The Wrap-Up: Summer 2015

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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. Ushio and Tora seems to be the only worthwhile show to be excluded from this season’s ballot as per this rule, but as usual, the shows that deserve a place in the spotlight will have it eventually. This season also marked the conclusion of Kamen Rider Drive, which should (hopefully) lead to our honorable mentions going to more than the, like, three anime this season that we actually enjoyed. Which shows were the very best of a season so uninteresting it had two Roundups a week? Let’s find out, shall we?

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What was your favourite show of the season?

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Gatchaman Crowds Insight

Good sequels are hard to come by but Insight serves as an excellent counterpoint to Gatchaman Crowds’ first season. It explores new aspects of the original issues while raising a few new questions in the process, making you work your brain as much as your eyes as you soak in the incredibly stylish, colorful art style. It’s hard social and political commentary wrapped in an anime candy shell, and I mean that in the best way possible. My only gripe is this season was a little too on the nose at times, as opposed to the first season which was more vague and really made you think about the issues. But as a result I’d also say Insight is more memorable and has more direct impact, making it a strong Anime of the Year contender.

Honorable Mentions: School Live! had some fantastic moments and made a case for #1 but pulled its punches one too many times to hit true greatness. Working!!! shocked the world with letting things actually happen and shout out to My Love Story!! for its unconventionally sweet, if at times boring, spin on anime romance.

Which show let you down the most?

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Classroom Crisis

This season’s Squandered Potential Award goes to Classroom Crisis for having a fantastic setting and having no clue what to do with it. Fighting evil corporations with hard work and guts, cute romance plot lines, rocket chases through space, ninja homeroom teachers… the parts are all there but the show itself never finds any footing. It’s either super boring info dumping and made up politics or obnoxiously over the top soap opera melodrama and nothing in between. No matter how I describe it, it sounds cool but I can assure, it is not.

Dishonorable Mentions: Gangsta seemed pretty cool at first but I dropped it after we got mired in flashbacks and dumb anime power levels. Himouto! Umaru-chan would have got the nod because I love nearly everything the show’s staff has done recently but NOTHING could have prevented that show from being the worst thing I’ve ever watched for the Glorio Blog. I’m still getting angry thinking about it three months later.

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What was your favourite show of the season?

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Snow White with the Red Hair

A relatively low-key romance in a pseudo-medieval fantasy setting, interspersed with the mundane duties of a court herbalist? Sign me up. Not that Snow White didn’t have issues, chiefly with pacing (of the show as a whole, not necessarily of the romance), but it was nice to have a show I could just chill out and say “awwwww” to.

Honorable Mentions: Ushio and Tora, for being a throwback to the good ol’ days; Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade, which is absolutely delightful and would have taken the top spot if I was allowed to choose a non-TV thing.

Which show let you down the most?

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Gangsta

Perhaps this is merely a consequence of me expecting (and wanting) something different from what Gangsta actually turned out to deliver, but it was hard to get invested in a show about gangsters for hire when the bulk of it was about their traumatic backstory as children. Throw in bizarre and unnecessary anime power levels in what is otherwise a fairly grounded setting, and I ended up finding every passing episode of Gangsta to be a let down.

Dishonorable Mentions: Dragon Ball Super, because I already watched the movies, and Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers, for wasting its potential on dumb anime character tropes.

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What was your favourite show of the season?

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Gatchaman Crowds insight

As Jel said, insight might not be as subtle as its predecessor. Still, it manages to bring a lot of biting issues to the table that affect a lot of modern democracy and social structure. The enemy this time being people’s attitudes itself was handled really well, and the talk with Yurujii about World War II was probably the best moment in anime so far this year. In your face is not necessarily bad, and insight proved that when it wanted to punch its point home, its aim was impeccable.

Honorable Mentions: Prison School reminded us this season that you can still justify repulsive ecchi as long as the strength of your comedy is there to make it funny again, and gave us a highly enjoyable caper that I can’t wait to see come back. School Live! got us hook line and sinker, but falls apart a little by the finale. Shirayuki was an absolutely darling, and Working!!! really managed to make me smile. That 1 hour Working!!! finale looks real dumb, though.

Which show let you down the most?

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My Love Story!!

As Shirayuki and Working!!! started showing their chops, it made me realize I’d grown distant from what was a very entertaining first season. No longer would I make sure I had watched the episode right on Wednesday so I could commiserate with Jel. Suna is still bro of the millennium, but even his Friendship Rainman abilities couldn’t help when the story dragged.

Dishonorable Mentions: Nothing else I can think of. I got rid of any shows I didn’t think would be worth my time quickly. I don’t think I’d wanna count it since there’s another season coming up in a few months, but Durarara!! x2 was fantastic up until that very anticlimactic season break.

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What was your favourite show of the season?

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Kamen Rider Drive

Drive was never as clear a shoe-in for a best of any season award as its notorious predecessor, but with its absolutely bonkers final quarter and the lack of any real competition, the latest Kamen Rider show has once again dominated my summer. While the first few episodes were — though enjoyable– marred by inconsistent themes, predictable mysteries and shoddy directing, around the time of Chase’s face turn, Drive became a veritable rollercoaster of twists, turns and tricks. Yes, upon closer inspection, it is a travesty of half-assed ideas and plot holes crammed together in a increasingly transparent bowl far too small to contain all of Riku Sanjo’s nonsense. Yet after Gaim showed us that Kamen Rider could be so much more than it usually is, Drive reminded us that what Kamen Rider usually is, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Drive is a good kind of train car wreck, a show that has three possible finales lying in front of it, and unapologetically decides to do all of them; a show that has a talking belt as one of its main characters and can make us feel sympathy for a genocidal sociopath because he can make really funny faces; a show that features a wise-cracking, fourth-wall-breaking goofball who turns into a villain a mere ten episode later because his dad is an evil iPad. It’s not quite a W, OOO or Fourze, let alone a Gaim, but it does what a Kamen Rider shows needs to do above everything else: Entertain throughout an entire year.

Honorable Mentions: Durarara!! x2 remains an entertaining weekly watch even with half the budget and twice the padding, Gangsta. is a bit of an odd duck. I stopped watching it after episode 5 because it was a bit underwhelming, but it’s not bad if you’re really into… whatever that show is trying to be.

Which show let you down the most?

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Everything else

I took the high road this season, dropped everything not named Durarara!! after the first episode, and spent the entire summer lying on a couch and whining going outside and rewatching Faking It. That’s basically anime anyways.

Dishonorable Mentions: The only reason why Charlotte isn’t in the above paragraph is because I hated it so much it doesn’t deserve being called a mere ‘disappointment’. Furthermore, there’s Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers for wasting its fascinating setting on piss-poor execution and Monster Musume for, well, being Monster Musume. And not to mention the shows I didn’t even bother to watch.

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What was your favourite show of the season?

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School Live!

First of all, I must mention that it was incredibly slim pickings for this season. We had a handful of good shows, sure, but nothing stood out in quite the same way as previous seasons. With that in mind, I think out of all the shows I’ve seen to the finish, School Live! is probably at the top of my list. Sure, it has it’s weak episodes and there’s only so much moeblob a human being can handle, but it does a pretty decent job in making two very specific genres interesting again. It also does a particularly fantastic job of setting up on episode one, even if it probably backfired on a few people. Once again, if you don’t know what the twist is, give episode one a watch before you fall on a spoiler.

Honorable Mentions: Ask me another day and I might have told you that Working!!! was the best show this season. It’s a far cry from the incredibly forgettable second season, due mostly to the manga having ended. With a goal in sight, this series has stormed through the story with some actual plot progression, while also having some good ol’ antics on the side. My Love Story!! is also up there, as it’s a refreshing take on a stale romance genre. Seriously, not having to dance around confessions being interrupted and twenty episodes of “but what if they like me…” feels so good. I also think it’s worth mentioning Charlotte, because even though it all fell apart at the end, I can appreciate that we were at the very least pretty close to teen X-Men.

Which show let you down the most?

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Dragon Ball Super

I know this hasn’t finished airing, but we really need to talk about Dragon Ball Super. It’s been a pretty rocky ride, and that’s not just because they’ve decided to rewrite the latest two movies before getting into some original content. First of all there’s Toei’s signature awful in-between frames, coupled with one of the most boring antagonists in Dragon Ball full stop. I appreciate that they’ve deviated from the movie and allowed the story to develop in its own way, but Beerus sucks and the fact that there’s another Anubis-looking character on the Dragon Ball Super poster makes me very worried for what’s in store for us. The real test comes after we’re done with the Frieza movie, but it only looks like it’s going downhill from here.

Dishonorable Mentions: That episode in Charlotte where the protagonist turns into a teenage gang member and stabs a bunch of people with dango sticks, as well as basically the last three or four episodes.

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What was your favourite show of the season?

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Gangsta

This definitely isn’t going to be the most popular choice, and I can think of several ways in which I think the show could have been improved. (The various delays and schedule changes didn’t exactly work in Gangsta’s favour either.) That said, I can still very much appreciate this series for what it is – a gritty romp down back-alley streets featuring two of the most compelling main anime characters I’ve seen all year. There’s a great deal more subtlety in that relationship than I think a lot of people would give Gangsta credit for, especially since the show’s second half took a much more action-orientated route than its quieter and more contemplative former half did. That’s what sucked me into this title to begin with, and what convinces me that it’s still deserving of being my top pick.

… There sure as hell better be a second season though.

Honorable Mentions: Snow White and School Live! were both serious contenders for top pick themselves – the first for being a genuinely sweet and surprisingly understated romance, and the second for pulling through with an equally as surprising well-done moe horror. The main reason I ended up going for Gangsta can probably be put down to personal taste in genre. Well, that and School Live!’s god-awful episode 9.

Which show let you down the most?

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Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers / Classroom Crisis

I feel slightly bad for putting these here, since I never watched much of either. Only slightly, mind, because Rokka made me cringe with its truly terrible exposition and poor execution in general, while Classroom Crisis quite literally put me to sleep in the first episode. Both were consistently talked about, often in glowing terms, right through the season by other bloggers, but thankfully not by anyone on the Glorio team. Even if that somehow means we all have terrible taste in anime, I’m fully okay with that.

Dishonorable Mentions: Both Ranpo Kitan and Charlotte failed to leave good impressions, and at three episodes each, I’d like to think I gave them a fair shot.

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Oh dear. As you might have noticed, not a lot of our contributors actually bothered to nominate shows, which should probably tell you something about what we thought of this season as a whole. Nevertheless, those who enjoyed Gatchaman Crowds two years ago were treated to a strong second season, with Insight winning this season’s Wrap-Up with arguably the least convincing victory in the feature’s history. It probably deserves better than that. Aside from that, the definitely-a-cutesy-slice-of-life-show School Live! takes home a couple of honorable mentions, while Snow White with the Red Hair and — surprisingly — Working!!! showed that this season was not entirely irredeemable. Due to a rough patch near the end, long-standing Roundup favourite My Love Story!! has stranded in many a crew member’s honourable mentions, but given the praise we’ve heaped on its first half, I’d say it’s probably still worth your time if you love romance anime.

On the other hand, it’s hard to deny that our blog has been a bit of a dour affair these last few months, and the shows to blame are myriad. There’s the insufferably boring Classroom Crisis, which managed to put even our two most mature crew members to sleep, the tremendous waste of a good setting named Rokka: The Braves of Six Flowers and the festering abomination that is Charlotte, which only Euri liked because he is a big pile of snot in real life. Oh, and Dragon Ball Super, which basically writes its sarcastic commentaries itself. We’ll have to wait a bit longer for Toei to let us down a third time, as it will be a while before Digimon Adventure Tri will become available for us Westerners. In the meantime, there’s an entirely new season to look forward to and be horribly disappointed by. Tune in over the course of the next few weeks for our first impressions of shows like One Punch Man, Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans, Owarimonogatari and The Perfect Insider.

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5 thoughts on “The Wrap-Up: Summer 2015

  1. I don’t really get the love for “Snow White.” Sure, it was competent and inoffensive, but it was just so very dull and predictable. There was absolutely no nuance to any of the characterizations, with most everyone except the bird-killing noble shown to be pretty decent (even Zen’s brother, initially set up as a jerk, is shown to have his reasons for being that way), and the two leads seemed to just compete for who could be the more awesome human being. And that’s without even touching the whole “poor Zen, it’s so tough being a handsome, misunderstood prince” angle.

    It’s not like anime can’t make good romances. I just don’t really see this show as being one, and I get frustrated when basic competence is equated with true excellence.

    • I fully expect to forget Snow White completely by the end of next season, much like I did with The World is Still Beautiful a while back. I said it was a show I could just enjoy and chill out to; not that it was “true excellence”.

      And as unfortunate as it may be, competent and inoffensive count for a lot these days. Majestic Prince was perhaps the most forgettable and rote mecha show I’ve ever seen, but its competent execution of standard mecha tropes made it stand out favorably among its lesser contemporaries like Aldnoah.Zero, Argevollen, and the just-aired Heavy Object.

      • Majestic Prince. oh man. that name was relegated to the cobwebs of my subconcious. Thanks for bringing it up Iro =P

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