Top 5 + Guest: Five Summer 2015 Anime Series We Want to Watch (Summer 2015 Preview)

Each month, our writers (along with a guest) give our top five list for some anime-related topic. This month, we approach this column a little differently, combining it with our summer season  preview as a number of our writers give the five anime series they’re most looking forward to in summer 2015.

Joining us is Pepe, whom we’re thrilled to have as our guest. Pepe is one of the writers at the international Key fan website Kazamatsuri.org, which you might remember from our Key special podcast episode. We felt it most fitting to have a representative from such a great fan base to help us out with providing some information our readers may not be aware of regarding Key’s newest upcoming anime. But he has gone further than any of our own writers and provided some great insight about a few other summer anime to keep an eye on!

Pepe’s Pickscharlotte

1. Charlotte
2. Classroom☆Crisis
3. Akagami no Shirayuki-hime
4. Ranpo Kitan – Game of Laplace
5. God Eater
At first, I honestly didn’t think there was much to look forward to this season. Most of the more exciting options, are sequels of anime I haven’t even watched previously. However, after doing some research, I realized that there actually is a bit more to this upcoming season than meets the eye. If I were to describe my feelings about this upcoming season, it’d be that the creators of a work could make all the difference to a story. Now then, without further ado, on to my top 5!

One word for God Eater: ufotable. I’m not the kind of person who cares much about animation studios, but ufotable for this series is actually pretty damn exciting. The action scenes are going to be absolutely stunning. God Eater started out as a very fast-paced action game, so I can only imagine how fun it’d be to watch ufotable make these scenes into an animated series. Ranpo Kitan is an anime adaptation of murder mysteries written by Edogawa Ranpo, who was a pioneer of sorts in the Japanese mystery genre. The fact that this is an adaptation of what is considered a classic in terms of literature is enough to get me interested. It would hopefully give a different perspective to anime considering the original source, although I wouldn’t be surprised either if they modernized it.

Me being the romance nut I am, Akagami seems to be the only romance-centric one I am looking forward to. While the fantasy-romance genre has been explored many times before, it is a tried and tested formula, and has brought consistent quality romance to the table. As such, I am expecting the same from Akagami, and I hope that it will be enough to satisfy my romance nut for this season (along with Ore Monogatari which is continuing its 2nd cour, of course). Classroom☆Crisis seems like a pretty standard, slice-of-life anime, with a pretty unique setting. What got me interested in this show more than anything is the main writer of the series: Maruto Fumiaki. Fumiaki is known for being the main writer of White Album 2 and Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata. Saenai Heroine was pretty so-so…. However, White Album 2 was absolutely amazing, and the anime only adapts the Introductory Chapter of the Visual Novel. As such, I still have hopes for Fumiaki to write something more insightful with this good setting that he has prepared. I don’t know exactly how this series will go, but I sure am excited for it!

Finally, CHARLOTTE! Hypest anime of the season; nay, hypest anime of the year. Now, sure, I might be biased because it’s a Key work, and I’m a Key fan, and I love pretty much all of Jun Maeda’s works. However, there’s just something about Charlotte that has piqued my interest ever since it had been announced way back in December.

The more we learned about Charlotte, the more my hype was increased. We were introduced to a world where adolescents have special abilities, and each of our main cast have their own abilities detailed in particular. Considering this is a Key work, I could already see how these abilities would play into each of the characters’ inner emotional state. One of the powers, for example, was the ability to hide oneself from the vision of another person, and I could see how that might instill a feeling of loneliness and lack of attention for said character. That sort of connection between the powers and the potential for drama got me pretty excited. Also, recent info seems to be implying something a lot darker upcoming for the series. Those things have just skyrocketed my hype level through the roof, and it raises so many questions regarding our initial assumptions, questions which I am excited to find out while watching Charlotte.

Zeroe4’s Picksdurarara shou

  1. Durarara!!x2 Ten
  2. Ore Monogatari!!
  3. Gatchman Crowds insight
  4. Working!!!
  5. Non Non Biyori Repeat

I love Durarara and it’s ridiculous insanity of story telling!!! Also, I love the fact it take place in Ikebukuro, which is my area of Tokyo. Ore Monogatari is a series I decided to try during the spring and I instantly loved it. I am very excited about where it will go. I watched the first Gatchman Crowds when it came out and was quite fond of it. It is very strange and unexpectedly exciting; I am excited for the sequel. Working!!! is also a sequel to a series I enjoy. Definitely a comedy and is very episodic. Non Non Biyori Repeat is also a sequel to a series I enjoyed. The first one was slow, but a wonderful culture study of rural Japan. (Basically, these are all sequels or continuations of series.)

stardf29’s Picksnon non biyori

1. Non Non Biyori Repeat
2. The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls 2nd Season
3. Working!!!
4. Akagami no Shirayuki-hime
5. Himouto! Umaru-chan

For me, “most looking forward to” means “shows I can trust the most to be enjoyable weekly watching”. That means I look forward more to shows that I know will be at least somewhat good than shows that could be really great but can also tank (though I’m always open to being surprised by a breakout hit). And given my own tastes, that means I’m looking forward to a cute slice-of-life comedy like Himouto! Umaru-chan more than something like Charlotte, which definitely has promise but could just as easily fall apart for me. Akagami no Shirayuki-hime is probably the “riskiest” show I’m highly anticipating, but the premise is very interesting and I hear good things about the manga, and I’m always up for a good shoujo fantasy. Of course, there are some great sequels coming up this season; Non Non Biyori, in particular, is a favorite of mine from 2013 with its rural setting that gives it a very idyllic feel to distinguish it from its slice-of-life brethren. Read the rest of this entry

Spring Anime 2015 Review (Part 3/3)

Did you enjoy yesterday’s review? Here’s another packed post reviewing this past season’s anime!

Euphonium

Sound! Euphonium
Hibike! Euphonium

stardf29 – 10/10

Yes, you read that right; I am giving this show a perfect score. And this show most definitely deserves it. This show has everything I could ask for in a concert band-themed anime. The characters are all very strong, as both main and side characters get great development individually and relationally, coming off as very realistic and multidimensional. The overall storyline does a great job of exploring the concert band experience, and many times I could really relate to the show because it reminded me so much of my own school concert band experience. At the same time, the concepts of participating in an activity seriously or not, and being inspired by and having to compete with others pursuing a shared goal, are things anyone can relate to. Kyoto Animation brings incredible production values to the show as expected, with the music being an especially strong point as the band sounds very authentic, even when they are not playing very well. Though when they do play well, it is some of the best music I have ever heard in anime. Oh, and there’s plenty of great comedy amidst all the drama, too! Any flaws with this show are just nitpicks that are up to personal preference, and the only “problem” with this show is that I want more than just the thirteen episodes we got. This show has definitely earned its spot among my all-time favorite anime (my 5th favorite, specifically), and it is a show I would wholeheartedly recommend to any anime fan.

Read the rest of this entry

Spring Anime 2015 Review (Part 2/3)

Did you enjoy yesterday’s review? Here’s another packed post reviewing this past season’s anime!

vlcsnap-2015-06-30-23h52m49s596

Kilroy–I mean, Hestia–was here!

Is it Wrong to Try to Pick up Girls in the Dungeon?
Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou Ka

Medieval Otaku – 6/10

The main problem with Danmachi lies in that the essentially RPG fantasy setting is overused these days.  Otherwise, one can’t deny that this is a fun fantasy romp.  People complain of the fanservice, but I don’t think of it as that bad in comparison to other shows.  The female characters are all quite interesting; though, Bell still strikes me as a bland harem lead.  What more might I say?  The animation was well done, the action engrossing, and the humor quite amusing—especially in regard to the many women in the hero’s life.  A good show, but it still leaves something to be desired.

Read the rest of this entry

Spring Anime 2015 Review (Part 1/3)

As the summer season is nearly upon us, it is time for our spring anime review of 2015! This season we have a ton of anime to review by our diverse writers, so do look forward to seeing most of the season’s anime getting reviewed (though we certainly missed some nonetheless!).

Kiniro-Mosaic

Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic
Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic

Japesland – 7/10

I actually didn’t start the season with this show. I had seen the first season, and though I liked it, it really wasn’t anything spectacular considering all of the other 4-koma schoolgirl comedies out there. But I changed my mind a few episode in and decided to catch up. If you know anything about my rating system, a 7/10 is nothing to sniff at, and with that in mind, I quite enjoyed this second season of Kiniro Mosaic. The hilarious use of the Japanese language, and many cultural nods (but accurate and not) give it a bit of a feeling similar to classics like Azumanga Daioh, and while I don’t think Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic will be making many “best of” lists, it’s definitely one to consider checking out if you enjoy the genre.

Read the rest of this entry

Faith’s Power in Dream Eater Merry

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

Alice Walker

Dream Eater Merry takes place in the real world and the dream world. The dream world is inhabited by dream demons who come over to the real world by using humans as vessels while they visit the world during their sleep or by opening up a daydream.

Once a dream demon takes a vessel, they cannot return to the dream world and the human cannot be separated from them without dire consequences. This is because dream demons don’t just enter the dreams that humans experience each night but into the dreams they have about their lives, their jobs, their relationships, their future, etc. The dream demon connects to this part of the human and rests in that power.

de 1 Read the rest of this entry

OreGairu 2, Episode 13: Requests and Wise Words

Last night, against my better judgement, I stayed up late to catch the finale of Oregairu 2. It…wasn’t worth staying up for. A strange episode, it seemed to be hammering home the same problems from the last few episodes without offering much of a solution, while breaking Yukino down so quickly and so almost-completely that I felt it negated a lot of the slow, steady work that Oregairu has given us for two full seasons.

oregairu 13a

Then again, being an unabashed fan, I still enjoyed it, especially since we got an episode full of interaction between our main characters. Plus, we got what seemed to me an episode that was very light on concluding (it kinda gave a concluding tone, but only slightly, and didn’t give us any final glimpse of all the supporting characters we love) and heavy on “see you for another season, or at least another OVA,” particularly with Yukino giving a request that we as the audience don’t hear.

For an episode focusing on Yukino and her search for identity, the pivot point of the episode comes from airheaded Yui, who demonstrates both a sacrificial heart and a wisdom that she’s hinted at all along – a deep knowledge of who she is, faults and all, and how people think.  Yui tells Yukino that she can depend on her, but Hachiman intervenes, stating that Yukino needs to do what she’s preached all along as the president of the volunteer club – she must find her own way. But the interesting thing here is that Yui insists that she knew Hachiman would say as much, as if she arranged that situation so that Hachiman would say what he needed to say and Yukino would hear what she needed to hear.

Surprise! That's what happens when you never give Yui enough credit.

Surprise! That’s what happens when you never give Yui enough credit.

Yui, you sly dogRead the rest of this entry

Examining Old School Anime: How a Mazone Shows the Importance of Mental Prayer

Episode 15 of Space Pirate Captain Harlock features, after Queen Lafresia, the most interesting Mazone we’ve yet met.  Aurora been posted inside an ice palace at the North Pole, where she waits for Captain Harlock to investigate the curious pattern produced by an aurora borealis.  Her only purpose in life is to kill Captain Harlock, and Aurora has meditated on him and their fateful meeting for years.  However, her long contemplation has brought home to her how good Captain Harlock is, and she quite naturally falls in love with him.  (What woman can resist the manly bearing of Captain Harlock?)  Unfortunately for Aurora, she tries to trap Captain Harlock inside the palace and picks a fight with Miime, an alien woman who owes her life to Captain Harlock.  The Mazone’s attack is cast back on herself and brings about her demise.

Miime, surprisingly powerful for a soft-spoken woman

Miime, surprisingly powerful for a soft-spoken woman

Read the rest of this entry

Anime and the Digital Church

More and more, ministries are streaming their services online or making websites where Christians (or people of other faiths) can watch, donate or be a part of the community. Facebook and other social media networks have become the place where hundreds, even thousands, come to share their life, struggles and ask for prayer. Even here at Beneath The Tangles, though it’s not a church or ministry with a pastor, many people read our articles and learn more about our Creator. This may not sound like the typical way church is done*, but it’s a trend that is growing rapidly every year.

There are actually several anime that highlight this format, and the two (there are more!) that I would like to mention are .hack//Sign and Sword Art Online. Each one is about people who log on to a server where they play an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) and build community with one another. Each player has an avatar that looks like a person, or sometimes part human and part animal that they can use to talk with each other, fight, and even romance. Each episode shows the dynamics of the game actually start to affect the characters emotions and spill out into the real world.

screenshot-12_22_2012-2_34_12-pm

For example, Kirigaya Kazuto and Yūki Asuna, whose avatars are famously named Kirito and Asuna, fall in love through the playing of the game and become romantically involved in real life. Their digital life affected their real lives, which can be also said for people who were in comas or died because of the game in both series.

.hack//Sign main characters Subaru and Tsukasa deal with real life situations that are sometimes resolved online or vice-versa, plan strategies or literally hack servers to stop people from going into comas induced by the games headgear. They even become very close friends and talk about their IRL (In Real Life) problems and get advice on them as well, just like many of us do online. This not only makes you feel for the character and the player, but often times as you watch the anime you forget that the avatars are being controlled by people outside the game. This can happen to us on social media or games, where we might blend the two aspects together and forget that these are real people we are talking to, not just text.

Hack-todos

The .hack//Sign team all together!

Now, being part of a digital community of fellow believers isn’t a bad thing but there will always be that need to physically be a part of a group that share the same faith. Let’s face it, there are things that you would not share online nor are you accountable to anyone either. You can post lots of Christian posts, messages or verses but who is checking up on you when you are alone or going through life? Are you obliged to report to someone or at least have a one-on-one with an admin online?

Not at all. Read the rest of this entry

Throwback Thursdays: Cowboy Bebop

After receiving numerous recommendations over the years, I finally sat down and watched Cowboy Bebop. After finishing the show, I decided it was necessary to review the show as soon as possible. I should also point out Charles is a huge fan of this show (E/N: I am most definitely a huge fan of it!). His picture on the Authors page is of the main character after all.

You could say my life revolves around defending Cowboy Bebop as earning every bit of praise its received, and you wouldn’t be inaccurate.

Cowboy Bebop is basically it’s own genre. It has lots of science fiction elements, western elements, and noir elements all interwoven. The story follows the bounty hunter crew on the spaceship known as Bebop. They travel through space hunting for criminals and confronting their own pasts. Each person on the ship has an amount of depth driven from their own past and backstory. All these stories end up being integral in the direction the show takes.

TWWK: I own this amazing box set of the series

TWWK: I own this amazing box set of the series

Part of the story’s uniqueness is in how it’s incredibly episodic – I think I count only 5 episodes that deal directly with the main character’s (Spike) story – and yet it weaves together into this awesome tapestry of cohesive…awesomeness.

When I sat down to watch the show, I had some preset expectations. First, the show looks like a western; I have a large amount of disdain for westerns. Second, the music is jazz. I am not a huge fan of jazz. Third, the spaceships looked cool, but the art looked moody. Well, my fears for the western style feel quickly wore off. The western theme is more of a facade to explain the bounty hunting and culture, than an actual plot driving tool. The music is wonderful. It is a bit strange, but it is very iconic and hearing it makes me reminisce about the show. And finally, the moody art style is gorgeous. The ships are really well designed. The anime was made in 1999, but it doesn’t feel dated; it has aged nicely.

You’re absolutely right in saying that the animation ages well.  I’ve tried picking up a lot of series from yesteryear, but of my favorites, I think only Cowboy Bebop and Trigun stand the test of time when it comes to animation quality.  And the music, of course, is the stuff of legends – Yoko Kanno’s brilliance is undeniable, as even a middling fan of the show like Hailey can appreciate:

courtesy of shorty-cake.tumblr.com

courtesy of shorty-cake.tumblr.com

My initial surprise with the show, is how quickly I was hooked. Almost right away, I wanted to watch episode after episode. Even after finishing the show, I want to go back and re-watch it. I really appreciate the attention and detail that was put into the characters and plot. I also thoroughly enjoy the moodiness and quiet epic quality the show took on. It carries itself like a classical heroic tragedy, and at the same time bridges on the dark and gritty noir feel. The show isn’t all dark and bleak, but it does feel quite dark at times. Oh, and the ending, which I won’t go spoil, is amazing and frustrating.

As you mentioned earlier, the show’s so hard to categorize because it does a bit of everything, and it does it so well.  And oh, that ending!  Classic.

All around, Cowboy Bebop broke my expectations and built itself in to a show like nothing I have ever seen. I can’t think of a single anime or even a show that isn’t anime, that pulled off a feeling like this one gives off. Artistically, this is one of the best shows I have ever seen. Overall, this isn’t one of my favorites, but is one that I will look on favorably. I just felt too unsettled by the time I finished to call it amazing. I do however, know that this show has a massive appeal and some people will absolutely love it. It just isn’t my metaphorical cup of tea. I will however be stealing concepts from the show for my own stories, as any author would do.

My Final Recommendation: Go for it, you will most likely enjoy it. I did.

Absolutely. It’s a classic of anime – if you don’t watch it, you’re gonna carry that weight.

Welcome Our Newest Writer, Casey!

Do you know the saying, “God works in mysterious ways?”  I really felt that to be true a few weeks ago when Casey Covel (Geeks Under Grace) and I started chatting about her taking a role with Beneath the Tangles.  What I haven’t told anyone until now was that her work was at the forefront of my mind the days before she reached out to me, and I wondered if I should invite her to join even before we spoke.  Coincidence, possibly, but I think of it as something more divinely arranged.

In short, Casey has joined our staff here at Beneath the Tangles, and we are thrilled!  Check out our interview below and please welcome her to the community!

TWWK: How did you become a fan of anime and manga?

Casey: Growing up, anime influenced a lot of the media I enjoyed, primarily my video games, many of which had anime-inspired art styles (Fire Emblem, Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, Ace Attorney, etc.). I always found the anime art style attractive because it captured… something… that American cartoons did not–emotions, drama, original designs, bold storytelling, and other assorted wonders I couldn’t put a name on back then. When I was a child, I began watching Pokemon, but was quickly told not to by my parents (this was back when churches were cracking down on the Pokemon craze, and my parents were likely being cautious). It wasn’t until several years later that I actually began watching anime again, and to be honest I’m grateful that I waited that long. I believe anime is a beautiful medium of entertainment and art, but I don’t think I was spiritually mature enough to enjoy it until a few years ago.

cutsceneaddict cosplay Large e-mail view

TWWK: What are your favorite types or genres of anime/manga? How about favorite series?

Casey: I’m a bit of a psychology/philosophy buff, so I particularly enjoy anime that challenges me to think differently or to question my values. Watching anime that asks hard questions or acts as an animated microcosm for a social issue is like consuming a delicious tray of assorted sushi to me. Death Note–despite its storytelling flaws–is my absolute favorite series thus far. I also enjoyed the examination of dark issues in Attack on Titan and the bittersweet, poetic charm of Your Lie in April. Currently, I’m going on adventures with Vash in Trigun… and developing a craving for doughnuts for some reason. Read the rest of this entry

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