Summer Anime 2015 Review (Part 1/3)

As students head back to school, it’s time for our summer anime review! We have plenty of great (and not so great) anime to review, and these review posts will be featuring the most diverse set of voices from the Beneath the Tangles staff to date, so look forward to them.

Ore Monogatari!!

My Love Story!!
Ore Monogatari!!

Japesland – 8/10

I’ve written on Ore Monogatari numerous times as it has aired, which says something about my opinion of the series. If you’ve read those articles, then you know that I praise what it’s done to break the shoujo mold, while still holding to some of the tropes that make it what it is (utilizing without subverting, in contrast to shows like Now and Then, Here and There or Madoka Magica, which are entirely subversive). Unlike your traditional shoujo, conflicts created by teenage misunderstandings are actually resolved, and the male lead is neither a slender hunk nor egotistical. It’s a wholesome break from the mold that I appreciate for that reason, but it is by no means perfect. As much as I personally enjoyed it, I have to acknowledge the common complaints that even arose from many of our staff here at Beneath the Tangles, particularly revolving around the lack of satisfying conflict and resolutions often falling back on the male lead being a ridiculously nice guy. Regardless, I still have to praise the show for focusing on characters with moral compasses stronger than perhaps any I’ve seen before in the genre. I can’t recommend this show enough for anyone looking for a romance with less anime angst.

Danchigai_12

Danchigai
Danchigai

Annalyn – 4/10 

Is it too much to ask for an anime about healthy sibling relationships? I mean, really? In Danchigai, high school student Haruki lives with his five sisters and no parents. No incest is actually going on, but younger sister Yayoi blushes and hits like a tsundere with a major crush. Big Sis Mutsuki asks him to practice kissing with her, so she can play her role well in a play (he refuses, thankfully). And the 8-year-old twins joke about liking him as more than a brother, just to ruffle him. There are a few sweet, enjoyable parts—like when the twins question whether they’re related to the rest of the family. Unfortunately, most of these episodes rely on tropes and incest jokes for humor. If they were full-length, I wouldn’t have gotten through the first episode. Since they were only three and a half minutes long, I stuck around for the season, but I’m relieved it’s over.

shokugeki no souma

Food Wars!
Shokugeki no Souma

Kaze – 7/10

Souma continues its trend of being a very solid series that does not try to be anything special but excels at the basics. While I feel this second half was drawn out more than necessary, it was not bad by any means. The fanservice which plagued early episodes was toned down (though not always), leading to a series that could focus majorly on the food, cooking, and small but appreciable character development (especially in Megumi’s case). It’s unfortunate that the pacing in the latter half resulted in what is more of a build up to an inevitable 2nd season, making it lose some of the charm of a more climactic finale. That said, it still continued to do most everything right, making it quite an enjoyable watch, and I look forward to any future seasons, where it’s sure to get even more exciting (since I read the manga and all).

dandelion

Castle Town Dandelion
Joukamachi no Dandelion

stardf29 – 8/10

I considered giving this show a 9/10, because this show is one of my favorites this season (among a lot of amazing shows), but from a perspective of reviewing and recommending this show, I have decided on a still-really-good 8/10. There’s a lot that this show does right; while the premise does seem to lend itself to a gag comedy of family hijinks, the show also approaches its unique premise with a more serious look at what it means to be part of a royal family, and balances out the family hijinks with moments of genuine familial love. The beginning might be a bit rough, but once all the character are established, the show actually starts to develop them, and the plot does move toward a definitive conclusion, with plenty of character growth to go with it. Add on one of the sweetest romances this side of Ore Monogatari (seriously), and you have a show that is cute, fun, and even quite meaningful at times. Definitely give this show a try if you have not yet already!

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World Trigger

World Trigger

Zeroe4 – 10/10

World Trigger is a fantastic anime based on a currently running Shōnen Jump manga, about some members of an organization called Border that protects a city from inter-dimensional alien races known as Neighbors. They fight using Triggers, which are Neighbor technology. The series starts when one of the members of this organization ends up meeting and befriending a human, who is also a Neighbor. The series starts a little slow, but quickly picks up. The writing is amazing and the story is a beautiful blend of simplicity and well established plot. Meant as a kids show, this anime is wonderful and I highly recommend it. This is my favorite anime from this year, and I can’t wait for next season.

Gakkougurashi!

School-Live!
Gakkou Gurashi

Japesland- 5/10

Gakkou Gurashi falls into the category of show that I consider interesting in concept with little else as a draw. Without spoiling things too much, Gakkou Gurashi succeeds the most when it is subverting expectations (see my Ore Monogatari review above). In fact, the episode that does this best is probably the first, which makes me wonder if it would have made a better OVA. In fact, having still given it a 5/10 (absolute “average” score), I clearly believe its strengths did not outweigh its shortcomings for, at the very least, a single, “as-airing” watch. I doubt it will stand the test of time, but while the characters are not the best, ample time was spent with them to make you feel something for them (thank you small cast; no thank you, Charlotte!). If the series hasn’t been spoiled for you already, I recommend checking out the first episode. After that, you’ll know what I mean by subversion. That alone floats the entire series, regardless of its mediocrity, to the status of at least worth mentioning.

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Gangsta
Gangsta

Medieval Otaku – 8/10

For a yakuza anime, Gangsta immerses one surprisingly well into the city of Ergastulum (which happens to be Latin for a slaves’ dungeon), which reminds one of a traditional Italian city with its tiled roofs, narrow streets, and tall hills.  Despite the main characters’ vices and unsavory ways of making a living, one relates to them quite easily and cares about their struggles.  (Or, does that just say something about your humble blogger?)  The animation is beautifully done.  The show’s major flaw comes in its poorly executed and unrealistic action sequences.  Not one fight strikes me as memorable.  If they had improved on this element, I might have rated it higher.  It also lacks a palatable opening song–both for the lyrics and its images, but the ending song’s great.  At any rate, its ambiance, characters, and solid plot earn it four stars from me; though, many might want to avoid this show for its gore, sadistic villains, use of torture, and sexual situations.  Basically, if you would not watch Black Lagoon, don’t watch this.

A16554-3038830593.1434999322

Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers
Rokka no Yuusha

Samuru  – 5/10

I’m a big RPG fan, so this anime looked similar but my expectations were let down. To me, Rokka no Yuusha seemed like a great adventure with interesting characters but in the end it doesn’t use it’s story as much as it should. The first few episodes you get to know the main characters but then most of the season is them just discussing how to leave a certain place and it’s boring fast. I wanted to get to know them more, or at least see them use more of their power to fight the enemy but that is hardly shown. The animation does look very nice though, and the enemies are in 3D while the battles have lots of details even though they are often short.

GodEater

God Eater
God Eater

R86 – 8/10

Imagine a world in which genetic experiments have gone just about as wrong as they possibly can. Scientists have created life, perhaps with the intent of making something like “designer bacteria”. However, the results of their experiments have raged out of control, producing huge “Aragami” — vicious, heavily armored beasts — who do not especially appreciate having been created. Though much of humanity has been destroyed, a few elite fighters remain alongside the original scientists. These “God Eaters,” who are compatible down to the very molecular level with their gigantic anti-Aragami weapons, might be the only hope of what humanity remains. I am being very bold in assigning this show an 8/10 on MAL, where as you may know, I am a tough grader. Perhaps it’s a combination of the hopeless situation that humanity finds itself in due to science having run amuck against the scientists’ wishes, with an unusual art style that seems to mimic CG but is hard to pin down, with a mix of enthusiastic new voice actors and old hands at the business. (Utsugi Lenka is voiced by new talent Kijima Ryuuichi, while Amamiya Lindow is voiced by veteran Hirata Hiroaki, whose long resume includes Saiyuuki’s Sha Gojo and One Piece’s Sanji.) Either way, this show has captured my interest, at least for now. Do be warned, however, that there is quite a bit of bloody violence.

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Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There!
Gate: Jietai Kanochi nite Tatakaeri

Zeroe4- 8/10

Gate is definitely an odd anime. In modern day Tokyo, a magical gate opens up in the middle of Ginza and an army of foot soldiers and chariots come into Japan and begins killing people in the streets. They are quickly wiped out as the Japanese Self Defence Force is mobilized to stop them. The JSDF then secures this gate to a new world. The story mainly follows one particular JSDF member, who is a diehard otaku, but is commemorated as a hero. Once again, this show is odd. I really enjoy it though. It takes a very unlikely story concept and tries to makes sense of it and does a fantastic job. There is fan service, and parts of it feel like JSDF propaganda, but nevertheless it is enjoyable.

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

15 thoughts on “Summer Anime 2015 Review (Part 1/3)

  1. Wow, Gakkou Gurashi! was my anime of the season. What makes it get such an average rating? It didn’t leave me wanting anything more from it, especially not in its depth of characters and thematic questions that also resonated with my Christianity.

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    1. I thought it had some very unique moments, and I was glad to see the classic Western zombie trope finally playing out in anime as I haven’t really seen it (minus ridiculous comedies and other subversions of it), but I found the writing to be quite lacking. I thought too many other tropes were overused, with the exception of a few twists, writing to be predictable, and characters to begin diverse and end flat. With the exception of episode one, I just thought it was pretty unoriginal. That said, I’m also a pretty harsh grader.

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      1. I think there was an emphasis on tropes, but for me that factored into this constant interplay between the psychology of the characters, their aspirations to lead normal high school lives and the norms of slice-of-life anime. The swimsuit episode was a great example of this: they’ve just found out they ‘need’ to head into the basement, but what they want to do is head away from that dark reality – as far away as physically possible, to the roof. It’s more
        important to them to cling onto their ideal of youth than deal with the issues that threaten it, and I felt that was a brutally honest portrayal of how young minds operate underneath what was otherwise a blissful episode.

        I can’t see how Yuki or Miki’s characters ended ‘flat’ at all, though I dislike that Forsterian term anyway. Seeing Yuki finally understand the zombies at the end because she finally understood herself was breathtaking, and Miki’s struggle with Kei’s challenge to ‘live’ kept me hooked on her character beyond the end. The muddled chronology also helped keep the pace through all that development.

        All in all, I found the writing, in terms of its scope for connecting with the girls in happy or horrifying scenes, amazing. I had too much to think about after every episode – perhaps the depth of the characters doesn’t resonate if you’re put off by the tropes, but closer inspection should really render a lot of the craft of the show more evident. Otherwise I’ve been talking out of my behind on my blog about it every week. xD

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I was watching god eater on Crunchyroll and it all ended on episode 5 i’m looking for somewhere to finish out the season right now. I’m glad World Trigger got a good review. I wan’t sure at first, but it’s become my favorite anime to watch. I stopped Ore because… honestly it was almost too happy. I loved it, but I kept on wondering when something was going to ruin it. I’ll have to go back and finish it. I have dandelion in my queue behind Prince Arslan’s dub on Funimation.

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    1. That complaint about Ore seems to be pretty common! To be honest, I’m a bit surprised myself at how much I liked, especially considering how down I was on the bulk of the rest of this season (though maybe it was because of that!). It’s a fair argument if you were expecting more classic shoujo conflict, but I like how it differentiated itself in that way and also presented a main character who does not have a harem, is not ridiculously attractive, and is genuinely a good person. It’s something I find missing not just from anime, but all media!

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      1. Honestly I half expected his best friend to come out as gay for Takeo a couple of times, and that probably didn’t help my mood when watching the show.

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  3. Unsolicited second opinions and personal scores, Summer 2015 edition! (Plus additional ramblings on Castle Town Dandelion.)

    My Love Story!!/Ore Monogatari: Completely agree with Japes here. It might not be a particularly deep shoujo like my absolute favorite shoujo series are, but that arguably works in this show’s favor, presenting something simple and cute that I could enjoy week to week. So yeah, definitely recommended. Review score: 8/10, Personal score: 8.7/10.0.

    Danchigai: I totally understand Annalyn’s frustrations with this show. Especially compared to Castle Town Dandelion, which I’ll talk about in a moment, this show really felt like it was just pandering to the “incest is wincest” crowd. There were at least enough humorous moments and moments of genuine familial love that, for a 4-minute short, I didn’t mind bringing it up every week, so on my grading scale, I can still put it at above average (for a short, at least), but it most certainly could have been a *lot* better. Review score: 6/10, Personal score: 7.1/10.0.

    Food Wars: Somehow, this became one of the shows I looked forward to the most every week. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten addicted to food shows overall, starting with Gourmet Girl Graffiti and then getting into Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef from there, but I’ve certainly gained a greater appreciation of food, its preparation, and its role in our lives, over the course of this year. But as for this show, the reason why I love it so much is simple: Megumi. I already love how she represents the hospitality aspect of cooking, and from there, seeing her grow in confidence and skill as a chef was really heartwarming. The rest of the cast is fun as well, and I definitely hope there’s a second season. Review score: 8/10, Personal score: 9.0/10.0.

    (On a side note, this marks the second time this year a character named Megumi becomes the prime reason for my loving a show, the first being Saekano. More power to the Megumis of the world!)

    Castle Town Dandelion: Well, Annalyn, this might be the show about healthy sibling relationships you’ve been looking for. 😛 There are some parts that might get a bit close to that “incest” line, but by and large it’s kept within Reasonable Sibling Closeness, especially compared to Danchigai… and also compared to the original manga, which played up various bro/siscon elements more. Definitely a good decision by the director/writer to dial those back, and the result is a show that has one of the best portrayals of sibling love overall.

    Some more assorted odds and ends about this show: speaking of the original manga, did you know that the original manga was a 4koma serialized in Manga Time Kirara Miracle, the same magazine that gave us Sakura Trick and Gourmet Girl Graffiti? Not to mention that the Manga Time Kirara series gave us such works as K-ON!, Hidamari Sketch, Kin-iro Mosaic, Is the order a rabbit… This show is definitely very different from those shows, not just in actually having notable male characters, but also in how it tells a fully complete story instead of just going all slice-of-life (though that’s not a bad thing either). Just some extra food for thought there.

    One final note: I wrote an article earlier about this show and how its premise of being royal family ties in to Christians’ being part of God’s royal family, something that has definitely continued to stay in my thoughts as I watched the show, and while the parallels are definitely not perfect by any means, that theme has applied enough that it has significantly increased my enjoyment of the show. In particular, I think episode 11 has one of the best depictions of the Christian church in action… by something other than the Christian church. I might write more on that later.

    I sure talked a lot about this show, but for good reason: it really is one of my favorite shows this season. It’s definitely worth a shot; I’d even say if you find early episodes hard to get through, to stick with it until episode 5, which is the first especially good episode. Honestly, I think those weaker opening episodes are the only thing really keeping this show from a 9/10. Personal score: 9.7/10.0.

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    1. I’m a sucker for good family relationships (especially amongst siblings!), so I’ll keep Castle Town Dandelion in mind for the next time I need a fun anime to relax with. The premise didn’t impress me, but if you recommend it so highly, I’ll have to give it a solid chance. ^_^

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  4. Reblogged this on Medieval Otaku and commented:

    Here’s the first installment of season reviews on Beneath the Tangles. I was selected to review Gangsta in this post. Three more reviews of mine are coming up in the next two posts of this series. Be sure to check it out!

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  5. Ah, Samuru! That’s such a low rating for Rokka no Yuusha! I can understand how some might find all the intrigue in the latter episodes annoying, but, to me, the mystery of who was the Seventh very compelling. The show also had my favorite finale of the season. At any rate, the next season promises have those elements you wanted to see in the first.

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    1. Hey Medieval, yeah, personally that whole thing with “whose the seventh” was soooooo boring….they focused entirely on that topic, and I wanted them to continue on the journey, not get stuck in that forest….but yeah, that’s what did it for me….hopefully next season will be better.

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  6. Hm. You liked God Eater that much? I dropped it after the first 3 episodes because it felt like Attack on Titan to me (generic main characters and I only really stick to it because the overall story is epic and the side characters are interesting), so I wasn’t sure if it was really worth my time. I’ll try to give it another shot now. 🙂

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