Winter 2015 Anime Overview – Week 13 – Final Week! (Anime Power Ranking)

The new show is about to start later today, so this will be the last opportunity to look at the episodes we received this past week, the final offerings of the Winter 2015 anime season. The episode write-ups linked usually have an overview of the season in its entirety as well, so take a look!

The shows covered will be Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu), Death Parade, Durarara!!x2, Junketsu no Maria (Maria the Virgin Witch), Log Horizon S2, Parasyte: the Maxim (Kiseiju), and Shirobako.

1) Death Parade episode 12:

Death Parade anime episode 12 overview

Episode 11, with its skating sequence alongside Chiyuki’s memory montage was truly special, perhaps the best episode of the season for me. While this episode did not top it, it stood just as tall, which is already an achievement.

This episode mirrored the show, and rather than just deliver to us the show’s messages over the head or try to act normally until halfway while tying everything up in the second half, it slowly led us through a situation, toying with our thoughts, toying with our emotions.

Yes, in the end it did say what it wanted to, which it’s been telling us for a while now, that you may or may not be able to understand others, and that judging has faults, but we cannot avoid doing so. But what it’s done is delivered a tale of two people, a tale of understanding, empathy, and appreciation.

Seeing Decim unable to speak, seeing his sorrowful mien over the pain from understanding what he made Chiyuki go through, and seeing the Chiyuki doll in the end… so many precious moments. Yes, there’s a lot that’s left unanswered, but so is life.

Read my write-up for episode 12.

2) Durarara!!x2 Shou episode 12:

Durarara!! X2 shou episode 12 anime overview

It’s hard to watch Durarara!! and not be a fan of the one and only Heiwajima Shizuo, isn’t it? I mean, I’ve watched episode 7 of the first season (“I am not a violent man”) countless times last year. As a fan of Shizuo, this episode certainly was fun.

In my write-up that bit felt shoe-horned, but the moment where Shizuo makes sure to tell someone he’s not a member of the Dollars before striding in, and it’s not just a statement on not wanting to be part of a group that’d allow everyone in, without rules, but he’s making sure his actions don’t lead to the same mess all over again, he’s keeping his actions as his actions, rather than those of “a member of the Dollars”.

This episode had done two things, which the entire cour had been doing. The first was discuss the theme of power, responsibility, and Mikado’s decision. The second was set things up for the future. While Mikado “snapping” in the form of reaching a decision was important, what really matters is what will result from said decision.

I discussed all of this at length in my write-up on the whole cour.

This episode had a lot of interesting things, a lot of threads that collected together, only to tangle farther, and spread ahead of us, as is the way of the future.

3) Shirobako episode 24:

Shirobako episode 24 anime overview

Another good episode of Shirobako. This one didn’t really have loose ends to tie up. This episode didn’t really have anything to say that wasn’t already said.

This episode wasn’t even there for all the “YES!” moments, which was last episode.

This episode was just spending some more time with the characters, smiling at moments of awesome hinted at in the past (Ogitsu’s driving), or that reflect our inner thoughts (Miyamori being appreciated).

It was essentially doing everything that an OVA does, which was give us some more time with a cast we grew fond of, a final time to state some of the messages. Because why not? It wasn’t new, it wasn’t special, but it was Shirobako, which is plenty good.

4) Junketsu no Maria (Maria the Virgin Witch) episode 12:

Maria the Virgin Witch / Junketsu no Maria anime episode 12 overview

This episode was sort of messy. It was messy in a way that exemplified the messiness of the show. Michael’s chuckle, Heaven forgiving Maria, those are the moments I’m speaking of. How do you reconcile them with what we know of Heaven and Michael up to now? How do all these small thematic threads come together?

The short answer is that they don’t really, but that it doesn’t matter, because they feed into the great thematic current that is “individualism”, humanity is about standing up for what you believe in. No, not everyone in the show who follows these ideals is rewarded (Galfa and Bernard), and those who oppose it don’t suffer either (Le Comte, Gilbert).

It was still an eventful and interesting episode, that was enjoyable to watch, and while messy, and somewhat distracting, overall helped the show’s overall theme.

Read my write-up for episode 12.

5) Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu) episode 11:

Hunter x Hunter’s Killua arrives! Koro-sensei fends off another assault on him, then tries to rehabilitate his attacker, to make sure they get a good upbringing and life!

Business as usual, in other words. Nothing changes.

6) Log Horizon S2 episode 25:

Log Horizon S2 anime Episode 25 overview

Just Log Horizon being Log Horizon to the very end.

Well, this sure was Log Horizon. From making support appear cool and not just chumps’ work in anime, to finishing an episode, and a season, with food. As an episode, the way the fight ended mid-episode was quite anticlimactic and even “meh”-inducing, and just like last season, this episode and season ended on a cliffhanger, of sorts.

It does make sense though, until they get back to our Earth, and even after, one of the points of the show is that it’s a lived-in experience, that we always have something more to strive for. Kanami’s reintroduction also made sense on two levels, first, showing that everyone has human connections, and second, to keep the flame of the future Shiroe versus Plant Hwyaden flames going.

And yet, this episode just felt relatively weak. We spent time with characters, we had some “We’ll keep trying!” messages, but as most episodes, it didn’t actually do enough on its own, let alone as season finale.

Read my write-up for episode 25.

7) Parasyte: The Maxim (Kiseiju) episode 24:

Parasyte - the maxim episode 24 - Izumi Shinichi bemoans his fate

A perfect metaphor for this show, pissing all over itself after the prior two episodes were good.

“Unfortunate” is the way I’d describe this episode. The last two were decent, felt mostly “closed”, and even ended on what could be considered a thematic ending note. Why was there need for another episode?

Ah, yes, of course, to remind us that the action in the first half of the episode was quite good and exciting, and to remind us of how little was actually done with Shinichi’s dreams, and his meetings with Migi within them.

We belabour “The real monsters” again, we have an interesting but obtuse goodbye scene with Migi, we get to see life continues, and all of this was either forgettable, reminded us of what this show used to be, and what it promised to be, or was just bad.

The show ended on a really flat note, as a result. Though I did go “Damn!” when Murano supposedly fell, thinking this show really must have it in for Shinichi, thinking that’d be its ending theme, one of sacrifice, but it was just another cheap emotional ploy. The show couldn’t stick its landing, when it’s already done so to a large degree.


Overall Thoughts:

The good shows ended on a strong note. It wasn’t always clean, it wasn’t always “new”, but it was good. The shows that kept buckling under their weight continued to do so, and Parasyte returned to its weakest bits, for no good reason.

Well, the finales were pretty good, overall. I’ve had fun this past week, and while I wasn’t as wowed as by the penultimate episodes, this ends the season on a good note, just as the new season is about to start.

Finales, do you give them more weight when considering the show, or do you treat them as any other episode? How much a great finale can do for a mediocre show, for you?

7 comments on “Winter 2015 Anime Overview – Week 13 – Final Week! (Anime Power Ranking)

  1. Artemis says:

    It’s of course fantastic when a series I really like ends on a strong note, and I suppose a truly excellent finale might be enough to elevate a show from good to great in my eyes, but it probably wouldn’t be enough to significantly elevate a bad or even mediocre one. Honestly, I’d say premier episodes are more important to me as a whole – first impressions can and frequently do make or break an anime, whereas by the time the finales roll around, the majority of viewers have long since made up their minds. So while I wouldn’t say I treat a finale like any other episode (after all, I do expect a finale to… well, conclude things, which I typically don’t for other episodes), I wouldn’t necessarily say I place that much more importance on it.

    • Guy says:

      [T]he majority of viewers have long since made up their minds.

      This is very true. I once thought to recommend people who poo-pooed a show to rewatch it once it’s done, then I literally laughed out loud and realized the folly of it – They’re more likely to dislike it even more, to find even more things to dislike, and each thing they’re already aware of will predispose them against the show even further.

      When people come to a show truly ready to dislike it, they’re probably going to. It’s interesting how we’re much more likely to start out liking a show and gradually grow to dislike it, though.

  2. awriterofsorts says:

    I’d have to second Artemis. A weak finale would be a true disappointment for a good series, but I have yet to actually experience this reality in my watching. It would not be as overwhelmingly damning as a weak first episode, which frequently decides whether or not I watch a show. For me I find it frustrating when there are good ideas and characters that are badly explored or given insufficient arcs, or are inadequately shallow for their promise.

    • Guy says:

      I can think of a couple of not just weak, but “undoes all the show is working for” finales. I usually don’t really knock the shows off in score with them, and prefer to imagine they didn’t exist, if the show’s theme and message still make sense that way. Though I guess it’d be terrible if you’d just be left without a coherent message otherwise. It’s unpleasant, and yes, not all that common.

      Though as Parasyte showed us, you can have a show that’s not great, finally pull through again and make huge improvements in its two penultimate episodes, only to fall flat again on the last :-/

      For me I find it frustrating when there are good ideas and characters that are badly explored or given insufficient arcs, or are inadequately shallow for their promise.

      Ideas are easy, and many shows share the same ideas. Potential is always nearly infinite before a show is actually created. So I’d get used to it.

  3. ChazzU says:

    You perfectly worded why I was a bit surprised that people put Shirobako E24 on their #1 in the APR’s. It was good, but not more than that. It indeed was just another episode of Shirobako, but now without any stress, surprises, catches or bumps in the road. I think it was a fitting ending – a calm episode after the storm had passed – but as an episode alone, it wasn’t that impressing.

    • Guy says:

      Well, it was the final episode of a show they loved. I think it was more for the effect of the show as a whole, and it ending. It’s not surprising, I just don’t think it was earned by the episode.

  4. ChazzU says:

    And to answer the question!

    Finales are equally as important as premieres. A first episode can pull you in and make you decide to watch more, but a final episode closes the story you’ve been invested in for 3-6 months. A show can repair the damage done from an episode inbetween much easier than it can from either the first or the last episode.

    Although I also have to say, that a bad finale can do much more damage to a show than a good finale can make up for. A final episode would have to tie everything together in order to raise the score for the overall show, and as we have witnessed with KimiUso, even a good finale can’t make up for what a show lacked during other parts of the show when reflecting over more than the last couple of episodes.

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