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Mike’s Winter Season 2015 Review

It’s time for me to reassess. I think I’m turning into a crotchety old man with memory issues. Remember how I said that spring season 2014 was the weakest season I’d ever seen? I was wrong. This one was. I was also the same person who said summer season was stronger than fall season when fall had five of my Top 12 anime that year and two that were in the Top 5. Basically what I’m getting at here is either A) I’m getting bad at this whole “anime review” thing or B) giving knee-jerk reactions of recent concluded anime is a fool’s errand and one really needs time and perspective to properly evaluate a show. Either way, it makes this whole retrospective thing I do look rather bleak doesn’t it? But nevermind that, that’s not important right now, we have anime to hastily review and give kneejerk reactions to. Come along for the ride, people.

Top 5 Shows

Honorable Mentions: Military!, Kuroko’s Basketball: Season 3

5. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders – Battle in Egypt

5

Still one of anime’s most consistent series, JoJo’s was quite good. It did feel a lot like filler sometimes as arcs would come and go with little to no impact and that did bring down the pacing a bit. At times, it was easy to forget the overarching goal of “Yo, go f*** with Dio” but now it seems that the show has found its footing again and is finally heading directly for that end. None the less, its gambler arc was fantastic and it was nice reminder that despite all of his silent brooding and borderline emo-ness, Jotaro can step up and get shit done, with gusto.

4. Death Parade

4

God damn is this show’s opening fun, and strikes a weird dichotomy to its overall tone. They look so happy go lucky and like they’re having the best time when in reality this show is really a bummer overall. Arbiters in purgatory judge recently deceased people, usually in pairs, through various games as they steadily regain memories of how they died, typically in tragic fashion. Their responses and actions under pressure determine as to whether their souls are reincarnated or cast down into a hell pit forever more. Its “Case of the Week” style did a decent job of remaining enthralling as most cases were presented extremely well, and occasionally contained some f***ked up sh*t. I really believe this show needs a second season to flesh out the purgatory world and the people who inhabit it. Some people I knew proclaimed it show of the season from the first episode. I believed it could go places, and it did. I want to know more about this world, but not enough was done in the short time it had to make it feel more…tangible.

3. Assassination Classroom

3

Let me break it down for you, the earth has been accosted by a yellow tentacle demon who says he will destroy it within a yeari if you don’t kill him however he only wants to be attacked by a low-level classroom of students at a prestigious high school… but all the while teaching them, nurturing their abilities, caring for their physical and emotional well-being, and occasionally aiding in their attempts to kill him. Doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense right? And you’d be correct. Which is what makes watching this show so compelling. Korosensei is one of the best characters of the year, mainly because at this point his motivations for aiding and abetting his own prospective demise is unclear. He genuinely pours his heart and soul into teaching these students that he has promised to kill within a year if they fail their task, and watching this all play out is tremendously engrossing. By himself he is able to push a show that simply would not work without him, to a completely different level. Its reliance on him is both its greatest strength, and its biggest detriment. Assassination Classroom wasn’t the best show of this season but it came damn close. Personally though, there was no other show this season that I enjoyed more week to week.

2. Parasyte

2

The uncrowned king. A show with incredible ability that is just a step below elite status. On the back half, Parasyte kind of leveled off as a show. It still remained at a high level mind you but it didn’t really seem to push any envelopes. Part of it was because I became accustomed to the craziness it was bringing to the table and Migi became almost a mundane occurrence rather than “HOLY F*** S*** WHAT THE F*** IS THAT?!”. I don’t really like to harp on this, but the show didn’t really surprise me which typically doesn’t get a negative reaction from meii. I kind of felt like I knew where the show was going and with the sense of wonder and anticipation gone I sort of, I dunno, fell off it towards the end. I’m not jaded enough to let this affect my view of the show because it is still one of the best anime to come out within the past year and still well worth the watch, but my expectations were high for the show to keep doing things different and when it leveled off I found that I had started to have my fill.

1. Your Lie in April

1

Back in the fall season, I knew the show could make some serious noise if it was able to get its head out of its heavy metaphorical ass and actually got down to some good character development. It had one of the highest ceilings of any show that season but found itself bogged down by drowning itself in metaphorsiii, and spending most of the season having the main character feel sorry for himself while everyone else tip-toed in their Jordansiv around him. Luckily for us, Kaori gave him and the show the kick in the ass that it needed and rewarded our patience with some truly fantastic character development and a very satisfying story arc. Its last episode in particular was quite excellent, featuring a fantastic musical sequence and book-ended by a bitter-sweet ending that left something of an emotional mess, as it should have. Though flashes of brilliance can be seen from the show here and there, it never was consistently the show it could have been. Even while watching its signature moment I found my self thinking “This scene is absolutely incredible and there is no way this show is getting a 10 from me”. It’s a show that occasionally reached its potential but could never really find a way to stay there as a tremendous back half was bogged down by a sluggish first half. That back half though? Well worth my god damned time. And yours.

 

Best Female Character

“Kaori Miyazono” of Your Lie in Aprilv

kaori

Two seasons in a row, Kaori has been the best female character in her season. That’s probably unprecedentedvi. But she really was that good. She saved the show from becoming a disappointing depressing wreck of itself and was truly the driving force behind its invigoration. Her arc concluded in a satisfyingly morose way, something I had dreaded for a long time, hoped against hope wouldn’t happen, happened anyway, and literally made me cry out in anguish as my worst fears had come to pass. I don’t regret a second of it and would gladly do it again. She’s one of the best female characters I’ve seen in a long time.

Honorable Mentions: Artemis (Junketsu no Maria), Nona (Death Parade), Katou (Saekano)

 

Best Male Character

“Korosensei” of Assassination Classroom

kuro

When one of the characters said of Korosensei “You try to kill him and he ends up grooming your eyebrows instead–immaculately” I knew I was f***ing sold. He’s so far the best character of the year and I say this directly after gushing all over Kaorivii. His sense of comedic timing is indeed immaculate and his ferocious protection of his students as they actively try to kill him is utterly compelling. There’s a hint that something in his past, possibly a lost love, has driven his desire to teach a world he’s promised to destroy within the next year if he is still breathing. The fact that I literally have no god damned clue where he plans to go as a character makes him all the more fascinating. Bottom line: I wish Korosensei was my teacher, doomsday threats and all. And you should too.

Honorable Mentions: Slaine Troyard (Aldnoah.Zero: Season 2) Kousei Arima (Your Lie in April), Decim (Death Parade)

 

Surprise Hit

Assassination Classroom

suprise

Honorable Mention: Military!

 

Biggest Disappointment

Aldnoah.Zero: Season 2

aldnoah

Aldnoah.Zero is the most disappointing anime of all time. That sounds some kind of butt-hurt hyperbole but it really is. This was a show that was easily the best show of its season and the second best show of 2014. A show with as high a ceiling as I’ve seen in some time. A show that could’ve been one of the best shows of the past five years. And it truly, honestly threw that way right from episode one. Where main characters had died convincing, basically undisputed deaths that held real emotional weight and actual storytelling impact, episode one brought them back to life with nothing more than a little shrug and dismissive wave of the hand. Every one of them with little no explanation and it just expected us to sit there and take that shit. If that weren’t enough, it proceeded to stumble its way through an uneven season where it turned Inaho into a cyborgviii and treated him as nothing more than a giant “We Win” buttonix, the princess as something of a story mcguffin in a water tube, and poor Slaine was left holding the bag trying his damndest to keep this rapidly sinking ship afloat. And he just barely f**king did it. I will say this, as hard as Aldnoah f**ked up all the good things it had going for it, it’s not a bad showx. In fact, it’s pretty alright. But a show this good should find being “pretty alright” a personal insult as it could’ve been transcendent. The idea was brought to me that OreImoxi was a more disappointing show than Aldnoah but I don’t think that is the case. OreImoxii was a show that actively despised its audience and went out of its way to set itself ablaze as it hopped gleefully off a cliff and flipped us the birds on the way down. Aldnoah was a show that wanted to be something, was almost to the mountaintop, and lost its footing in spectacular, can’t-look-away trainwreck fashion. This was the show that was one of the most hyped ever and had all the tools to meet that hype. This was the show that was supposed to challenge Attack on Titanxiii. This was a show that could’ve been the best mech show ever madexiv. This was the show that could have had it all. But it f**ked up, plain and simple. If that is not the textbook definition of the word “disappointing” then I really don’t know what is.

 

Best Insert Song

“Keep on keeping on” by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]:mizuki (Aldnoah.Zero: Season 2)

 

Top 5 Openings

Honorable Mentions:I’ve Been Waiting in That Forest” by Bonjour Suzuki (Yurikuma Arashi), “HEADHUNT” by OKAMOTO’S (Durarara!!x2 Sho)

5. “Orange Mint” by Saori Hayami (Tsukimonogatari)

4. “Kindness to Others” by The Rolling Girls (The Rolling Girls)

3. “&Z” by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]:mizuki (Aldnoah.Zero: Season 2)

2. “Miiro” by AKINO from bless4 (Kantai Collection)

https://youtu.be/jVfafnZmQ4E

1. “Flyers” by BRADIO (Death Parade)

 

Top 5 Endings

Honorable Mentions: “Believe×Believe” by Nozomi Yamamoto (Absolute Duo: Ending 1), “Moon Bomber” by The Rolling Girls (The Rolling Girls)

5. “Hello, shooting-star” by moumoon (Assassination Classroom)

4. “Snowstorm” by Shiena Nishizawa (Kantai Collection)

3. “Taste of Apple Tea” by Nozomi Yamamoto and Haruka Yamazaki (Absolute Duo: Ending 2)

2. “Last Theater” by NoisyCell (Death Parade)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VG-jx_32qM8

1. “border” by ClariS (Tsukimonogatari)

 

Final Thoughts

Where’s High School of Dead Season 2? We may never get it and what a f***ing depressing world that would be. In the meantime, I’ve got Triage X to tide me over which feels like a HotD spiritual successor. Other than that, it’s hard to know where the season will break except for the fact that Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works is doing its best Fate/zero impression, even if it is nothing more than in impression. Still though, it may have one of the best openings I’ve ever heard. Until next time…

Oh and about High School of the Dead? I’m platinum mad.

Watch Anime.

 

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