute young girls, who then war on one another. The show seems like it’d be a combination of “Cute girls doing cute things” alongside “club/sports show”, in the style of the much liked, though not by myself, Girls und Panzer. KanColle, for those who don’t know, is a phenomenon that had swept Japan and the fan-art scene by storm, so this is surely to gain quite some attention.
Interest Rating: 1/3. Seems harmless enough, but not sure it’s my kind of show.
Airing Date: Janury 7th. Slice of Life Preview, Action Preview.
Didn’t Make it In:
Tsukimonogatari – Yotsugi Ononoki’s arc from the Monogatari series. This is under “Didn’t make it in” because I plan to watch Monogatari Second Season and Hanamonogatari this week, and I tend to prefer waiting for the Bluray releases of Monogatari arcs. I’ve never liked Yotsugi much when we met her in Tsukihi Phoenix, but she was a non-character there. Well, if you’re watching Monogatari, you’re going to watch this. No need to say anything more. 4 episodes.
Shinmai Maou no Testament / The Testament of Sister New Devil – Demons and devils! New sisters! Big breasts, small breasts, ecchi. Watch if you like that sort of stuff. I’ll pass. Still need to get to episode 3 of Highschool DxD.
Overall Wednesday Thoughts: Wednesday is an interesting day, because although there aren’t many shows, each one caters to a different crowd. You wish for more serious horror? Check. You want Monogatari’s unique spin on things? Check. And even something for those who want cute girls doing cute things or the fan-service angle. I guess there might be less for women here, though.
Shirobako – And this is why I bother both with the “Didn’t Make It In” section and checking with other people about the shows they’re watching. Two lines that stand out from my Fall Preview about Shirobako say, “Most of P.A.’s works since Hanasaku Iroha had been a miss for me” and “I’ll keep my ear to the ground about this one.” Well, this show reminds me of Hanasaku Iroha quite a bit, and it’s good. It’s filled with small moments, it’s filled with moments that have me smiling or even laughing, and even though there’s no melodrama, and very little drama, it’s got quite some heart. If you want to watch an enjoyable and well-made show currently airing, check it out.
Current Rating: 8/10. It’s not a perfect show, and it doesn’t have many “perfect moments”, but it’s a sum greater than its parts, and completely enjoyable. Even Tarou, though a poor person, is a character doing work.
Episodes Watched: 12/24.
Tokyo Ghoul √A (Root A, Second Season) – I thought the finale of the first season was masterful. The first season’s treatment of horror and themes was overall good, even if the show was quite imperfect. The Mangaka ended the series abruptly, in order to continue it in another series, and is apparently coming on board to help with the second season. So even if it’d be “anime original”, it might be “mangaka officialized.” The world and the characters ended with quite a shift in the last episode, and now comes the good part, the ramifications.
Interest Rating: 2.5/3. Expectation rating would be a tad lower, but this is more a curiosity barometer. I want to see what route Kaneki Ken takes now, and how those around him react.
Airing Date: January 8th.
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso / Your Lie in April – I planned to pick this up, but didn’t, because of time. But I’ve heard good things about it. I still love some highly emotional drama, and people say it delivers. I plan to catch up on it once I catch up on 2014 leftovers.
Interest Rating: 1.75/3. Drama and melodrama is still very hit or miss, balanced on a razor’s edge. Hearing good things makes me hopeful, but then again, I didn’t care much for White Album 2 and even laughed in its finale, so I’m not 100% in.
Episodes Watched: 0/22.
Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata / How to Train the Ordinary Girl to be a Heroine – A geek falls in love with a beautiful girl, and decides to make a visual novel with her as the heroine. Uses fellow female acquaintances (including the childhood friend!) to create said visual novel. This is as stock-standard as it gets for RomComs, but I like RomComs, and it’s been a while since I’ve watched one, especially non-shoujo. Kamei Kanta is the director, he directed Nanana’s Buried Treasure, but also the solid (especially in terms of direction) OreShura, and of course, Usagi Drop. Original story and script by Maruto Fumiaki, who was behind White Album 2.
Interest Rating: 1/3. I like RomComs, but it’s not promising to be anything special, mostly comfort food.
Airing Date: January 8th. Preview.
Koufuku Graffiti / Happy Cooking Graffiti – a 4-koma Slice of Life adaptation handled by SHAFT, adapted by Mari Okada (who had a terrible year in 2014), about girls who like cooking and eating tasty food. This is so much outside what I usually watch and enjoy, but I’ll give it a whirl.
Expectation Rating: 1/3. I don’t know what to expect from this show, at all. I’m going to watch it with a wary eye.
Airing Date: January 8th.
Overall Thursday Thoughts: Ah, Thursday. I’m actually really digging this Thursday’s lack of “Super serious shows”. There are plenty of shows here, but all of them should be light, so watching all of them should actually be attainable. And being Thursday, one can always watch one on Friday morning. As always, Thursday has enough interesting shows to last the week, and certainly offers something for anyone, be it action, comedy, or drama.
Death Parade – Based on, or continuing the short Death Billiards, from the Anime Mirai 2013 project (that also gave us the magnificent Little Witch Academia). Two people who died at the same time come to a mysterious club and have to play a game, to be evaluated, so the bartender, the arbiter, could decree whether they’d go to heaven or hell. Episodic, inviting philosophical musings, and surely will raise notions of the nature of life and humanity. The original short was interesting, if not great, and this seems interesting in the extreme as well.
Interest Rating: 2/3. I find the concept to be intriguing, the execution will be all here, truly.
Airing Date: January 9th. Preview.
Write-ups?: Possibly! Maybe 2-3 paragraphs on that week’s themes.
Assassination Classroom / Ansatsu Kyoushitsu – Fukuyama Jun as an alien who destroyed half the moon and will annihilate humanity if the students he’s playing homeroom teacher to won’t assassinate him. What could possibly go wrong? Comedy, action, some death-game vibes, this is the sort of show I like liking, but all too often is just handled badly. This one has a pretty huge cast of characters, and is directed by Kishi Seiji, who directed Hamatora: the Animation and DanganRonpa, both of which I found terribly mediocre.
Interest Rating: 1.5/3. This is something I want to like, but I suspect might not turn out the best. Hopefully comedy plays a larger part here.
Airing Date: January 9th. Preview.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders: Cairo Arc – What did one expect from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, after the first season? Silly poses, silly one-liners, taking too seriously and not seriously at all whatever it was doing. A ridiculous B-movie, but fun, right? What did we get? A too slow arc which had a lot of the nonsense, but very little of the soul and passion of the first season, and an extra heavy dose of licking and butchered dogs. We’ve had a humdrum of “Monster of the Week” content. Fans assure us this part is better, but fans always do. And even if it is, the length of the first half was inexcusable.
Interest Rating: 1/3. I hope JoJo can recover its form, but it used up almost all of the good will I’ve had for it.
Airing Date: January 9th. Preview.
Overall Friday Thoughts: Friday, always letting off energy after Thursday, and before Saturday’s renewed attack. Everything on this day is sort of speculative – Death Parade is artistic, philosophical, and intriguing, JoJo should be fun but it’s shown us how dull it could be, and Assassination Classroom is the posterchild for a show I want to like and am usually disappointed by. Well, an evening of popcorn it is.
Durarara!!x2 Shou (Second season part 2) – In case you’ve somehow missed it, I’m a huge fan of the first season of Durarara!! where multiple characters intersect, and the setting is as much as a character as the rest of them all, buoyed by superb music and a great cast of voice actors on top of their game (Ono Daisuke, Kamiya Hiroshi, Sawashiro Miyuki, Miyano Mamoru and more). So we’re getting more Durarara!! More stories by the same cast, in the same location, directed by the same director, same music director. What a great time. I’ve had heard some future spoilers, and they truly surprised me, but I’m ready.
Interest Rating: 3/3. 3-split-cour. Second cour in July, and third next year. I usually dislike split-cour, but here I expect each cour to tell its own complete story (or more), so a split should do no harm.
Airing Date: January 10th. Preview.
The Rolling Girls – Imagine a show that looks like someone bred Kyousougiga and Kill la Kill! together, which seems to have similarities to such disparate shows as Sekai Seifuku~ Bouryaku no Zvezda and K-On!, with a side dish of Mad Max, and how could you not check it out? Ten years ago a great war happened, and Japan was split into warring countries. Now three girls travel the various countries, warring on the other kingdoms. This seems like madness.
Interest Rating: 2.5/3. An entirely speculative pick, much of it is fueled by the energy and panache carried through in the preview.
Airing Date: January 10th. Preview.
Log Horizon 2nd Season – Log Horizon is a known quantity. It spends more time on the atmosphere and characters than on plot and world-building, but it puts actual thought into that aspect as well. It’s an enjoyable series with “Neat!” moments, and some moments where it truly exceeds expectations. It’s pleasant to watch on Saturday midday for me, especially as it arrives just after I finish eating lunch, or all of its foodservice would be utter torture.
Current Rating: 7/10.
Episodes Watches: 13/25.
Aldnoah.Zero 2 – It’d be wrong to call Aldnoah.Zero a trainwreck, because for most of its run, its quality had been consistent, just not very high. It’s just that it’s easier to see in retrospect. Its finale was glorious nonsense though, everything was too loud, but didn’t actually contain much of worth. Everything I predicted about the finale is coming true now. It’s a show that thinks plot is comprised of plot-twists, and actively works against characterization. So why am I going to watch it? Because curiosity compels me.
Expectation Rating: 1/3. I can’t look away. I’m hoping it does an about-face and is legitimately good though. I won’t watch shows with an expectation they’ll be bad and I could ream them.
Airing Date: January 10th.
Overall Saturday Thoughts: I’ve had much crazier Saturdays than this, and the fact Log Horizon airs early doesn’t hurt either. Durarara!! is going to be something I plan to enjoy, just watch and enjoy, without any notes. Rolling Girls could turn out great, or it could turn out mediocre. Log Horizon is a known quantity, and Aldnoah.Zero is speculative in terms of me hoping against my expectations that it’d actually be good and worthwhile. The ass-pull action, while pretty, didn’t draw me either. Saturday is a solid day, at the very least I expect two shows I enjoy, and if Durarara!! somehow becomes terrible, expect to hear my howls.
Overall Season Thoughts:
When I was done going over the Winter season’s list of shows, I went “Wait, that’s it? Where are all the other shows?” and actually counted them, to verify there’s the same number of shows as there is every season (there are). Winter is historically the weakest season, and it’s no different this season. A large part of the weight is going to be carried by continuing shows (Shirobako, Parasyte, Log Horizon) or returning shows (Durarara!!, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, etc.). Without said shows, Winter’s bounty would be even poorer.
Of special note is actually how varied this season is. Light Novel Action-Harem hybrids seem pretty common, we have slice of life, sports show, romance, action, and even sui generis shows. Many seasons are imbalanced, and this season, though sparse, is at least varied, with the hope of classics to emerge from it. I’ve seen worse, but I do hope 2015 picks up later, because we don’t need another 2014.
As for me? 16 shows is a tad too much if I were to continue with them all, but there are already several shows on the above listing I’m very iffy about, so we’ll see how it goes. And yes, expect weekly round-ups, unlike Fall! If I had to pick the “new” shows I’m most looking forward to? Durarara!!x2, The Rolling Girls, and Yuri Kuma Arushi. Death Parade makes a close runner up, but aside from them and the continuing shows? Take it or leave it.
Which shows are you guys excited for? Anything you think will be terrible but can’t avoid checking out? Anything you’d like to see me cover in particular?