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.

Eiichiro takes notes during two other tennis students' game at an American tennis center (ep 1).

Baby Steps 2nd Season
Baby Steps 2nd Season

Annalyn – 7/10 

This season of Baby Steps is only half over, and so far, it isn’t much more remarkable than the first. That said, I like it. I still love the main character, Ei-chan, and his analytical approach to tennis. As an analytical person and avid notetaker myself (thought not nearly as avid as him), I appreciate the strategy. I enjoy watching him improve as a player, both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, even after twelve more episodes, Baby Steps lacks a few important traits I’ve come to expect in sports anime. First, it lacks depth in character and plot development: While we do get some insight into Ei-chan’s friends and opponents, it’s not enough to get very attached to them. And Ei-chan himself, though wonderfully unique among sports protagonists, doesn’t have much to him. Yes, his love for tennis matters to me. Yes, the stakes are decently high, since he has to win in order have a chance at playing pro. But if tennis is the only significant conflict, and there’s no subplot about friendship, pride, teamwork, self-worth, grief, or something that applies to his life off-court, then the anime is going to lack depth. Second, the visuals still aren’t pretty. I’ve never been a fan of Studio Pierrot’s visuals. I almost never feel an impulse to take a screenshot, even during the most exciting moments. The animation just does its job, and nothing more. It’s unfair to compare it to Production IG’s work… but I can’t help it. So there you go. After reading what I just wrote, it sounds like I gave Baby Steps 2 a higher rating than it deserves. But, in my book, 7 means “pretty good,” and I enjoy Baby Steps too much to give it anything lower.

rakuen2

The Eden of Grisaia
Grisaia no Rakuen

Kaze – 6/10

The sequel to Grisaia no Kajitsu started off much better than its predecessor. Much of the irksome fanservice from the previous season was toned down (exceptions do exist) in exchange for closely following the main plot. I quite enjoyed the adaptation of the first half, which was technically the 2nd installment of a trilogy. However, with the adaptation of the finale, it was clear they did not leave enough time to fully flesh out the story or the characters, skipping large amounts of both comedy and scenes which should have indicated important character growth. In the end, it repeated its past mistake of being a cliffnotes version of what should have been an anime thematically about personal growth, redemption, and self-forgiveness, instead rushing through the plot which, while still better than the first season, failed to explore the facets that made Grisaia as good as I consider it to be.

pleiades

Wish Upon the Pleiades
Houkago no Pleiades

stardf29 – 7/10

Hey guys, remember when magical girl anime were bright and cheerful, before Madoka Magica came around and made the genre all dark and gritty and full of suffering? Okay, in all seriousness, this show really did turn to be a pleasant surprise, being quite a bit more than just a lighthearted magical girl show to stand out among its darker counterparts that have been common recently. For one thing, this show makes great use of the space theme to provide a more natural magical feel, while allowing for a nice escalation of the scope of situations, while also being educational on various aspects of astronomy. There’s also some interesting metaphysical concepts about human potential that tie in to the show’s deeper themes, which provide for a spike in the quality of writing in the last few episodes. The show does have its issues, such as relatively weak character development as many of the girls only get an episode of time, and the execution of the show’s overall storyline is not the strongest. However, if you are up for a modern magical girl anime that is not all depressing stuff, I think you will like what you find here.

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Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign
Owari no Seraph

Zeroe4 – 7/10

Seraph of The End is based on a Shonen Jump manga with the same name. The story follows two friends who have been separated in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity makes contracts with demons in order to fight the vampire overlords who are taking control of what remains of the human world. The two friends end up on opposite sides of the conflict, fighting for their sides and trying to rescue the other. I really enjoy the manga, but the first episode of the anime is terribly slow. Once you get past that, everything picks up and the story becomes entertaining. There are a few moments of ridiculousness, but the show isn’t bad. I wish the first season was a bit longer, because the story feels a bit rushed.

sailor-moon-crystal-1

Sailor Moon: Crystal
Sailor Moon: Crystal

Samuru – 7/10

I used to watch the original Sailor Moon way back when it came out in the states (and finished it in subs on VHS no less) so I had to watch the remake. The Sailor Senshi and Sailor Moon are battling the evil Black Moon Clan to save the future of Earth. They also have Chibi USA to protect, who comes from the future by accident after stealing her mother’s precious crystal. It follows the manga very closely and is fast paced, unlike the original from the 90s. I really do prefer the way the episodes progress over the original because there is no filler at all. The transformations are all CGI and you see more of that here and there, which gives it a modern feel.

My only gripe is that the first few episodes do go a little slow, and then pick up too fast around the end. They go from fighting a minor enemy an episode to being thrown major plot twists and conclusions around the last episodes. Overall though, if you are a Sailor Moon fan, you need to watch this one. If you know little to nothing of the series, this is a much better adaptation than the previous one, in my opinion.

A Second Meeting

The Heroic Legend of Arslan
Arslan Senki

Medieval Otaku – 9/10

After seeing episode thirteen, I could not but give this show a high rating.  The quality of its action, the political intrigue, the outstanding animation (especially the backgrounds) and the bevy of unique and likable characters warrant it.  As a medievalist, I also loved how they were able to work chainmail into the animation.  True, none of the characters wore full hauberks, but it was fascinating to see the inclusion of mail coifs and mail skirts.  What almost irked me is how the mangaka, Hiromu Arakawa, obviously took all the most controversial bits of the history of Abrahamic religions and rolled it into one.  It features the Knights of the Temple, patriarchal cross, and a kind of Grand Inquisitor in the High Priest Bodin.  The burning of all the books within the Parsian capital’s library along with Bodin’s comment (here and here) is reminiscent of Caliph Omar’s “If those books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Quran, destroy them,” which he said prior to burning of the Library of Alexandria.  The idea that Pars was promised to the adherents of the Lusitanian religion might either remind one of the Holy Land promised to the Hebrews or Muhammad’s dream which Muslims interpret as giving them a right to Jerusalem.  And, of course, the vehement form of anti-slavery reminds one of Northern abolitionists in the 19th century; though, Christianity itself has always worked for the abolition of slavery–though at a much slower pace than the events which precipitated the American Civil War.  There you have it: Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Muslims, and Jews all get picked on to a certain extent.  I can’t help but find this creative effort of combination amusing and am looking forward to the rest of this exciting series!

Disappearance-of-Yuki-Header

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan
Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu

Japesland – 7/10

This series has actually not yet ended, so perhaps my rating will be a bit immature, but considering there are only a few episodes left, unless something huge happens, I think my rating is probably fair. The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan is really only a series for fans of the “Haruhi” universe, particularly the movie. Without getting into spoilers, the series adapts a side story that actually ties into an alternative timeline introduced in the film, something that I had never expected to see animated. With that in mind, the anime itself is really not that fantastic, and I really dislike the massive change in animation style from what KyoAni introduced in the original anime series. Yet despite all this, I still rated it a solid 7/10 because it does what it’s supposed to: it pleases the fans of the series, while also introducing some serious plot elements later on so that it’s not ALL pandering…

nanoha vivid

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivid
Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha Vivid

Kaze – 5/10

Although I am a big proponent of the Nanoha series, Vivid was not something I was particularly looking forward to. I had read some and dropped the manga years ago, as this installment simply did not maintain the charm of previous ones. As a standalone, it is perhaps still a fun and enjoyable series, but the large cast would certainly be a downside to any new viewers. The series lacks any form of serious confrontation or drama, unlike its predecessors, but it’s true it never tries to do anything beyond the light-hearted, friendly competition it presents. Furthermore, a lot of the fight scenes just feel lackluster when compared to the well animated and well choreographed scenes of its past. In the end, it was passable to watch but simply has nothing notable going for it, and an overall drop in quality in all areas compared to seasons of its past.

ICan'tUnderstand2_01

I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying: 2nd Thread
Danna ga Nani Wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken 2 Suru-me

Annalyn – 5/10

Most of my comments apply just as well to the first season as to this one: As a geek, I was interested in the premise (otaku marries non-otaku). As a Christian with more conservative moral views, I was annoyed by the lewder humor and frequent focus on more perverted elements of otakudom, such as Hajime’s little brother’s explicit yaoi doujinshi and related obsessions. I wasn’t thrilled to see them celebrate ecchi and similarly unsavory treatment of 2D girls, either. Other than that, I enjoyed the characters’ interactions. Relationships were both sweet and humorous. I was looking forward to seeing more about the coming baby, since the pregnancy was announced at the end of the first season. Instead, they spent the first ten episodes in the past, before the pregnancy test. Finally, the last couple episodes talked about the baby again, and those were probably my favorite. If this anime wasn’t a short, I wouldn’t have bothered with it. But I didn’t mind spending a little over three minutes a week on this mildly entertaining show.

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

7 thoughts on “Spring Anime 2015 Review (Part 1/3)

  1. Time for some unsolicited second opinions and personal scores! (My “review score”, which I used for my entry above, is how much I would recommend this show to others, while my personal score is how much I enjoyed the show myself.)

    Hello! Kinmoza – These types of shows are always among my favorites in any season, and this show (and its previous season) is no exception. The addition of Kuzuhashi-sensei, and likewise an increased focus on the teachers and on side character Honoka, has made this season just a bit better than the first, which was already very good. Overall, it’s a great feel-good show, which is really all I need. Review score: 8/10, Personal score: 9.7/10.0

    Baby Steps 2nd Season – I’m not as much of a sports anime aficionado as Annalyn is, so I personally like how different this show is from most of the sports anime that I do watch; it gives it a different feel. The focus on Ei-chan’s growth as a tennis player is fantastic, and the fact that said growth does not come easily in some kind of super power-up moment, but must be achieved by constant learning, hard work, and plenty of losses, help this show stand out for me. Review score: 8/10, Personal score: 9.0/10.0

    Wish Upon the Pleiades – I already talked about this show, so I’ll just say that I personally loved this show enough that I’m going to make my next car a Subaru. 😀 Personal score: 8.5/10.0

    The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan – I do agree this show is only for Haruhi fans; I myself went ahead and marathoned Season 2 (including most of Endless Eight) and the movie between episodes 1 and 2. For me, this show was a tale of two almost completely different anime. For most of it, it’s a fun slice-of-life with Haruhi characters, with the added neat factor of being able to see how their personalities operate in a more “normal” situation, which I think makes for some improved characterization. And then there’s the Disappearance arc, which is tonally almost a completely different show… and an absolutely amazing one, at that. The somber tone of that arc, which relies not on melodramatic events but on atmosphere to set the mood, is absolutely brilliant, and overall it presents a very compelling story on its subject matter (not going to spoil what exactly that is, though). I don’t mind the lesser visuals since they’re still good enough and I’ll never knock a show for its visuals unless they’re particularly bad, and this show was plenty good enough on its own merits. Review score: 8/10, Personal score: 9.1/10.0

    I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying 2nd Season – So few anime (and fiction in general) explores the relationship of a married couple, Even fewer force that married couple to actually work through their differences and grow as individuals and as a partnership, instead of just leaving the couple in either some kind of unrealistic “happily ever after” heaven or an annoying, “why do these two even put up with each other” hell. That is why I find this short series to be the best short anime I’ve seen since Encouragement of Climb. Review score: 8/10, Personal score: 8.8/10.0

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    1. Baby Steps: I agree with everything you said. It’s different, and that’s one of the reasons I like it so much. Still, it just feels a bit 1-dimensional—it doesn’t have the kind of multi-layered conflict or relationships that give anime enduring places in my heart.

      I Can’t Understand: Okay, good points. Maybe I was a wee bit harsh… I don’t have an algorithm for rating shorts, so it’s more subjective and reaction-based than my sports anime ratings (or even my other ratings, since I have less experience with shorts). I could have given this one a solid 6/10… though my personal score would remain at 5/10. 🙂

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  2. The anime I was most waiting for this season was Arslan and I have to say it hasn’t dissapointed. I started watching on Funimation, but decided after about 4-5 episodes to wait for the dub to come out. I’ve read through most of what the manga has, and I’m excited to see how it goes.

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  3. “What almost irked me is how the mangaka, Hiromu Arakawa, obviously took all the most controversial bits of the history of Abrahamic religions and rolled it into one.”

    Arakawa’s manga is an adaptation of the novel by Yoshiki Tanaka. I haven’t read them so granted I don’t know how close the adaptation is, but since he’s still credited for the original script in the manga volumes I assume it’s close enough.

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