Winter Anime 2015 Review (Part 1/3)

It’s that time again, where the season’s anime comes to a close and the anticipation of the new one begins. With so many new writers here at Beneath the Tangles, this time we’ll be giving a far more diverse set of reviews than usual!  Up today are Cute High Earth Defense Club Love!, Koufuku Graffiti, Your Lie in April, Shirobako, Rolling Girls, and Ace of Diamond.

CuteHighPromotional

Cute High Earth Defense Club Love!
Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love!

Annalyn – 5/10

I like to have at least one ridiculous anime on my watching list at all times, one that guarantees laughter. I need something I don’t care about, don’t plan to blog about, and won’t procrastinate on. Cute High fulfilled that need. It’s a parody of magical girl anime, which means it takes a genre already filled with cheese and makes it cheesier. There are times when I considered giving it less than 2.5/5 stars, but I had too much fun laughing at the magical boys, their exaggerated conflict, the ridiculous enemies, and the cheesy English names for their “love”-powered moves. Oh, and the writer knew exactly how ridiculous the English was. They weren’t even trying to be grammatically correct with the “More Better Love Shower,” let alone Yumoto’s end-of-fight catchphrase, “Love is over!” They milked the tropes for all they were worth, but they managed to surprise me, too, including a plot twist in the last episode. There were a couple annoying instances of suggestive humor, but overall, this was a fun, brainless view.

koufuku graffiti

Gourmet Girl Graffiti
Koufuku Graffiti

stardf29 – 8/10

First of all, I should mention that the score above is my “review score”, and that this show was very much my personal favorite show of this season. It has all the ingredients of a standard cute-girls slice-of-life show, with cute girls, solid humor, and a relaxed pace. Studio SHAFT’s animation, especially with the infamous eating scenes, add some garnishment to the show. But in addition to all of this, this show is a celebration of food and the role it has in our relationships with others, and this show provides not only some nice emotional scenes as the lead girl connects with people both past and present, but it even has a bit of character growth throughout. These are the seasonings that keep this show from just being another bland slice-of-life; it is a hearty meal for fans of the genre, and even non-fans might just find this show to be palatable.

april 4

Your Lie in April
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

TWWK – 8/10

Despite the joy this series brought to me, it’s undeniable that the problems with the series were real.  The speed at which the series progressed was jarring sometimes, taking leaps in some places and slowing down terribly in others.  Too many characters were underdeveloped or, perhaps more accurately, were unnecessary or given too much significance in a story that was ultimately about how one person transformed one other.  And most egregious, for a show about music, we hardly hear any music at all – the beautiful classical pieces are muted and covered by voice overs, too many of which are by “experts” who tell us how amazing the artists are, all creating an atmosphere that makes the audience feel like we’re not cultured enough to appreciate the characters simply playing a piece for a minute or two.  That all said, time and time again, the show delivers with beautiful animation and CGI and with powerful, emotional moments.  And the series is lifted even higher by the thematic element of grace, which is symbolized through both music and the character of Kaori, and present from the opening moments of the first episode to the closing minutes of the last one, which, by the way, may rank as one of the best anime finales in years.

Shirobako

Shirobako
Shirobako

Japesland – 7/10

PA Works is an interesting studio in that it is rather infamous for making the same show over and over with a different skin. Shirobako was an interesting departure from their usual cookie-cutter, angsty, melodramatic formula. Shirobako takes a unique take on the animation process by following a studio through its production of two series. While the show follows what almost seems to be too many characters at once, Charles has frequently referred to this group of characters as feeling like family. In that way, every episode is a treat, if just to check in and see how they’re doing. The show has its share of problems, and some episodes are clearly better than others, and this keeps it from becoming a classic, but not from being a good watch. Also, to be fair, I usually appreciate the PA Works formula, but for those who don’t, Shirobako is worth giving a shot.

rolling girls

Rolling Girls
Rolling Girls

Kaze – 8/10

I picked up Rolling Girls for a single reason: Ozawa Ari, best known for her (almost only) role as Chiyo-chan of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. Unexpectedly, it ended up being the most fun series of the season with beautiful backgrounds and stellar animation (all that Attack on Titan money being put to good use). The anime is divided into many short arcs which often involve the protagonists failing to do anything of real worth, but it is through their failures that they grow as characters. Unfortunately, the overarching plot and subsequent ending fell flat, which made me seriously consider dropping the score to a 7. However, I think it sort of fits what Rolling Girls is about: it isn’t about a story; it’s merely about a few girls trying their best while being thrown around in the craziness of life, and I can’t deny how much I enjoyed it otherwise.

DaiyanoAce_ep67d

Ace of Diamond
Daiya no Ace

Annalyn – 8.4/10

I take my “official” sports anime scoring very seriously. I actually have a spreadsheet just for sports anime rank calculations, based on five categories (visuals, plot, characters, sport, my personal excitement). No sports anime has exceeded a score of 8.8, so Daiya no Ace did pretty good. Still, only one element of this show really stands out to me: the team. Many sports anime center on new or raggedy teams. But in Daiya no Ace, the Seido baseball club has a legacy of excellence. And when I say “legacy of excellence,” I don’t just mean their game record. No, I’m talking about their work ethic and their respect for one another and for the game.  The senpai pass this down to the newcomers through example and, when necessary, admonishment (with a baka over-enthusiastic main character, admonishment is often necessary). In turn, the current second- and third-year members received a legacy from their senpai.  When the third years retire, I’m sad to see them go. I’ve admired senpai in other sports anime, but I feel a depth of respect for the retiring team that I’m not sure I’ve felt before. This isn’t just respect for Chris-senpai, who taught Sawamura so much, or for the pitcher Sanada, or the captain, or any other specific senpai. This team is special. I look forward to watching the underclassmen live up to their legacy as the next season unfolds.

***********

Look forward to tomorrow’s continuation of our winter 2015 review!

Kaze

Kaze is a graduate from the University of Tokyo who currently works on developing gene therapies for genetic diseases. He is a Nanatard since 2009 and mostly spends his time reading VNs and studying Japanese. Strangely enough, also a devout Christian.

5 thoughts on “Winter Anime 2015 Review (Part 1/3)

  1. I ranked Gourmet Girl Graffiti very high for the same reasons. A personally beautiful story with such amazing food visuals! 🙂

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it a lot too! I really liked how, even in a genre not known for deep storylines, it was still able to deliver a story with some noticeable character development.

      And yes, those food visuals were scrumptious. I definitely made sure to always be eating lunch/dinner when watching this show.

  2. These reviews remind me that I need to finish Rolling Girls and pick up Shirobako at some point. I don’t think that I’ve even heard of Gourmet Girls Graffiti. On one hand, it sounds like it could be a fun show; on the other hand, there are so many shows featuring cute girls doing cute things. If it has as much serious subject matter as Hanayamata, it might be worth watching.

Leave a Reply