Top Nine Anime Series of 2015

Another year has come to an end, and with it a bevvy of shows, of which I’ve sampled over 40, and finished about half of these. Not as good as past years, but there were a couple of pretty underwhelming seasons this year. You’ll note there are 9 shows in this post, not ten. I’ve decided to go back to my 2013’s list method, and have as many shows as I think deserve being on the list, be it 3 or 13. And this year has 9 such shows, for me. There’d be “Notable Absentees” and “Honourable Mentions” at the end of the post, so if you don’t see a show, keep on reading!

Only full series had been considered, no OVAs or movies of any sort. The names link to the show’s description and information on My Anime List (MAL).

9. Hibike! Euphonium (Sound! Euphonium)

Hibike! Euphonium / Sound! Euphonium anime episode 11 - Kousaka Reina and Oumae Kumiko look into one another's eyes - Top anime shows of 2015

Euphonium is not a perfect show, which you can tell from its position on the list, but it’s still good enough to make the list. Ironically, even though it’s not a split-cour show, it feels more like half of a grander show than actual split-cour shows I’ve watched this past year. It tells a small and coherent dramatic story, while hinting at much more to come. Its characters, of which there are many, range between fully-realized to not fleshed out sufficiently yet, but they feel real, and they, and the show, carry the charm of the so-called “KyoAni Mastery of Small Moments.” The show had several highlights, and was consistently good after its first arc. Recommended, but I’d recommend waiting for the 2nd season, myself.

You can read my editorial on the show and its ensemble nature here.

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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.

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Death Parade Episode 12 (Finale) – Empathy and Sympathy; Dolls and Free Will

Last episode was pretty great. I had quite a bit to say, check out that lengthy post-episode write-up. Mayu made a declaration, that she’d make the decision, she’d sacrifice herself for what she loves, and so long she deems something as meaningful in her life, it all that matters. On the other spectrum we had Chiyuki, who deemed her own life meaningless, and gave us a beautiful ice skating and memory-montage sequence.

And now we need to see how it all shakes down, judging others, understanding them, and the “plot”, which had thankfully not been the focus of the show, leaving the stage for vignettes about humanity.

Thoughts and Notes:

1) The Dolls’ Heart-Strings:

Death Parade anime episode 12 notes -  Nona rises against her kind's lot

1) So, Arbiters don’t have emotions (obviously a lie, though I guess they do lack empathy), so who is pulling Nona’s strings? Is everything done according to some God’s will? Is she defying the will of the one who created her? Not too unlike parents and children, who become their own adults.

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Winter 2015 Anime Overview – Weeks 11-12 (Anime Power Ranking)

The penultimate episodes are upon us, so just before shows finally give us their final episodes, let’s see what we’ve got on our hands. Spoiiler – because I’ve dropped most of the shows I didn’t care for, anything ranged from “average” to “absolutely sublime”, the past two weeks, and especially the last, had been extraordinarily strong. A great finish to a good season. Now just to hope the finales all deliver as well.

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 episodes 10-11:

Death Parade anime episodes 10-11 overview

The last two episodes have been magical. I think they truly worked great as “two episodes”, and were best to talk of them in said manner. Death Parade isn’t always consistent in its pace, but rather than call it “uneven”, it often feels, and certainly did this time around as if it’s a conscious decision, just as one could read an anthology of short stories that don’t all follow the same tone. So it was here, and these two slower episodes felt more thoughtful, more deliberate, and infinitely more intimate.

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Death Parade Episode 11 – These Broken Shards We Embrace

Time for Onna, or Chiyuki, to get her judgment, eh? Time for Oculus to intervene, or not, and time to find out what Nona’s gambit was all about. We’re nearing the end, and it’s time for us, as well as Decim, to tie up loose ends.

Thoughts and Notes:

1) Mayu’s Choice, Ginti’s Predetermination:

Death Parade anime episode 11 - Villain Ginti

That lighting, Ginti is such a villain.

1) So, back to Mayu, it seems. We learn Harada, who would’ve sacrificed Mayu was sent to the Void. We learn of how terrible it is to be in the Void, not the lack of any thoughts, but a terrible sensation, and nothing else. We also learn souls can be taken out, if you send someone else in their place – does it mean you need to send someone who is not supposed to go there, or one who is supposed to go there is fine too? Does a soul come out of the Void whenever a new one goes in, or just when one actively makes a “trade”? And is it up to the soul whether it wants back or not?Anyway, plenty of questions, which are orthogonal to the main issues of the show, but any answer could affect the read of the show’s themes.

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Winter 2015 Anime Overview – Weeks 9-10 (Anime Power Ranking)

This write-up covers two weeks, because the episodes didn’t necessarily give enough to describe for one episode lately. The shows are ordered based on how much I liked the episodes in question or thought were good.

The shows covered will be Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu), Death Parade, Durarara!!x2, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Egypt arc, Junketsu no Maria (Maria the Virgin Witch), Log Horizon S2, Parasyte: the Maxim (Kiseiju), and Shirobako.

1) Death Parade episodes 8-9:

Death Parade anime episodes 8-9 - Onna is angry

It should’ve been obvious by now, and episode 8 did all but say it, and then came along episode 9 and truly did say it – this isn’t about the people being judged, it’s about Decim. We judge the people we see, we judge their judgments, and most of all, we judge the one who passes the judgment, trying to figure out if he made the right decision, and if he made it for the right reasons. This reminds me of the Gorgias Socratic Dialogue, where what I often found problematic in the dialogues was actually brought out.

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Death Parade Episode 9 – Pain, Simple and Never-Ending

Both of them are killers, eh? Well, last episode made it clear The Woman is also judging Decim. The real judgment is always of the Arbiters’. They need to understand humans, without having life experiences that’d allow them to relate to them, or the emotions that’d allow the bond otherwise. So, who’s really being judged here? Let’s see how it plays out.

Thoughts and Notes:

1) The Ever-Speaking Mannequin:

Death Parade anime episode 9 notes - Decil explains that's what arbiters are

1) Now that I think of it, Decim’s jaw looks quite like a mannequin’s when he speaks. Quite unlike the other characters’.

2) “Indeed, the memories appear mixed, with cryptic memories, so you can’t judge a person’s life through their memories alone.” – Or perhaps they appear cryptic to you as you don’t truly understand people. Now we’ll see what someone who was an actual human could do with the same memories.

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Winter 2015 Anime Overview – Week 8 (Anime Power Ranking)

The write-up this week is a tad delayed, due to me rewatching the entirety of Chihayafuru (50 episodes) and other obligations, but I decided not to skip this week’s post. I didn’t watch last week’s Tokyo Ghoul Root A episode, and I might not care enough to resume watching it. It’s just not fun.

As always, links in title are to full write-ups (for very few shows this time around), while the shows are ordered by how much I liked the episode, compared to the others.

The shows covered will be Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu), Death Parade, Durarara!!x2, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Egypt arc, Junketsu no Maria (Maria the Virgin Witch), Log Horizon S2, Parasyte: the Maxim (Kiseiju), and Shirobako.

1) Shirobako episode 19:

Shirobako anime episode 19 overview

An episode where we think of the past and how we can never recreate it, but also of how the present can seek to pass it, and how the present is predicated on the past. We see past legends, and hear reassuring words – they did not set out with a plan, they did not set out to become “legends”. They just did the work that was in front of them, and forty years down the line, it turns out that they’ve erected a mountain behind them, a legacy.

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Winter 2015 Anime Midseason Overview

Mid-season of the anime season of Winter 2015 is upon us, so time to round up how I feel about the shows I’m current on, or decided to put on hold. A round-up telling you what I think is worthy of your time, or not, and where it’s at. I also happened to appear on a podcast discussing these shows with Flawfinder and others, which you can check out here.

Tiers are in-order of enjoyment/evaluation. Within each tier the order is alphabetical. Also, each show will get a couple of words about how the past week’s episode had been, because I’d rather jot these down.


Death Parade:

Death Parade anime - Winter 2015 Anime Season Overview

Death Parade is a show where I don’t know what to expect from each episode, except for it to be both entertaining and quite good. We see humanity, and we see humanity pushed to the limit. Then we see said humanity judged by someone with next to no understanding of what it is he observes, which the show is aware of. We see judgments, and sometimes we do not. We see slices of lives, of the people judged, and of the judges. What is the true focus of the show? To show us slices of humanity? To show us the judgment, and make us think what decisions we would have made in their place? To try and understand the inhuman and quite child-like Decim behind his cold facade?

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Winter 2015 Anime Overview – Weeks 4-6 (APR)

This was supposed to go up on Wednesday, but between my cat having surgery (4 teeth removed), and me finding myself busy with all sort of things, it was delayed. I’m going to cover 2-3 episodes of each of the currently airing shows I’ve watched over the past three weeks, the cutoff is this past Wednesday. Next week will hopefully have an editorial, the mid-season post, and then we’ll go back to normal, including a post on Hyouka and another on rewatching Neon Genesis Evangelion.

The shows covered will be Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu), Death Parade, Durarara!!x2, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Egypt arc, Junketsu no Maria (Maria the Virgin Witch), Log Horizon S2, Shirobako, The Rolling Girls, and Tokyo Ghoul Root A.

Shows listed roughly in order of how much I liked the episodes in question.

1) Durarara!!x2 Shou episodes 3-5:

Durarara!! X2 shou episodes 3-5 overview

I love Durarara!!, and I love the way in which its stories are told, how they are just presented, and it’s not the action through which the story is told, it’s not necessarily the events occurring, but the way characters and storylines intersect. We have an increasingly large cast of characters, and rather than dilute the broth, or mean things take longer to occur, it feels as if the opposite is taking place, with me feeling as if one episode contained enough material for three distinct episodes, and none of it feeling rushed or ignored.

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