Anime of Fall 2015: Parting Thoughts

As we’ve entered the new year and the latest crop of anime is beginning to debut, now is as good a time as any to share some parting thoughts about last Fall’s crop. A number of them seemed interesting, even promising, but failed to deliver, but there were one or two gems.

gakusen-toshi-asteriskv1Asterisk War

This one had a fair beginning, a good start, but… I dunno, my interest just kinda fizzled out.

As a storyteller, you need to stand apart in some way, and it’s not enough to just hook your audience from the start, you must keep their attention, make them enjoy every minute! That holds especially true when you have about twenty minutes a week to work with, you need to keep them coming back.

Apart from being vastly unoriginal – I believe I have already commented on the numerous similarities between this one and Chivalry of a Failed Knight – this one just didn’t keep me hooked. I was excited to see other shows on this list, but not this one. We just didn’t click, ya know? I was left bored and without any sense of anticipation for the next week’s episode.

It seemed like it would be mildly interesting at first, but that just faded, ya know?

sakurako-san-no-ashimoto-ni-wa-shitai-ga-umatteiruBeautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation

Started out strong and declined. Not entirely dissimilar to Asterisk War, but Beautiful Bones had a much stronger start. At first, I was eager for each new episode, but then, as the weeks wore on, I found myself getting bored with this one too.

Sakurako, the main heroine, was the only objective member of the cast. All the rest of them weren’t just emotional and easily riled, but also thick-headed, slow, ignorant, quick to assume, and, frankly, overly dramatic. It also didn’t help that this fairly small group of people had, among them, all the serendipitous connections necessary for Sakurako to obtain the data she needed to solve each case.

Even worse, the shadowy figure in the background is somehow involved in almost every case of unnatural deaths, in convoluted ways that defy rational sense, and he somehow magically gets all of his victims to do exactly what he wants with just a little bit of verbal manipulation, and each case Sakurako solves which involves him is one she just happens to stumble upon. Seriously, it’s ridiculous.

And then there’s the detective work. She’s a bone otaku, yet she knows so much about so many other things, and for a show that supposedly revolves around bones, they often played very minor roles, sometimes being virtually or completely absent.

In fairness, I will say that the first, oh, three episodes or so are pretty good, though the third one is already descending into melodrama while even the second one has the antagonist’s cancerous influence in the background. Even so, I enjoyed them. All the rest? Eh, not so much.

k-return-of-kingsv1K: Return of Kings

This was also pretty good at first. In fact, I found most of this season was pretty enjoyable. There were just a few flaws here and there, which will impact my eventual full review of the anime as a whole.

Compared to the first season, there was less connection to the characters, a looser narrative structure, especially towards the end, the flashbacks were annoying, and there didn’t seem to be any real discussion, blatant or thematic, about the weight of what was happening.

Spoiler alert here: I was hoping that we could see some of the characters wrestle with the decision to undo the source of their powers, but not a one of them seemed to have any issues with it. This could heavily impact or even end their lives for all they know, yet they just… do it. Just like that.

There was just a little bit of mystery to be solved, but the answers were just suddenly given to us and didn’t really matter in the end, compared to the first season’s extended and important mysteries, which the heroes worked to solve.

Basically, the first portion of this season felt drawn out, and then the last part felt rushed through, with loose ends left untied. It really had its stride in two or three of the middle episodes.

mobile-suit-gundam-iron-blooded-orphansMobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

Thus far, my predictions seem to have held true: it’s a gritty, and heart-breaking.

A friend of mine once described an episode of Doctor Who, the one where they freed the enslaved Ood, as being about the people who others don’t see as people, but who love each other anyway. That seems to sum-up Iron-Blooded Orphans in a nutshell.

It’s difficult to imagine such a collection of people that has been more beaten down, individually and collectively, by the society around them, with sole exception to a population of slaves. Seriously, even the part-time cook and delivery girl who isn’t even officially part of their crew has a traumatic past. But through it all, the solar winds have brought them all together in one place, and together, they have found, and formed, a family.

This anime, if all the other series of the Gundam franchise are any indication, is just getting started. I am investing in these characters, I am connecting with them, appreciating them, loving them. The show can be a bit depressing at times – they could add a bit more humor, ya know – and I have no doubt that the real crucible lies far ahead of our heroes, but I am going to follow this one.

I may not follow it every week, rather let it pile up for a month and binge three or four or five episodes at a time, but I will follow this one!

one-punch-man2One Punch Man

Three words:





Definitely the breakout favorite of the season, and possibly the year, and that seems to be a general, unofficial consensus, as I’ve been coming across opinions online.

I first thought (and described) this as a satirical superhero show with graphic elements of violence. That is definitely the first episode, and the next few are still in line with that. However, while the satire remains, it is toned down… or perhaps altered, with a few things mixed in. They get into some pretty weighty themes for just a dozen episodes. Considering how we aren’t that familiar with very many of the characters, and the main character has overwhelming strength the likes of which is usually the death of a gripping narrative – many of us enjoy Batman’s adventures more than Superman’s because Superman is so strong while Batman is so smart and capable – I felt a surprising connection with them.

The one complaint I have about this anime is how it’s so short! They have just set up a number of riveting plots and conflicts, and I want to see them! Don’t leave the story unfinished! That’s a pet peeve of mine even when dealing with terrible enemy, let alone really good ones!

Fortunately, though there’s been no word of the anime being developed at this exact moment, the mind behind the manga has confirmed the he is trying to get a second season made. Which, best way to help convince them to make it: support it online and, even more, with your purchase!

…so, to the people who are not already making this second season we are all so eager for, I say, “Shut up and take my money!” :p

utawarerumono-itsuwari-no-kamenUtawarerumono Itsuwari no Kamen

This is another one that intrigued and entertained me at first, but then lost my interest partway through the season. I may binge it sometime, but not for awhile.

I could buy the first one or two coincidental meetings with princesses or princess-like figures, but it gets a bit repetitive, and therefore boring, when it keeps happening in every episode!

The trailer for this show promised some kind of epic fantasy adventure with a large cast. While I think that may be coming, or may have even begun already – I don’t know, I stopped watching, I’m letting the episodes pile up for a binge sometime – they seem to be introducing a great portion of that cast at the very beginning, one at a time, and in identical ways. And did I mention all the princesses?

Also, I’ve not seen the original Uta-whatsis – seriously, shorter names! – series in its entirety, and I believe that would be beneficial in some ways, to understand the background of these characters we are meeting in the sequel.

So, this one might have some promise (eventually), but I won’t be following it very closely.

Asterisk War: …meh.
Beautiful Bones: Started good… then, meh.
K: Return of Kings: Good, but flawed. I may own it someday, but it’s not a priority.
Iron-Blooded Orphans: Still in, still following! 🙂
One Punch Man: More, more, more, MORE, MOOOOORE!!! 😀
Utawarerumono Itsuwari no Kamen: Good, then meh, I might return to it at a later date. So it’s sort of half-in, I guess?

What do you guys think? Agree, disagree, neutral, distracted by something shiny? 😉

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