Anime Taste Testing: Winter 2015 (Part II)

80. picture1
I don’t know that I buy into the idea of winter (or any one specific season for that matter) being traditionally the worst in terms of new anime releases, but what I can say with confidence is that as far as the sheer number of decent titles go, the line-up this winter is indeed pretty dire. Of the four shows I picked up at the beginning of the season, I’m heartily enjoying two of them, have now dropped one of them, and am continuing to watch the other mostly out of stubbornness.

Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love!/Cute High Earth Defense Club Love!
Original score: 4/10
Current score: 4/10 (dropped)

77. picture2

I finally called it quits on this one after the fourth episode, so I think it’s fair to say I gave it a good shot. I don’t feel strongly enough about this show to say I hate it – it’s just that I don’t find it consistently funny enough to keep my attention. While each episode usually had one or two particular scenes or one-liners that made me smile, as a whole I wasn’t particularly impressed, or even really all that amused. This particular title would likely work much better as a sketch comedy rather than as a longer narrative, because while lampooning magical-girl tropes is all well and good in the short-term, I just don’t think there’s enough decent material here to be spun out into a full story.

Yuri Kuma Arashi/Lily Bear Storm
Original score: 5/10
Current score: 6/10

77. picture3

Keeping this one because… well, probably because I have so few new titles I’m watching this season, and I guess I’m morbidly curious to see where things will end up. And hey, if I’m honest, the last couple of episodes have been quite a bit better (i.e. less repetitive and more coherent) than the first couple were. However, this doesn’t exactly make me a fan of the show. I may not be the biggest fan of Utena or Penguindrum either, but I can respect an anime that uses its imagery (particularly imagery revolving around themes of sexuality) with grace and subtlety. Unfortunately, Yuri Kuma Arashi wields its imagery with all the restraint of a sledgehammer, and while I can appreciate the novelty value, the delivery could use some serious work. At the moment, my favourite parts of the series are the ED (because gosh darnit, that dancing bear is adorable) and any scene involving Life Sexy (because there’s just something about the line “shabadadoo”, spoken with a Japanese accent, that cracks me up every time).

Death Parade
Original score: 7/10
Current score: 8/10

77. picture4

Speaking of subtlety, Death Parade is actually showing some, and I’m also happy to note that the series is mixing up its formula just enough with each episode so that things aren’t growing stale. To my surprise, the show has also now proven that it can do bittersweet nostalgia and psychological intensity just as well as it can do melodramatic and theatrical, mostly thanks to its well-crafted atmosphere and strong sense of style. Neither is much time wasted on exposition – Death Parade knows what it wants to do and doesn’t muck around in doing it, which is extremely refreshing to see in any anime series these days. Although I don’t think Death Parade is showing off huge amounts of innovation or amazingly good writing, it’s a consistently entertaining title on both a visual and narrative level, and is still easily one of this season’s best offerings.

Durarara!!x2 Shou
Original score: 9/10
Current score: 9/10

77. picture5

There are some things that only a title like this can get away with, and while parts of Durarara!! would have crossed the line of acceptability for me were they to occur in almost any other anime, they somehow work here precisely because of the show’s own incredibly stylish nonchalance. Overall, this second season of Durarara!! is not as focused as its predecessor (possibly the new additions to the cast is simply making it too large), but it definitely remains in keeping with the same twisted and charmingly idiotic vibe we all know and love – and since Durarara!! has always shone brightest the more ridiculous it gets, I’d say we’re in for a fun ride regardless of where things go in terms of actual plot.

I’m also still watching Ronja, Kiseijuu/Parasyte, and Yona. However, as there have been no great changes since the last post (aside from the fact that I’ve finally dropped the now painfully bad Sailor Moon), I have nothing in particular to add to my previous notes.

Question of the post: Have any of your opinions on the new shows changed drastically since the beginning of the winter season? What are your biggest surprises and disappointments?

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “Anime Taste Testing: Winter 2015 (Part II)

  1. Biggest surprise of the season (so far), for me, is Junketsu no Maria – being surprisingly subtle and tactful with its main themes while very much remaining a fun comedy (granted, everything likely seems more subtle relative to YuriKuma).

    And about YuriKuma, might there be any legitimacy in the idea that its bluntness is a result (apart from the 12-episode limit) of how strongly Ikuhara feels about the issues involved relative to societal progress on them since, say, Utena?
    You are probably a great deal more qualified than I to speculate on that, in any case.

    Like

    • I see that quite a few people are enjoying Junketsu no Maria. I only watched the first episode so I can’t really speak as to its subtlety, although I suppose I have no reason not to believe the show has it. Neither the plot nor the characters did much for me so I don’t have any intention of watching further myself, but that’s of course purely a matter of personal taste rather than objective criticism on my part.

      That’s certainly very possible about Yuri Kuma Arashi, although unless the man himself says anything to that effect, I wouldn’t want to simply assume that. In any case, while that could indeed be one reason as to why the show is so blunt, it doesn’t change anything about the show itself. Whatever the purpose (assuming there is one) behind Yuri Kuma Arashi’s lack of subtlety, I don’t think its obviousness is doing it any great favours in the storytelling department.

      Like

    • Yeah, as far as standouts of the winter season goes, Death Parade and Durarara are the only titles that have jumped out at me. I did give another few shows a try – Virgin Witch, Rolling Girls, Assassination Classroom – but I just couldn’t bring myself to care all that much about any of them, and so ended up blogging about them either.

      Like

  2. Nothing’s really changed in my viewing schedule. Still sticking with Death Parade, Maria the Virgin Witch and a bit of Yona. May look into Kamisama Kiss as well.

    My opinion did change on a recent catch-up from Autumn, Cross Ange from Sunrise. The plot’s gotten more interesting since the start, although you had to get through a lot of fanservice lesbianism, gratitous cruelty and the MC’s b*tchiness. The first OP, Kindan no Resistance, by Mizuki Nana, was really good too.

    I researched Cute Defense Club; turns out all the main characters are named after famous Japanese hot springs. Now I know what other places to visit in Japan next time.

    Yona: The anime’s been following the manga’s pacing so far. The progression’s been slow, but I suppose it’s to let the character developments and interactions shine (the character development is the main star of the manga). I think it might be advisable to start reading the manga afterwards, though. There’s more plot developments after the dragon collecting quest, which I think the anime can’t cover due to time limits.

    Like

    • Yes, I did hear a lot about Cross Ange’s gratuity from a few different bloggers back when the show first started. I hadn’t planned to watch it anyway though, and I still haven’t seen any so far, so I doubt I’ll start now (though that aside, I do quite like Mizuki Nana).

      I find I’m happy enough with Yona taking its time. I haven’t read the manga (not really a manga reader as such), but it doesn’t surprise me to hear that the character development is its main draw – I feel much the same way about the anime, and I’ll happily tolerate slow pacing if it means getting payback in the form of decent, long-term character development. It’s a shame that the anime won’t have time to cover everything from the original story, but I’d rather see the show simply stop than attempt to rush through things. I’d rather have no concrete conclusion than a poorly-crafted one.

      Like

      • You’re right about poorly made endings. I heard of the anime of a light novel series that not only rushed through all its published volumes, but had the gall to include an anime-original ending that made no sense and resolved nothing. I suppose a incomplete ending is better then.

        If you’re interested, I could share some spoilers from later Yona chapters if you want to know what happens next.

        Like

        • I remember being so utterly let down at the ending of the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime series for just that reason – the anime outstripped the then still-ongoing manga, and the final third of the anime from when the creators just went ahead and made stuff up was awful. Brotherhood fixed that of course, but still. I’d hate to see a similar thing happen to Yona.

          Thank you for the offer, but I’d rather stay away from any and all spoilers! Even if the anime ends prematurely, there’s no discounting some kind of sequel later on.

          Like

          • I heard creator Arakawa Hiromu actually gave her blessing to the anime studio, Bones, to make an original ending for the first FMA series then. She encouraged the divergence for the final 3rd half, although given its rather bleak nature I could understand why some people would dislike it.

            IMO, the best premature ending is the one that reaches a good stopping point whilst leaving the door open for potential seasons. IIRC the Noragami anime got this treatment, which was praised by many viewers. Plus, they involved the creators by having them design the final arc villian, Rabou. One of the nicest designs I’d seen thus far.

            Watching Durarara reminds me of my excursion to Ikebukuro this year. The 2 most otherworldly things I encountered was a squad of NEET Special Forces and the throngs of female-majority crowds at the Animate flagship store. (In contrast, Akiba was mostly guys.) Hopefully these 2 parties will play a bigger role in Durarara’s future episodes. :)*

            * Not to be taken seriously.

            Like

            • Whether it got her blessing or not, it’s a terrible conclusion – poorly paced, badly executed, and completely at odds with the rest of the series. To each their own and all but… ugh. I agree about Noragami though – that’s exactly how to conclude a series satisfactorily while leaving open the possibility for future episodes down the track.

              Like

LEAVE A COMMENT

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s