Anime Taste Testing: Spring 2015 (Part II)

kekkai sensen ed
There’s a hint of humidity in the air and a bird nest above my aircon unit, and I’ve already had two mukade in my house this season – I guess we must have reached the roughly halfway mark for the spring anime season then. Last time around, I said a relieved goodbye to four titles (Ame-iro Cocoa, Ninja Slayer, Punchline, and Legs! Euphonium), which left me with four others on my scheduled weekly line-up (Ghost in the Shell, Kekkai Sensen, Ore Monogatari!!, and Arslan Senki). Let’s see how they’re faring, shall we?

Ghost in the Shell: Arise – Alternative Architecture
Original Score: 7/10
Current Score: 6/10

ghost in the shell arise alternative architecture

This one misled me a little at first – I was already aware that it was going to be a recompilation of the recent Arise films rather than a brand new series as such, but because Alternative Architecture started off by recapping the fourth and final film, I assumed I’d be seeing at least some new footage in later episodes, with perhaps just a few flashbacks of previous events to pad things out. Instead, it transpires that all four films are being recapped, albeit in a completely different order, and so there is little (if any) extra footage at all so far. This isn’t necessarily a terrible realisation – as my score reflects, I’m still enjoying the series thanks to its competent storytelling and obviously high production values, although it’s certainly taken the edge off my excitement. However, it’s also probably worth pointing out that with each Arise film taking two episodes to be recapped, and with ten episodes in total, the final two episodes of Alternative Architecture may well deliver on that as yet unreleased material.

Arslan Senki/The Heroic Legend of Arslan
Original Score: 7/10
Current Score: 7/10

arslan senki

While viewers looking for a quick action/adventure fix will no doubt be turned off by Arslan Senki’s very deliberate pacing, I look at this show not as an action piece but as a historical/political drama – and in that sense, Arslan Senki is definitely coming into its own. The previous couple of episodes have easily been the best of the series so far, depicting the gruesome and often downright dishonorable realities of war yet not going overboard in the gore department. Meanwhile, the behind-the-scenes machinations of government and politics are getting more and more detailed – add in religious fervor to the mix along with some good old fashioned backstabbings, and you’ve got yourself one interesting watch. It’s unfortunate that the animation is now being littered with still shots and crappily-rendered background extras, and the music isn’t anything special either come to think of it, but these are relatively minor complaints considering how pleased I am with the current story development.

Ore Monogatari!!/My Love Story!!
Original Score: 7/10
Current Score: 7.5/10

ore monogatari

Ore Monogatari!!, aka Bromance of the Century, continues to charm the pants off me. Yamato is finally getting some depth beyond “loves to bake and is a really nice person”, Takeo’s sheer earnestness helps offset his lack of personal and social awareness and even make these traits somewhat endearing, and best friend Suna is easily one of the best anime characters this side of the decade. I don’t usually dig romantic comedies, because I often find them so embedded in slapstick and fanservice-ridden humour as to be not only unfunny but also outright distasteful. Ore Monogatari!! is too sweet and too sincere for any of that, though. Granted, in part this is probably because its domestic target audience is made up primarily of young women, and so panty shots and boob jokes weren’t going to be on the cards anyway, but that’s not all it is. Ore Monogatari!! may not be a hugely deep and profound romance, but it’s one that’s actually portrayed lovingly, and which doesn’t skip over the relationships outside of its main couple. In particular, the relationship between Takeo and Suna is depicted with such good-natured humour and yet such subtlety that this largely unspoken bond has far and away become the highlight of the entire show.

Kekkai Sensen/Blood Blockade Battlefront
Original Score: 7/10
Current Score: 8/10

89. picture6

I admit it took until the third episode of Kekkai Sensen for me to really like it for anything other than its motley collection of characters and clearly apparent visual flair. The series has proven itself to be quite episodic thus far, and so has perhaps not unfairly been facing some criticism for its lack of a coherent overarching plot. And I might have been one of the viewers adding to that critique, only the infectiously energetic vibe, along with the very smart and off-the-wall humour, has gotten me completely hooked. Not only do I not care that there’s little perceptible advancement of the larger story, but I actively want to continue enjoying this insane romp through Hellsalem’s Lot via the random adventures of its individual characters. It’s not just that Kekkai Sensen, both visually and musically, blows any other show this season out of the water – it’s that it’s the show I’ve had the most pure fun watching since the first season of Durarara. Depending on how the second half goes, I might even have to add another point.

Another quick note about this season’s two missing titles, Digimon Adventure Tri and the new Lupin III. As many have no doubt already heard, the former is not going to be a TV series at all as previously thought, but rather six separate theatrical movies, the first of which is slated for release in November. This has considerably dampened any enthusiasm I might have once had for the franchise’s reboot. As for the latter, it’s now been officially pushed back until May… kind of. The series will actually be premiering in Italy before airing in Japan in July – most likely along with the rest of the summer anime batch.

Question of the post: Now that we’re around the halfway mark for the season, are there any anime titles you’ve changed your mind about, or have your initial opinions more or less been borne out?

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29 thoughts on “Anime Taste Testing: Spring 2015 (Part II)

  1. I was originally going to skip Ninja Slayer, but while visiting a friend recently he showed the first three episodes and I found it strangely compelling – it felt like TRIGGER took Inferno Cop and added (more or less) Kill la Kill’s plot beats and pacing, along with some actual “serious” animation. (In particular, the running gags of unnecessarily formal ‘ninja introductions’ and the single repeated battle cry made me grin.)
    I’ll probably save it for a rainy day once it’s complete.

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    • I can certainly understand the comparisons to both Inferno Cop and Kill la Kill – and although I did very much enjoy the latter, I don’t necessarily consider myself a TRIGGER fan. I don’t have anything against Ninja Slayer per se, but it took me very little time to realise that it’s just not my thing.

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  2. Kekkai Sensen is the best ever. I started out with a tentative 7, but I’m having so much fun watching it. It’s definitely a 9 for me now. Whenever that ED rolls around, I start dancing in my seat – it’s so catchy! xD

    Also, Suna for best bro. Seriously – if it weren’t for him those two would’ve continued to blunder about for the rest of the series. It’s so refreshing not to have to wait until the last episode for two characters to confess their feelings.

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    • Oh yes, I love that ED so much. The tune on its own is fine but nothing special, but the visuals that go with it… I can never bring myself to skip past it.

      Totally agreed on your second point as well. Suna is just brilliant, and whenever I get an episode with plenty of interaction between he and Takeo, I’m never sure whether to get choked up a little or bust a gut laughing. (I usually settle for both.)

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  3. If you like Arslan, you might be interested in this translation of the author’s afterword from Vol 1 of the source novel. It gives an interesting insight into what inspired Arslan’s plot and setting.
    http://forums.animesuki.com/showthread.php?p=5530543#post5530543

    What’s your take on Arslan’s parentage? Given how the Queen could care less about him, while the King seems to loathe him, what if Arslan isn’t even their biological son at all?

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    • That was an interesting read – thanks for sharing the link!

      As to Arslan’s parentage, I feel like I know so little as yet about either the king or the queen that I’m really not able to even speculate at this point. I mean, I have no good reason to believe that they’re not his biological parents – their coldness towards him could easily just be an extension of their apparent coldness towards each other, or could stem any number of other issues – but I don’t know anything about the source material, so if there’s something which has been revealed there than I’m not aware of it (and I’d prefer to keep it that way).

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  4. To answer your question: originally, I wasn’t going to watch Ore Monogatari at all. I did try it, but for the first two weeks it was only cute. However, at this point, it is my number one show of season, above Kekkai Sensen! So, I didn’t expect that to happen a month ago. 😄

    ~Jamie

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    • Wow, that is a surprise! I wasn’t sure at first whether or not I would like it – I assumed going into it the show that I’d find it to be about average – but as you can see, it turns out that I love it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m thoroughly enjoying Arslan Senki as well for the same reasons. The pacing would be an issue if the series was not slated for 24 episodes (or 25 I’m not sure). A well paced, historical drama is totally up my alley. Can’t wait for more! Great post!

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    • Yeah, Arslan automatically appeals to me because of the genre and general setting/storyline – definitely my kind of anime. And likewise, slow pacing doesn’t bother me, particularly when I know an anime is going to have plenty of room to develop.

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  6. This post reminds me of how much I wish I had more time for the anime this season. I’m on the fence with trying G.I.T.S. b/c I’ve seen the first two movies, and now I’m on this weird fence trying to decide if I want to finish the movies are try the TV series. While I am disappointed in it being a rearranged recap, G.I.T.S. is a treat for me in any form.

    And EVERYTHING else in this post seems worth trying, since I love the original mangaka for Arslan Senki, Kekkai Sensn looks like classic BONES fun and Ore Monogatari just seems charming as hell. Though I may wait to watch that show until I’ve completely knocked out Kimi ni Todoke and Say I Love You. I think the trio of them would make for interesting comparison.

    Great post as usual.

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    • If you’ve already seen the first two Arise movies then my suggestion would be to watch the second two as well. The TV show is neither greatly inferior nor superior, but given that it’s basically just a reshuffle of the movies (so far, at least) then it’d be better to avoid confusion about the timeline by carrying on as you have been. You can always just watch the series afterwards if you’re so inclined.

      People have been complaining about this season, but I’m honestly perfectly happy with it. Four shows works out perfectly with my current schedule, and they’re all of them either good or great.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I still mean to watch Arslan Senki (because what you’ve described it as is right up my alley) but I haven’t started yet. I did not originally intend to watch Ore Monogatari at first because I get so bored with teenage romances, but I saw enough teasers about the bromance and cute moments than I have it a shot and am three episodes in so far. It’s one of those things you can’t watch and NOT feel happy. Now that Takeo and Yamato have (quite adorably) gotten together, I hope the series will keep the same momentum!

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    • Yeah, out of all the titles airing this season, Arslan Senki would be the one I’d be willing to bet would most appeal to your tastes. It’s slow going, as I’ve said, but I believe the payoff will be worth it, much as it was with Yona. I’m really happy you’re enjoying Ore Monogatari though – you’re right, I feel like it’s impossible not to feel happy while watching that show. I’m curious about where they’ll take the storyline because it’s slated for 24 episodes, but as long as there’s plenty more bromance where that came from, then I’ll probably be blissfully happy regardless.

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      • So here I was, concerned about the pacing of Ore-Mono, when a fire breaks out in episode 4. I now feel fully assured that pacing will not be a problem for this series.

        If Arslan Senki is going slow, then I can take my time getting to it. 😄 Any idea how many episodes that one is slotted for?

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  8. I mostly find myself agreeing with your thoughts on the shows you’re watching. I agree with what you said of Arslan and your overall evaluation of it (including, like everyone else, shaking my head at the terrible CGI), but that’s exactly why I put the show on hold, because I’d rather watch it in bigger chunks once it’s all done. It just doesn’t have enough to keep me interested week to week, or charmed and happy after an episode ends (as did Barakamon, say).

    I’m not sold on Yamato in Ore Monogatari!! yet, as we haven’t really seen her as anything beyond a girl who likes to bake yet. I’d say that the lack of characterization for her is the show’s biggest fault thus far. This is ironically so very Shoujo romance, at least in anime, where the main love interest is somewhat of a cipher for a long time, except here it’s a girl instead of a taciturn boy.

    As for Digimon, I do have to wonder if this isn’t going to be for the best, as movies might help stave off the “Toei Reboot Train” effect, as evidenced in Sailor Moon Crystal >.>

    As for your question, Plastic Memories keeps going back and forth on what sort of show it wants to be, a silly show, a more thoughtful show, or just… something. It’s sort of weird and I don’t know what to make of its current place. Everything else is more or less as expected, except OreGairu season 2 being much better and more serious than the first season.

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    • Have you seen episode 5 of Ore Monogatari yet? I think that’s definitely hinting at a lot more of Yamato’s character beyond the “cute, incredibly nice, loves to bake” persona we’ve seen so far. Even without the hints I would have been curious about that episode though. It definitely made me wonder if she’s using her baking as a means of filling a serious gap in her life.

      I’d really, really like to believe (even if naively) that Sailor Moon Crystal was an anomaly and that Digimon, if it had been made into a TV series, would not have suffered the same problems. I’ve seen enough mindnumbingly average or absolutely crap anime movies (i.e. nearly all them) to be incredibly wary of what we know of the new Digimon at this point though.

      I haven’t watched anything of Plastic Memories or either season of OreGairu, but yeah, I’ve heard other people saying those things too.

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      • Saint Seiya’s last season also apparently suffers from Toeititis, heh.

        I’ve watched episode 5 of Ore Monogatari, but there’s no actual characterization there yet. It’s not even “telling” instead of “showing”, because it’s hinting at telling… It could be something, in the future, very much agreed, but it’s nothing that is actually showcasing an aspect of her character beyond “cute” up to now, IMO?

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        • I disagree – I think that episode showed something, albeit not a ton. The fact that she was utterly alone at home at night, for one thing, and her facial expression while baking for another – especially given how much she apparently loves to do so.

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  9. It’s probably gonna start getting hard to keep up with all the shows I’m watching in the next few weeks, but I can’t see myself ever dropping BBB or OreMono. BBB has so much energy and an inventiveness to its insanity that I can’t help but love it, and OreMono certainly scratches that shoujo itch in all the right ways. Arslan might go on the chopping block, but for now I’m enjoying it a lot more than I did Yona.

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    • Yeah, BBB is definitely now the show of the season for me – as you say, it’s got a great energy to it that’s impossible to resist. OreMono is insanely sweet though, so that one’s not far behind. Arslan does remind me of Yona in a couple of ways, but I’m not surprised you’re enjoying it a lot more. I think Arslan just naturally appeals to a wider demographic.

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  10. “In particular, the relationship between Takeo and Suna is depicted with such good-natured humour and yet such subtlety that this largely unspoken bond has far and away become the highlight of the entire show.”
    This. Despite Yamato being the main heroine, oddly enough, I find myself more fond of the relationship dynamic between Takeo and Suna.

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    • Ditto. I have nothing against Yamato, or the romantic relationship between her and Takeo, because it too is incredibly sweet and obviously genuine and loving (and man, when was the last time I said that about any given anime romance?), but that Takeo and Suna bromance… I feel like they really are brothers, in the true if not technical sense of the word. I’m fine with Ore Monogatari as it currently stands, but I’d also happily watch a show that’s about nothing besides those two just hanging out.

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  11. Hey there, I’m aocchan from LJ! I really like this blog (: I agree with you on Arslan Senki and Ore Monogatari, so I guess if you liked Kekkai Sensen perhaps I should give it a try. I’m actually happy Digimon is going to be a series of movies – even if this might slow it back a bit? Is that why you don’t like it? Also, Lupin III is aring in Italy before than in Japan? I didn’t know about that!

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    • Hey there, thanks for commenting! It was really nice of you to check out this blog too. 🙂

      Yup, Kekkai Sensen is easily my favourite show of this season. It took me a little bit to get really into it, but now that I’m this far in, I’m addicted.

      It’s not that I mind the delay for Digimon so much as that anime TV shows that have been adapted into anime films have a pretty poor track record as far as quality goes. The vast majority have been at best average, and at worst absolutely awful, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about the same thing happening to Digimon.

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  12. Wow, I absolutely love Kekkai Sensen, probably my favourite anime this spring. I don’t think I’ve ever watched an anime with such comedic approach as well as having that seriousness and story line being so unique and awesome. Can’t wait for a second season, if there will be one after this first season ends.

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    • I wasn’t quite convinced at first, but Kekkai Sensen has also become my favourite anime of this season as well. I love it’s particular brand of humour, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen an anime be delivered with so much energy and enthusiasm.

      Liked by 1 person

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