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Archive for the ‘Summer 2015’ Category

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Did you have a good year? I hope so. My 2015 was alright. Pretty unremarkable, a couple of new experiences, but mostly just been working. But for anime though, it’s been interesting I guess. I wouldn’t call 2015 a bad year for anime by any stretch, but thinking back on what I watched while writing this top 10 I was struck by how few series really left a major impact in the fandom, and more importantly how few left much of an impression on me. I think I’d overall characterise it as a solid, if unassuming, year for anime. Still, there’ve been at least a few that I’ll be remembering for a while, and enough that I wasn’t struggling for things to include!

Now, the definition I’m working with for ‘2015 anime’ is pretty broad, but a lot of other people are using it too so it’s nothing too radical or unexpected. It’s what I’ve been using for previous years: a series counts if it finished in 2015, and a film counts if it was first available for me to watch this year. I feel this is pretty sensible – you can’t exactly consider a show “best of the year” if it hasn’t even finished yet, shows that started last year wouldn’t get a chance otherwise, and expecting me to consider a film that I could’ve only watched in a cinema in Japan is just silly.

Before we get to the top 10, I want to talk about some anime that didn’t quite make the cut, but definitely deserve a shoutout.

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While Gatchaman Crowds was good fun, I feel like its focus on being an action series left its social commentary and more thoughtful discussions on social media a little in the lurch. That side needed a bit more focus and attention to really bring it out fully. There was still some fantastic discussion going and it’s a great text to read, but I imagine a lot of it would be lost on most people as it jumped around a bit too much and didn’t make its goals clear. It was, in short, a bit confusing. Rewarding as hell once you picked it apart and gave it a good analysis, but if you hadn’t gone out of your way to take that step – and it’s not like the show compels you to do so either – it would come across a bit muddled.

Gatchaman Crowds Insight represented the perfect opportunity to really improve on that and deliver itself to greatness. Spoiler alert: it succeeds, handily. But even knowing that it would obviously be trying to do that, I definitely did not expect the direction it took.

Just as a heads up, this review does contain a fair few mid-story spoilers. It’s mostly that discussing what it accomplishes requires discussing some major aspects of the plot which are pretty far removed from how the show begins, so you may well lose out on some of the pretty cool surprises in store. I’ve largely avoided major twists, however – consider this your warning, just in case.

“YES! Finally more Gatchaman Crowds!!”

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Charlotte

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Even if you’re not familiar with the name ‘Jun Maeda’, you’ve almost certainly heard of his works – Clannad, Kanon, Little Busters!, or Angel Beats! ring any bells? His works are highly regarded by the wider anime community, but among my aniblogging peers he’s a far more contentious figure. It’s not hard to see why – his stories employ heavy melodrama and scenarios that stretch belief in a range of ways, and if you’re prone to casting a critical eye then reasons to criticise can be found all over them. As for me though, I’m actually quite a fan of his output barring a couple of exceptions (first season of Little Busters! was not good and Angel Beats! was just emotionally manipulative at the end). I love the atmosphere he cultivates so well and apparently I’m just a softie for tragedy.

So it was with this that I looked forward to Charlotte with a whole lot less trepidation than others. I feel the first episode rewarded that attitude, because it was damn hilarious. Combined with the setting of a school for adolescents with strange abilities and the premise of the school council finding other teenagers abusing their powers (into which Yu, our main character, has been shanghaied), and I’d say Charlotte demonstrated a lot of promise.

You'll be wiping that smug look off your face by the end of this

You’ll be wiping that smug look off your face by the end of this

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Classroom Crisis

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‘Teens developing high-level science tech’ is a decently-trodden path in anime, mostly in respect to mecha. Classroom Crisis offered a potentially more plausible, harder sci-fi take on it by having the teens working for a mega-corporation developing experimental engines. It’s just mundane and low-key enough that you could get some very serious detail in it that would actually make you feel like you learned a bit about astronautic engineering, even if it’s mostly bullshit.

But that promising setup loops back around to being concerning: if the scope is going to be (comparatively) low like that, why stick with the school setting? Why not go even further with the realism and have them be adults? I think that was a fairly common concern going in, but the first episode at least alleviated the worst of it by being pretty good fun and revealing a plot with a fair bit more going on and the promise of a much larger scope.

asd

The high school stuff isn’t going to drag it down, right?

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Gakkou Gurashi!

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Cute girls doing cute things at school… during the zombie apocalypse! It’s easy to have reservations about this show based on that premise, I think for fairly obvious reasons. This is what Gakkou Gurashi! (aka School-Live!) seemed to be billing itself as prior to airing, and while it drew a lot of attention it was not exactly positive. The moe schoolgirl s’life thing has had its moment in the sun, zombies are seriously passé, and the last time high school + zombies was attempted in anime we ended up with Highschool of the Dead and the less said about that the better.

But as they say, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Gakkou Gurashi! proved to be a remarkable series, intensely dramatic, horrifying and psychological. ‘Cute girls doing cute things’ was really only a surface impression, and the reality is far more complex than that.

Note: this review WILL be mentioning some early spoilers. It’s impossible to discuss certain important parts of the series without mentioning those early events, but knowing of those early events ahead of time could seriously ruin your enjoyment of them. So consider this a warning! If you just want to know my general impressions: Gakkou Gurashi! is excellent, frequently emotionally trying, and you should watch it.

There are still cute girls tho

There are still cute girls tho

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Ore Monogatari!!

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I love me a good shoujo romance anime, but doesn’t it get a bit old when the male love interest is always the same? Lithe, good-looking, a bit quiet and mysterious, you know the type. I guess Ore Monogatari!! felt the same way because they’ve given us a goddamn gorilla.

Ore Monogatari!! (localised as My Love Story!!) follows Takeo Gouda, a high school freshmen, who is tremendously large, strong, intimidating and, well, unconventionally attractive. He’s best friends with the handsome and popular Makoto Sunakawa, who has always drawn the attention of the girls since they were children – your typical shoujo hero. One day, Takeo saves the tiny and cute Rinko Yamato from a groper on the train and ends up falling in love with her. Thus begins the story of Takeo’s first romance, and all the adorable awkwardness that entails. It’s pretty good!

asd

Perhaps not the most romantic of meetings…

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Non Non Biyori Repeat is more Non Non Biyori in the best possible way. If you want most of my feelings about Non Non Biyori Repeat, go ahead and read my review of the first season because not a huge amount has changed. Spoilers: I thought it was a pretty good show. I’ll just be focusing on how things have changed for the sequel.

In a way, “more Non Non Biyori” is the best way to describe it. While it is a second season, it’s not exactly a sequel; the episodes all take place in the same time period as the first season, with some occurring immediately before and others following on directly from earlier ones. I liked this approach. It threw me off a little at first (there’s no Hotaru in the first episode because she hasn’t moved there yet) but it was both a practical and effective decision. Practical because the first season occurs roughly over the course of a year, and with Ren-chon being so young it wouldn’t take long before she’d have grown up too much. Effective because it lets us see a lot of things that couldn’t have happened at any other time, different perspectives on previous events, and more of Hotaru’s developing friendship with the others.

Incidentally, this was my 500th completed entry on MyAnimeList

Incidentally, this was my 500th completed entry on MyAnimeList

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