Anime Spring Season 2015 – Mid-Season Thoughts
We are about halfway through the Spring season now, with most shows having put out six episodes ( some more, some less ), and all shows at least having gotten started.
Let’s start with a couple I decided to drop in the meanwhile.
Anime de Wakaru Shinryounaika
This had been skirting the edges between harmless fun, actual education, and outright offensiveness for a while, but what finally tipped the balance into the latter camp was the show claiming that men who wear traditionally feminine clothing are just sick. Eh, no, fuck you, show.
This is probably the biggest shame of the season. I still feel like this show probably held the biggest potential of any of the concepts as advertised, so it’s heart-breaking to see so clearly that the people making it just don’t have the skill to make use of that potential. There’s no subtlety, there’s no understanding of tone, the attempts at humour fall flat with a cringe, and the writing is bloated. There’s a lot here that probably could have been caught by a couple of strict editors.
Though I am also somewhat interested in the team behind it. Sure, they may not have done a great job this time, but with some improvement I could see them making a good show some day. Maybe their next venture, or the one after that, when they’ve had a bit more practice and hopefully received some constructive criticism.
There’s really only one show that started up a bit into the season this time. That I’ve noticed, at least.
Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold
This is not listed under Spring releases over on anilist, and while that site might not be perfect, I didn’t find on other Spring Anime lists either. It just showed up.
There’s currently three episodes out, and this is a spin-off from a very long-running series. I have not seen any of the previous shows, but I figured I’d give it a go anyway, and it sure is something.
I wouldn’t claim I understand what’s going on, but it has a very unique spin on a collection of European mythologies ( mostly Norse and Greek, but not exclusively ), and there’s something very enjoyably 80s about the whole thing. I guess the series has been running since the 80s, and it’s probably just preserved that same feel?
Like, here we have the Golden Saints of Athena, holy warriors named after the constellations, wandering around Asgard on Earth fighting various God-Warriors sometimes inspired by actual Norse heroes, gods and legends (and also Heracles as a God-Warrior of Asgard), all with the aim of destroying Yggdrasil because it might kill or usurp Odin in some way, and we wouldn’t want that, would we? It’s bonkers.
I still don’t really know what this is actually about. With only 2 minutes per week, it’s hard to figure out. I think it’s something like a promotional anime, because there have been episodes where they’ve just promoted some game, or manga, or website.
It’s still kinda cute, though.
Ansatsu Kyoushitsu (TV)
I feel like this show has been running out of steam in the second half of its run. It’s still introducing new concepts and characters at a steady pace, but it just doesn’t feel as interesting any longer. My sense of investment has largely gone. Especially after the last couple of episodes. And what I’ve seen from the preview of the next episode, it’s probably not going to bring it back. I am three quarters through the show though, so I am going to try to stay the distance. If it ends on a “To Be Continued in Series 2” note, I’m not sure I feel up for another one here.
Best case scenario, it swings back up and gains a boost for the final stretch. Worst case, it sputters into meaninglessness or boredom.
Danna ga Nani o Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken 2-sure-me
They’re still cute, they’re still dorks, and it’s a really enjoyable watch. I mean, it’s really just about people being people, but they’re really cute, and it’s somewhat refreshing just how different it is to most everything else. And they manage to pack quite a lot of stuff into five minute episodes without it feeling especially rushed.
Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works 2nd Season
This one vexes me. I still don’t think it’s actually good, and I kinda hate it. But… I have also kinda grown to like it, and I don’t really like that I like it. I still don’t have any particular affection for Shirou, but Tohsaka is alright, and I kinda like Lancer… but most of all I think I’ve just gotten sucked into the lore and story, and won’t be able to escape until I know how it ends.
I still think you should probably stay away, but I don’t have any sort of high ground by which to actually stop you.
Go! Princess Precure
This show is still really, really good, and Puff is still the cutest thing ever! It blows my mind that this is the same company that also does Sailor Moon Crystal, because the variance in quality is staggering. I know Toei are really big and bloated with lots of teams by now, but even so.
I don’t really have a lot to add that I haven’t already said before. There’s a Dark Princess now. Princess Twilight. She is not a horse. And Puff got to be a little girl for one day, and she was so excited. Seriously, this show is worth watching. I’m not sure there’s been a single episode yet I’d really describe as weak.
Gunslinger Stratos: The Animation
This isn’t quite as exciting as I had initially hoped it would be. Instead it’s somewhat confusing, and seems to be trying to do too much at once. Still, last episode ended on a note which seemed to shake things up, so I’m still onboard, even if right now I would really only rate the show as “okay”.
So what is it about? Well, yet again we are at half past the future, and some shit went down like a hundred years before, and now Japan is run by corporations. Except there’s also an alternate world where Japan is mostly ruins, and people mostly rule themselves as best they can, with some international help. And people from these two worlds have to fight their counterparts over which world has the right to exist, because if left alone, they’ll destroy eachother at some point in the future. Or at least, that’s the excuse they’ve been given to fight. I guess we’ll see how much of it is actually true.
It took a couple of episodes to really get going, but now it seems to have its eyes set on a goal and is marching steadily towards it. In parallel with the characters of the show, I guess.
And it is actually about the music as well, and it’s not just using that as an excuse for showing off cute girls in high school. I barely even knew the word “ensemble” before I started watching this. There are a lot of cute girls though. No lack on that front.
Houkago no Pleiades
Oh yes. There’s no way you can convince me that Subaru and Aoi are not girlfriends. And I really enjoy the antics of President Squidgy.
Otherwise you have a quintet of magical girls flying around on vroomsticks doing stuff for reasons that really only became clear in the latest episode. The show does have a bit of an issue with not really explaining what’s going on a lot of the time.
Though I still have no idea what the deal with the birdhouse garden in the observatory is. Or what happened to it at the end of the last episode. I’m interested to find out.
It has cut back on the comedy, unfortunately, but I still like the show.
It’s a weird world with weird character doing weird things for weird reasons. And I find it all strangely charming. It’s a bit like watching a world that operates on dream logic. And it has an absolutely fantastic ED. Which seems like it gets immediately claimed and muted whenever someone tries to put it up on Youtube, so I can’t even show you.
It is starting to get a bit more clear how we arrived at the scene at the very beginning of the show, and I hope the whole journey there will be interesting.
Koukaku Kidoutai Arise: Alternative Architecture
I’ve heard that people who are big fans of Ghost in the Shell really, really hate this show. For myself I quite enjoy it, and I don’t know what makes it so different for me.
Logicoma is a huge draw, I just love that polite robot, but I also just find it an enjoyable universe to watch stories from. Major Kusanagi being an absolute badass doesn’t hurt anything either.
Now because of the stories they’ve chosen to base the anime on, it does jump around on the timeline a fair bit every other episode. After the first two-episode arc, the next two have been set in the time before that. Not sure about the fourth, or the stuff they’re doing after that. I never saw the original Arise OVAs/ONAs or whatever they were. It’s like the first arc was showing Kusanagi’s whole team in action, while the next two arcs have been partly about how she put the team together.
Kyoukai no Rinne
Someone connected a few dots for me by saying this is from the same guy who did Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha, and that does explain why the art-style seemed so familiar.
It’s a cute and fun show, and we’ve gotten a weird exorcist boy and a strange spirit-cat to come along for the ride. And Rinne has finally gotten his scythe back. Don’t ask where he lost it, just watch the show. It still makes me think of “what if Bleach wasn’t quite so serious”, but it does do a lot of things quite differently. Outside of the Shinigami stuff, there’s not really much similar at all. Still, it does seem like what you might get if you took Bleach’s basic idea and made it shoujo rather than shounen.
Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku
Yeah, Eruna is super gay. That has not changed one bit. In a way I can tell this is from the same studio that are doing Plastic Memories, because Mikagura also has a lot of rough patches in similar areas, but it also shows how big a difference the director and writer can make.
This sort of feels like a show that wants to break conventions. It almost has the set-up of a shounen show, but instead of your typical guy protagonist, you have Eruna, the lecherous lesbian. It’s also had a few episodes where it brings up fairly common mental issues that many people struggle with, but such things are still considered somewhat taboo in our current society, so I admire its willingness to even bring them up, and to present them so accurately. Maybe things get resolved a little too easily, but I give them credit for at least trying to talk about it.
One of Eruna’s strengths is how she just accepts people. Now I am not sure what sort of end-goal the show has yet. I mean, one of the major characters we see in the OP and ED only just made an appearance at the end of episode six. But I am more than charmed enough to keep watching.
Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu
I think it shows how different the show initially establishes itself from the old Haruhi show, that when Haruhi herself finally shows up, being exactly how she always has been, it kinda felt like it clashed with the rest of the show. I still don’t have much fondness for episode 3 because of how much it focused on Haruhi to the exclusion of practically anyone else, but things have levelled out a bit since, and a new dynamic has established itself. Some things don’t change, though.
As for this show, it’s still about Nagato learning how to be less awkward and shy, and how everyone around her ( yes, even Haruhi ) helps that along in their own way. I still have to smile at how episode 6 ended. Aaaaahhhhnnnnnn.
Still feels like a distillation of everything considered cool in the 90s into a single show.
Though strangely the titular Ninja Slayer has become somewhat of a bit player in his own show, as episodes are starting to show other people’s stories as well. It’s still ridiculous, and a lot of people going “yeeeaaarrrrttt” at one-another according to the subtitles. I’ve seen no reason to stop watching it. In its own stupid way it’s brilliant.
Okay, this show just keeps laying on the surprises. Like, already in episode 3 they clear up the misunderstanding between Takeo and Yamato, and the two become a couple, and from there on it’s been about how cute they are together, and how they work out the issues of being teenagers in love.
Takeo is still pretty dense, and Yamato can be too, but… hnnnggghhhh, it’s so cute! I might die.
Owari no Seraph
Not quite as good as I was hoping, but it’s still not a bad show by any means. At least not yet.
I’m not even sure this counts as a spoiler, considering how prominent he is in the OP, but Mika survived long enough to be turned into a vampire by the vampire queen. Who is a pink anime girl. So I have some conflicting emotions there. The show keeps hinting at secrets we don’t know yet, like who/what was truly behind the apocalypse virus, and the Seraphs being bad things and so on, and I don’t really know. We’ll see how things develop.
Has pretty much been confirmed it’s essentially a budding romance story between Amami and Inoue. Or at least it’s confirmed that Amami has a bit of a thing for Inoue, who is a bit too tsundere to let herself be swept away. Yet, at least.
The ghosts also feature prominently, of course. There’s a scene towards the end of episode 6 which is just absolutely heart-wrenching. I’ve re-watched it a few times, and it makes me cry so much each time. A powerful little story about regrets.
Most episodes are a bit more light-hearted than that. And very sweet.
Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki
Series 2 has been sort of strange so far. Tsumugi, the pink space princess, is an awesome character, and the interplay between her, Izana and Nagate is really cute.
And just the whole thing in and of itself is still one of the most interesting sci-fi universes I’ve seen. Just a future where science is not still somehow “evil”, but where they’ve figured out how to use cloning and bio-engineering in positive ways, and all in all it’s just an interesting place to consider.
There’s a lot of stuff going on though, and not a lot of it has become clear yet. So I don’t feel like I can make much comment on the plot as of yet.
Show By Rock!!
Definitely my darling of the season. Cyan, Chuchu, Moa and Retoree are all adorable, and the music is good, and the story is also interesting. I’m not sure if Retoree really has a crush on Cyan, or if she just wants to be friends, but I prefer to believe the former.
I’m not sure if I’m able to get anyone else to actually watch and like this show, but I am going to try to get everyone I know to at least give it a shot.
Moa in a dino suit is a bit overkill on the cuteness scale though.
Urawa no Usagi-chan
It’s pretty much exactly as advertised. It’s a show to promote Urawa. So they will showcase stuff I assume is unique/iconic to the town in certain episodes, while weaving a fairly light narrative about this bunch of high school girls that have various strange quirks.
But I mean, it’s only five minutes, so it’s not exactly a big time-sink, and it’s somewhat entertaining.
Yamada-kun to Nananin no Majo
I am still worried that this show is going to turn out to be too good to be true. So far it’s been going pretty strong. I mean, it has some issues with the concept of personal boundaries in certain situations, and doesn’t quite seem to understand that it might be doing anything wrong, but if you can overlook that, it’s a pretty strong show. Definitely become one of my favourites, even as I remain wary that it might become shit at any moment.
Okay, Shiraishi Urara is absolutely awesome, and the concept of magical kisses is intriguing, but I feel the real strength of the show is how the people feel and act like people. Again it feels like a show that works to go against tropes and conventions. Like, you’ll have the set-up for familiar situations, but instead of doing something like, for example, drag a misunderstanding out until it becomes a catastrophe, the characters will actually stop and talk things out when they notice they might be causing one of the others distress. They still act nonsensically a bit, but no more than you’d expect real people to do.
So I really hope the show will keep surprising me positively, because I really do want to like this one until the end.
There we go, that should do it for now.
Looking back, I said I felt the Winter Season was a bit weak, but all in all the Spring Season feels even weaker. I have listed a whole bunch of shows I like watching, but there’s really nothing truly outstanding this season. At best you find shows that are “good/great if you like that kind of thing”, and there’s nothing I would really give a blanket recommendation to. When we get to the end of the year, will I even remember any of these without looking them up? Maybe Show By Rock, Ore Monogatari, and Yamada-kun if they keep being good, but I mostly just find those personally appealing.
What does please me is that there seems to be a bit of a trend this season with several shows trying to go against established tropes and conventions, even if only a little bit. I know that’s a risk in the Japanese market, especially if you’re dealing with homosexuality in any form. But even stuff like Ore Monogatari and Yamada-kun where the characters behave more like real people is pretty refreshing. Though I have no idea if any of these “risks” will pay off for them. I mean, I hope they do. But I can’t be sure.