The Wrap-Up: Winter 2015

She's wrapping her up, GET IT???

If you go about doing a season preview, it is only obvious you also close off on a season review. In The Wrap-Up, all of our contributors get to shine a spotlight on the show they thought to be the very best of the past few weeks, as well as reflect back on the preview to see which shows let us down the most. When you watch currently airing anime or tokusatsu, eventually the question will rise which of these shows can rank amongst the medium’s true classics. Regardless of who covered what, this is where we single out the cream of the crop, and decide which shows from the past season deserve to stand the test of time.

If it’s made in Japan and airs on TV, it’s eligible, but naturally, a show can only be called “the best” when it has been watched in full, so only shows that ended this season can be nominated as show of the season. That means we can pick both Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers and Why Can’t Seiya Todouin, Age 16, Get a Girlfriend? as best show of the season! What a heartbreaking choice! These restrictions do not apply to (dis)honourable mentions and the award for biggest disappointment, however, so anything goes when it comes to bashing constructively criticizing things. I’d be a lot happier about this if this season, well, actually had any real disappointments! Well, except for this. And this. And this. And this. And this. And this. But I don’t think you can call something a disappointment if you had no hopes for it to begin with.

jel_700

What was your favourite show of the season?

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Death Parade

There were a lot of good shows this season, but Death Parade was the most consistent and in the end packed the most emotional punch. As I mentioned in our Final Thoughts post, the more mature themes and creepy horror vibe mix surprisingly well with short bursts of humor to create an intense, bittersweet study of human nature that’s unlike any other anime I’ve seen.

Honorable Mentions: Yatterman Night is one of the best revivals of an old franchise I’ve ever seen. Yurikuma Arashi is worth watching for the arstistic spectacle alone, but it also backs up the pretty visuals with a strong, emotional finish.

Which show let you down the most?

rolling3d

The Rolling Girls

I HATE that I have to put The Rolling Girls here because it implies I’m saying it’s the worst show this season. That is far from the truth, as I still think Rolling Girls is worth watching. If we’re going to be literal about “let down the most” however, I have to put it here. I adore everything Rolling Girls aspires to be, with it’s gorgeous art direction, bursts of awesome action, and sweet, positive message. Unfortunately the sloppy directing and massive dips in technical quality drag down what could have been a new cult classic. Instead we’re left with a charming but at times unwatchable romp that everyone will forget in a week or two. It breaks my heart that it couldn’t live up to its potential.

Dishonorable Mentions: Speaking of squandered potential, Maria the Virgin Witch takes a fascinating setting and lets it melt into a convoluted mess. Earth Defense Club was really funny for 2 episodes but immediately ran out of jokes after that.

iro_700

What was your favourite show of the season?

greco-klimnick

Gundam: Reconguista in G

This might not have been the best show all season, but it was the one I consistently had the most fun watching with friends. G-Reco is a bizarre, colorful roller coaster of incomprehensible plot and illogical characters, directed by a bitter old man set in his ways, and yet all of this makes it into something that’s utterly fascinating to watch.

Honorable Mentions: Death Parade, Yatterman Night, Log Horizon 2, Parasyte -The Maxim-

Which show let you down the most?

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Gundam Build Fighters Try

The original Gundam Build Fighters grabbed me by the ankle and dragged me into the world of Gundam, and somehow tricked me into enjoying the entire thing. It was already a tough act to follow, but Try seemed to completely misunderstand the things that made the first season something great, foregoing character depth and foreshadowing for the usual anime cliches.

Dishonorable Mentions: Durarara!!x2, for becoming too anime; The Rolling Girls, for becoming kind of boring.

marlin_700What was your favourite show of the season?

roundup_06_2

Yatterman Night

Yatterman was everything I’d want out of an adaptation this old. From episode to episode it would bounce between Arakawa levels of nonsense to Casshern Sins levels of depressing, and it never felt out of place to have the two married in one show. The world of Yatterman had become a bleak one, set in a dead world and filled with the lifeless and the disenfranchised. And yet, to keep with the spirit of the show, there were always robots that needed making. Doronjo is a good example of a character with a strong will. In a world that had lost hope, it needed a childlike enthusiasm to be able to punch through the despair. Despite the bad animation hampering the last episode, I was so in love with what it meant to accomplish in its finale that its position as my favorite was solidified.

Honorable Mentions: Shirobako was a great show by all accounts, and I feel personal preference is the only way you can decide between two such good series. Yurikuma Arashi was very strong towards its finale, but the smut pandering in the beginning was too much for me. Death Parade also deserves a good mention, but some questionable vignette episodes prevented it from being the favorite in my eye.

Which show let you down the most?

mariasuccubus

Maria the Virgin Witch

This is not to say Maria had a whole lot of promise going into it. It was a show about a questionably fanservicey witch whose virginity was a main plot point, not exactly a great start. Unfortunately for me, the first few episodes did its best to actually tell a story about the nuance of living in the middle ages, living with the Church, and living under war. By the midway point, we saw the show abandon most of its high minded goals to tell more of a personal story, a complete mistake in my view. It seemed content to spin its wheels on its various issues all the way to the finale, which was absolutely unsatisfying in every way. If this show had shown these qualities from the start, I might have dropped it before I’d wasted my time.

Dishonorable Mentions: The Rolling Girls deserved every bit of rage I gave it in its final thoughts. To save you time, I’d direct you to that instead of bloating my DMs more than necessary. Gundam Build Fighters Try had a promising start, but abandoning character development to shoehorn in more suits was a failure of an idea from the get-go.

aqua_700

What was your favourite show of the season?

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Shirobako

It’s an absolutely heart-rending choice for me to make, picking one definitive show of the season between this, Death Parade and Yurikuma Arashi. After plenty of rolling around on the ground and whining reasonable consideration, though, I must concede that Shirobako has neither the high-flaring melodrama of Death Parade, nor the occasional skeeve of Yurikuma, so it deserves this highly esteemed award the most. I already wrote at length about why Shirobako is a phenomenal show for anyone who has ever watched anime in their lives, so go check that out if you want to read anything actually in-depth. Let’s just say that Shirobako managed to do something no other show has ever managed to achieve — it’s not good because it makes every other anime look bad, it’s so good because it makes every other anime look better.

Honorable Mentions: As mentioned, Death Parade and Yurikuma Arashi deserve to be watched no matter who your tastes in anime. I’d gladly substitute my picks in one of the previous Wrap-Ups for one of these brilliant shows. Furthermore, Garo: The Carved Seal of Flames was an engaging fantasy adventure with surprisingly strong characterization, and I honestly don’t get why so many of my colleagues seem to be hating on Maria The Virgin Witch, for it was a profound, progressive and wholly unique love story that made great use of its setting and delivered a message with actual substance beyond ‘the power of love conquers all’. Lastly, though production and pacing issues plagued the both of them, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the imaginative worlds of The Rolling Girls and season 2 of Durarara!!.

Which show let you down the most?

Parasyte – The Maxim –

It’s hard for me to pinpoint when exactly Parasyte became a chore for me to watch. It might have been when Migi magically managed to detach from Shinichi’s arm and brought him back to life, turning him into a heartless, boring badass. It might have been when Kana, a character who existed seemingly only to swoon over Shinichi, got brutally killed off so he could have something to swear revenge over. It might have been when the show started introducing a bunch of boring, indistinguishable men in suits in a desperate attempt to turn the story into a political drama far too big for its britches. It might have been when Shinichi and Migi started taking on foes in increasingly more badly-paced and lousily directed battle sequences with shameless descriptions and tactical ponderings straight out of a shounen battle manga. The point is that Parasyte betrayed everything it originally reeled me in with. It was a human story, about a kind-hearted boy dealing with horrors far beyond his understanding and how it helped him grow closer to the ones he loved. The world of Parasyte was not the grim, cold word it eventually became, populated by psychopaths, stone-faced men in suits, disposable damsels and revenge-obsessed vigilantes. During its first few episodes, I could see why Parasyte was regarded so much better than the millions of dark and gritty imitators that followed in its path — *coughPsychoPasscoughTokyoGhoulcough* — and seemingly had no idea what Parasyte was even about. As it grew ever more violent, trite and distanced, however, it becomes ever more difficult to accuse the imitators of failing to grasp anything. In the end, Parasyte wasn’t a lot less tiring and unsympathetic as the many, many shows that tried to follow in its footsteps.

Dishonorable Mentions: There were some shows this season that didn’t quite live up to their potential, but I can’t really bring myself to calling them ‘disappointing’ by any stretch. Yeah, I know, I never thought this day would ever come, but this was an exceptionally strong season for anime. Okay, except for that one episode of Durarara!!, maybe.

gee_700

What was your favourite show of the season?

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Shirobako

As my comments in our Final Thoughts post will tell you, there’s a lot on my mind when it comes to the fantastic anime from P.A. Works that came out of nowhere. Funny, illuminating, and wholly sincere, Shirobako is the slice of life anime most slice of life shows will probably never reach or even aspire to, and that’s a shame. All in all, it’s an anime for people who truly love the medium, made by people who truly love the medium.

Honorable Mentions: Yatterman Night is easily the anime with the most heart this season, and it’s only its stumbling finale that hurts it. I would be remiss to not mention Parasyte -The Maxim-, which was the best adaptation I could have hoped for. Garo also deserves props for being the heroic epic it didn’t necessarily have to be. Gundam: Reconguista in G probably deserves to be here just for the sheer spectacle of it all.

Which show let you down the most?

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Gundam Build Fighters Try

Let me clear here, I loved Gundam Build Fighters more than I had any right to. And that’s exactly why Gundam Build Fighters Try is such a disappointment. I wouldn’t feel this let down by a show if it hadn’t reached such heights previously. Try is the epitome of the corporate sequel, cashing in on a fresh upstart and completely misunderstanding what made it work in the first place. On the bright side, I got a ton of new gunpla to buy thanks to it, but that’s a poor consolation prize.

Dishonorable Mentions: Comparing my expectations from the first episode to what I actually got in the end, The Rolling Girls tragically falls short of its lofty potential. I’m no longer sure if Durarara!!x2 fell short because it’s genuinely not as good as the first season, or I’m just getting older. As for Log Horizon 2, I wonder if it worked so well because it was fresh, and it’s just the nature of sequels that bring it down.

chris

What was your favourite show of the season?

Death Parade - S01E12

Death Parade

You know what’s boring? The same old anime shit. This isn’t the same old anime shit. It might not do everything right, and there are parts of it that could have been done better, but it’s refreshing to have a show that was just a bit different. The concept was fascinating, the stories were heartbreaking and the characters were interesting enough to pull the show forward. It might not win any awards, but shows like Death Parade are a good reminder that anime isn’t quite dead yet. Also the opening is still the best.

Honorable Mentions: Parasyte -the maxim- was great fun for the most part. It kind of lost its way in the second half, but overall the fight scenes, gruesome deaths and wub wub fight scenes made it an overall positive experience. I also enjoyed Gundam Build Fighters Try, and while it sure as hell wasn’t as good as the original series, I still had fun with it. Yes, the characters were shit and the storylines not far better, but I got to see some cool looking Gundams fight and there were zero emo protag moments to go it, so it can’t be that bad.

Which show let you down the most?

nanatsunobutts

The Seven Deadly Sins

You might remember that I dropped this show quite early on, but I recently picked it back up to see if it was any better. The problem with The Seven Deadly Sins is that it’s actually a pretty reasonable and enjoyable shounen show, ruined by the constant use of Elizabeth for “comedic value”. If we didn’t have to have a portion of each episode dedicated to Meliodas flipping her skirt, stealing her underwear or groping her breasts, I’d be telling you about how awesome the fight scenes are. The best episodes are the ones where Meliodas is incapacitated, and that’s a damn shame.

On top of that, we have unlikeable characters like Ban (who we’re apparently meant to feel sorry for because of his backstory even though he’s pretty sadistic) and Guila (forget that she murdered numerous innocents because she has a young brother to look after), as well as some poor character designs and lack of focus on some of the more important characters like Merlin and Gowther. The fight scenes are impressive and pretty well animated, and to be honest I’ve got very little issue with these at all. Most of the characters are good fun and interesting, and the locales and story offer enough to not sink this show into being a glorified recycling master-class. I wish I could recommend this show, but I can’t.

Dishonorable Mentions: No shows that I haven’t already mentioned, so a special shout out to the second half of Parasyte -the maxim- and the characters from Gundam Build Fighters Try, I guess?

artemis

What was your favourite show of the season?

Death Parade - S01E05

Death Parade

Death Parade easily became the main highlight of the season for me. I went in expecting to be entertained, but I didn’t necessarily expect to get a whole lot of depth, so it was a pleasant surprise to find that this show delivered on both. The flair with which it did so sealed the deal.

Honorable Mentions: The new Durarara!!. Admittedly I think the first season back in 2010 was better in pretty much every way, but that’s certainly not to say this one was unenjoyable. While undeniably rougher, it had the same infectious energy that makes the franchise so appealing to me in the first place, so I was happy enough despite its obvious flaws.

Which show let you down the most?

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Yurikuma Arashi

You can all hate on me if you want, but novelty value aside, I just don’t see that Yurikuma Arashi was anything above average. I didn’t hate it – I did manage to watch the whole way through, after all – but it mostly seemed like overhype to me. I maintain that if this show was exactly the same in every way, with the sole exception of having a name behind it other than Ikuhara, then it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as popular.

Dishonorable Mentions: None – the only other shows I was watching that recently finished airing were carryovers from the fall season.

-=-

All things considered, if you watch only one show from last season — which would be an extremely stupid thing to do, just saying — we at The Glorio Blog would… have no bloody idea which one to recommend because this season had more great anime in it than certain years do. Watch Shirobako, Death Parade, Yurikuma Arashi, Yatterman Night, Parasyte -the maxim- and Gundam: Reconguista in G to see the creativity and unicity at work that got us all to watch anime in the first place. On the other hand, The Rolling Girls, Gundam Build Fighters Try and Maria The Virgin Witch seem to have managed to entertain, but didn’t quite life up to the potential set out by their initial episodes. Truth is, though, if it got covered on this site, it’s probably worth watching. That may sound smug (it is), but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Now everybody put your hands up and go don-don-donuts on that next season… which will probably serve as a kuma shocking reminder of how lucky we were with this one. Shabu-da-doo.

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2 thoughts on “The Wrap-Up: Winter 2015

  1. Definitely agree on Aqua and Eurica’s thoughts on Parasyte, though the most disappointing show for me this season would probably be Tokyo Ghoul, considering I’ve already lowered my expectations on it after the first season… especially when compared to the manga, which is manifolds better (One of my favorites in fact).

    But it’s a new season, and this new season seems to be loaded with awesome competent shows. Even the most generic shows have something positive about them this time around.

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