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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Shirobako – On Cynical Optimism

Shirobako animeShirobako ended in the only way it could, and in the way its narrative arc had outlined from the beginning. Shirobako ended on an optimistic note, and I felt betrayed by it.

Since like many of the best pieces of media out there, Shirobako is about life, and since this post, as is the case with most of what people write, will hinge upon my personal experiencing of it, mediated through my own experiences, I will now get to do what bloggers the world over love doing: Write a bit about myself. Also, that sure was a long sentence.

I’m not an old person, but I definitely fall under the heading of “adult”, and am older than what the average anime-watcher in online communities is. I’ve served three years in the military, and between my B.A. and M.A. had the opportunity (and need) to work for several years, full-time. I’m no stranger to insufferable co-workers, implicit threats of physical violence, burdens heaped upon the capable until they buckle, unlistening leaders, and more. More-over, and this is the salient part, I came into workplaces expecting these things, so perhaps I gave them a larger place in my mental landscape than they objectively took up, but perhaps even that is a comfortable lie. I’m a cynical optimist, and this is relevant to my reaction to the show, and to much of anime’s storytelling in this regard.

(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that rose in my mind as a result of watching the show. There will be spoilers for the entire show.)

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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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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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Shirobako Episode 23 – Optimism is the Message

So, the author is unhappy, again, and things are going pear shaped, after Miyamori fought tooth and claw to fix everything, again, so let’s see how they try and fix this mess. Again. It’s a hard life, yo.

Thoughts and Notes:

1) In the Trenches:

Shirobako anime episode 23 - Chazawa's smug grin

1) “Should we ready a recap episode, just in case?” – It’s Gatchaman Crowds all over again ;-)

More importantly, though Nabe-P said they’ll make it, he knows reality, so is readying a recap episode. Gotta prepare for all eventualities…

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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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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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