A slow season.
Winter 2015 Anime (PREVIEW)
It’s that time of the year again. It’s winter and you know what that means. Yep, an underwhelming season. But like every season, there are going to be at least a few shows you’ll want to keep an eye on. Such shows for this season could be Death Parade, a psychological game focused anime, Yuri Kuma Arashi, something that’s being done by Ikuhara Kunihiko, Ansatsu Kyoushitsu, a thoroughly entertaining title, and the return of various anime of the past such as Durarara, Aldnoah.Zero or better known as “Fuck Slaine,” and the return of the manly adventure that will hopefully actually have a story this time around.
There’s actually not too much to cover this season which makes my life easier. Oh, and if you’re wondering if I’ll do a video preview for a season ever again, my answer is “No.” It takes far too much time and I’d rather spend it doing something like a first impressions or an actual review. Speaking of first impressions, don’t hope for too much this season. Unless I find a season to be particularly enjoyable or noteworthy then I most likely won’t do a first impressions of it. (I’ve got the top 10 to do for this year anyways.) Okay, with the introduction out of the way, let’s get started!
Note: I am only previewing TV Series that I will at least watch the first episode of. I will not preview series that I haven’t watched previous seasons of either. I skipped a lot of series for this preview. For a list of all airing anime in spring 2014, please refer to this list.
Note 2: If a manga version of the source material that is a light novel is available, I’ll read that and simply skim through the light novel briefly for the sake of saving time. I don’t think this is a problem as there are not many differences between the two for the shows I’m previewing. Just a warning to let you know in case you read the light novel.
Within the tier, it starts from what I least anticipate to what I most anticipate. The last (most anticipated) few ones of the tier can sometimes be fairly close to the next tier. Consequently, the first few of each tier can sometimes be close to the previous tier. The tiers are not relative to the anime in each season. This means that there are no fixed number of any tier for any season. It’s possible for there to be no tier ones. The number of tier one and tier two anime are probably good indicators of how good the season looks at a glance.
Tier 4: Least anticipated – Will try it out, but very prone to being dropped.
Tier 3: Moderately anticipated – Looks at least somewhat interesting. Will probably hold out for a few episodes.
Tier 2: Heavily anticipated – At first glance, appears to be above average. Three episode rule at least.
Tier 1: Extremely anticipated – Very promising looking anime that I will most likely watch every episode of.
Tier 4 (Least Anticipated)
As I stated in the introduction, I simply skimmed through the light novel and focused more on reading the manga adaptation because it’s faster to do so. I read eleven chapters of the manga and good Lord Tatsuya is this generic. Sure, it has the ecchi, romance, school, harem, action, and supernatural tags that fully indicate that this is going to be one of those shows, but this title really sticks to conventional ideas. I’m not going to go as far as to say that you should feel bad if you enjoy these kinds of shows. In fact, I will almost never say that since there’s nothing wrong with enjoying almost any anime out there. Regardless, Absolute Duo appears to be extremely cliche and generic in its characterization, storytelling, and various other aspects. It doesn’t help that the staff is unremarkable as well. Even so, it may not be a terrible show to turn your brain off and enjoy. Let the best girl wars continue I suppose.
Seiken Tsukai no World Break
I just talked about Absolute Duo. You can copy and paste most of what I said about it to this anime. I suppose the reincarnation of past heroes concept is interesting and the monsters being godzilla size is nice. Aside from that though you have the standard kind of thing. Not too much else to say here.
Here is yet another ecchi harem show. After reading the first half-dozen chapters, I can’t say I’m impressed. It’s very typical, but the typical elements are not terribly done which may separate it with other similar shows. Some people have also said some positive things about it with what it does later on. Honestly, there’s not that much to say with these types of shows and sometimes I contemplate if I should put them all into one category. Anyways, let’s move on to an ecchi harem anime I’ll actually talk a bit more about.
Tier 3 (Moderately anticipated)
Shinmai Maou no Testament
The easiest way for you to know whether you should watch this or not is to ask yourself the question, “Do you enjoy watching anime like High School DxD?” If you do, then you may want to check this out. If you don’t like those kinds of ecchi harem anime then do not bother. From the seventeen chapters and the bits and pieces I’ve read of the light novel, it’s the fairly standard stuff with a bit more emphasis on the tactics in the fights. I’m always a bit doubtful as to if the anime will be able to properly capture that since the thought processes and intricacies of fights are difficult to cover in anime format. I am also not sure if there is a larger story than meets the eye as is the case with High School DxD. For me, that was the major selling point of the show. Wars, devils, angels, other clans, dragons and so on all intertwine to create a fascinating world. That separated it from the typical ecchi harem anime out there. I’m not sure if Shinmai Maou no Testament will be able to do the same in its own way since so far it has stuck to more or less the typical story and world you’d expect from a show like this. I also cannot say that the female protagonists have as much character and charm compared to someone like Rias or Akeno from DxD. Even so, the staff is well-suited for this kind of anime. If you’re a fan of this type of show, then there’s no reason not to give it a shot.
To prepare your souls for the ultimate foodgasms next season that will come from Shokugeki no Souma, SHAFT is here to bring forth the appetizer to whet your appetite. I don’t think there’s any English translation of the manga so I’m afraid I cannot tell you what it’s going to be like. You can have a look at the list of staff yourself and decide whether it’s looking good or not. I know some people don’t like Shinbou. I suppose if you want to see SHAFT animate cute girls having orgasms eating delicious looking food that will make you sad that you have no waifu to cook that shit for you along with some slice of life comedy goodness maybe with some tilts in between then you should give this one a shot. Ignoring my shitty sentence structure, let’s move on because I’ll start talking about toothbrus-
If the premise of cute girls mediating multiple battles between nations doesn’t sound enticing to you then I’m afraid you may be interested in the wrong medium. Taking over countries may be serious business, but in our chinese cartoons there is no stopping cute girls riding around the country subjugating all who dare stand against moe. Look, I don’t really have a lot to say about this show so I’m trying to pad it out to make it look like I’m talking about something worthwhile, okay? It’s by Wit Studio, it’s got a decent director, Risa Taneda is in it, and now I’m obviously fucking in. THERE’S EVEN CHIYO. Honestly, what else am I going to watch this season? Might as well watch some feel good anime that dissipates the daily stress of not knowing how to start watching shows on my backlog. Do you like slice of life anime? If so, watch it. If you don’t, go watch Non Non Biyori.
Kantai Collection: KanColle
Chances are you’ve probably heard of this online browser card game. It’s about cute girls as battleships that torpedo each other in the butt. Well, at least that’s how I like to imagine things whenever I see gameplay of it. Even with such sensual imaginations on my part, I’ve never actually played this game nor do I have the desire to play it. If you are looking for cute girls as CGI battleships firing armaments at each other, then look no further… Are they seriously going to show giant girls shooting at each other? They’re just… giant girls. Like, THERE’S NO FUCKING SHIP. Look at this fucking preview, man. She shot an arrow and fucking torpedo bombers came out of it from another dimension. Fucking. Fantastic. You’ll never see this shit in any other medium. I’m not even being sarcastic either. If it can at least provide a somewhat adequate story I think it may very well end up being one of those entertaining shows you’ll want to watch every week just for fun. I wasn’t exactly sold on the looks of the game, but the prospect of giant CGI musume destroying each other with World War 2 weaponry that magically appear has me interested. The staff members are hit or miss but they should at least have enough experience to pull this off. Now if only they can torpedo each other in the bum-
Tokyo Ghoul √A
If you haven’t went back and read the manga portion of the anime covered in the first season of Tokyo Ghoul you seriously have some reading to do. I went back to read up until where the anime ended after a friend of mine expressed great dismay at what the anime adaptation did. And did wrong it did. Sometimes, people exaggerate how good the source material is compared to the adaptation, but in Tokyo Ghoul’s case I think their complaints are perfectly justifiable. Not only does the anime completely butcher the pacing, but it also misses many important aspects such as Kaneki’s psychological state during the latter part of the anime. Critical scenes are either completely skipped over or covered too hastily. Such a cursory adaptation simply didn’t do the source material justice and I do not blame source material readers who speak out against the first season.
Will things continue like this in the second season? Well, I’m not sure because the new season will be an original story written by the author of the series, Sui Ishida. So yes, we’ll not be seeing a direct continuation but rather one that may very well have an ending at the end of the twelve episodes. Seeing that it’s written by the original creator has me hoping that he and the staff are working closely together to pull this second season off in an acceptable manner. Perhaps the author created it just so it could be adapted in the twelve episodes. I can hope, right? Whatever the case, it’ll be interesting to see where this ends up no matter how good it actually is since the source material is nowhere close to being finished. Trainwreck or not, bearing witness to whatever will unfold with everyone should be in and of itself fairly entertaining.
Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata
So I was looking at what anime are going to be airing this season and randomly stumbled on this one. After reading the few available chapters for the various versions of the manga (there are alternate versions of the main story for the manga versions) I was not impressed. Everything felt fairly typical and nothing stood out. And then I found out that this is from the same writer who wrote White Album 2, Fumiaki Maruto! If you don’t know already, it was my top anime of 2013 and one of my favorite anime of all time. No other show has impacted me to the degree that White Album 2 did. Of course, many others do not think the same and that’s perfectly okay. (Do not have such high expectations if you haven’t watched it yet. Seriously. It’s mostly just me.) But it’s something that greatly resonated with me. Heck, my longest review back then was my review of the finale (spoilers obviously) and even the top 10 section for it is decently lengthy. If you don’t think that I literally shouted out loud, “Holy shit, is this for real?!” when I saw his name then you are underestimating how much I like White Album 2.
Then… I realized that I just read the damn thing and it didn’t appeal to me much at all. I’m actually glad that I saw the name of the writer after reading the chapters in the manga since I didn’t have bloated expectations. Even so, I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed. I’m obviously not expecting another title along the lines of White Album 2. Mimicking previous successes excessively is definitely not good either. Nevertheless, I’m still wondering where the magic went. Don’t get me wrong. Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata isn’t terrible. It’s just typical and doesn’t have the characterization, thematic focus, firm direction, and so on that something like White Album 2 has. (I’m talking about the quality of writing here and not the difference in content, so comparisons are very much relevant.)
With all that said, that’s mostly my biased White Album 2 side speaking. Taking a step back, one could just say he is trying to do a show more along the lines of Shirobako except without as much emphasis on the production side of things. (This could very well change later in the show.) There’s nothing wrong with an author who wrote a romantic, emotionally impactful story switching to try something else. Besides, aside from White Album 2, he has no track record, so it makes even more sense for him to explore what he wants to do in the future. Perhaps I am being too biased seeing this in the same light as White Album 2 and comparing the excellence of that to this. This is probably just meant to be entertaining and not meant to pummel my soul into the depths of despair in which case I may be evaluating this title based on false metrics. Still, I did not forget my initial impressions before realizing who’s behind it and it wasn’t exactly positive. I’ll end up being biased from now on, but at least my not-as-biased initial reactions indicate that this is nothing too special. All this could change since I did not read much, and I sincerely hope that it does. At least Utaha is clearly the best girl of this season. Yeah, that’s fucking right. Fucking fight me.
Junketsu no Maria
“When Maria loses her virginity…”
“When Maria loses her virginity…”
Are we finally going to see someone get boned after how the years have constantly teased us with ecchi harem fanservice nonsense that always amounts to boob groping but no actual sexy action time? If it does, then this will be a top contender for anime of the season year. To add on to that, the director is also the original creator and director of Code Geass and the director of Planetes as well as a whole bunch of other anime. Will we see the return of Pizza Hut in this anime? Highly unlikely. Will we see something that could be quite surprising? Perhaps. With its interesting premise that will no doubt have random males make sexual advances towards Maria, Goro Taniguchi, and Production I.G., Junketsu no Maria could end up being the surprise of the season. Certainly something to look forward to in this lackluster season. Oh, and the music is done by Masato Kouda which is great.
Kuroko no Basket Season 3
OHHHH MAN IT’S TIME FOR MAGICAL FAIRY PHYSICS DEFYING BASKETBALL WHERE PLAYERS FROM ANOTHER DIMENSION SHOW THE NBA HOW IT’S REALLY DONE. If you haven’t watched this, just think about whether you liked watching Haikyuu or other sports anime. If you do, then this may be something you want to start on. This is Basketball Superpowers: The Anime, and I don’t like it as much as Haikyuu but it is entertaining and I know others feel that sense of thrill and excitement during the games. I do get that sometimes. Maybe not to the same extent. Just don’t expect anything realistic. Some of the moves are absolutely retarded. No, seriously. Most of them you can probably just accept since, well, who gives a shit really? It’s for fun and you can get caught up in the hype of it all which can give rise to its own unique experience. Some moves though… Man, they are so ridiculous that they make me laugh more than some gag scenes in a decent comedy anime during the explanations. It’s all in good fun. It’s all in good fun. I’ll simply wait until it all ends before watching it since it’s one of those shows that are very easy to marathon. It’s nice to watch when eating some food… until some silly techniques occur and I spit out all my food in laughter.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Egypt Arc
IT’S TIME FOR JOJOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO… Now, here’s the thing. I actually didn’t finish the previous season for two reasons. The first is because it’s a split cour and I kind of want to watch the whole thing without interruptions, the second is a more problematic one. If you look back to 2013, Jojo made it on my crammed top 10 list, and for good reason too. The adventure is thrilling, manly, funny, full of awesomeness and is most certainly not devoid of witty tactics. Then came Stardust Crusaders which many people hyped up and… Well, I was honestly underwhelmed. Why? Because there is no actual story being told. While the fighting is nice and manly, I need something more than that. In the 2012 version, the story progresses consistently as the episodes passes. There is considerable buildup when it comes to the antagonists, and the fights are important for the story. The fights in Stardust Crusaders are the story which make it a chore to watch for me even if I like the series. I think you can watch the first few episodes and skip to this Egypt Arc where hopefully the story will actually have meaning beyond a random bad guy showing up only to get beaten in the same episode with the protagonist moving, geographically only mind you, closer to their destination. Monster of the week format may have been perfectly fine for you. Personally, I couldn’t stand it after a dozen episodes. The charm of the previous season simply isn’t there. I’ll skip directly to this arc and hope for the story to pick up. All will be fine as long as this arc is good. If it’s not… OHHHHHHHHHHH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! (MINOR SPOILERS WARNING!)
Tier 2 (Heavily anticipated)
Ah, the return of Durararararararararara. It’s been quite a few years since I first saw the original, so take my comments about the previous season with a grain of salt. My memory isn’t exactly that great and I didn’t review anime back then. Anyways, the first season was clearly very hyped by viewers. Some say overrated and others simply say that it isn’t anything special with too much unnecessary dialogue and some superfluous episodes. While I cannot back up any of those statements, what I will say is that the show did not live up to the hype for me. While things did get interesting later on, I remember feeling underwhelmed in the buildup of it all. Whether it was with the way the protagonists were characterized or the pacing of the story, I simply wasn’t captivated by it aside from a few clips that you’ve probably seen before on Youtube. (But both openings are fantastic. I still listen to them to this day.) I would say that I should watch the previous season again, but I know I’m not going to as there are already far too many new anime for me to watch an old show again. Perhaps when I watch this season I’ll remember more about my experiences with the previous. I’ll simply keep an eye on it because of the popularity surrounding it and the fact that I didn’t find the first season unpleasant or anything of the sort. There are plenty of reviews out there for the first season if you are thinking about watching it. You can go read those or you can just see what the hype is all about.
ALDNOAH.ZERO Season 2
Alright, firstly I have to apologize to you guys for not doing a review of the finale. I said I would do it, and I didn’t. I was thinking of reviewing it just before the second season starts to give you all a refresher, but I’m building a new computer tomorrow, my semester is starting soon, I got the Hunter X Hunter review which is still not near completion, the Top 10 for this year that I have barely started and… more fucking excuses. (No, it’s not because of my review of the tenth episode. That wouldn’t stop me from reviewing.) This is why I don’t promise things. I feel bad for not delivering, and readers… well, what few of them that actually care, don’t feel any better. So to quickly compensate, I will express my overall opinions of the first season!
It’s a fucking trainwreck. (Alright, alright. I know that doesn’t explain jack shit like the lack of properly developed motives, poor characterization, some plot holes here and there, the lacking antagonists, the messy overarching story, the lack of eggs, and all those things, but I’d rather wait until the very end before commenting on these things since things could change and I just wanted to say that phrase once.)
Now, usually I don’t even use that word because I feel it’s misused. However, in the case of Aldnoah.Zero, if you’re defining trainwreck as something being bad enough that it transcends Inaho’s eggs to be entertaining in a different way, then Aldnoah.Zero is just that. I have no desire to review the first season, so I’ll just leave Demo’s double Ds here (SPOILERS!) and you can check out his review which covers some problems I had with the show. As he says himself, there are a lot more things to talk about than what he covers in the video. This anime is certainly one that was heavily anticipated and one that ended up disappointing many. As such, there is no shortage of criticism if you look around. Perhaps I’ll do a review on this entire show when it’s over. Maybe. If it escalates further into the next egg dimension then okay. I’ll be looking forward to watching this if only for people’s reactions every episode. Oh, it’ll be glorious.
Yuri Kuma Arashi
Oh my… it’s an anime by Kunihiko Ikuhara. I definitely can’t say I’ve seen all the anime he’s responsible for, but I have seen Mawaru Penguindrum. Confusing array of symbolism? Yes. 2Deep4U? Not exactly. Its themes about fate and family are clear and if you sit down to think about it, it’s not too convoluted to figure out. While I never went back to analyze it upon finishing it since it was an old show, I did sit down after watching the last episode to think about what the fuck just happened. I ended up tying some things together (mostly about the show’s portrayal of family and destiny that didn’t have much to do with the symbolic aspects) and appreciated it more as a result. However, I never have been too keen on assessing symbolism so I never delved too much into it. Anyways, we’re here to talk about Yuri Kuma Arashi and not fucking penguins so let’s get back on track. Alright, so those of you who fear penguins can rest easy since Ikuhara isn’t touching that. But if you have a fear of bears then this may traumatize you. I don’t really have a source of honey for when bears invade Earth so it looks like I’m going to be royally screwed. May Lord Tatsuya be my savior when such a dire time arrives. If you think I’m overdosing from illegal drugs and coming up with random nonsense then you need to read the synopsis of this show. This show sounds silly, and this show probably will be silly. With Kunihiko Ikuhara as the director, sound director and series composer for this show, I can almost certainly expect something more than just silly wacky fun from bears eating humans and humans shooting bears. Like it is the case with his shows, you never really know where they may end up and what they’ll touch upon. Even though I’m generally not a fan of symbolism-heavy anime, I will most likely be able to draw upon themes from the story itself just like it was the case with Penguindrum. I would have kept a close eye on this even if it were one of the busier seasons but the fact that it’s winter gives me all the more reason to get on the ride.
This is a pretty entertainingly unique series. Trying to assassinate an alien octopus capable of going Mach 20 with other random powers while at the same being a capable teacher is something you don’t see anywhere else. The closest would be something like GTO. It’s got a nice mix of humor with interesting attempts to assassinate the teacher than can be both creative and fun to watch. The teacher has this air of silliness and wisdom that makes him/it quite charismatic. The character interactions are of course not bad considering that assassination attempts are involved. I haven’t made it too far into the manga since this is something I actually want to watch every week as I have no doubts it’ll be one of those shows I’ll look forward to every week. I find that if I read too much of the source material then my desire to follow that series week to week declines quite a bit. I’d recommend at least keeping an eye on this if you’re looking for some weekly entertainment with a quirky but ultimately very likable alien octopus teacher. Whether it’ll be meaningful beyond that, I don’t know. There will always be that potential.
I’m sure anyone who has seen a moderate amount of anime has at least heard of the Monogatari Series. As such, there’s simply not a lot for me to say than what you already know. Last year, the Monogatari Series: Second Season ranked third of the year in my Top 10 list for 2013. No small feat considering that 2013 turned out to be quite a fantastic year once I watched some of the more obscure shows (at least, they were more on the obscure side at the time they aired) such as Uchouten Kazoku, Kyousougiga, Space Battleship Yamato 2199, White Album 2, and so on. While Tsukimonogatari only contains a single arc and the quality of the Monogatari Series has varied between arcs, I’m sure you can expect the same witty writing that the show is known for with its distinct method of storytelling. If you like the series, then there’s no need for me or anyone else to convince you to watch it. Personally, I’ve been a fan of it for a long time and will be most certainly checking it out.
Tier 1 (Extremely anticipated)
No, this is not the only anime in this tier purely because I think this season is terrible. It’s certainly not good as you’d expect from winter, but I decided to be more stringent with my requirements when it comes to anime making it into this tier. If I didn’t do this, Ansatsu Kyoushitsu and Tsukimonogatari would be both in this tier. Just to let you know I’m not putting in Tsukimonogatari in this tier because it’s only four episodes and I’m not exactly a fan of Ononoki. That may seem like a crime to you, but I just don’t like her. Hopefully the new arc will change my mind. Anyways, seeing that Death Parade came from Death Billiards, which is one of the anime shown for Anime Mirai 2013, I decided to give that a shot since it’s only 25 minutes long. If you haven’t seen that yet, please do give it a shot as that’ll be a good indication as to whether you’ll like Death Parade or not. It’s a psychological anime that focuses on games. Or at least, that’s what it appears to be at first. However, the games are only tools used to look at the hearts and souls of the individuals that play them. It’s a show where we’ll see the lives of individuals and their personality unravel with the progression of the games. At the same time, relevant themes will be brought up depending on who the people are which could give rise to interesting and meaningful ideas every episode. I won’t exactly discuss what happens at the end of Death Billiards since it’s a spoiler for those who haven’t seen it, but let’s just say that it brings up some interesting questions and is ripe for analysis. I love psychological anime and Death Billiards shows great potential for the upcoming Death Parade. What people will play the game? What lives did they live? What will their reactions be towards playing these games? What will they do in extreme circumstances? All these are things that Death Parade could touch upon. Because there’s actually a full episode for me to see, I’m more confident in my anticipation of this compared to any other new release this season which is why it takes the top spot as my most anticipated anime of winter 2015.
Winter 2015 Anime Roundup
Winter almost always ends up being the worst season because fall is generally packed with content. However, there are quite a few 2-cour anime this season that will continue into the next so even if winter may not offer that much, there are still a decent amount of shows to follow. Heck, it also gives me some time to watch some shows on my never-ending backlog. It’ll also give me some breathing room to do a few more lengthy reviews here and there. Compared to the previous winter, I think this winter is quite a bit better. But then again, I have the benefit of hindsight in which I know which shows didn’t end up being that good last winter and shows I am anticipating this season could end up the same. Still, this season is slightly different in that the shows I am anticipating are ones that either have a background or have source material that I delved into so I can predict how good they’ll be with more accuracy. When it came to the previous winter… I didn’t have that kind of luxury with many of my top picks. For a winter season, I’d say this is definitely not bad. For an anime season in general, it’s definitely not so good. With spring lining up many prospective shows though, even if we have to endure this season, I am fairly confident that it’ll be worth it next season. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on the next post!