Spring 2016 Anime Season Week 1 – First Impressions (Anime Power Ranking)

Another season, another slew of premieres! A short to medium write-up on each, with links to full first-impressions for most.

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). I’m also going to give each premiere a couple of scores, “Premiere Score” for how well it did its job as a premiere (introducing characters, establishing situation, providing a “hook”), and “Episode Score”, for how well it worked as a regular episode. “Enjoyment Score” should be obvious.

1) Ushio to Tora Episode 27 (2nd Season Episode 1):

Ushio to Tora anime episode 27 - Crying Aotsuki Ushio hugs Tora

I missed you too, buddies.

The gang is back! I actually found myself surprised as this episode started because it felt as if we’re going back to the episodic structure of the show’s start or the first season’s last few episodes, and it’s not like this show has much time to waste. But worry not, the show quickly moved from establishing normality to shattering it in a manner that made me tear up, because I care for all the dorks in this show. Stakes raised, action, emotions. Everything that made me care so much for Ushio to Tora is here. Silly faces too, I’m glad to report.

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Spring 2016 Anime Season Preview and Expectations

It’s now two weeks before the spring 2016 anime season begins, which means it’s time to look towards the new season, and put behind us a season with a few great shows, and little else to recommend beyond them. Will this spring season finally save us from the drought of the last 3 seasons? It seems as if it might actually be the case!

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 describes 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”.
Much space is given to the people involved with a show, as premises are easy, but execution is hard, and it’s people who are in charge of that. You’re likelier to end up with good shows that way. Link in anime title is to the show’s page on MAL, in case you want to check out the premise and details yourselves.

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:

Concrete Revolutio anime 2nd seasonConcrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou – The Last Song / Concrete Revolutio: A Superhuman Fantasy 2nd Season – Concrete Revolutio’s first cour was good enough to end as my 6th best show of 2015. With a nuanced approach to “multiple justices,” of trying to do the right thing while accepting that the other side believes they’re doing the same thing, the show also takes a close look at how shaping the way people perceive justice might be more important than being “just” to begin with. The first cour intertwined a continuing and developing character drama with episodic vignettes.

I was wondering for a moment, “Where will they go from now?” as we “found out” what led Jirou to leave, but since the show has never been a mystery and we’ve known all along, the answer is clear – they will tell us more of the struggle, while exploring moral and social questions. They’ll also have Urobuchi Gen writing an episode or two, for those to whom it makes a big difference. But since it’ll exist within the larger narrative, I don’t find it particularly important.

I do recommend picking this show up if you hadn’t before. If you’re having trouble with the time-skips, check my episodic write-ups, which aside from a thematic discussion of each episode also provide an up to date timeline.
Hype Rating: 2.5/3. A second cour of a show I liked? I’m on board. This show rarely “excites” me, but I expect to enjoy it and find a lot that is worthwhile there, with a few touching moments and moments of highlight animation tossed in.
Airing Date: April 3rd.

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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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Fall 2015 Anime Overview – Weeks 4-5 (Anime Power Ranking)

Last week I was busy. Thankfully, most episodes seem to have gone on in a manner that made talking about two episodes at once easier. Since I’m going to be very busy next week, the mid-season post will likely only appear next Friday.

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). It’s a bit less organized this time around, because it’s averaging two episodes’ worth of content, and not in any scientific manner.

1) Concrete Revolutio Episodes 4-5:

Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou anime Episode 5 overview - Matsumoto likes what humans can't understand

This series seems to have found its footing with episode 3. I can still see many people don’t and won’t like it, but in episode 3 it had shown what it wants to be about, and has been about it ever since, and also, well, more concrete, if you will forgive my pun. A two-parter, which continuing the theme of episode 3 is about our nature, about who we choose to be, rather than who we were born as. Kaiju, the great monsters of Japanese cinema, what are they here for? What are they to us? And especially to Jiro, and so we explore the questions of the monster within, media control, and tie it to the student revolts of the 1960s. It’s all about lies, and while the “theme” might appear to be with how those in power manipulate others, and even manipulate nature, it seems to all come down to the lies we’re willing to tell others whom we claim to love.

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Fall 2015 Anime Overview – Week 3 (Anime Power Ranking)

All the premieres are behind us, and I’m sort of fine with this season. Nothing is really exciting me yet, and most of the crap had been left behind. I’m still unsure about a bunch of the shows, but it’s not like there’s much else this season to pick up. Slim pickings, but I’m fine with what I’ve got.

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). Numbers in parentheses are change from last week.

1) Ushio to Tora / Ushio and Tora Episode 16 (+2):

Ushio to Tora anime episode 16 - Tora and Aotsuki Ushio looking lame as they run away

Our super-cool heroes.

This was a pretty cool episode. It had Ushio being cool and saving everyone, and literally saying a man should come to the aid of crying women when he can, several times, which was a bit cloying, but there you have it with a middle-schooler (he’s literally chuuni) who was raised without his mother and told he should always act for the sake of the dead mother who’s watching over him. Anyway, we had cool action sequences, and self-sacrifices, and it was all gloriously shounonsense in the way I like best, with even the fanservice just sort of being there rather than being made a deal of, and Ushio and Tora being their usually cool self, and all the random monsters saying how great Ushio is.

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Fall 2015 Anime Overview – Week 2 (Anime Power Ranking)

Three first impressions (Beautiful Bones – Sakurako-san, Perfect Insider, and Garo Season 2), and episode 2 of everything else. Considering last week I spoke of how multiple shows didn’t really tell us what they’re like in their premieres, let’s see how they did with their second episodes.

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). Numbers in parentheses are change from last week. I’m also going to give each premiere a couple of scores, “Premiere Score” for how well it did its job as a premiere, and “Episode Score”, for how well it worked as a regular episode.

1) Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans / Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans Episode 2 (+3):

Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans anime / Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans anime episode 2 overview - Kudelia Aina Bernstein speaks of child victims

In case you missed it – THE MESSAGE is hammered at you.

Following a good premiere, Orphans delivered another good episode that did some serious job in fleshing out its characters, and was actually relatively subtle about its characterization of them, showing us how Mikazuki and the rest of the Space Rats lack either past or future, using their illiteracy both as a metaphor for their situation and as a possible cause of it. They do what they do not for anyone else, not to save Kudelia, but for one another, and because they have nothing else. They’re much lower on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but their self-respect still plays a part, as this is Gundam, and “villainy versus chivalry”, or “means well” versus “Doesn’t even try” is a very real theme.

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Fall 2015 First Impressions

Well, the new season is here, and I’ve watched a bunch of premieres. It’s time to tell you what I thought of each of them, as well as the lone Summer holdover, Ushio and Tora. As I actually wrote something longer for each of these shows (aside from the shorts), 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). I’m also going to give each premiere a couple of scores, “Premiere Score” for how well it did its job as a premiere, and “Episode Score”, for how well it worked as a regular episode.

1) Ushio to Tora / Ushio and Tora Episode 14:

Ushio to Tora anime episode 14 overview - Tora isn't bored when he's with Aotsuki Ushio

It might be because I already know what to expect from this show, and that it’s meeting my expectations, but I think a large part of it is that from the very beginning, this show knew what it wants to be, and was never shy about it. Regardless of the reason, this is the episode that I enjoyed the most this past week, and fittingly enough, it’s the only carry-over from the Summer season.

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