Today we continue our review of the winter 2015 anime season with reviews of Aldnoah.zero 2, Junketsu no Maria, Drrrx2, Dog Days”, Parasyte, and The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls. And tune in tomorrow for a finale that we’re approaching a little differently!
The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls
The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls
stardf29 – 8/10
The original iDOLM@STER anime started off slow but ended up really good; Cinderella Girls keeps up the quality of the original while having a stronger start. The first seven episodes are especially strong, with a good plot line that explores a lot of both the excitement and disappointments of entering the entertainment industry (as well as providing me with plenty of blog material). The character focus episodes that followed were all very solid, too, if not as strong as the show’s first quarter. The development of the producer character is yet another strong point that this show has inherited from its predecessor. Overall, this show looks to be every bit as good as, if not better than, the original iM@S anime and I am definitely looking forward to the second half this summer.
Aldnoah Zero 2nd Season
Aldnoah Zero 2nd Season
Japesland – 5/10
Sigh. Aldnoah Zero really should have just stopped while it was ahead. At episode three it had setup an exposition that was not particularly original, but well-crafted. For the first three weeks I had anticipated it to be anime of the year, hands down. Skip forward to the end of season one and my hopes had been completely dashed. However, given its massive cliffhanger ending, I decided to give the second season a shot, on the off-chance that they would not exploit its tropes. Unfortunately, I was yet again let down. I predicted nearly every occurrence and was equally disappointed by its undeveloped ending that pulled cliches from every other comparable fiction. At the very least, by season two I had expected this so I was able to partly enjoy it as nothing more than a dumb mecha, but that is the only reason to watch Aldnoah Zero.
Annalyn – 7/10
Durarara!! has a lot of characters, and its story is told in a disjointed manner. As a result, if you want to keep track of anything that’s going on, let alone remember any names, it’s much easier to marathon it than to watch an episode a week—this was true for the first season, and it’s just as true for the second. There’s just one tiny problem: this is a TV show. You’re supposed to be able to watch an episode a week. I tried to do it this season. Instead, I saved the last four episodes for this week. While I liked the fights as much as usual, I couldn’t remember why everyone was fighting. The ending included a couple exciting surprises, which are meant to keep us in suspense until Durarara!!x2 Chapter Two begins in July (ha! as if I have that long a memory). Since this is only the first half of Durarara!!x2, I’ll overlook the lack of resolution in the last episode. Despite my complaints, I do find the stories and characters intriguing, and I can’t get enough of Heiwajima Shizuo’s mad fighting skills. Plus, in this season, we’re exposed to a few of the characters’ families—for example, we finally learn more about Shizuo’s relationship with his actor brother. The first season piqued my curiosity about him, so it was nice to see him actively present on screen. Overall: Durarara!!x2 is fun, but it doesn’t translate well into TV format, and splitting this season’s two cours like this only worsens the disjointed feeling.
Maria the Virgin Witch
Junketsu no Maria
Kaze – 9/10
This is a very heavily biased score that I otherwise would never give. “Objectively,” I think Maria is maybe a 6/10. But what can I say? The addition of Christianity into this anime was beautiful. Not perfect, but very impressive and magnitudes better than any other anime which usually use Christianity as a bad plot device. Unlike those, Maria tackled Christianity and the Catholic Church head on, using quite accurate portrays to present questions against faith and life as a believer. It has some fan service and typical anime tropes mixed in that arguably lower the quality of it as a commentary on religion, but in my view, that raises its value because it isn’t forcibly putting Christianity first. Rather, it is truly an anime through and through that just so happens to depict Christianity in a well-researched and fair manner, making it something that anime fans and Christians alike can appreciate.
stardf29 – 7/10
As a whole, Dog Days has always been less about being a serious, intellectual show and more about just being a ton of fun. The third season expands upon the worldbuilding of the setting of Flognarde, and in doing so further evokes a sense of wonder and adventure. This is the kind of fantasy show that makes me go, “man, I wish I was there”, something I think more fantasy stories should aspire to. The season did have its weak episodes and maybe a bit more fanservice than some might be comfortable with, but it was still a wonderful watch, and I most definitely would welcome a fourth season. If you are up for some pure escapist fantasy, or want to watch a show that is just plain fun, the Dog Days series is definitely one worth checking out.
Parasyte: The Maxim
Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu
Japesland – 5/10
Parasyte, as a concept, is not my cup of tea. Much of its atmosphere reminded me of Death Note, a show which has gained enormous, and somewhat mainstream, popularity, yet I also do not particularly enjoy. However, thanks to several recommendations, I decided to give the series a shot, and I’ll be darned if I wasn’t a little pleasantly surprised… until about halfway through when it began to fall apart. The only thing the series really had going for it was its overarching plot, due primarily to weak characters and weak production values (particularly animation). By the point it had started to slow down, it had already pulled an Attack on Titan and screwed up its previously passable pacing in a superb world. It still packed a pretty powerful punch from time to time, but overall the quality showed extreme levels of inconsistency. I cannot recommend Parasyte.
Look forward to tomorrow’s finale of our winter 2015 review!
6 thoughts on “Winter Anime 2015 Review (Part 2/3)”
For an anime, Junketsu no Maria does a decent job of portraying the Catholic Church. As for showing the Catholic Church’s response to the problem of evil, it touches on certain ideas on a surface level. It mentions that too much divine interference would make free will useless and that sinners need to cooperate in their own repentance rather than being forced to repent . But, it doesn’t explain these points in a compelling fashion.
Then again, Brother Bernard is obviously a Dominican, but the show does not portray Dominicans properly. They are essentially theology nerds dedicated to lives of contemplation, prayer, and education. Bernard’s conversation with Maria in her cell gives the impression that this is what Bernard initially joined the order for (he was able to rattle off the names of theologians, hereitcs, and theological jargon), except that he became too involved in politics. At any rate, he made for a very unique villain.
If there is one show which actually exudes a Catholic understanding of the problem of evil, it’s Blassreiter. However, no one to whom I’ve recommended it has ever watched it to the end: the CG’s terrible, much of the plot does not fit together well, it shows the Japanese obsession with motorcycles, etc. On the plus side, the fights are quite gripping, it features the strong silent hero, and it actually does portray the Catholic response to the problem of evil.
A fair point, and I admit I am biased in my praise simply because of the mere presence of these ideas in fairly accurate context (as opposed to, say, in the context of a magical war). I sort of liked that it doesn’t go too deep into the points though. I like that it presents a few simple, albeit surface level, arguments and problems, and, in my mind, leaves the rest open ended for the viewers to think about. If it becomes too focused on explaining the Catholic Church during this time period, it becomes closer to a history lesson. By merely touching upon these problems without going too deep, it can more easily be applied to modern day issues with Christianity, but again, this is my biased personal views of the potential usage of discussion Maria brings as opposed to its inherent value as a work.
Bernard was indeed a interesting villain. I actually did take issue with him being portrayed as a bit more involved in politics than I would’ve liked, but yes, some of his characteristics, particularly the discussion with Maria in the cell, were the points I liked best. I found it fascinating (and correct me if I’m wrong because this is just what I read elsewhere) that they had him think up philosophical ideas several hundred years earlier than historically should exist, followed by the burning of the scrolls recording those very ideas, as if making a commentary on refusal to accept changes in viewpoints that will eventually come about anyway.
I have watched Blassreiter in its entirety. I admit my memory is very hazy because it has been maybe 7 years (whenever it first aired), but I know that I hated it, and your description does remind me of reasons why I did. Back then, I honestly did not have any interest in picking up on anything beyond simple enjoyment of plot, characters, etc. so I barely even have a vague memory of the more philosophical ideas being presented. Perhaps I’ll investigate it a bit, but I won’t be sitting through the entire show again.
Great reviews. I have a comment & a question. First – the question. For iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls – does not seeing the first series detract from enjoyment of this one? I never saw the first, but this made me interested in potentially watching this one.
A comment – on Aldnoah.Zero. AZ, in the end, was a string of neat mech battles placed in the middle of an overall plot that was incredibly rushed. The concept and the execution of each of the mech battles were great – seeing the less advanced Terran forces take on the Vers mech’s successfully, figuring out how they’ll do it was well done in the first and second cours. The overall plot? The first cour was a lot better than the second. In the second it’s very, very rushed. Everything with Slaine’s rise to power was rushed and the sub-plot with Lemrina was cast aside as soon as it was able to be ignored. I wish they delved into a lot more depth into the Martian politics at play. I could have done with half the season doing that – stretching it out and providing more character growth. Even with Inaho, there was a lot more they could have done with his implant, it’s impact on his personality and his interactions with others. Such a missed opportunity. In the end, with the way they ended up tackling and speeding through the plot, I found myself losing interest in everything but the mech battles. That said, I really enjoyed the mech battles. It was especially satisfying to see Slaine & Inaho face off in their mechs…
You do not need to have seen the first iM@S anime to jump right into Cinderella Girls; it’s a completely separate story.
Thanks for the followup. And very good to know.
R. I. P. Aldnoah.Zero. At least the fight scenes were pretty cool